FEB 9 — If that was the team in transition, then Chelsea, after their six-goal thriller against Manchester United, really do not need to change that much.
In that exhilarating game last Sunday, the Chelsea midfield was shapeless and was overrun time and again. However, in my opinion this only calls for a change of formation and the system of play.
For so long now, the Blues have played a conventional 4-3-3 but the personnel in that three-man midfield did not gel on the night. The roaming Juan Mata left gaping holes when United had the ball.
The bad haircut of Raul Meireles certainly does not lend credibility to his efforts to be the hotshot playmaker that he desires to be and finally Michael Essien has not only lost his brute strength but still lacks vision to play the early ball from midfield.
There are two things Chelsea can do and one is to seek a change to a 4-2-3-1, with the two-man central midfield of Oriol Romeu alongside an energetic Ramires.
The attacking trio of midfielders would be Daniel Strurridge and Juan Mata flanking a midfielder who can dribble and also has the eye for a pass.
Returning Mata to the wide left position, where he made a name for himself at Valencia, would save him from defensive duties that he clearly lacks. Besides, Florent Malouda lacks both penetration and defensive discipline anyway.
The midfielder in the hole can be someone like Kaka or Wayne Rooney. The Brazilian maestro would fit in perfectly with the large Portuguese-speaking population in the Chelsea squad. Never mind the Spanish speaking as well.
Seriously though, with Kaka prompting, Fernando Torres could well return to form.
The prospect of Rooney playing with Torres is tempting too as the Man United star seems at the stage where previously Cristiano Ronaldo was — that a new challenge is needed to motivate and improve his game.
Somehow, I believe the fact that both the Red Devils and England do not deem Rooney fit to be captain is an obvious frustration for the young man.
Besides, as Rooney would never be forgiven if he left for local rivals Manchester City, the other best option in England would be to Chelsea.
Roman Abramovich could easily spare the cash and weaken a Chelsea title-rival in one swoop. I can just see the headlines — Rooney, the first £100 million (RM500 million) man!
Only such a number could tempt Man United to let a star player like him go.
We move on now to the most exciting and complete English player to emerge since Paul Gascoigne in the form and shape of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
He has speed, the ability to dribble, defend and score, and also dares to take on defenders besides making the occasional defence-splitting pass. True to his name, he is also built like an Ox compared with his teammates Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey.
Trust me on this, the lad is going to be a world-class football star, sooner rather than later.
I said the same when Ronaldo made his Man United debut and since then only young Oxlade-Chamberlain excites me. The kid would not look out of place on either flank for Barcelona too.
The English keep not wanting to go overboard but football is art and expression and they should celebrate that talent.
I really wonder though, how long will it be before someone comes up with the traditional “he does not work hard enough” line.
Yes, get some blood on his shirt and a bandage around his head and he will be loved forever!
Finally, since the inception of the English Premier League, I can truly say a star is born and, more importantly, an English star.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.