After a much deserved victory against Bolton, AVB and the Blues took to the microphones to discuss the result and what it meant to the team. The press conference was more upbeat than the previous 5, for obvious reasons, but that didn’t stop the media from poking and prodding to find juicy information. Lampard and AVB were there to provide said information. Lampard, when asked about his relationship with AVB, had the following to say:
I think, from the outside, you can probably see that it’s not been ideal but the important thing is not to focus on individual relationships too much. It can only be negative and people do like to play on negatives. There have been certain issues. Certain players, we don’t like not to play. But it’s never a case of players throwing their toys out of the pram to the detriment of the club. I’ve been here a long time, I’m 33, I’m realistic. It doesn’t mean I want to play every game but, if I sit on the bench, I want to see Chelsea win. I’m sure we’re all frustrated at the minute, everyone who’s involved, especially people who have got Chelsea in their hearts, who have been here a long time and want to see us performing as we should do.
There are a few interesting quotes in there, but it’s the overall tone of the interview that surprises me some. AVB has brought a no-nonsense attitude when dealing with the press and it seems like his players have taken on that attribute as well. Lampard doesn’t hold back and openly admits that all is not grand between him and AVB. Although I’m not a fan of stirring the pot and creating more headlines, I do like that there really isn’t an encrypted text here. Lampard admits that he cannot physically start and play every game at 33, but as usual, it’s all about winning. If he is sitting on the bench and the team is winning, so be it. However, when he has to sit on the bench and watch his team lose he is not happy with that. So in the end, nothing even really worth discussing, just a player that wants to win.
Andre Villas-Boas addressed the media with the same transparency when asked about Lampard and had the following to say:
I hope he will be here but it does not depend on me. It depends on three parts: I have to want him, the person has to want to stay and the club has to want him.
He went on to clarify about the rumors that Abramovich told him to start Lampard, Essien, and Cole:
I take no instructions from anybody. The word legend represents exactly that. He is a player who has been involved for all managers before and played in most of the games – just a couple of games missed through injury. The only difference this year from the years before is that we have more competition in midfield and things become more difficult for everybody. But Frank is now in the top five of players most used [by Chelsea] so he is up there with the best.
I understand the point that AVB is trying to make with his first quote, but it didn’t come out too well. First he says it isn’t up to him, but then he follows that with “I have to want him.” I believe he was just missing the word “entirely” when talking about the situation as clearly AVB has a role to play, but so do many other people. I like his quotes about Lampard being a legend though, they are my thoughts spot on. Players like Lampard, Drogba, Cole, Terry, Cech, etc. are legends at Chelsea, but that shouldn’t dictate the playing time they receive. They have done amazing things for Chelsea in the past, but we do not live in the past anymore. If they are not performing up to standards, they will not maintain their starting positions just because they have a good history. It is all about winning in the present.
AVB went on to discuss the reasons why certain players were included in the game this weekend and not before:
I think the pressure has been on the team to get results recently. Our run has not been impressive and we wanted to get back to winning ways. The most important thing is to build from this day onwards, for the FA Cup tie and the Champions League tie, and improve our position in the league.
Whenever we make decisions it is for the benefit of the team, and every player feels disappointed. You don’t ask me if Raul (Meireles) was disappointed for missing the game today. It was a different formation, in the game against Napoli we played with two defensive midfielders in the front of the defence. Today we went back to our normal 4-3-3, three fresh legs on the pitch, Bosingwa was injured from the Napoli game so that was a straightforward change, Lamps has always been competing for a place since returning from injury.
This was pretty much confirmed in the post-match press conference after the Napoli loss, but AVB reiterates it again. He strongly believes in squad rotation and also plays specific players based on the opponent. While I think he was absolutely wrong to think this, he felt that Meireles provided more defensively (really AVB?) so he played Raul and Ramires in the double pivot due to Napoli’s attacking prowess. Against Bolton he anticipated a weaker team where a 4-3-3 would be better suited and therefore Lampard and Essien found themselves back in the squad. Let’s just hope AVB now realizes how terrible Meireles is and simply rotates him to different places on the bench.
On the injury front, AVB described Drogba has having taken a “big, big knock” and is doubtful to report to Ivory Coast duty and could potentially miss a match or two. I guess the good news is we will have a fresh (and potentially more motivated?) Torres to replace him after he was dropped from Spain’s squad for the upcoming friendly. It’s not a surprise that Torres has been dropped since he has been pretty close to terrible for a while now, but it will be interesting to see how his play responds after being out of the team for the first time in over 5 years. John Terry also said that he is sad to be missing out after getting knee surgery but hopes to be back “sooner, rather than later.” Aka, no details there.
Lastly, it’s definitely relevant to mention that Arsenal thrashed Tottenham 5-2 yesterday to reclaim 4th place. I hate Spurs as much as the next Blue, but a Tottenham win was really in our best interest. Arsenal jumped above of us on goal differential and Chelsea are finding themselves in quite a battle to qualify for Champions League play next year. The next 3 months are massively important for the club, players, and manager and all we can do it hope that they are up to the challenge.
Mention that Arsenal beat Tottenham and what the means for Chelsea’s CL chances.