92 clubs favourite players – Chelsea – Juan Mata

If I had chosen to do this last season then there would not have been a problem with my selection for my favourite Chelsea player but things have changed over the summer.

The man that I enjoy watching the most is Juan Mata but unfortunately for me and a lot of other football fans Jose Mourinho isn’t giving us the opportunity to watch his talents on a regular basis. For one reason or another the Chelsea boss has decided he has better options in his squad and completely disregarded last season. Mata was in my opinion the best player in the Premier League last year and yes I am one of the few that believe he was better than Gareth Bale. In his 35 league games last year he got 11 goals and 17 assists which makes it even more remarkable that Mourinho doesn’t select him week in and week, and in total for both club and country last year in his 74 games he got 21 goals and 39 assists which means he was directly involved in 60 goals. It seemed like he was just going to get better and better but now that has all stopped and I have very rarely questioned the ‘Special One’ before but surely this is a massive blunder on his part. Yes he has multiple options to choose from but Mata has to be the first name on the team sheet for me, he is easily the most consistent of the attacking players.
Mata
His defensive side of the game has been questioned and if that is the reason he has been left out then maybe that is understandable but give the ball to Mata in the final third and chances will come and with Chelsea’s strikers not exactly hitting top form they need several of those at the moment. I am not going to say that the reason Chelsea have started slowly is because Mata has not been on the pitch but it is a factor that needs to be considered.

Mata at Chelsea needs to be given a role that Bale had at Tottenham, Cristiano Ronaldo has at Real Madrid and to a lesser extent Hatem Ben Arfa at Newcastle United. Just put him on the pitch and let him do whatever he wants, if you give him the ball your team will have a better chance of scoring simply because he is on the pitch. Will you be as solid defensively? No but sometimes you just have to say to these sorts of players go out there and enjoy what you are good at, taking players on, causing problems for the opposition defence and winning games of football basically on your own. This may sound like he is a ball greedy player but he has phenomenal vision and just look at his stats he clearly cares more about the ball ending up in the back of the net rather than scoring himself.

So the question is, should Mata be in the starting 11 every week? Has Mourinho got this one wrong? Does he now have to leave the club?

Advertisements

Who will win the Premier League?

The Premier League will be very difficult to predict this season because of all the changes that have taken place over the summer.

Three of the top five have new managers so will that work in their favour or will it take them a while to adjust to their new jobs.
Manchester City under Manuel Pellegrini will be an interesting prospect because he does like his teams to play more attacking football and win every game that they play. This is different to former manager Roberto Mancini who at times was a little negative. The signings the club has made will surely improve the squad and I am excited to see how Stevan Jovetic does because he could easily be the signing of the season.

Jose Mourinho is back at Chelsea and this might just make them become the best team in the country once again. He has a great team to work with and will be hoping that he can replicate his first spell in charge. It will be interesting to see if he still favours the players that were there in his first spell like John Terry who should not be in a title winning first 11 anymore. He has a tough choice in picking his main striker this year because Romelu Lukaku, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba are all capable on their day.

Sir Alex Ferguson has left Manchester United in a very strong position so it should not be too hard for David Moyes to at least challenge for the title this season because they still have the same team. The Wayne Rooney saga over the summer will not have helped things and the fact that he has not been able to convince many players to join them will be a little concerning. There will be even more pressure on Robin Van Persie to succeed this season and Moyes has to hope they do not become a one man team.

Arsenal are another club that has struggled in convincing players that they are the team they should be joining but if they can bring in someone like Luis Suarez then they could be right up there come the end of the season. As much as Arsene Wenger thinks top four is good enough I believe this may be his last season in charge if they do not come close to the title again. They have been falling further and further behind their rivals and that is probably why they have tried to spend a lot of money this summer.

Tottenham Hotspur could be seen as outsiders for the title because at times they did play some good stuff last year but unfortunately a lot does rest on whether they can keep hold of Gareth Bale. I do not think they are a one man team but he did win a lot of games for them last year but the signing of Roberto Soldado is a very good one and if he hits the ground running they will have a clinical striker on their hands that will add goals consistently which Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor failed to do last season.

Who will be Manchester City’s next manager?

Manchester City are looking for a new manager after they decided Roberto Mancini had not done a good enough all round job.
Man City
In their statement they seemed happy with the work the Italian did on the pitch but his work off it was not up to standard. Mancini did not have the greatest relationship with the board or his players and this has ended up working against him. But, I think he still did a good job and even if the players didn’t like him they still performed to a high level. The question now then is, would they have played even better if they had a different manager? The City board obviously feel that they will and with no trophies this season it was time to go. I really hope this isn’t the start of things to come at the club because I thought they understood football a bit more than other foreign owners and won’t just keep sacking managers every time they have a poor season. Mancini is a good manager but even at Inter Milan he never really came close to winning the Champions League so he was always going to get sacked sooner rather than later at Man City if this didn’t change.

But who will get the job next? The clear favourite is current Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini. Make no mistake about it Pellegrini is a fantastic manager but he is also one of the most unlucky managers in world football. If you look down his honours as a manager there isn’t a lot to see but when you actually look at the statistics it makes you realise how brilliant he is. In his one season at Real Madrid they finished with 96 points, scoring over 100 goals and somehow still failed to clinch the title. It seems like he is going to get the job and he will yet again be a success but will he get the luck at Man City?
Pellegrini
Jose Mourinho is also being linked with the job and this seems very unlikely at the moment with everyone expecting him to join Chelsea in the summer. But if Man City really want the ‘Special One’ then I think they could convince him to join them because they have a lot of money and the board seem a little less controlling than Roman Abramovich at Chelsea so that may just sway his decision. Very unlikely at this stage though.
Mourinho
The next option is someone that I feel has been harshly criticised this season and that man is Rafael Benitez. In my opinion he has done very well at Chelsea and could leave the club with a European trophy and a third place finish. I understand with the team he has they should possibly be closer to the title but with a 56% win record in the Premier League he has proven that if he is given a full season then they will be right in the mix come the end of the season. He came close to winning the title with Liverpool and now with Alex Ferguson leaving Manchester United the title race will be wide open and his experience of being at the very top might just give him the advantage.
Benitez

Who will be the next Everton manager?

Everton are searching for a new manager after David Moyes decided to take over at Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson retires.

Moyes, did a fantastic job and deserves a lot of credit for what he has done at the club and even though he has not delivered any trophies in his time at the club, he has certainly raised the profile of the club and made them a much better side then when he first took over. I am sure there will be some Everton fans that are disappointed in Moyes leaving but that is to be expected but they must surely understand this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, not only for him to manage Manchester United but for a British manager to be in charge of one of the top clubs in the Premier League. Personally, I hope he does really well as this will encourage other clubs to take a chance on British managers rather than constantly looking abroad. His 42.05% win record is very good, especially when you consider that they battled against relegation a few times under him. But, now it is time to look for a new manager to continue the good work of Moyes.

Roberto Martinez is the favourite for the job and I can fully understand why he is being linked with the job. Martinez has got Wigan Athletic playing some good football and if he had better players at his disposal I think he could replicate the finishing positions of Moyes. If Wigan do go down I do think he will leave and I don’t think that should put Everton off getting him in as boss. He is good at bringing in good players at low prices and finding young talent that will go onto bigger and better things and although Everton aren’t a selling club, they do not have a lot of money to spend on transfers so this is a perfect fit.

Someone that has been linked with the job early on is Vitor Pereira and I was very surprised with this. He is currently the manager of Porto and has had a very good start to his managerial career but he was heavily criticised because of their elimination from the Champions League and this may just make him want to leave the club in the summer. He may turn out to be successful and follow in the wings of Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas in becoming a good Premier League manager.

Neil Lennon is also linked with the job and this could be possible because he has won nearly everything at Celtic and at the moment the SPL certainly isn’t very strong and they should walk the league for a number of years to come. This could mean that he wants a new challenge and a good move for him could be Everton and I would like to see how well he would do in England. However, I do think he could be a risky choice because even with all his trophies, he is largely untested at a good level.

Others linked with the job are Phil Neville, Michael Laudrup and Martin O’Neill.

Who will be the next Manchester United manager?

Alex Ferguson has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the season so Manchester United will be searching for a new manager.
Manchester United
Whether you love him or hate everyone simply has to respect Sir Alex because of his phenomenal record. In my opinion he has finished in the perfect way, delivering the title comfortably and bringing through a lot of good young players that will be the future of the club for many years to come. I don’t know how long he has been thinking about this decision but he has definitely wanted to make sure that the club are still the top team in England after he has finished. Nobody can compare to his record of 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions Leagues, a Cup Winners Cup, Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, Club World Cup and 10 Community Shields. He has so far been in charge of 1497 games and won 893 of those, giving him a 59.65% win record but what is even more remarkable is that he only lost 267 games. But now it is time to move on and search for a successor that can continue his work.

The favourite to take over is fellow Scotsman David Moyes who has been doing a very good job at Everton. He has been in charge of the club since 2002 and has been one of the best managers in the Premier League since then, overachieving several times and leading them into Europe on a number of occasions. However, the only worry that could occur is whether he is a big enough name and get the respect of the international players already at the club. Also, he hasn’t won any trophies in his 11 years at Everton, with the closest being a defeat in the 2009 FA Cup final.
David Moyes
Jose Mourinho is also in the running for the post but I am unsure whether this is possible because it does seem like he will be joining Chelsea in the summer after Rafael Benitez leaves the club. But, if they cannot agree a deal with Real Madrid then that could leave the door open for the team from Manchester. I do think that he would be interested and it would be his way of showing that he is the best and the special one by replicating and possibly surpassing Sir Alex’s record.
FC Internazionale Milano vs AS Bari - Serie A 2009/2010
Another name that I do believe deserves a mention is Jurgen Klopp because he is one of the best up and coming managers in Europe. He is only in his second managerial position but he has got Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League final this season and has got the team playing some fantastic football with a good young team. This is where I think he fits in with the way things are at Old Trafford because he will look to the youth and bring in younger players. If he gets the job then I believe he will be a massive success and improve the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp

Who will win the Champions League?

The Champions League has reached the quarter final stage and it is quite wide open at the minute and it is difficult to pick a winner.

Looking at the teams, the favourites are still Barcelona even though they may not have been as dominant as usual in recent weeks. However, they proved to the rest of Europe that they are not going to be easy to knock out. 2-0 down after the first leg, they managed to win the second leg 4-0 and put on a fantastic performance. I do think they can win it but must perform better away from home.

Spanish rivals Real Madrid are second favourite, and you can understand why. They may even be a little annoyed that they aren’t considered the favourites by the bookies but with Jose Mourinho in charge and Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch they look a force and will do everything they can to win the competition. For me I think they can win it because in Mourinho they have one of the best tacticians in world football and some may argue that this is his competition.

Third favourite are Bayern Munich and they probably would have been more fancied had they not limped over the line against Arsenal. After securing a 3-1 away win, it should have been comfortable, however they lost the second leg 2-0 and only went through on away goals. This has obviously caused some concern but it really shouldn’t because they have a fantastic team and they may have just been slightly too complacent. Plus there manager will want to leave the club on a high and win the big trophy.

Another team from Germany have also made it to the quarter finals and Dortmund could be the dark horses in this competition. In the last couple of years they have been a breath of fresh air and will certainly give anyone a game. Throughout the squad they have very good players that have been underrated and maybe don’t get the spotlight as much as they should. Players like Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze are just two that have finally caught the attention this season.

In the Champions League there are always fantastic teams and this year realistically anyone could win it. Italian giants Juventus will not want to be wrote out just yet and will feel that they will be picking up the trophy at the end of the season. Experience has been key and they have been very quiet for a number of years now and may have been fortunate with their last draw against Celtic but they still comfortably beat the determined Scottish side.

Even the sixth favourite team have a chance of winning the competition. PSG have the players, they have the manager and they have the experience to win games when they probably haven’t been at their best. Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have a big say in where the trophy goes, when he is on form he can be lethal but too often he isn’t quite at it. If he and the rest of their attacking talent like Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore backing him up they should score goals against anyone but can they keep it tight enough at the back?

Galatasaray were probably just happy to get to this stage but with recent signings of Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder they may have just set their sights a little higher and they could win the tournament. A lot of people will write them off but it isn’t always the most glamorous club that wins the trophy, just look at Porto when they won it. Also, going to Turkey is never easy and they may get a lot of joy at home in an intimidating atmosphere.

Finally, Malaga are also still in the tournament and for me they are the only team that I don’t believe could win it and that is unfortunate because they did very well getting through the group stages and then knocking out Porto. All the other teams will be hoping to draw Malaga but that could work in their advantage, being the underdog.

It is difficult to bet against Barcelona and they are the team I think will win it but it all depends on the draw, so if they don’t my second pick would be Bayern Munich.

Who do you think will win the Champions League?

How will the English teams perform in the Champions League group stages?

The Champions League group stage has been drawn and even though English teams are usually very good at qualifying through their group it may not be as easy this team.

No doubt, Manchester City have the hardest group with Spanish giants Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund. Madrid may pose the biggest threat with Jose Mourinho as their manager and he will be desperate to win the trophy again. Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously one of their biggest threats but they have quality all through their side and if City want to prove they are one of the best teams in Europe they will have to top the group and show up the former Chelsea manager. But, City may not even get in the top two because Ajax have a lot of quality themselves with players like Christian Eriksen in their side and you cannot discount Dortmund as they should never have been in the bottom pot anyway and have won the German league twice in a row.

Now, neighbours Manchester United have a much easier task as they should top the group if they play to their potential and I can’t see Braga, Galatasaray or Cluj topping this group. The current Galatasaray squad contains a few former Premier League players in Milan Baros, Emmanuel Eboue and Johan Elmander so they will want to show their quality and show everyone they are good enough against English opposition. Braga are an interesting side but unfortunately for them they can never seem to take that extra step and compete right at the very top and are seen as the customary third place team in Portugal. Cluj will probably be the whipping boys of the group however it is worth noting that they have beaten Roma and drawn with Chelsea in the past so they may be dark horses.

Arsenal will face Schalke, Olympiakos and Montpellier in their group matches and they will also be hoping that they don’t have too many problems. Arsenal new boy Olivier Giroud will travel to the club he signed from a lot sooner than he probably expected and the French champions will want to show Giroud that he was wrong for leaving and should have stayed but I can’t see them posing too much of a threat. What separates Schalke from the rest in this group is they have a goal scorer that is feared all over Europe and can score all different types of goals and that man is Klaas Jan Huntelaar, he will try and show Arsene Wenger that maybe he should have tried to sign him instead of Lukas Podolski and Giroud. Olympiakos will always cause problems at home for any team so they will be relying on that and goalkeeper Roy Carroll may have a lot of work to do in the group stages.

Finally, reigning champions Chelsea will be hoping to start their campaign comfortably and they will surely progress but may not get things their own way with Shaktar Donetsk, Juventus and Nordsjaelland in their group. The standout team is Juventus but they are not the team they once were even though they were very impressive in Serie A last season. But, if Chelsea can stop Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield they will have a great chance of winning the group. Shaktar are also a decent side and have won the Ukrainian title for the last two seasons so they may put more of an effort into trying to topple some of the bigger teams in Europe this year and it is always difficult to play away in Eastern Europe so that could be difficult for Chelsea. Nordsjaelland are the current Danish champions but not a lot is known about them so everyone is expecting them to lose all of their games but this could work in their advantage and they could pull off a few shocks

Have Chelsea moved on since Jose Mourinho left?

Chelsea have secured their place in the Champions League semi final after a hard fought victory against Benfica.

This victory sets up a game against the best team in the world and their players know that they will have to perform better than they did over these two legs. The away performance was very good for a European game, nicking an away goal and keeping a clean sheet, you cannot ask for anymore than that but the worrying thing was the home game. Chelsea took the lead after Ashley Cole was brought down in the box to win a penalty which Frank Lampard scored and this should have really allowed the English team to push on and win the game comfortably but somehow they let Benfica back into the game and maybe this was down to complacency as they may have felt, like most did, that the y were in the semi final. Even when Benfica were reduced to ten men they still didn’t really dominate the game like they should have done and allowed the Portuguese team back in the game as they conceded an equaliser on the night and possibly a crucial away goal.

The most worrying thing for Chelsea is that they were outplayed and outclassed for much of the game and no offence to Benfica but if they can do that then Barcelona will destroy them. Yes people will say the older more experienced players got them through but I also believe that they are part of the problem, most of these players played under Jose Mourinho where one goal was usually enough and they never tried to force the game after they took a lead. I think that the likes of Lampard and Terry are still in this mould of thinking and that’s why they sat deep and tried to soak up the pressure, but the team isn’t good enough to do that anymore and these players need to wake up as it has cost them multiple times this season especially at home. Stamford Bridge isn’t the fortress it used to be and teams have proven that if you attack Chelsea they will fold a lot easier than they did in the past.

Mourinho still in the heads of the Chelsea players

Looking forward to the semi final and I believe that everyone will expect Barcelona to win and this could play into Chelsea’s hands as they will be underdogs and AC Milan proved that if you remain solid and break quickly on the counter, you can cause the Barca defence problems. It took two penalties from Lionel Messi to effectively the end the contest at the Nou Camp and if Chelsea remain resilient and disciplined they do actually have a chance of beating them.

Didier Drogba has to be a starter for me as he could dominate the backline and will hold up the ball effectively which alleviate the pressure that will be on the defence for most of the game. However, Fernando Torres may start and this could be the opportunity he needs to live up to his price tag and make him a Chelsea hero.

Chelsea will face Benfica in the quarter final of the Champions League

After overcoming Napoli, Chelsea will face Benfica in the next round of the Champions League as they look to progress to the semi final.

Roberto Di Matteo will not be too disappointed with this draw as they know Benfica are a good side therefore they will not underestimate them and make sure his team prepare for the game properly but on the other hand he will also know that it could have been worse for his side. They came back fantastically against Napoli after a 3-1 defeat in the first leg but they managed to win 4-1 in extra time at Stamford Bridge and by doing this they have let everyone in Europe know that they are not finished yet and they still have enough quality left to win the whole competition.

Would they have progressed if Andre Villas Boas was still in charge? In my opinion no because the players looked happier and looked like they wanted to play for the man in charge. John Terry scored and had an all round fantastic game before going off injured, he wanted to get his head on every ball possible which he may not have done a few weeks ago. Frank Lampard scored a crucial penalty and he was also more influential in this game than I have seen him for quite a while and when he is on form you know he can get a goal or provide an assist. Didier Drogba opened the scoring and looked like a man possessed and someone that wanted to get Chelsea through all by himself and his performance reminded me of when Jose Mourinho was in charge and he destroyed opposition defences.

Lampard, Terry and Drogba celebrate a goal

These players may be a few years older now but they have proven when they want to, they can still put in match winning performances and on the night they all had to. The players showed a lot of togetherness and as soon as the first goal went in there was no doubt in my mind who would go through.

If Chelsea do progress, and they will be favourites to do so, they will face either Milan or Barcelona. Which will not be easy as Barcelona are clearly the best team in Europe right now and Milan showed everyone against Arsenal that if they are on form they can give a team a good beating, so it will not be easy for Chelsea but if they can get through the Benfica tie, they will grow more in confidence and they could spring a shock in the semi final.

The other quarter finals drew together APOEL from Cyprus and the European giants Real Madrid and in the other semi final they will face either Marseille or Bayern Munich. In my opinion even though APOEL  have done amazingly well Real Madrid will be the happiest of all the teams in the draw while Marseille and Bayern could be really close as they both possess real quality in their side.

It could be a fantastic quarter final this year with a lot of goals rather than the usual tactical battle so I for one cannot wait for the games to get underway.

Who will be the next Chelsea manager?

Chelsea have sacked their manager Andre Villas Boas and will try to find someone who can deal with Abramovich, Terry, Lampard and Drogba.

I do not who is worse because it is blatant that these players run Chelsea and if they don’t like a manager then he will not last very long. At least Abramovich owns the club and can do whatever he wants because it is his money that he is pumping into the club but the players have no excuse, it doesn’t matter who the manager is, he deserves respect and should have full control over the team and not be influenced by players. This is why I feel sorry for Villas Boas because he is only a young manager and would have had a great future at Chelsea if the old regime weren’t there. I blame Mourinho slightly for this because he gave the players the confidence and made them feel like they were the best in the world and now nobody can control them.

This is why Jose Mourinho should be a contender for the job and if Chelsea want to be real challengers for the title then they have to bring the man in at all costs. He is the ‘Special One’ and nobody can argue with his record, everywhere he has been he has won trophies, including the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan. In his first spell, he only lost 18 games out of 185, so why did he ever leave? Abramovich is the reason  and he needs to swallow his pride and do whatever is necessary to make sure that Mourinho manages Chelsea again because they desperately need him.

However, if the club don’t want to hire him then there are plenty of other candidates, Rafael Benitez has been linked with the job and he has also won the Champions League which is what Abramovich wants so that gives him a good chance. But when he was manager of Liverpool, he did a solid job but nothing more than that, he got them into the Champions League most years and had a decent win percentage. However, between him and Roy Hodgson they have left Liverpool in a position that they probably shouldn’t be in. Also, his last job at Inter Milan went horrifically even with some world class players like Wesley Sneijder, he could not get them to perform. He may get the respect of the players because of his achievements but this is not a certainty with the massive egos at the club.

Finally, Pep Guardiola is a huge name in the game and has won loads of trophies at Barcelona and therefore if he wants the job, he should probably be given it. Will he want the job though? He might want a new challenge especially if he wins the Champions League yet again and he might just want to test himself in a new environment. However, if he did come to England I think he would rather go to Manchester United or Arsenal because I think they would suit him more.

Mourinho and Guardiola

An outsider is David Moyes but this is very unlikely as he isn’t the biggest name and I think Abramovich cares about that and will take it into consideration. The next manager should be Mourinho and if they can patch up their differences then Chelsea will be a force yet again and the players will know who is boss. Player power cost Villas Boas his job but I don’t think that could happen to Mourinho because he has a bigger ego than all of them put together and this is the reason why he is so successful.