By Mike Ferry
As we come to the end of what seems like the longest summer in recorded history we can all finally rest easy knowing that we can celebrate at having our beloved Chelsea back. Living in Canada, a country where winters last longer than a Tottenham trophy drought you would think it crazy to want summer to be through, yet here I sit getting my Chelsea toque (Canadian for warm me the fuck up hat) and long socks out for what we all hope to be another memorable season. However this time of year I always reserve special celebration for the greatest of gifts: the end of the bloody transfer window. This summer seems to have been an endless nightmare of media speculation, astronomical fees for players and social media half twits screaming ANNOUNCE SANDRO, ANNOUNCE AUBAMEYANG, ANNOUNCE THE SECOND COMING OF PETER FUCKING OSGOOD and I for one am glad to see the end of it. There have been many rumblings throughout the press as to whether or not the window should still be open when the proverbial rubber hits the road and the real football starts. I personally feel that the window should only remain open in August to allow the PGMOL a chance to transfer in some half decent officials so the fans aren’t left to wonder what the hell Mike Dean might put us through week in week out.
In all honesty it has become a circus these days placing clubs under increased pressure to keep up with the teams in Europe that throw around both transfer and agents fees the like of which we have never seen (here’s looking at you Jose), while also appeasing the masses who will only applaud the board if they sign Lionel Messi. Having been quite critical of the board throughout the summer I’ve taken a step back to reflect on what has to be said is a decent summer in terms of business. Although it has been a one in one out policy at Chelsea for quite some time we have to appreciate the quality of the players brought in. Bakayoko looks a beast that unlike Matic might actually be able to run quicker than a herd of turtles and can probably turn slightly quicker than milk. Morata might actually be a striker who can be just as predatory as Costa yet manage to not piss off the entire league, or rack up more suspensions than a truant school boy. Rudiger looks like more than cover for our defense and with the right time to acclimatize to the pace of the Premier League could well become an ever present in the future. Although clearly more is needed in order to compete on all fronts and avoid a crisis scenario should injuries arise, the starting eleven seems settled once all are fit and only minor additions are needed to fill out the squad.
My only issue with the current state of transfer affairs at Chelsea has been the apparent lack of timely decisions and stubborness. Max Alegri clearly stated that Alex Sandro was not going to be sold yet we persisted with multiple futile bids. Understanding that testing a team’s resolve is one thing, and banging your face into a brick wall is something entirely different. This current board at Chelsea might want to give this consideration in future windows and always ensure that backup targets are identified early and business is conducted as quickly as possible to avoid eleventh hour panic.
Looking for hidden gems seems to be a thing of the past in terms of player recruitment. Can anyone remember how many teams were battling us to secure the services of Azpilicueta for 7.5 million quid? Or how about the overlooked defender that people still shit on that we signed from Bolton for 7 million? Supporters seem to feel the need to hold our current captain up to immense criticism yet I’d like them to suss out a rock solid defender that does nothing but win trophies for that price. Here’s hoping that in future windows the board can look a bit outside the box and get a bit more creative in terms of recruitment. It seems that once the tabloids link a player it becomes a lemming-esque, cliff diving, forgone conclusion to pay more for Danny Drinkwater than we did for N’golo Kante. Of course it’s not as easy as snapping your fingers and FIFA 18’ing your way to a Blaise Matuidi transfer it shocks me at 18 million we weren’t in for him and Juventus made off like bandits there. Of course here I am falling into the tabloid trap myself as Drinkwater and another target in Chamberlain (who may have just turned us down in order to play for the Scousers) are not yet signed and until they are its all fake news.
Here in Toronto we have been treated to one of the best and most overlooked players in the last decade, a player who has been ostracized from both Europe and the Italian national team. Sebastian Giovinco at 5’4 is so tiny you could fit him in your pocket. Which is fitting seeing as that in his pocket is where most defenders he plays reside on a weekly basis. Fifty eight goals and forty one assists in eighty nine appearances is an astonishing record, and with ten of those goals coming from direct free kicks it has led to commentators stating don’t foul T.F.C inside fifty yards or the little guy will burn you. With David Villa in the midst of an incredible season at age thirty five and Spain light up front due to one of their top strikers being unfit and sulking in Brazil doing interviews for the Daily Mail, they have handed El Guaje a call up. With Giovinco having long been banished by the Italian national team one can only hope he gets the same opportunity as it’s one he truly deserves. His agent Andrea D’Amico yesterday labeled the continuing omission of Giovinco “absurd”.
“I find it absurd,” said D’Amico. “It’s a shame that a player with his skill, with his characteristics and his eye for goal isn’t called. Giovinco knows how to score in every way, even from free kicks, he’s a starter for his club and an absolute star in MLS. I don’t understand why players on the bench for Italian teams are getting called up instead, but sadly the story is always the same lately”.
Although conflicting transfer windows could hinder a return to Europe one might wonder could the little wizard be given a chance to shine once again on the big stage? It’s worth noting that the manager who both vaulted him into the first team at Juventus in 2012 and exiled him from the Italian squad for Euro 2016 was, you guessed it Antonio Conte. Conte stated:
“When you make a certain choice to and go to play in certain leagues, you do so taking into account that you could pay the consequence from a footballing viewpoint”.
In response to his omission Giovinco stated that he was “always looking to improve his skills to make it back to the national team” and I think his case has been made. Although it seems a bit late to hope for a romantic reunion between Conte and Giovinco at Chelsea I can continue to dream. If that fails hopefully by Thursday at 11 PM GMT the Armenian Premier league have signed both Bobby Madley and Mike Dean on a free. Good to be back isn’t it?
In closing I’d like to ask you all to give a word of support and a helping hand to our fellow Blues down deep in the heart of Texas as they have had quite a rough go of it due to Hurricane Harvey. The Bayou City Blues are currently running a charity clothing/food drive and a go fund me to help out the beleaguered citizens of Houston. Please reach out to them on twitter @BayouCityBlues for more details and feel free to leave your messages of support. As all good Blues fans know we’re a family and we are all in this together.