Rafa Benitez will want to prove his doubters wrong and make his own mark on the Chelsea team he has inherited. That is fair enough, as there is clearly something that needs to be done to get the most out of the talented squad at the disposal of whoever is in charge at Stamford Bridge. Defensively, Chelsea need to improve and Benitez needs to attempt to reignite Torres into the man he managed during his time at Liverpool.
Benitez has decided that the best way to put Chelsea back on track is to publicly state the likely departures of Lampard and Cole at the end of season. After years of service to the Blues, Lampard and Cole are to be cut loose like a sandbag on a sinking ship.
While this isn’t a massive shock as they have both been the subject of transfer speculation of late, it seems an irregular thing to say having just taken over from a popular man whose success was reliant on the performances of the ‘old guard’. Such revelations can only serve to further upset the squad morale, and structure that has been left in tatters with the departure of Di Matteo.
During Andre Villas-Boas’ tenure, Lampard was a player that struggled to get game time, as AVB tried to push through young players a new style of football. His plans fell through and the rest is history.
Di Matteo took over and immediately reinstated the senior players into the first team squad. It was their leadership and experience that won the Champions League.
Whether he tried to change things too quickly, or the players didn’t respect AVB’s decision to exclude the more senior members of the squad, the point is: underestimating Chelsea’s old guard is folly.
There is no doubt that Chelsea will need their experience again this season, as things are not currently going smoothly for the Blues, either domestically or in Europe. All is not lost however; there is still a long way to go in the fight for silverware this season.
While it is unclear that Benitez will demote the likes of Lampard and Cole to the bench, or whether he recognises that they are still an integral part of the squad, remains to be seen.