By Mac Byrne

It’s that time of year again – where the 2011/12 season really starts. ‘But this season isn’t over yet’, I hear you cry! Technically true, but as any football fan knows, this is the time of year where the hard work really starts; The time of year where chairmen are jittering, managers sweating, players relaxing  and agents  laughing!

And nowhere more so this year than at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. As was seen in the January window, with bottomless pockets of Russian readies, Roman Abramovich can act on just about any whim he likes, so there’s sure to be a West Enders soap opera this summer.

On the pitch…  with Fernando Torres currently showing – third – world class, the £50million question is whether to stick or twist? To cut your losses and farm ‘Nando back out to Spain where they still remember him as a goal-scoring machine rather than a malfunctioning appliance, or to take a gamble and… uchuhhhh, clear my throat…  build a team around him to challenge Manchester United and Europe’s best!

In and around the dug out – and talking of stick or twist – perhaps the bigger question is whether to activate the Chelsea Manager’s infamous ejector seat.  With a manager a season for the past four years continuity is the buzz word here; continuity with a regime that changes every year, or with a manager and a set of players that only narrowly missed out on this season’s big prizes?

With what has been an uncharacteristically trophy-less season at the Bridge, the naysayers are again out in force identifying this as the latest ‘now’ to put a broom through the proverbial boot room and offload the old guard in favour of new blood.  Obviously this is where all those players over 30 – and their agents – start getting tetchy, or rather itchy for a last big money move before Europe’s hot seats are filled.

So, who’s in, who’s out, and does the club need to be shaken all about? IS it time for Drogba to depart, Essien to exit or Frank to find pastures new?  With Chelsea’s new money attracting no shortage of replacements eager to ‘fill their boots’, we are set for a summer of speculation before teams regroup from their pre-season brand awareness exercises for August’s big kick off.

With the end well and truly nigh with promotions, relegations and administrations being settled,   it’s time for the rumour mill to really kick in. So keep your ear to the ground and your eyes on the stars – we’re already heading into a new season…

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