When Chelsea slip, lack of leadership is to blame.
“It appears this group of players are extremely difficult to motivate”.
Sarri’s words after trying his best to piece together the leftovers from Conte’s second year. He had a point, perhaps. Chelsea has not won the league in three years and the seed he planted there and then has grown. Argument “difficult to motivate” has morphed into “lack of leadership”, pointed towards again and again after a slip.
For the record. The spine of the Chelsea squad of 19/20 contains two academy graduates. Mason Mount has just missed one league game this year, starting all of them but one. He’s got most minutes of them all. Tammy Abraham has played 42 games across all competitions. Starting most of them.
Both played in The Championship last year.
Derby finished 6th in the table. Mount started most of the games and scored eight times, which is not bad. But he didn’t make the big headlines nor get elected to any of the teams of the year. Villa finished 5th and Abraham was the 2nd top scorer of the league. He took all the pens though. Without them they would have finished 9th.
Top scorer that year was Temuu Pukki.
Norwich crashed out from the Premier League first of all this term.
Pukki hasn’t scored since January.
How much harder life became…
Mount and Abraham did well on loan. But to argue that they dominated the league is a huge exaggeration. Not only that. Playing well in the Championship is one thing. Trying to achieve great things in the Premier League is another. After all, Chelsea are not Norwich.
2019 Eden Hazard was elected Chelsea Player of the Year. He got sold.
2018 that man was N’Golo Kanté. He’s injured and has just played half of the games.
Not to mention the worst goalkeeper in the league. Some things are not up for debate. Kepa’s stats are catastrophic. Period. He concedes every second shot, ranked rock bottom in the league and among the worst keepers in Europe in terms of saving percentages. He has played for Chelsea over the course of two seasons now and has got almost 100 games under his belt. Time to cut the crap. The kid’s not good enough.
Manchester United has bought players for £200M this season. Leicester for £100M. They have strengthened their squads significantly. Chelsea, ahead of them both, has added last year’s winter transfer to their ranks – Christian Pulisic. The rest of the eggs were put in the academy basket.
Still we’re quick to criticize. Pointing fingers. And the main reason things don’t look better is lack of leadership. Not like the old days. When we had Terry, Lampard, Cech, Ballack, Ivanovic and Hazard in our ranks. Big names for big occasions. Great leaders, most of them captains in their national teams.
Just to add on that. A lot of the players just mentioned were part of the Chelsea team that finished outside of top four for the first time in ten years. A lot of them also took part in the team that a couple of years later finished 10th, the worst finish in 20 years. That was back in 15/16 and from what I can recall, no one mentioned “lack of leadership”. Even big names slip up.
The landscape has changed. All but three players that started the winning game the last time Chelsea won the league (1-0 against WBA in 2017) have moved on. And this winter, against Crystal Palace (2-0), Chelsea named the youngest ever starting line up in the history of the Premier League. The average age that day was 24 years and 88 days.
So, yes. Things are very different. Even though this squad contains World Cup winners and future leaders it’s true that the Chelsea squad of 19/20 doesn’t hold the same type of characters as back in the day, whatever that means. But the question remains. Is it all about lack of leadership, rather than a different style of leadership, that we are witnessing right now?
Good leadership is not just about screaming, shouting and pointing fingers. It could be about galvanizing an inexperienced group of people and walking in the front line. Leading by example. Leaving the pitch as the last man after carefully applauding all the stands. Game after game. Giving it your all every single time.
To play the hand you’ve been dealt. Even if it’s not aces and you’re low on chips.
Tell me now, this season, under these circumstances, which leader would have done it better?
Your fine self?
Difficult to motivate or not. With or without big leaders. Zero spendings. Inexperienced squad with weak elements. Chelsea has slipped their way to 3rd in the league, are in the semi finals of the FA Cup and qualified for the last 16 in the Champions League. That wouldn’t have worked if the leadership was all that bad.