This is the interview The Chelsea Chronicle gave to It’s Round And White, giving them a lowdown on Chelsea for the season ahead. The original article can be found by clicking here.
The European Champions enter the new season with great hope, despite missing out on 4th place Chelsea booked a place in the Champions League by winning the competition against all odds. The result saw Roberto Di Matteo handed the job on a permanent basis, as he finally delivered ‘The Holy Grail’ to Roman Abramovich.
It’s been a rather busy summer at Stamford Bridge. Di Matteo has recruited the in-demand Eden Hazard and his brother, Thorgan. Chelsea also added to their plethora of talent by introducing Oscar and Marko Marin – spending over £60m this summer. But how they will cope without Didier Drogba may be the ultimate question.
How did last season measure up, compared to your expectations?
Last season did not match my expectations at all, for the good and the bad. We had a good pre-season and AVB was looking the real deal, and though Chelsea have a tag for being a hiring-and-firing squad, I genuinely felt AVB was going to be here for a long time to oversee a new era.
Whilst my Premier League expectations were not met (for the wrong reasons), my FA Cup and Champions League expectations were not met either (for the right reasons!) I don’t think anyone could have expected a Chelsea season quite like that, in such spectacular fashion. Those nights in Naples,Barcelona, Munich.. They tell you to expect the unexpected but even that was hard to expect!
What do you think of your club’s summer transfer activity, are there more arrivals/exits on the horizon?
These have been signings to excite fans – nothing more. It feels like Chelsea are buying players for the wrong manager: Robbie’s staying put but these are Guardiola-esque players.
Good players don’t necessarily make a good team, however, and whilst the need for a new creativemidfielder was there (to ease burden on Juan Mata), we did not need three in Marin, Hazard and Oscar. Our needs for a right-back and right winger has also not come to fruition, despite all the media talk of Hulk and Azpilicueta, and with Wigan very very soon – too soon – Chelsea could still struggle.
What would be a dream new season for you?
For the second part of last season to repeat itself would be nice! Would not mind a bit of deja vu and have a 2011/2012 season in 2012/2013 (with a greater threat in the league, of course).
What would be your worst nightmare?
Having to endure the first part of last season! Losing, and losing badly is awful. I feel OK if we lose, as long as I know we tried. But there were some shambolic AVB performances where we lost and almost wanted to lose – the desire to win was so bad and that’s when things were getting worse.
Who will be your most important player/s this season?
Mata and Ramires were both club players of the year last year (fan and player’s player respectively), and they will be massive. Forget the Hazards, Oscars and whoever, they will need time to adjust.
Of course, we must never forget the importance of the usual: JT, Lampard, Ashley Cole, and the safe hands in Big Pete.
Any players you would happily see the back of?
I will always try to support everyone in the club in support, but with increased competition, Yossi Benayoun and Florent Malouda can go. They are past their sell-by date and are worsening our wage bill: adios.
Do you have the best manager for the job?
The best manager that was available, yes. I don’t believe last season was luck (there is no luck in football), but at the same time, you do wonder if Robbie was that good, why has he not done really well before (at WBA etc)? I think a big part was the players just saying to themselves “Hurrah, we’ve got rid of an idiot in AVB, now I will try again”.
Opposition players that you respect?
Respect is a very interesting word because, having just witnessed the Olympics and the true professionals, footballers look like rich chavs. Some conduct themselves well, but the huge majority don’t. I shall leave it at that.
Opposition players that you despise?
Let’s be philosophical again: a lot are great footballers but more are horrible human beings. There are a lot to despise.
Best away fans/ground in your league?
Can I give a shout-out to the handful of Wigan fans who constantly turn up no matter what?
Which teams do you really want to beat this season?
Everyone, if that’s alright. Yes, you have the usual suspects in the Manchester sides, rival London clubs etc, but there’s no point working so hard one week to beat Manchester United 1-0 and then lose 1-0 to Aston Villa the next. All matches carry the same weighting and it is important to beat them all!
Finally, where do you honestly think you will finish?
I think at the moment we have good players but an OK team. Drogba spurred us on a lot of the time last season; now he’s gone, does Nando have the same influence/leadership? The Premier League will surely go to Manchester City again, but I reckon we can get second/third, decent run to the semi-finals of the Champions League, Capital One Cup quarters, FA Cup winners, and also a win in the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cups.