Too much negativity produces anti football

I’ve had a chance to calm down over night, but even though I am normally the one coming with positivity, realism and belief. Right now I’m still sharing the anger of most Chelsea supporters.

What we witnessed yesterday at the Etihad Stadium was not a defensive masterclass, neither was it a good attempt to get a result against the impressive league leaders. In fact, it wasn’t even football, it was anti football.

Antonio Conte decided to go with the same formation that got us a result at home to Barcelona. Whilst on that occasion it worked to a certain extent, we are still facing a near impossible task to now go to the Camp Nou, and at least score one goal to have any chance of qualifying.

Yet yesterday at City, we were even MORE defensive than we were against Barcelona. The formation was very much a 5-5-0. Have you ever witnessed a football team play such a formation? No, me neither. Hazard was our only ‘striker’, but he was so deep that he was more of an attacking midfielder. It was absolutely abysmal.

I totally get that City are a great team who are likely to punish a side who are attacking and open. However, Chelsea are not a bottom three side, we have the quality to face up to City at least give them some kind of match.

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Chelsea were defeated from the off, the words from Conte leading up to the match were basically accepting defeat. At the very least he was playing for a draw. But I like many, would sooner take a 3-0 loss if we at least deserved something from the game, offered anything going forward or at least put in 100% all over the park.

Yes City might have more quality than us, but are they more fitter, did they have more players than us? No. If every player put in a shift, we could match City.

But the issue here is deeper than the individual performances on this occasion. Unfortunately for me it was all down to Conte. His constant negativity and downbeat attitude to the media and on the sidelines is rubbing off on the performances.

Yes he has not been backed by the board and yes the board are not showing the ambitions of previous years. However, he was employed as a Head Coach – he would have been fully aware of his powers at the club and their plans before he took the role.

Yes its disappointing that he may not be getting all that he wants at the club, but he then has two options. You either sit around, complain and mope about. Or you stand up, motivate, coach your players and inject belief into them. You work with what you have got, a team who won the Premier League last season, not a team who narrowly avoided relegation.

Summer recruitment was poor by the club, whoever makes the decisions. I’m not here to debate that at the moment. I strongly believe that Conte’s decisions, stubbornness and reluctance to rotate or change up a game plan earlier in the match when its not working, has caused us to only have 4 victories from 15 matches in 2018. That I firmly believe is on the coach at this point.

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Yesterday fans were saying a draw would have been a good result. Well, in reality and the situation we are in currently, no it would not. We are 5 points behind a Champions League spot, if we drew we would have been 4. Whereas City are beatable and for me I’d much rather have at least attempted to get the 3 points an be firmly back in for a chance of top 4.

Champions League football is hugely important at the club, for so many reasons. Play players to their strengths and do what we do best. I’m not saying go all out attacking against top of the league. I’m saying inject belief into the players, face up to the opposition, play a normal formation and attempt to contain and counter attack, which we have done so effectively against a number of teams in recent years and particularly this season.

With Conte if a formation works once, he seems to feel that it will keep working against similar opposition. The 3-5-2 got found out on a couple of occasions and his alternative to that against the big teams was use a false 9. And because that ‘kind of’ worked against Barcelona, he fully believed he could get a draw against City using the same system. It’s really quite narrow minded.

I’m not here to slate Conte and anyone who follows me regularly on Twitter will know that I have always supported him and dismissed the Conte out movement. He is a good coach and what he’s achieved at Chelsea with the squad he had last season is something short of a miracle.

However, I fully believe that his mind has already left Chelsea football club. The things he has been saying, publicly criticising the board in an indirect way, breeding negativity into his line ups and pre-match interviews, his abysmal choice of substitutions and his all round persona, for me says it all.

The way he has handled certain situations has not been professional. He has certainly lost the trust of a number of high profile players at the club, this unfortunately is reality.

He will be gone in the summer. But I have to be bold and speak from my gut here and say that I unfortunately feel that it might be the time to part company IF we get knocked out against Barcelona, which lets be honest is quite inevitable now. This season is a lost cause already all bar the FA Cup, but even that feels like an impossible task judging the form of some of our rivals still left in the competition.

Conte has created toxicity around the club and his frustrations have boiled over to the players and his line ups. He is almost sulking and attempting to gain support by breeding it into people that this is not his fault and entirely down to the club. He often mentions that he is a great coach and has over achieved. I get where he’s coming from I really do, but has has absolutely nothing to gain by being so low and downbeat at this stage of the season, when there is still so much to play for. You’re annoyed we get it, but we don’t want to hear how its not your fault right now, we want to hear a rallying cry and see you stand firm and take the troops forward, despite all that’s happened.

Right now I want to see us standing up and doing the best we can do with the players we have. Be bold, throw in your Hudson-Odoi’s and your Ampadu’s, after all the pre-mentioned will do a better job than Pedro is doing this season to say the least. But do what your paid to do, motivate and coach the players to believe, don’t dwell on what went wrong with recruitment – just focus on the now and getting results, playing good football and at least trying to get a win.

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He made the players scared and shaky yesterday, nobody wanted the ball in fear of making mistakes, they were defeated from the off. And yes you can argue the only goal City scored was down to an error, but they were always going to score, anyone could see that. Teams like Burnley, Bristol City and Wigan have got respectable results against City recently and I know they might not have had their full squad starting, but these teams stood up and went for it against them and got something out of it.

I don’t know what the answer is right now. I too want stability at my club, I want a Manager to stay there for years, build trust with the board and the players. But when there is this much negativity around the club being created by the coach, I can’t see how he can possibly stay any longer. I think change is needed.

I’ve been seeing people say throw Jody Morris and Frank Lampard in there as interim’s until the end of the season and to be honest I wouldn’t be against such an idea, they literally have nothing to lose now. I can’t see us making top 4 if Conte stays.

We need a progressive leader who doesn’t blame everyone else, takes responsibility, builds belief in his players rather than state how average they are (even though SOME of them are). We need a coach with the tactical knowledge and motivational skills to go forward, someone who has the balls to try something different or totally switch things up at half time if its not working. Sometimes Conte is too concerned about what the media will say after the game rather than making decisions to change it.

I’ve been calm, positive and real throughout this season, but my stance may now be changing. I can only see more negativity, more toxicity and more anger a it stands. But I’ll always support any player or Manager as long as they are at Chelsea, despite my own beliefs of what I feel should be happening. I’ll criticise, but I’ll always support.

Simon Phillips

 

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VIDEO: Antonio Conte pranked in press conference ahead of FA Cup tie

Antonio Conte was the subject of a prank which took place during his pre-match press conference ahead of Friday night’s FA Cup clash at home to Hull City.

During the presser, Stefano Corti, an Italian presenter, approached the Chelsea boss with a Manchester United shirt which was printed with Antonio Conte and a number one on the back of the shirt.

The Chelsea head coach and press officer Steve Atkins were left bemused and shocked whilst Corti played a message on his tablet to show Conte.

Antonio Conte’s response on whether he wanted to keep the shirt was: “No you can take it. ”

Well played, Antonio!

Chelsea stopped their run of back-to-back defeats in a convincing win over West Brom on Monday and will be looking to put their poor start to the year behind them as they look to continue their FA Cup journey on Friday as they await Hull City.

 

Loan Watch: How the Blues fared at the weekend

Chelsea have a significant amount of players out on loan and the loanees arguably, had a very good weekend, with several finding the net and contributing to their teams result.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Isiah Brown both returned to the club as the pair continue their road to recovery following injuries in their respective loan spells.

Last Friday, Matt Miazga, Dabo and Mason Mount all started for Vitesse, and Miazga and Mount both scored for the Eredivisie side, along with clinching a clean sheet.

The majority of the Chelsea players who have gone out on loan this season, featured on Saturday, which included the likes of Kurt Zouma, Tomas Kalas, Lucas Piazon, Jeremie Boga, Ola Aina and several more.

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Todd Kane scoring the equaliser in the 89th minute for Oxford as they sealed a late comeback to stun Charlton.

Piazon bagged himself a goal in a 2-0 victory for Fulham, whilst Jay Dasilva got an assist for Charlton. But the London side were unable to beat Oxford United as Todd Kane, who recently joined Oxford on loan from the Blues, found the net very late on.

Kurt Zouma – 6.9, Tomas Kalas – 7.4, Lucas Piazon – 7.4, Hector – 6.3, Ola Aina – 6.7, Jeremie Boga – 7.1

Marco Van Ginkel, captain of PSV, despite being on loan there, was given a 7.4 rating as the midfielder played a part in the Dutch side however couldn’t provide a goal for the team.

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Loaned out on Deadline Day, Michy Batshuayi got off to a flying start in Germany as he bagged a brace

Our most recent loanees, Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy performed extremely well, with Batshuayi getting two goals and an assist on his debut at Dortmund, and Kenedy produced another fine performance in the North East.

 

All ratings were given by SofaScore.

Antonio Conte wants three world class players

Antonio Conte has told the Chelsea board to take a quality over quantity approach to the transfer market and sign three world-class players.

This season has been a struggle to retain the Premier League title, whilst Manchester City have shown their absolute dominance on the pitch, and off the pitch through excellent negotiations, bringing in world class talent.

Meanwhile Conte, who has constantly told the media he feels outspoken by his own board when it comes to transfer policies, is under fire with his job at the moment with a heavy 3-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth.

Conte has no control of Chelsea’s transfer policy

The Italian believes the lack of solid performances this season in the bid to retain the title comes down to the failure to capture world class players during the transfer window.

When Conte was asked by Sky Sports what Chelsea need to do to catch Man City, he said: “Now we have to struggle to fight for a Champions League place – that is top. We must be realistic. We must be strong to accept this type of situation.

“Then, in the future, if there is the possibility, you have to try to buy only two or three players – not eight players. Don’t forget, this summer, we brought in eight players and spent a lot less than other teams who bought only two or three.”

 Conte added: “We have to create a basis; we have to build something important. To do this, you must have 15 or 16 players.

“In the summer, we changed eight players. That means you don’t have a basis, a great foundation. We must have great patience to understand the moment.

“We lost strong, experienced players in the last few years, so we must have patience to understand that, now, we have to appreciate the moment, be realistic, create a basis and then build something important to face big challenges with the other teams.”

Ross Barkley set for spell on sidelines

Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley appears set for a spell on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury in training this week.

Barkley played 56 minutes in the embarrassing 3-0 home defeat by Bournemouth on Wednesday, and was forced to train the next day.

The 24-year-old’s latest injury is set to become Chelsea’s eighth hamstring injury of the season, something that has caused the Club to investigate Antonio Conte’s training methods.

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Ross Barkley faces even more time out on the sidelines as Chelsea’s injury list grows.

The Englishman will join Alvaro Morata, Victor Moses, N’Golo Kante, Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas and Willian on the list of players who have experienced hamstring injuries this season.

It is expected that Barkley will miss Monday’s trip to Watford and with the FA Cup and the Champions League tie against Hull and Barcelona respectively, on the horizon, it is hoped that Barkley’s injury is not too serious.

Michy Batshuayi joins Dortmund on loan

Belgian striker, Michy Batshuayi, has joined Bundesliga Club, Borussia Dortmund on loan until the end of the season.

There is no option to buy despite speculation.

Batshuayi has featured predominately in the domestic cup competitions. The Belgian scored three goals in Chelsea’s three FA Cup fixtures and also scored three in Chelsea’s run to the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Batshuayi is the replacement for Arsenal-bound Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his departure paves the way for Olivier Giroud to join the Club.

Good luck, Michy!

Olivier Giroud signs for Chelsea

Chelsea have confirmed the signing of French striker, Olivier Giroud from Arsenal.

The 31-year-old has signed an 18-month contract with the Premier League Champions.

It is reported that the fee to sign Giroud was in the region of £18 million.

Giroud is a replacement for Michy Batshuayi who today has signed on loan for Bundesliga outfit, Borussia Dortmund.

All the best, Olivier!

Match Preview: Chelsea vs AFC Bournemouth

Chelsea host AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday evening in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge, as the Blues look to cement their place in third, whilst continuing to decrease the gap to Manchester United, who currently sit ahead of them by three points.

The Blues will be hoping for back-to-back home wins as they booked their place in the FA Cup 5th round on Sunday after a 3-0 victory over struggling Newcastle. On what looks like his last appearance for the club this season, Michy Batshuayi netted a first-half brace, and Marcos Alonso was up to his usual tricks, scoring a free-kick to shatter any hope that the Magpies had left.

Chelsea celebrating after Michy Batshuayi nets against Newcastle United.

Bournemouth were given the weekend off following their swift exit in the FA Cup, giving the Cherries time to prepare for their trip to West London.

There’s been two meetings between the sides this season, and Chelsea have come out victorious on both occasions. The most recent victory being in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals when a last gasp winner from Alvaro Morata sent Eddie Howe and his men packing.

Team News

Antonio Conte will be without several players as they await Bournemouth on Wednesday. Willian, Alvaro Morata and David Luiz are all out of the encounter through injury.

The Blues will welcome back Thibaut Courtois and Cesc Fabregas, with the pair returning from injuries which have kept them out in recent weeks.

No striker for Chelsea because of Morata’s unity, and Michy Batshuayi’s departure to Germany for the rest of the season.

Jermain Defoe and Tyrone Mings are absent for the Cherries as they are out with ankle and back injuries respectively.

But Joshua King and Junior Stanislas are both back in the frame as they return.

Match Betting (BetBull)

Chelsea to Win – 2/7

Draw – 9/2

Bournemouth to Win – 9/1

BetBull are offering all new customers a £20 free bet when you deposit £20! Click the link here to get involved.

Prediction

Chelsea continue to have another midweek fixture with only two days to recover and prepare for the game, unlike Bournemouth who last played over a week over ago.

Without a forward could be a challenge for Chelsea, as Michy Batshuayi is set to depart and won’t be in the side on Wednesday evening. Eden Hazard will be given the task to play in the false nine role.

Bournemouth will hold form as they only sit two points above the drop zone, despite sitting in 13th, and with nothing to lose at Stamford Bridge, they could cause Chelsea problems, just like they did back in December.

The home side only have two recognised forwards available in Pedro and Eden Hazard, so Antonio Conte will have some thinking to do.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 AFC Bournemouth

Emerson Palmieri signs for Chelsea

Chelsea has signed Brazilian left wing-back, Emerson Palmieri, from A.S. Roma

The 23-year-old has signed a four-and-a-half year contract with the Champions.

It is reported that the fee to acquire the Brazilian was £18 million plus £8 million in add-ons.

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Emerson will wear the No.33 shirt at the Bridge, pictured alongside Director Marina Granovskaia

Emerson will compete alongside Marcos Alonso for the left wing-back position after Kenedy and Baba Rahman was allowed to depart the Club on loan deals.

Good luck Emerson!

Chelsea agree fee with Arsenal for Olivier Giroud

Chelsea has reportedly agreed a fee for Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud.

The Blues have had an £18 million bid accepted for the Frenchman, who will make the short trip across London.

A deal looks to have been reached despite the conflicting stories which emerged. On Monday evening, it appeared that a fee of £15 million had been agreed and news this morning claimed Arsenal wanted £30 million for the Frenchman.

Giroud looks set to move to West London after Arsenal agreed a £60 million club-record fee with Borussia Dortmund for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The 31-year-old Frenchman travelled with the Arsenal squad ahead of their Premier League fixture with Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. It is thought that this will have no impact on his late move to the Bridge.

Michy Batshuayi looks set to leave the Club on loan as a consequence. Batshuayi turned down a move to Tottenham after Chelsea investigated a potential swap with Fernando Llorente. The Belgian now looks set to join Borussia Dortmund on loan as a replacement for the Arsenal-bound Aubameyang.

Latest on Giroud/Batshuayi – fee NOT agreed

The silly season merry-go-round continues to spin, and this ride appears to be speeding up and spiralling in all sorts of directions as once again there are many contrasting reports surrounding this.

I have correlated the general consensus and here is the very latest news with less than two days remaining of the transfer window.

Chelsea have had a bid rejected by Arsenal for Olivier Giroud of around £20 million yesterday, despite the Di Marzio camp reporting that the two clubs had agreed a £15 million fee.

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The majority of the other top English sources including Matt Law of The Telegraph and David Ornstein of The BBC have reported that a fee has NOT been agreed, and in fact Arsenal are holding out for £30 million, according to the reputable Dean Jones of BR Football.

Ornstein states that the two clubs will continue talks today in order to come to a resolution for a fee for the 31-year old French striker, but Chelsea have also enquired yesterday about signing Tottenham’s Fernando Llorente, who is allegedly wanted by Antonio Conte over Giroud.

This was rejected immediately by Spurs, unless Michy Batshuayi was included in the deal. However, he has no interest in joining them so that ended that one.

The Belgian international is dead set on joining Dortmund now, who want to bring him in on loan initially to replace the departing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Now this of course is where the love triangle comes in to play. Chelsea will only allow Batshuayi to leave if they source a replacement, same for Dortmund and Aubameyang, and yes you guessed it, same for Arsenal and Giroud.

Michy-Batshuayi

So for me the ones who will be most desperate to complete this linked deal is Arsenal, who need reinforcements up top after losing key man Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United. They NEED Aubameyang and have had a fee agreed with the German side, but they need to source a replacement first.

With Giroud wanting to stay in London, he is out of the equation. So if Arsenal really want to sign the Gabon international, they will need to drastically lower their fee to around £20 million for Giroud, in order for Chelsea to be interested in playing their part in this deal.

This window is far from over.