Monday, July 07, 2008


Well, it should be an extreme relief for Chelsea fans that they finally managed to confirm their visit to Malaysia after the issue with Israelites banned from entering the country. Earlier in March, this became the biggest issue that may force them to cancel their tour to Malaysia because manager Avram Grant and defender Tal Ben Haim are Israelites. Although Grant had since been sacked for not winning anything after coming so close, Tal Ben Haim I think is still their player for now, although not the most crucial starting eleven player. I was abit disappointed though that Grant was not given more time to prove himself but as much as I know in football, someone who has no past records like him will be forced out for someone who has better records. Therefore, Scolari is not a shocking candidate.

Chelsea are among the richest clubs in the world in terms of owner’s wealth. A quick check tells me that they have a total amount of 34 players in their full squad list and they have probably the most expensive assembled squad still today in terms of total players’ worth and salary. The richest clubs in the world can not even match them. Manchester United have 30 players and Real Madrid have 31 players registered but between them, there are far less players who can be easily be in the starting eleven day in day out. In the best period of Mourinho’s era, we can even have two starting eleven lists for them.

Chelsea of course is the first model of experiment of whether money can buy success. Every football fan then, including me, were keeping watch to see how well will they play as a team. Of course, at that time, interestingly another quite similar Dream Team was built in Spain in the form of the Galaticos. That model was proven to be a failure as it was not sustainable. Barcelona did not learn from the case study and wanted to go through the same painful period by having their own Dream Team after purchasing Thierry Henry. That team of course failed miserably as proven just recently.

Chelsea of course did win some success just like Real Madrid but finally the whole system collapsed. The same pattern occurs as clubs are buying too many superstars to fit into a club. Most of the time, conflicts happened because a few superstar players playing at similar positions were purchased and needed to compete for that same position in the starting eleven. It is fine if suspensions, injuries and bad form can give everyone a chance. However, the thing becomes tricky when both or more are on form. Managers out of sponsorship or board of directors pressure are forced to play sometimes similar positioned players in a match by forcing a weird formation as well as playing some of them out of position.

I particularly remember Chelski for their pre-Roman Albramovich era where Gianfranco Zola was their God and probably still is and Ruud Gullit was both the coach and player too. I thought that was the coolest arrangement ever. We don’t see that much even until today. Zola looks exactly like Ben Stiller to me and I still don’t know why. Just find their videos and photos and compare. I just can’t get that out of my head. Those who jumped ship to become Chelski’s fans for the Roman Albramovich era were criticized to be glory hunters. Of course, I am a player fan and I normally follow him wherever he goes so to me it is fine I guess. There could be fans of Glen Johnson, Damien Duff, Joe Cole and Claude Makelele who followed them as they went to Chelski.

Luiz Felipe Scolari have the luxury as Bernd Schuster did now to help the club to start afresh from the Mourinho and Grant era to buy and sell specific players only to help them win. Grant, beyond everyone’s expectations, managed to gel the squad in time after Mourinho’s exit. People will expect the squad to collapse totally. Scolari just need to build on that like how Schuster needed to build on top of Fabio Capello’s foundations in Real Madrid. In both cases, they inherited squads in better shape. They, like Barcelona, need to rebuild the team based on teamwork and not on superstars. A few good signings and it should be enough. Real Madrid had gone out of the turbulent phase and now it is just a question of how fast can Scolari and Guardiola do it for the respective clubs. Everyone knows Chelsea's ultimate dream is to win the Champions League, the only most prestigious trophy that Chelsea have yet to win. They came so close in the previous one and I could say Drogba's the main reason for the defeat, not Terry. He may be a good striker but to me, he's arrogant and 'drops' a lot. Therefore, my nickname to him is 'Drop'bah. I'm sure if they could have won it, 'The Special One' will lose his tag. He must be the 'gladest' human on earth that they didn't win it.

This tour of Asia will give Scolari the chance to test out the Chelsea squad to consider for further reinforcements as well as selling sprees. Fans in Malaysia will have a sneak preview of what to come in the new season. Of course there are many things which are not confirmed yet apart from the release of Hernan Crespo and the purchase of Deco over Andrei Arshavin. There are some issues to settle like the potential exit of Frank Lampard, Ricardo Carvalho, Didier Drogba, Wright-Philips, Malouda and Branislav Ivanovic, Andriy Shevchenko’s fate (he was given assurance that he will be given another chance), the new purchase of Deco and his inclusion into the new team as well as the rumours of the potential purchase of Kaka, Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o circulating around in the news everyday.

The uncertainty of those issues above will mean we will not be sure who will be given the chance to show off their skills when they play in Malaysia. One thing is certain; we will get a demolition score against the Malaysian selection team. The question is how bad we will be thrashed. That is the best thing to predict! Remember to take part in the poll at the side bar! Apart from that, the ability to see players like Shevchenko, Ballack and Joe Cole live will be a terrific experience for any football fan. Anything more like to get autographs from the three of them will be an added bonus and a dream come true!

It is interesting to note that the poster to promote their match in Shah Alam Stadium has no Lampard on it. We all know Terry and Lampard are their current ambassadors after the Zola era. It is logical because the status of Lampard as a Chelsea player is still not confirmed till now. We see them in any possible blue advertisements around like the one from Celcom. It is appropriate then that the blue Samsung brand will be sponsoring it. They were also involved when Chelsea played in Asia in May 2005 against Suwon Blue Wings. If not, perhaps other blue brands like Pepsi. Those interested in purchasing the tickets for the Malaysia match can check out Ticketpro.

-29 July 2008
-Tuesday (Yeah, what a terrible day to play! Most people from outstation need to take leave!)
-Shah Alam Stadium, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
-Ticket pricing: VIP (Not for sale), RM103, RM83, RM53, RM33 (Quite reasonable pricing if I do say so myself - prices are cheaper than your 1 week petrol consumption (differs between vehicle to vehicle), hehe!)


Post a Comment

<< Home