Can We Replace The Old Guard From Within?
The Chelsea careers of the ‘old guard’ are coming to a close, and as sad as it will be to see them leave, I wonder what the club’s plan...
Well, starting at the base of the team’s spine we have Cech. I’ll say now that I see his position as a bit of a non-issue for two reasons.
1) We have Courtois on loan, a man just as good, if not better than Cech. Whenever Cech’s days are numbered we can just give Atletico a shout and he’ll be on the first plain to
2) In the unlikely event that we do sell Courtois, as per the rumours over his future, Cech is perfectly capable of staying with us for many years to come. In a way, he shouldn’t really be included in the Old Guard, because at the age of 30, in goalkeeping years, he isn’t that old at all. In fact we are going to have an absolute migraine if Courtois and Cech are ever competing for a place in the starting line-up.
Cole presents the most complex situation. The two potential’s that
have to replace him are Ryan Bertrand and Patrick van Aanaholt. Are either of
them good enough? I would argue that Bertrand isn’t. He has been underwhelming
at best this season, even if he was impressive in the run up to the Champions
league final. To be fair to him, many of his performances have come on the wing
which is not his natural position, but even when he has started at left-back
he’s been freaking me out a bit; I don’t feel comfortable with attacks coming
down the left when he is playing.
In fact from what I’ve seen of him I think van Aanholt is the stronger candidate. He excites me greatly and I’m a bit gutted that he hasn’t been loaned out in
this season to be honest. The problem with him though is that we haven’t seen
him play in the Premier League and so we really can’t be sure, however well he
is playing for Vitesse, if he will be good enough.
We need a new signing to replace Cole because I don’t think we have a ready made replacement ready to take over the reigns at left-back. Speculate on who you want, but the only left-back we seem to have been linked to is Luke Shaw (yes please!), but even he is still in his youth. In any case, Cole will sadly be here until the end of next season. I say “sadly” with great regret but I have been disappointed with his performances for a long time. All my respect goes out to him, shooting interns aside, and I hope he can still play a positive role with us until he leaves.
Terry is simpler because we just happen to have a lot of cover in his position. Luiz, Ivanovic and Cahill are all strong members of the squad who we can be confident of starting in his place, as we have been for most of the season. We’ve also got Nathaniel Chalobah and Tomas Kalas waiting in the wings, both of whom have been impressing on their loan spells.
I don’t see any need to sign anybody new to replace Terry, we have adequate cover already: three quality and experienced centre backs and two promising youth prospects. Roman’s money will be better spent elsewhere.
Now this, this is the guy. Lampard…. Lampard, lampard, Lampard… I will miss him dearly, but I do believe his time has come. I doubt he will be given a new contract and in fact I think this would be for the best. All my respect goes out to him as well, but he isn’t really capable or good enough to be starting every game for us anymore. This would not be a problem if he didn’t want to play every game, but I believe that desire is in his nature. I don’t think he would be content with the bench, and even if he was, I doubt he would sign a deal on reduced pay. If he was happy with both of these things, then he is worth keeping but with financial fair play in effect and his determination to be playing football matches I can’t see this scenario playing out.
So can we replace him from within? Well we have two players who are out on loan that can play the deep role he is in right now: Kevin de Bruyne and Josh McEachran. KDB will definitely be with us next season and I am excited by his imminent return, and yes, I think he is perfectly capable of replacing Lampard in that position. He has experience of playing in that deep role (even if he hasn’t played there too much this season) and is a great candidate for being the box-to-box midfield that spreads the play, sitting alongside a more defensive partner. I don’t think McEachran is ready for this yet, but he may well be one day. He’s been given the chances to play for premier league teams but hasn’t been able to make an impact so far in that respect. It’s hard to say whether he will get loaned out again or be in our squad next year.
Although I believe we can replace Lampard without making a new signing, I am more concerned about the depth in that position. Mikel and Romeu are our defensive players in the pivot (with Luiz able to step in too) but if McEachran gets loaned out we would only have KDB and Ramires in Lampard’s current role next season. I think signing another player, similar to what Lampard has been for us this season, is necessary. It would be nice if this was a big name but with KDB there it doesn’t absolutely have to be. I am of course working under the assumption that KDB will play there next season; he may be used further up the pitch, but considering that we have attacking midfielders coming out of our ears at the moment, I expect him to play deeper.
So there’s my take on it. Let me just be clear that what I say about Cole and Lampard not being good enough is not meant to be disrespectful. I have a lot of appreciation for what both of them have done. I just feel that if they leave now their legendary status will be cemented into the club for ever, and that if they don't it shall be damaged. Do what Drogba did, leave on top just before your downfall. It may be too late for Cole in that he has already signed a new deal, but if Lampard stays I don’t think he will be helping himself or the club.
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