Date:Saturday January 19 2013
As a follow up to the article written yesterday on squad depth I have written this to crystallize the situation we face because reading through the comments from that thread it appears some of us on VC (and maybe even more worryingly our board and decision makers) seem to live in this illusionary world where they actually feel we have a strong squad with adequate depth.
Well lest we forget there are just 14 days left in this January transfer window. Once the window closes that is it..we will have made our bed and we will then have to lie in it. Now let us look at the realities. We have a 25 man squad. Any team that has any aspirations to compete on multiple fronts needs to ensure that this 25 man squad has to essentially be two men deep at every position with the last 3 positions occupied by a no 3 goalie and two utility players capable of playing in multiple different positions and thus able to fill in whenever and wherever needs arise.
This was the way Jose built the juggernaut that was our back to back BPL titles winning sides.This is what squad depth means.
Currently anyone interested can go on the official Chelsea web page to see who are the listed 25 players on our current 1st team. What I will do next is detail all these players in team 1 and 2 formats and then list what presently constitutes our 3 extras. I will discuss our available two teams using the 4-2-3-1 formation that appears to be the most popular format that RDM and now Rafa deploy the team in.
Goal keepers; team 1 cech, team 2 Turnbull,
Right back; team 1 Cesar team 2; Ferraira
Left back; team 1 Cole, team 2; Bertrand,
Center backs; team 1 JT and Cahill, team 2; Ivanovic and Luiz
DM; team 1; mikel team 2; Romeu,
CM; team 1; Ramires team 2; Lampard,
CAMs; Team 1; Mata, Oscar and Hazard, team 2; Moses, Marin and Malouda
Strikers; Team 1; Demba Ba, team 2; El nino.
3 extras; no 3 Goalie; Hilario, Benayoun and Piazon.
These are the names on our 25 man first man team right now. There are some obvious head scratchers here that would make even one with limited capacity for deductive reasoning very concerned;
Of our two true DMs one is at AFCON and may be there till mid February, the second is out for the rest of the season injured.
One of team 2 listed CAMs Malouda is a total team outcast who has not played one minute for the first team this season and that is not going to change anytime soon. He is on the books but offers nothing to actually help the team cause. Of our 3 extras only one Hilario is actually even available and he hasn`t played one game this season that I can remember (the last I remember of him playing for us was in preseason). The other two; Benayoun is injured presently and has not hidden the fact that he has no love for the club nor interest in playing for us any longer. Frankly though, even if he did he is an injury prone CAM and is certainly not what we need now. The last of the three extras; Piazon is gone on loan.
In essence thus when you take Romeu, Benayoun, Malouda and Piazon into consideration our first team actually only has 21 players right now and two of those are at the AFCON and may not be back till mid February. In what reality does this constitute adequate squad depth to anyone?
Turnbull still has lingering questions in my mind and I don`t feel he is a quality no 2 Goalie but it appears he is all we have right now so I would hope he would be played exclusively in the Europa league to allow Cech some down time so he is fresh for the games that really do count in the BPL and FA cup. As regards our defense that is the one place where we are actually in decent shape as far as depth ..as long as we don`t get any more significant injuries.
In central midfield we have serious depth issues. Right now the only real DM we have is Mikel and after Ramires our only other central mid is an aging legend; Lamps who other than chasing Bobby Tambling`s record has to largely now have his mind at Los Angeles with the LA galaxy. As far as CAMs/wingers, beyond the first team MAZACAR trio our second team trio is non existent other than Moses. Marin is hardly consistent, major defensive frailties and has lingering fitness concerns but beyond those two we simply have no one else.
At striker we have just Ba and El nino whose recent form is cause for concern. As far as our 3 extras we really have none..Apart from Hilario we simply have nothing; By doing away with Miereles and Essien we have done away with our two true utility players and our closest player to a utility player right now is David Luiz who we however need to be very careful using this way because to do that would impact our depth at CB.
This is why any wise observer would understand why it is critical for us to get at least 3 players (and ideally 4 players ) before this window closes If only to just get back to a fully functional 25 man complement to get through the business end of the season. Ideally we need a DM, a true utility player (ideally two of these) who can play anywhere from DM through CM to CAM (this is on reason for me whay a player like Fellaini is so appealing) and another striker considering El nino's dodgy form and fears regarding Ba`s knees.
If we had decision makers with vision and long term planning in this regard we would not need to buy our way entirely out of this mess; KDB could have filled our open team 2 third CAM/winger, Josh could fill our team 2 second Central mid, Essien could have filled our utility player lack and Lukaku could have filled our need for a 3rd striker. It is however clear that our board is not recalling anybody.
Benayoun returned by default only because he is injured and WestHam have no further need of him (he didn`t exactly cover himself in glory while there for the first half of the season anyway). Since we are clearly not recalling any of our 23 plus players on loan that then means in traditional Chelsea fashion we need to go buying again which means before Feb 1 at the very least we better get at least a DM, a striker and a utlilty player in the transfer market.
Remember we are faced with the BPL, FA cup ties (and if we are remarkably lucky 2 more Carling cup games) and the torture of Thursday evening games spread all over Europe in the Europa league. If we stay put and do nothing in the next two weeks don`t be surprised if come May we are facing the same horror scenario we faced last year outside the top 4 (only this time there will be no miraculous escape). In my mind this is how serious the decisions made in the next 2 weeks may be. How we end up this season will have way more to do with squad depth than Rafa's tactical nous or lack thereof. No amount of know how will help you when all you have available are exhausted, over used or worse injured players with no credible back ups. A word is enough for the wise.
Date:Saturday January 19 2013
Chelsea v Everton Preview (Saturday May 18 2013)
Should Rafa Join the Lap of Honour? (Saturday May 18 2013)
Running Scared! (Saturday May 18 2013)
Air-Miles, Smiles and Chaos Reigns (Saturday May 18 2013)
Torres Linked to Fiorentina! (Saturday May 18 2013)
Chelsea Interested in Ronaldo? (Saturday May 18 2013)
Shrek! Wanted at CHELSEA! (Saturday May 18 2013)
Mourinho Back to Earth (Saturday May 18 2013)
Breaking News (Friday May 17 2013)
The Second Roman Army! (Friday May 17 2013)
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