Drogba Discusses Mourinho Future

“I think for (Chelsea) it is the best solution to bring Jose back. The fans want him back. He loves Chelsea. Because you want to rebuild a team and to give them the strength we had a few years ago, he could be the right person. He is a winner and is close to the players. He went to Inter and is at Real Madrid but [he] is still talking about Chelsea, so he loves this club.” – Didier Drogba (Guardian)

4 Reasons Why Rafa Benitez Isn’t a Good Fit for Chelsea

In the span on 24 hours Chelsea have went from a club favored to progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League to a club with a new manager. Roberto Di Matteo is out and Rafa Benitez is the new manager of Chelsea. Here are four reasons why Rafa Benitez isn’t a good fit for Chelsea:

1) Chelsea fans don’t like him – At the end of the day (for most clubs) it’s the fans who pay the bills and Chelsea would not be where they are today without their fan support around the world. This is what Benitez had to say about Chelsea fans as the manager of Liverpool in 2007:

“We don’t need to give away stupid plastic flags to our fans to wave, our supporters are always there with their hearts and that is all we need. Its the passion of the fans that helps us to win matches, not flags. Chelsea fans lack passion.”

Chelsea fans will never let him forget that he said this and I hope a member of the media has the courage to ask him about this statement.

2) Chelsea legends don’t respect him-Liverpool and Chelsea had a lot of very difficult matches in the middle part of the 2000’s and Benitez sometimes only added fuel to the fire. He said the following about Chelsea legend Didier Drogba back in 2008:

“With Drogba it’s important to have a good referee. You can’t do anything (to stop him going down), but I will say it because it was so clear. He is amazing because he is massive (yet he goes down). It’s very impressive. I have a lot of clips of him from over the years and he surprises me. After four years I expected it. It’s very impressive.”

Drogba responsed…

“Benitez was a manager I respected a lot. Until now, I found him not only very competent but also classy. But he has really disappointed me here. His words demonstrate a weakness. A top manager would never go so low to attack a player. Maybe he should concentrate on his own team’s game and if he wants me to stay on my feet, maybe he should tell his defenders to stop hitting me. In the first leg, Carragher and the other one (Skrtel) didn’t stop. And not just with me. I finished the match with bruises everywhere. Last year, I broke a rib against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final. Strangely, that escapes the statistics of Benitez.”

Way to get the legends on your side, Rafa.

3) His recent managerial record is simply not good – Honestly the first two points would mean nothing if Benitez could win games. Winning solves almost every problem in sports. However, Benitez is coming off of runs as a very poor manager at not one but two clubs.

  • In his last 21 games in charge of Liverpool the club won only 11 games (52% win percentage) and suffered 6 defeats.
  • In his 25 games in charge at Inter the club won only 12 games (48% win percentage) and suffered 7 defeats.
  • After Benitez was sacked by Inter, the club won 22 of their last 32 games (69% win percentage) and suffered only 7 defeats. Yes, When Rafa left Inter the club won 21% more of their games that season.

4) Lack of recent managerial experience – Benitez hasn’t managed a full game in almost two years, a 3-0 defeat for Inter at the hands of Werder Bremen. Managers have come out of long retirements and have been successful, but Benitez hasn’t even been around the game, working as a pundit / blogger in the Middle East. It’s going to take some time and patience for him to “shake the rust off” of his managerial skills and get back into the day-to-day life of being a manager – unfortunately time and patience are the last things Chelsea has.


In short, the appointment of Benitez is a puzzling one to fans and media all around the world. After two “falling out” scenarios with major clubs in Europe his managerial appeal was very low for the remaining major clubs throughout the continent. Usually the “unwanted” are given that title for a reason and it’s baffling to see Chelsea remove a manager who had won the Champions League only 6 months ago for a manager with a checkered past (especially surrounding the club hiring him) who has been completely away from the game for two years.

The Radamel Falcao Transfer Saga Survival Guide

Who is Radamel Falcao?

Falcao is a 26 year old striker from Santa Marta, Colombia who currently plays for Atletico Madrid. Listed at only 5′ 10” (1.78m) tall, he does not look physically imposing to his opponents nor much of an aerial threat. Neither could be further from the truth.


What kind of player is he?

When people think of Radamel Falcao one word comes to mind – goals. Lots of goals, scored with his head and both feet. He is one of the most complete strikers in the game today.


Here’s a comparison of Falcao’s time in Europe compared to some of the other well-known strikers in Europe…


Falcao for Porto and Atletico (competitive matches): 145 appearances, 11,763 minutes played, 117 goals, 25 assists. A goal every 101 minutes.

Edinson Cavani for Palermo and Napoli (competitive matches matches): 225 appearances, 17,536 minutes played, 116 goals, 29 assists. A goal every 151 minutes.

Fernando Torres at Chelsea (all competitive matches): 83 appearances, 5,427 minutes played, 18 goals, 21 assists. A goal every 302 minutes.

Didier Drogba at Chelsea (all competitive games): 337 appearances, 25,265 minutes played, 155 goals, 85 assists. A goal every 163 minutes.


As you can see, Falcao is clearly scoring goals at an unreal rate far above his direct competition in the transfer market (Cavani, although he  has been more prolific for Napoli than Palermo) and legendary strikers (Drogba). At the current rate Torres is scoring for  Chelsea he would need to log approximately another 30,000 minutes at Chelsea to reach Falcao’s current goal total of 117. That’s roughly 5,000 more minutes than Didier Drogba played during his entire career at Chelsea.


Why would Atletico Madrid want to sell him?

I have never been a person to propagate a lot of transfer speculation – I’m a facts and stats guy. But when the line blurs it makes reaching conclusions easier.

Last season for Atletico, Falcao was unstoppable in the Europa League, having scored 12 goals in 15 appearances and ultimately leading the Spanish club to the Europa League title. This wasn’t a big deal though for the Colombian, nicknamed El Tigre (the Tiger), as all he did the previous season with Porto was  score 17 goals in 14 Europa League games to break Jurgen Klinsmann’s scoring record in a European league (15 goals).

What am I getting at? With arguably the most successful player in the history of the Europa League on his roster, Atletico manager Diego Simeone has omitted Falcao from all four Europa League matches Atletico has played in this season. While some Atletico fans are adamant Simeone is resting key players such as Falcao and Arda Turan (another transfer target who has been omitted from every Europa League match), key players such as Miranda and Francisco Juanfran have appeared in the competition. When asked about these decisions, Simeone responded rather defensively, saying: “I am the coach – I do not have to explain my decisions. I do what I have to so we are competitive in three competitions.”

With Atletico having serious debt concerns, including debts of over €100 million to the Spanish treasury who is already struggling in a weak Eurozone economy, it’s hard for me to believe an asset such as Falcao is purposely rested when playing him in a Europa League match would significantly reduce his value on the January transfer market.


Why does not playing Falcao in the Europa League increase his value?

Easy question, but not really. Looking at the UEFA Regulations regarding January squad registrations you will find the following rules…

17.17 –  For all matches from the start of the first knockout round, a club may register a maximum of three new eligible players for the remaining matches in the current competition. Such registration must be completed by February 1. This deadline cannot be extended.

17.18 – One player from the above quota of three who has played UEFA club competition matches for another competing club in the current season may exceptionally be registered, provided that player has not been fielded:

– in the same competition for another club

– for another club that is currently in the same competition.

To explain further, this means if a club like PSG makes it into the knock-out stage of the Champions League they could register 3 new players for this stage which were not a part of their group stage squad. Of these players, only ONE could have played in a European competition earlier in the season.

Hypothetically speaking, say PSG are offered both Wesley Sneijder from Inter and Falcao this winter. Because Sneijder has already played in the Europa League, he would need the one exception spot offered by UEFA to play for PSG in the Champions League. If Falcao has not played for Atletico in the Europa League, the club could sign both players and add them to their Champions League squad (along with Lucas Moura in the final spot), but if Falcao did play in the Europa League then PSG would need to choose between Falcao and Sneijder for their squad. Thus if Falcao does not play in the Europa League, more teams will be interested in his services which will only drive up the price of his transfer fee.

In short, there are multiple reasons why Radamel Falcao could be sold in the summer that actually make sense. Falcao’s goal rate is currently so amazing in Europe it will likely get worse over time, meaning Atletico should sell now to get the most money for him and reduce their debts (thus reducing their loan interest as well). Couple this with Falcao still being on the market without requiring a special UEFA exception to play in the Champions League and it only compounds the appeal to clubs who will be tempted by his goal scoring efforts. Whether it’s PSG, Chelsea, or another club, we can be sure the Falcao speculation won’t be letting up anytime soon.


Are Chelsea Fans Too Quick to Criticize Fernando Torres?

Before I start, let it be known that I have tried to remain extremely objective surrounding Fernando Torres. I have written both negative articles and positive articles about his performances last season. I am not one of those people who supports Torres unconditionally because of his looks or any other reason.

With that said, Torres was awful against Shakhtar in the Champions League as Chelsea lost 2-1 in Ukraine. He was substituted off by Roberto Di Matteo after 70 minutes and rightfully so – he provided only one real shot on goal and lost the ball eight times to Shakhtar defenders. It was the worst performance for Torres this season.

Chelsea fans were brutal regarding his efforts after the game – “He’s horrible” “Need to sell him immediately” “Bench him for Sturridge and don’t look back”. By now with Torres, I’m used to comments like these and I really don’t think too much about it – but after this match in particular it is quite unfair to single out Torres. Oscar misplaced too many passes against Shakhtar and the game looked bigger than him at times. Hazard had several chances and weakly shot the ball on goal to be easily saved on multiple occasions. Mata was brought back down to earth and wasn’t nearly as much of a factor as in recent games. Petr Cech needed to make 9 saves, some incredible, to keep the game from getting out of hand and to maintain Chelsea’s respectable goal difference. It was a bad game for most members of the Chelsea squad, not just Torres.

So why does Torres get so much of the blame? Here’s why I think it’s unfair…

  • Torres has FINALLY started scoring goals – Chelsea fans waited so long for Torres to score goals and now he finally is with 7 goals in his last 11 Premier League starts. Any manager in the world would love a striker who scores at that rate and it’s certainly a reason why Chelsea are at the top of the table. Sure he misses chances, but all strikers do, including Didier Drogba (who only had 5 Premier League goals last season).
  • Torres has been very smart about his shot selection – While people point to his missed chances it’s somewhat surprising to note that Fernando Torres actually has taken only 17 shots to score his 4 Premier League goals this season. Compare that to the likes of “better” strikers such as Luis Suarez (5 goals, 50 shots) and Jermain Defoe (5 goals, 43 shots) and it makes Torres look significantly more clinical when he does decide to pull the trigger.
  • Torres “leads” the second best attack in the Premier League – With 19 goals scored this season Chelsea have the second best attack in the Premier League – it’s honestly hard to complain about that. Obviously the goals and smart shot selection from Torres helped to reach this goal total but his ability to run and create space for the attacking trio of Mata, Oscar, and Hazard has been under-appreciated and doesn’t show up in the stats.

In short, Torres may get a lot of the blame when Chelsea loses and sometimes he deserves it. But when the opponent destroys Chelsea on both ends like Shakhtar did in the Ukraine it’s unfair to single out one player, basically as a result of habit, when he has been playing quite well in previous matches.

Rooney and Van Persie: Strengths and Weaknesses


The signing of Robin van Persie by Manchester United is a move that shocked the football world and creates one of the most famous striker partnerships on the planet. But, as we’ve all seen with Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, sometimes pairing two superstar strikers together doesn’t work out.

Here are some of the expected strengths and weaknesses of the tandem…


  • Finishing – Combining the Premier League scoring totals of Rooney and Van Persie from last season you get 57 goals in 72 appearances or a combined goal scoring ratio of 0.79 per game. With 57 goals combined between the two strikers that’s more goals than fifteen Premier League teams scored last season.
  • Passing – What elevates Rooney and Van Persie above the likes of Darren Bent is their ability to not only put the ball in the back of the net but also create for others. The two player combined for 13 assists last season and Van Persie led all strikers with 92 chances created (Rooney was fifth with 51).
  • Experience – This is a strength few are talking about as the Premier League is one of the most difficult leagues in the world to adapt to. Van Persie joins United with over 13,000 minutes played in the Premier League – when coupled with Rooney’s vast experience (over 24,000 minutes played) you’re looking at one of the most experienced front lines in the league.


  • Aerial ability – Despite Van Persie’s height (188cm – 6’2″) he cannot jump very high and has poor timing with headers, a flaw which some believe holds him back from being the best striker in the world. Rooney has natural instincts in the air but is much shorter (177cm – 5’9″) meaning he cannot compete aerially on a consistent basis with some of the taller Premier League defenders.
  • Formation limitations – Alex Ferguson is a manager who likes to mix-up formations, tactics, and personnel based on his opponent. Unfortunately for him both Rooney and Van Persie are almost exclusively players who play in the center of the pitch (Rooney started one match out right last season). This means formations such as 4-3-3 are likely out of the question with both players on the pitch.
  • Direct play – Long gone are the days of heaving the ball up to Dimitar Berbatov. With the addition of Shinji Kagawa we can expect United to rely on intricate build-up play between the Japanese star, Van Perise, and Rooney. The Red Devils may struggle this season to unlock teams who crowd the middle and force United to play out wide and attempt long balls forward.

In short, while the dynamic duo of Van Persie and Rooney seems like a goal scoring machine there are some drawbacks to the partnership. Both players were 1-2 in shooting in the Premier League last season and combined to shoot 331 times, although this season’s number will likely be lower when they’re wearing the same shirt.

How will both players who are so used to the ball being at their feet in goal scoring positions play when it’s only their half as much? Poorly in the case of Drogba and Torres, let me know below with your thoughts on Van Persie and Rooney…

What is the Identity of Chelsea?


Chelsea’s pre-season is finally over. With a record of 1 win, 1 draw, and 3 losses (goal difference of -2) it would be impossible to say the pre-season went as planned. But honestly, it’s not the results that has Chelsea supporters concerned, it’s how the club has looked in these matches.

Looking at the roster of Chelsea the club should be even better than the Champions League winning side of last season. Gone of course are Drogba, Kalou, and Bosingwa but with additions such as Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, and Oscar there’s simply no excuse for a lack of talent. However, given the departure of Drogba and Kalou for smaller and less imposing attacking options Chelsea need to redefine who they are as a team – a task they struggled with immensely this pre-season and it’s been reflected in the results.

Playing to the strengths of the current Chelsea roster it’s easy to look and see how the blueprint for the “new” Chelsea attack is to feature quick, accurate short passes between playmakers and the striker, similar to a Barcelona/Spain style of play. Yet Chelsea continued to constantly revert back to their old ways, even when Romelu Lukaku (a good young striker who doesn’t fit this system) was on the bench.

Just look at their crossing totals from their first four pre-season matches…

Opponent Number of Crosses
Seattle 4
PSG 23
MLS Stars 20
Milan 7

That’s two matches with over 20 crosses (not including the Brighton match where crossing was also prominent) with both of those matches being arguably the worst performances by Chelsea on their pre-season tour. Although the average of roughly 14 crosses a game is in-line with Barcelona, the large discrepancy of crosses attempted (from 4 to 23 after just one match) is worrying and one could conclude that when things don’t go right for Chelsea, they go back to the “old ways” regardless of personnel – hence the struggle some fans have for trying to understand the current identity of the team without the direct ways of Didier Drogba.

The attacking identity crisis has also impacted the defense, who failed to keep a clean sheet in all 5 pre-season matches and allowed an average of two goals per game. The defensive mistakes made in pre-season reminded me of when Andre Villas-Boas was in charge and tried to implement his “new” offense – there was a lack of communication in the midfield and defenders were caught out on the counter-attack. The match against Brighton today and the goal scored by Milan are perfect examples of how the defense struggled with more of a “side-to-side” style of play and compared to the direct style with Drogba. Chelsea had more possession in all of their pre-season matches (two with over 60% possession) yet allowed several easy goals in transition as deeper midfield players pushed forward to reinforce possession and defenders failed to close down opponents.

It is only pre-season so it’s difficult to draw concrete conclusions from the past three weeks but it’s clear Chelsea are having issues figuring out who they are without Didier Drogba and the direct style of play that accompanies him. We saw this last season under Andre Villas-Boas at times and it’s already starting to loom before this season starts. Fans can hope Juan Mata and Oscar will help solidify the short passing style which best suits the attacking personnel of Chelsea, however what effect this style has on the same defense as last season (which failed Villas-Boas who attempted to use similar tactics) remains to be seen. Rival fans and pundits have mocked the direct style which Chelsea won the Champions League with but it takes a club with an identity and a purpose to win such an esteemed trophy – right now I’m not sure Chelsea has either of those.

Drogba on China Move

“I have considered all the offers I have received in the past few weeks, but feel that Shanghai Shenhua FC is the right move for me at this time. I am looking forward to a new challenge, to experiencing a new culture, and excited about the new developments in the Chinese Super League. When Chelsea went to China last year, we had a great time and I met some amazing fans. I hope to help promote Chinese football around the world and further improve the links between China and Africa.” – Didier Drogba (Sky Sports)

Drogba encourages Torres moving forward

“It has been difficult for him, but he has showed he is the man. Next season is going to be his season. We have a good relationship. We don’t understand why we didn’t play together more, but that’s the past. Torres is the future.” – Didier Drogba (Eurosport)

Drogba and Lampard Munich Punishers

Didier Drogba has scored 2 goals in 2 games against Bayern Munich. Frank Lampard has 3 goals in as many games against the German club.

Lampard hails current Chelsea legend

“I’m desperate for (Drogba) to stay (at Chelsea). He is a magnificent player. He’s a machine. His body is a machine, when you look at him stripped down. He’s lost no pace, he’s lost none of his finishing instinct. As a man, I love Didier and whatever he decides to do, whether he stays or whatever, he has been a hero for this club and will go down as a legend. It’s been a pleasure to play with him and it would be a pleasure to carry on playing with him because he gives defenders such a hard time. He is not just that big man. He scores goals that matter and that’s priceless.” – Frank Lampard (Sky Sports)