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Persistent bad habits;

Persistent bad habits;

For me the score of our latest preseason match against Werder Bremen is the least of our concerns;

The 3-0 score considerably flatters Werder and included 2 highly contentious PKs awarded by a referee who seemed to have an agenda. The greater cause for concern and alarm for me is that we were so poor and that the problems apparent in out play today have been pervasive and apparent in all our prior games this preseason except for maybe our first preseason game against Wycombe Wanderers. The same recurrent issues persist and are essentially continuations of the same problems we struggled with all season long last season. The bigger concerns we should harbor from today's match and all the others this preseason other than the first one are that despite having greater possession in virtually all these matches we have contrived to create rather few chances, we haven`t taken many of those few and the scorelines have often been rather flattering to us compared to what actually transpired on the pitch. The BPL reality coming mid August wont be so forgiving.

We have not faced any top tier BPL level opposition thus far. While those teams in the Guiness International champions cup have been playing significantly higher level competition for example we have played decidedly mid to lower rung level competition and thus far despite the results my biggest concern is that 7 persistent bad habits from last season continue and you know what that old saying says;

"you cant continue to do the same thing repeatedly and seriously expect a change in results; such an expectation is a clear definition of lunacy".

I will detail below the 7 big recurrent issues I think need addressing in the remaining few weeks we have before season start realizing that the way Werder Bremen played us today is the way virtually all the bottom 7-10 teams in the BPL will play us both home and away. Unless we make some substantive changes and fast we are going to see a rehash of the way we essentially gave the BPL title away last season by donating points to most of the bottom dwelling teams like West Brom, Sunderland, Aston villa etc etc. The greater concern is that we will be hard pressed to replicate our scintillating form from last season against the top 7 teams this coming season and some of them like the gunners may actually borrow a leaf from the bottom dwelling teams and when they come play us at Stamford bridge may then elect to also 'pack the bus' and pick us of on the counter; a rather simple formula to which we seem to have little answer right now.

Right now the formula to beating chelsea`s staple 4-2-3-1 is very simple; Defend deep in your half and pack the middle of the 18 yard box, have a couple of fast wingers that can take advantage of the space their overlapping full backs will certainly give you the moment they turn the ball over. You really only need one man up front when defending and then just wait patiently for them to make the mistakes they will eventually make..finito!!!

The recurrent problems we still have not fixed which are now coupled with a defensive frailty we didn`t use to have in the latter half of last season (I can easily chuck this up to it still being preseason and that we haven`t played our preferred back 4 that much so far this preseason) are as follows;

1. Slow starts in the first half of matches. We always seem to be trying to grow into matches rather than starting out like gang busters from the first whistle. This very bad habit often sees us conceding early goals and then having to chase games. It is a bad habit which also tends to give lower level sides a degree of hope and confidence that is dangerous. City and Liverpool who were the top two teams of last season were typically the opposite. They tended to be fast starters and often had games won by the end of the first half. I know what type of mind set I prefer and one of the few games we did the latter ( against the gunners at Stamford bridge last season) was one of the games I enjoyed the most and one of the few matches we were able to play the second half with peace of mind. The solution here lies with Jose..he has to light a fire in our players behinds demanding top notch level 11 effort from the moment the whistle blows. Players who seem to be sleep walking in the first half should be made to pay by not starting the next game ..simple as that!!!

2. We consistently have no width in the final third; I find this so very annoying because it is so obvious to anyone who watches us and it makes it so easy to defend. Again I reference City and Liverpool ; the top 2 teams from last year..we have virtually no one like Jesus Navas for city, Sterling for Liverpool, Walcott and chamberlain for the gunners…front players who understand and exploit the need for true wing play. Our best options here are Schurrle and Hazard and yet too often we saw last season both of them tending to want to drift inwards rather than taking on their full backs with speed on the flanks, getting behind the opposing defense and so pulling the tight packing in the center of the 18 yard apart to reveal much needed space for our goal scorers. The solution here in my mind is on jose..he needs to emphasize to our front band of three to stick to their designated roles..the no 10 should stay in the middle to orchestrate and our wide forwards need to play the role of true wingers rather than everyone trying to come inside. One of the huge reasons Bayern and Real are so effective is that both teams truly use the width of the pitch to great effect; For Bayern the Robery connection of Robben and Ribery play the role of true wide men and the occasional maurauding runs of Alaba and Lahm just add to that not take its place. For real CR7 and Di Maria play this role. Jose needs to drive it into Schurrle's and Hazard's heads to stay wide as long as possible till they get behind the defense and pull the CBs and FBs out of the center of the 18 yard box. Our FBs should be auxillaries in providing us width not our first and only options!!!

3. Formation problems; I usually don`t feel that formations are that big a deal but I think this is a major issue now for us. I am really concerned with our almost slavish devotion to the 4-2-3-1. This works okay when we play top level opposition when defensive solidity is crucial but the big problems with this remain getting a solid appropriate pivot partner for Matic so he does not get overrun defensively and the fact that this formation is piss poor for dealing with teams that pack the bus against us. Again this is on Jose. It is well past time that we saw more of us playing either 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 against lower level opposition where we certainly don`t need two full time DMs and yet where speed of transition and true width are of far greater premium. If only for the sake of changing things up and being less predictable we need to see far less of the 4-2-3-1 and more of anything else. Look I wouldn`t even mind seeing us experiment with the crazy 3-5-2 formation that City tired several times early in last years campaign. Jose needs to stop being so stubborn and conservative in this regard.

4. Lack of speed in build up and transition; this is a plague that we have had for way too long and it continues. Contrary to what some would like to believe..No Mikel is not to blame for this because it has been persistent and there to see pretty much in all our preseason games other than the first even when Mikel has not been on the pitch. Again Jose, this is your call..i understand the need for caution and discipline in keeping team shape but the transition from center mid field to the attacking third needs to be drastically speeded up if we are to catch defensive minded teams out of position. As long as we take a century to move the ball from defense to center mid and then another century to get from there into the oppositions half then no wonder we always run into a brick wall by the time we get there. To perfect rapid transition needs rapid thinking and rapid action. It is harder than slow build up and to develop it our boys need to practice it repeatedly in practice drills. Jose the ball is in your court.

5. Needless back passing and poor forward passing; This was no more apparent in our preseason than today. Go back and rewatch the match to see how many times even when we were 1 and two goals down our players were often passing the ball backwards both in our half and the oppositions rather than trying to look for the forward pass that would advance our cause. This is a long standing problem at Chelsea and it is the result of players not being held accountable..both the players with the ball at the moment and team mates that don`t actively seek to take up advanced positions to allow an option for a forward pass. Effective passing is not a skill that very many footie players are born is a learned skill and it can be taught and learned if premium is placed on it. This is one area Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez excel. Everywhere these guys have coached they have preached and taught the gospel of effective forward passing. Both long and short range. Again in this area Jose needs to step it up. If he needs to get a passing specialist to drill our boys and get them to spend the time improving this skill both the appropriate spacing and the actual execution of both carpet and aerial forward passes (both long and short range) then this investment must be made. Ramires can improving his passing skill if he is made to take the time to invest in it. Mikel is one of our best passers but he must be pressured to make the forward (albeit somewhat riskier) passes more often and in the same vein our forward players need to be much better grilled in taking advanced positions that make execution of the forward pass easier to make with speed. Again no-one is born with this. I am not talking tiki taka here ( and even that was not born to the Catalans..they were taught it repeatedly for days and years on end at La Masia). I am talking more of the goal oriented forward passing that we saw Jose have Real deploy to such devastating effect during his time there and the same sort of devastating rapid forward passing that Borussia Dortmund and Bayern ( Jupp Heynckes version not Peps Tika Taka Bayern hybrid) espouse. The onus here is on Jose to make teaching and executing this a priority.

6. Scoring problems; I wont waste a lot of time here. Look carefully at our preseason so far and compare it to that which our fellow competitors like City and ManU have had. We have a scoring problem. Apart from our first game we have not exactly had a comfortable win in any of the other games and in some games we were essentially holding on by the skin of our teeth. This is a recurrent theme from last season and is a result of many problems including many of the things mentioned above as well as having mediocre goal scorers. Bluntly stated right now our only elite goal scorer is Diego Costa and the entire BPL will quickly find this out if they don`t know it already. Unless our defenders pick it up in the scoring dept the way they did 2 seasons ago, unless Hazard and Schurrle really step it up as far as scoring, unless willian does more than chip in 3 goals in a season as a CAM, unless Oscar no longer does a disappearing act after a third of the season we are going to have major problems. The drogs at 36 and El nino wont save us most times when these problems come and so yet again I appeal to Jose; find a decent priced second striker who brings a different dimension to the direct bullying power of costa. Make sure we have a decent and effective plan B.

7. We always seem to play up or down to our competition. It is hard to imagine that the same side that came to play with such precision and passion as we saw against Manu and the Gunners at Stamford Bridge last season were the same team that played against West Brom and West Ham at the same venue. Again I must place the burden squarely on Jose here. I know this tendency to over prepare for certain opposition and to allow complacency creep in against opposition perceived to be inferior is human nature but the SAF trained sides of ManUs reign of terror as league leaders hardly ever showed this. They were absolutely ruthless against lower level opposition; putting them to the sword quickly and effectively..often with routes that ended the contest in the first half of matches and against higher level competition that edge was still there. Atletico Madrid last season despite having no mega superstar ( their best simulations of that being Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois) were known for one thing; near consistent intensity from start to finish of the season. I can think of only 2-3 matches all season when it can be said that their typical 110% effort was not on display and the results they had bear that out. Diego simeone must take the credit for that.

To address this I can understand therefore why Jose could not tolerate having a player like Lukaku on the get this kind of consistency and intensity the entire team must be on the same page and they must all be invested in the team first and foremost with considerations of self banished to a far distant past tense. Jose has to rebuild his usual bunker type; us against the world mentality in our boys. His goals ..lofty goals for this season must be shared with the team in no uncertain terms. These goals should be for internal consumption only; not be noised aboard nor shopped to the media but these goals should be the fuel that drives high level performances every time these guys take to the pitch wearing the royal blue of Chelsea with the crest of the Stamford Lions on their chests these goals should resonate in their minds.

Double, Triple or even the El Dorado Quadruple trophy winning seasons don`t happen by accident and they never happen with teams that take any days of or underestimate any opponents. We must learn to execute and put out 110% effort and quality every time and against everyone we play this season and this falls on Jose to ingrain into our boys and on our squad to execute.

Blue nation the floor is yours to discuss; KTBFFH!!!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Monday August 4 2014
Time: 4:40AM


Oh boy. Good observations you've made there. I've never known why we tend to start the game very slowly and probably pick up once we are one goal or so down. During Carlo's first season, we used to kill games off as early as possible. I remember Malouda saying that the gaffer tells the to ensure they score the first goal as early as possible and try to kill it off so they can maintain a mental edge over the opposition. We need to go back there. I trust Jose in all aspects though. He is the best around and will get things done. We also need to remember that our team is still gelling. things could start looking up before we know and our machine begins to tick all boxes.
04/08/2014 05:13:00
cmon it was a disgusting game full of body checks n fouls ... there was no flow in the game ... n torres was annoying ... and we need our top guys to train with d recruits ... even if we adopt 433 it will b d same teams will sit back n counter us .. its not about the formation its how the players play ... n fabregas is not suited for no 10 his talent gets wasted there of longballs n accurate passing in the gaps ....
04/08/2014 05:28:00
Perfect Analysis. I dont see us tackling these problms and Mourinho is too stubborn to a fault .
Tekszy Maloney
04/08/2014 05:34:00
This pre season is the worst in 10 years for me! a complete lack of motivation throughout the squad! A real failure of management to address team performance related issues. something has to give as certain people in Chelsea's setup seem to be blind to the obvious!!!!
04/08/2014 06:44:00
i agree with most things said. it boils down to the player's consistency in performing week in week out. at the moment we're not getting that. the brazilian connection is definitely not working. the current crop of players you can't say they're bad but neither great either. maybe jose himself is not that fantastic either. has mostly managed teams with a big budget or a top top team in the respective countries with not much opposition. 1st time round chelsea's big budget could attract good players. this time round there are so many other big budget teams around and even arsenal city liverpool are spending big these days. i will also put the blame on the technical director emenalo. if he was responsible for making the recomendations on targets he's done a terrible job. we bent our backs stealing willian from spurs. i mean what was that about? and for 30 mill?? remember kakuta? almost got sanctioned for illegal poaching although that might be before emenalo's time.who else have we signed in the last three years? ramires - heaps of energy but no brains. david luiz - good for shirt sales. torres - this was probably RA's call as was shevchenko. oscar- rare and in between. jose made the call too early about making him his prefered no 10. shurrle- one good game followed by a bad game although i have hopes he will be more consisitent this season. philippe luiz had a shocker against bremen- why sign a 28 year old?? hazard's the only bright spark but towards the end of last season opposition teams had realized how to play him - double and triple team.i'm putting my faith on fabergras to provide the assists to costa this season. if they fail i think jose will be gone before christmas and i'm not sure who wants to take over?
Ronnie Low
04/08/2014 07:08:00
lol r u ppl even cfc fans for god sakes ... waste of time to read ur comments ... we will be ready for epl its still a long time away .....
04/08/2014 07:22:00
and btw the last game is not even worth analysing ... as jose said match was just worthy of practice n nothing more ... dubious refs ... n btw matic mvg n fab is not suited for cfc ... it should be fab at pivot n oscar at no 10 ... shurrle plays so much better at wings than torres ... was good to c courtois playing first time ... n zoumas man marking is a bit bad as of now but is a beast with headers ... costa was also impressive which was the worst complaint last season .. all of a sudden u ppl saying the whole team is bad with formations .. hmmmm
04/08/2014 07:28:00
Valid points all! Definitely we watch instead of taking part early in the game. Early goals are avoidable and should be avoided. Shielding of the defense isn't yet working properly despite some good form of Matic. It seems almost that the play system isn't yet integrated in the spine of the players. During Mourinho's first season we used to grind the result and when we were in the lead, we just controlled the game. The pre-season games have been played using 36 players. This in itself makes it difficult to play as a team. We've got Oscar, Willian, Schürrle to really enter the frame and a half fit Hazard. I believe that Costa will deliver. Zouma propably isn't yet integrated enough. We know it usually takes a while for a player to get used to the English game. My biggest worry is the defense where our marking has been poor. The midfield needs to give a better support to our defenders. All in all, I agree with your points and hope we can fix the faults still before the Big Kick-Off.
04/08/2014 07:35:00
It is only fair that i include a little bit of information i was not privy too earlier. Apparently from Jose's comments the team was traveling for several hours yesterday morning from Holland to get a flight to Germany then traveled by bus again for a few hours to get to Werder...all this on Sunday morning. This is certainly far from ideal and i wonder who dropped the ball for our boys to have ended up with that sort of shoddy arrangement. They should have been in Germany at their hotel on saturday so they could all have a decent nights rest and be well rested for the game on Sunday..This is not a division 2 club for goodness sake and while we are not Real or barca we are not exactly a paupers club either. I really think Jose mentioned all this in the presser to call out whoever messed up the travel arrangements for the team. I am hoping to see an appropriate reaction from the team at our next preseason friendly.
04/08/2014 08:00:00
Agree with all the points except the Lukaku issue; that kid is damn lazy, he doesn't press high up the pitch, he doesn't work hard for the team, he just waits for the ball to played to Him and whooop! Finish it. Chelsea does not play to the CF forwards strength you know. God He is gone but a replacement is expedient...
04/08/2014 08:03:00
yeah poor guys who r gonna face us next game ... annihilation words suits best ... wanna c luis n hazard together
04/08/2014 08:07:00
Nice piece by the author. But I think it's too early to start pressing the panick button. This is a world cup year, and Chelsea had over 60% of their regulars playing in Brazil. They are beginning to trickle in one by one. But I will advise Jose to start using his likely first IX for the next few pre-season games for them to blend and gel better. Our game against Burnley is just 2 weeks away. Also Costa is a deadly finisher and should make more attempts on goal rather than trying to be unselfish all the time. A case study was his unselfish pass to Salah against Bremen who was ruled offside.
04/08/2014 08:10:00
Gabe -- i have voice the exact same issues for quite a few seasons now. In fact i wrote a similar post yesterday on the match review thread. I mention it because i agree to the subject in its entirety and this is what needs immediate fixing. Since we don't have the above mentioned attributes therefore we can't display a fast paced game especially against the lesser teams unlike Liverpool and United especially [with the exception of their last season]. Pace on the ball when mixed with quality upfront, will help us run over the teams that park the bus against us. I saw yesterday's game and i was extremely disappointed to see the same old stuff. This is the exact area Mourinho need to fix, and i am sure he is also working on it. I don't want to see hoof the ball approach, which we might resort to if the game is going 0-0 at the end. Anyways, its good to see that there are others who see the game as i do -- ;) -- Not that we know more about the game than the rest, but at least its not the bashing of Mourinho/Tprres/Mikel/etc for reasons or no reasons. Anyways, nice article, and i hope you get good debate on it.
04/08/2014 08:28:00
Oriol Romeu has today (Monday) joined Stuttgart on a season-long loan. The midfielder, 22, who recently signed a three-year contract at Stamford Bridge, heads to the German top flight. The Spaniard moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2011 from Barcelona, and has so far made 33 Chelsea appearances. He spent last season on loan at Valencia.
04/08/2014 08:54:00
Romeu on loan means Mikel will Stay...Bad choice by Jose.
04/08/2014 08:57:00
It is completely untrue Jose has only achieved his success because he manages the wealthiest clubs. Both his Champions League wins - Porto & Inter Milan - came from teams nobody expected to win the competition (and neither club has come even close to winning since he left them). At Real Madrid he was at a wealthy club however, they had achieved nothing in Europe for years before he arrived and were being completely dominated by Pep's Barcelona in Spain. Jose turned that round and won the league with a record points & goals tally. He also took Real to 3 Champions League SF in a row (losing one on penalties) after 7 or 8 years of Real never getting past the R16. For all Chelsea's flaws last season free scoring Man City & Liverpool only finished with 4 & 2 more points than them. That's not to say I'm not concerned. It is only pre-season and if we win our first 3 or 4 league games all this will be forgotten however, our defense has not looked solid at all this pre-season and Zouma looks well short of Chelsea standard at the moment. Attacking wise apart from Costa none of our attacking players have really started playing yet - Schurrle, Willian, Oscar with Hazard only coming on midway through the second half yesterday. The problem is Jose is saying Schurrle, Willian & Oscar won't feature in the first couple of games. These are 2 games we MUST win.
04/08/2014 09:40:00
anyways news for u guys ROMEU heading out on loan it seems ...
04/08/2014 10:10:00
Well...Respect your articles GabeU. Judge the teams performance when the season kicks off proper. We've been traveling from location to location and at the same time trying to get've compared us to teams that have been camped in the US(ManUtd,Real Madrid,Liverpool et all). Anyways,ill leave it at that,but I've seen enough positives to understand what Jose is trying to implement. Again,judge when the season kicks off.
04/08/2014 10:23:00
Once again we showed nothing up front throughout the game and that shows that last seasons problems have not been solved. Unless Jose lets his players `go` without being so obsessed with having 8 players behind the ball at all times, we are likely to encounter the same issues, with teams that are happy to just sit with men behind the ball and then take their one opportunity when it arrives. Drogba and Torres are really both past their sell by dates, so we are totally reliant upon Costa, which is a big, big gamble. Football has changed over the last 10 years and it worries me that we are still trying to play with the same way as before, rather than adapt.
04/08/2014 11:45:00
Not sure if all these issues can be fixed in 2 weeks or this transfer window or this season. A lot of comparisons also mentioned in this article are not really complete - Walcott and Chamberlain were mostly injured and Arsenal were pretty much garbage against the top 4 teams. They didn't even win a game against Moyes!!!!!!! For all the praise I am seeing for BRENDAN RODGERS, his performance last season is largely down to Suarez having a blinder of a season and being in crazy form. If he was that good, how come he had no solution for a defense that conceDED 50 goals in the PL. That's pathetic. He will be surely exposed this season. While Pellegrini if I am correct has benefited from having the best central midfielder in the premiership play for him. I agree with you about getting a credible number 2 as we only have number 3 in Drogba and a 10th string striker in Torres. Hopefully our forwards turn up this season. I am confident about Schurrle. Let's see if Eden Hazard has a breakout season of reaching 15 goals in the EPL because as he is now, he hasn't tallied up significant goals to beat his Lille record by a wide margin (from open plays).
04/08/2014 11:53:00
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