Whatever you do; do quickly
The words "Whatever you do …do quickly" were the famous words Jesus Christ answered Judas Iscariot with when he asked Jesus at the Last supper if he was the one to betray him. The point Jesus was making was that Judas was asking a frankly insincere ridiculous question. He had already planned and purposed to sell out Jesus so Jesus was simply telling him..rather than beating around the bush, do what you have planned ASAP and be done with it so I move forward with my own agenda.
This phrase applies poignantly to the situation we now face with our player Romelu Lukaku. I have seen the spirited and often heated exchanges that all discussion on this young man engender not just here on VC but on other online discussion sites that center around Chelsea. For me however this circus needs to be resolved and and it needs to be done very very soon because what we have now is a very dangerous situation which if not well handled could derail the high hopes we all have as Chelsea fans for this season.
Let us quickly take a fast trip down memory lane to the last few days of the summer transfer window last year..we has 4 strikers on our books; Lukaku, Eto O, El Nino and Ba. Lukaku had featured in our preseason tour and was our top goal scorer then. He had looked decent and it was a foregone conclusion for those of us not privy to the inner workings in the club that he would be one of our strikers for the first team. We then had the Euro Champions Club cup match and we saw him brought on as a sub late on as we were on the verge of what would have been a historic win over a Bayern Muncih team that had just completed the first treble in the history of the Bundesliga. His defensive lapse and lack of attention allowed Javier Martinez ghost into our penalty box on the right flank and score an equalizing goal at the very last second of extra time after we had played so heroically 10 v 11 against the best team in the world from much of the second half onwards. It got worse for Lukaku as he then delivered a tame poor PK as our last designated PK taker that Manuel Neuer saved while barely having to move from his central position on the goal line. I was one of many then who leapt to the young lads defense and questioned why the young man had to have been saddled with such a responsibility when there were veterans like JT there in the pitch. (Let us put aside for a minute that Bayern included a fellow youngster in their designated takers; Xherdan Shaqiri who dispatched his kick with aplpmb past our towering Petr Cech). Fast forward a few days hence with barely a day left in the transfer window Lukaku is sent on season long loan to Everton (as we learn later requested by himself). The reasons and motivations behind his request are not important to me there are two points in this that are important;
1. Jose's initial plan had been to keep Lukaku in our first team then..maybe as one of a 4 man striker force as Jose had decided late that it was not safe loaning out Ba to the Gunners who had just acquired the assist machine called Mesut Ozil lest we play an unwitting hand is strengthening the gunners title aspirations.
2. Because of Lukaku`s choice we ended up thus loaning out our best true striker (and the stats for the season bore this out though I knew and said so even before the formal season began that as a goal scorer he was better than all the three we retained) while keeping three others who struggled mightily.
Many reasons can be adduced as to why we did not win the BPL last year despite our stupendous record against the top 7 clubs in the BPL..despite our securing six points each against the top two teams at the leagues end, despite having the best defensive record in the league and despite boasting the goalie with the second highest number of clean sheets but to me it boiled down to one simple fact. We could not score goals when they were needed. Compared to the first two finishers in the BPL we were poor at goal scoring and our strikers were the major culprits. It is easy to speak in hindsight and look smart which is often said to be 20/20 but one could argue that had things gone differently..had Lukaku been patient and stayed with us last season not only would he still have made the Belgium NT and been the starting striker given Benteke's season ending injury but he would easily have been the best of our 4 strikers. His added goals to our squad may have been enough to get us those goals we lacked in tight spots and may have been enough to move us from 3rd to the BPL title. The margin of error between the BPL winners and us was that narrow. In my mind we lost eventually ( and this applies not only to the BPL but also why we bowed out of every other competition we engaged in last year) because of our way inferior strike force compared to the competition we faced. That to me was the bottom line. Our team balance was good, we had an A plus defence, a top 5 goalie and an easily top 5 manager but lost because of our strike force.
Now fast forward to present day. We have made a huge upgrade in securing the signature of Diego Costa and that is a big deal but let us not fool ourselves..he alone is not enough to enable us secure the BPL or challenge to win all the other tournaments we are going to be competing in. We have signed the Drogs and that is good but let us be real; he is to play the Miro Klose role for us..very limited, very carefully planned cameo and super sub appearances; nothing more. A 36 yr old Drogs who is very likely in the last year of his playing career is not the viable back up to Costa that we need.
How about El nino you ask? Maybe you missed the last 3 years of that soap opera but I would refer you quickly to the miss he had today against NK OLimpjia Ljubljana and end that conversation with the term "Nuff said" that we often use here in the States. Suffice it so say that no matter what you may feel about Lukaku or the Drogs..if it were any of them in El Nino`s position on that cross from Ake it is goal; end of story. Misses like that in the BPL, in the Capitol one up, in the FA cup and in the champions league will be the difference between advancing and getting knocked out. The bottom line is this..should Costa get injured or have to serve a lengthy ban for any reason if we lose Lukaku between today and September 1 unless it happens very soon and we act very quickly we end up with El Nino as our first and only viable regular back up. If that does not give you nightmares I have to doubt your love for our club seriously.
There is no point discussing the pros and cons of Lukaku the person. That has been done ad nauseaum but the constant chatter regarding his future in the media helps no one. Just yesterday, the Wolfsburg president confirmed that they had an interest in him and that inquiries were being made. Similarly Roberto Martinez of Everton asked by one of his clubs fans about Lukalu answered in the affirmative that he would be joining the club. All this smoke without a denial from us his supposed parent club cannot but mean that there is some fire here. Whether it is us or Lukaku or his agent doing all the hawking this boy is being hawked around let us not kid ourselves. Which means that the reality is very great that he will leave before sept 1.
However you feel about Lukaku the person let us all be objective for a moment and we should all be in agreement that Lukaku the player is miles better as a goal scorer than El Nino is; period and full stop. Furthermore, if we sell him we lose one of those promising, high value association trained player spots. This essentially shrinks our squad depth considerably and may well force us to retain one of our youngsters who is simply not ready for the first team prime time and so misses a loan that would have been in their best interests. I hope everyone can appreciate the domino effects here. Most of all though if we sell Lukaku we essentially are back to our strikers mess of last year except that we now have Costa to replace Ba which yes is a huge improvement. El nino remains the same except a year older, Drogs at 36 would provide great team support and mentoring but can hardly be expected to give much more than Eto O did last year.
My point is this..if We dispose of Lukaku and Jose and our management staff think we are fine as regards strikers with Costa, El nino and the drogs..i will humbly but vehemently disagree. I will go so far to say here categorically that with that strike force not only wont we win the BPL or champions league but we will be in serious danger of another season without any trophies which could place Jose`s job security in serious jeopardy. We lost last season because of inferior forwards and other than Diego Costa if we release Lukaku without a quality replacement we are essentially going to repeat the same mistake. Those who know me know I love Drogba..he is the Chelsea player I hold in highest esteem second only to the incomparable Gian Franco Zola but at this phase of his career to expect him to be a substantive back up to Costa is beyond laughable. I honestly expect absolutely nothing from El nino and I am just being bluntly honest. The only reason he is still wearing Chelsea blue is that the wages we pay him are so ludricous we cant fool anyone out there to take him even if we forgo any transfer fee…it is that bad.
Left to me despite all the bad blood and all that has been said and all the water under the bridge I would want us to retain Lukaku for at least this season to give him the chance to fly or flop in Chelsea blue..he cannot be worse than El Nino has been for us and can end up being a huge upgrade (which is what I feel). Even if he insists on leaving we should enforce his contract for this year to allow our home grown/association trained complement of players improve and then next year if all else fails sell him outside the BPL for a profit and get a proper replacement after Drogs retires to join our coaching staff.
If however as is seeming more likely it is now a fait accompli for Lukaku to leave this transfer window what we must not do is repeat what happened last season and wait till late august to sort this out. We need to end the uncertainty ASAP. Get him out of the team discussion and speculation immediately. Sell him asap to Wolfsburg for a small profit where he can join his buddy KDB and be out of our hair then with automatic alacrity and urgency secure a proper back up goal scorer for Costa..someone like Bony or Firmino (Griezeman is already gone to Atletico and Remy is already gone to Liverpool). Whatever we intend to do with and about Lukaku we need to do very quickly because I think how and when this decision is handled will have major implications for how our season unfolds and how well we do as far as achieving our preseason lofty goals. Jose please learn from your past mistakes..dont leave this to late in the transfer window; make the decisions and act swiftly while viable plan "B"s are still available out there.
The floor is yours Blue nation. KTBFFH!!!