By Kieran Lovelock
Have you ever walked into a place and got the feeling that it is simply in need of massive all round changes?
It may a company where the people have been there too long and don’t seem to have the same bright ideas that they used to have, or it could be someone’s house where the furniture is years out of date.
Since 2004, when Jose Mourinho took over at Chelsea, the club has had success based on a very identifiable style of play built around players with certain qualities. In short Chelsea have been effective but far from spectacular through the use of established performers such as Frank Lampard, John Terry, Petr Cech and Ashley Cole.
These players have been of a world class caliber in their careers but essentially fail to offer balance to a side desperately in need of a spark and a sense of unpredictability.
However, what is more significant is that all of these players have appeared to hit the same stage of their careers at the same time. Terry is 31, Lampard, Ferreira and Drogba are all 32, Ashley Cole is 30, and Anelka turns 32 in a just a few weeks.
All of these players have been key to Chelsea’s success since 2003 and continue to provide the spine upon which the side is built. But there is one big problem and that is that none of them are getting any better. For it is no longer 2005 when it was clear that Lampard was developing into one of the best goal scoring midfielders in the world or when Didier Drogba showed the potential required for greatness.
John Terry can no longer claim to be one of Europe’s best central defenders and Nicolas Anelka is seemingly be primed for a position behind the front two to in order to combat the nature of age.
However, one must not feel sympathy for Chelsea being in this position for it is all a result of the way in which the club has been operated. The “win at all costs culture” is apparently bigger at the bottom end of the EPL table than at the top as clubs battle to stay up and in order to remain financially stable. But nowhere are managers given less time to develop a team than at Chelsea, evidenced by the type of signings the club makes and the way in which they play.
Chelsea’s direct and blunt style is hardly the best to develop young players (as against Arsene Wenger’s way of doing things) and their strategy has been simple- buy players at their peak and fit them into a system that will guarantee short term results.
But now the players cannot guarantee the results due to the fact that, much like all aging employees do in any other business, they have lost their spark and have apparently gone stale.
Can anyone see them winning the league with six players over the age of 30 in the starting lineup? It may be possible in Europe where the pace of the game is far slower, but it is extremely unlikely in England.
It would therefore be logical to think that the signing of Fernando Torres from Liverpool was not simply an act of Roman Abramovich flexing his muscles but as a sign that Chelsea are beginning to realize that they are in need of a change, maybe even a total clearout.
For Chelsea to become the force they once were it may take two seasons of patient development. They can no longer afford to buy players in the late twenties but need to focus far more on up and coming talent, much like Arsenal have done.
Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and John Terry have all been massive performers for Chelsea and The Blues may find it hard to dispatch of these fantastic servants.
What must be remembered however is that tradition is all well and good until it stands in the way of progress. Chelsea have become instantly recognizable through their effective style of play of which certain players have become synonymous with, but major change needs to happen prevent Chelsea from failing to progress any further.