Gary Cahill did not start for Chelsea during Saturday evening’s game against Everton but was England’s outstanding player in the goalless draw against Ukraine and says that he believes he’s the man for the big occasion.
Last season Cahill was arguably a fourth choice centre-half behind David Luiz and John Terry whilst Rafa Benitez preferred Branislav Ivanovic in the middle rather than the right-back spot that he has occupied under Jose Mourinho. He’s had a good start to the current campaign and after establishing himself as first choice for his country he has a fairer crack at forcing himself into Mourinho’s strongest XI.
After four league games and the Super Cup against Bayern Munich it looks as though Mourinho is still trying to work out what his best XI are judging by his team selections and there are still a few lads that are yet to get a chance, hopefully we’ll see them in the Champions League game against FC Basel and Capital One Cup match v Swindon. But the only match Cahill didn’t feature in was against Everton, is he an early favourite of Mourinho’s?
Of course, David Luiz did not start the season fully fit and Mourinho made it clear that Ivanovic would be playing at right-back early on but Cahill took his chance well and expressed his delight.
Cahill was quoted in the Mirror:
“It is positive for me that I am doing well in difficult games. I thrive on it.
“That’s what you want as a footballer, to perform well in the big, high-profile games. They are brilliant, brilliant.
“We had the Bayern Munich game at Chelsea that was very tough and high-pressure, and it was no different for England in Ukraine. I’ve proved I can play in those big games for club and country now. That’s a big thing. From when I made the move to Chelsea, there were always going to be question marks, but I feel I’ve answered them now.
“I’ve played in the big games and I’ve done well. For me, it’s about consistently churning out performances and looking to improve at the same time. Hopefully, I’ve got rid of the question marks over whether I can play at the top level.”
He still has plenty to work on as he can still be guilty of backing off from forwards a little too much and turned more slowly than a jumbo jet when he was out-smarted by Kenny Miller when England played Scotland at Wembley last month, which was a little embarrassing for him, but perhaps the Mourinho effect is already starting to show as far as Chelsea are concerned as he has been good for us so far.
Cahill also revealed that both his captain and England coach Gary Neville have helped him improve on many aspects of his game, not just defensively but being more vocal on the field to help with organisation.
“I’ve learned from JT, I’ve learned by playing with top players and I feel my game has improved more – taking up better positions and things like that. I suppose I am similar to him in respect of the way he never accepts defeat and throws himself at everything. I’m certainly like that and that’s the way I play my football. If people say you’re like JT, obviously that’s a great compliment because of what he’s done in his career.”
On Neville, he added:
“Gary’s very vocal, he’s certainly that way inclined. He hates it when people go quiet on each other, he wants you talking all the time. He’s worked with us in training and he helps and guides us to be in the right positions.
“I’ve become more vocal. I think you’ve seen with England that we’ve been more organised.
“If you’re getting people in the right position, everyone speaks. It’s particularly important in defence to do that.”
I think Cahill has a great chance of becoming a Chelsea regular, especially if Luiz makes the sort of errors as he did for Everton’s goal at the weekend, and at the moment I’d prefer him to start in the domestic matches whereas Luiz’s style probably does lend itself more to the European game but we have options and that’s the main thing.