Football can be beautiful to watch. As beautiful as when the sun rises at the crack of dawn. A certain Russian oligarch’s obsession to create this feeling has seen him dispose of many managers on SW6. Now it is at the hands of a certain Jose Mourinho. A manager synonymous with the efficient and structured style of play and his second attempt at the job of managing Chelsea consists of getting the best out of the team filled with fleet footed, creative attacking midfielders: Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Juan Mata, Oscar, William and Andre Schurrle.
However, there is a problem. A truly creative force from defensive midfield is inherently lacking in the ranks and this makes Chelsea an easier proposition to go up against. Chelsea did clearly identify that they were in need of a creative force from central midfield when they placed a £40 million bid for Luka Modric to Tottenham Hotspur on transfer deadline day in 2011. Yet, they have seemingly ignored this area, instead strengthening, and to some extent overcompensating, in their attacking midfield area.
Frank Lampard and Ramires have often been used in the two defensive midfield roles for Chelsea and it has often seen them leave their backline exposed. Even when John Obi Mikel plays, who provides some creative focus in the middle of the park, he is often left to do the defensive job in front of the back four and given the burden of the creative play, something he can do but he is not capable of performing both simultaneously, to a high standard.
The deep lying playmaker, often referred to as the ‘regista’, directs the passing of the team. He controls the tempo and acts as the metronome of the team. In one sense, they can control the passing of the whole team and their choice to quicken and slow down the play is what could be decisive in getting a goal. Andrea Pirlo and Paul Scholes are prime examples of these types of players.
If it were a choice of buying a world class defensive playmaker or nurturing the one they currently have in their ranks, then it would be better served to do the latter, with Josh McEachran. The English youngster was labelled as being a future star in the Chelsea midfield but loans to numerous clubs has stalled his progress. Where he was once ready to play with the best players, consistently surrounding himself with players of a band below has perhaps thwarted the early break in his career that his talent so clearly deserves. His best attribute is his delivery of the through ball from deep that can split defences. His passing prowess is second to none and he exudes a class on the pitch that not many have done at that age. Even when he faced up to Paul Pogba some 2 years ago in the FA Youth Cup, he upstaged the French U-20 international in both legs of the semi final. This here shows the untapped potential lurking within him given what Pogba has gone on to do in the years after, when he was given a chance to do so.
All in all, a Josh McEachran and John Obi Mikel pairing in the centre of the park at Stamford Bridge would go a long way to securing a key facet of playing aesthetically appealing football. They would provide an effective shield for the two CBs and would add an imagination to the Chelsea play that Ramires and Lampard cannot offer. Even if this issue was to be sorted out, the top end of the pitch still remains a problem.
A quality centre forward to bring out the full skill set of the three behind the Chelsea striker has been missing in action more for The Blues. The striking quality that is currently there does not reach such expectation. Therefore, it may be in Chelsea’s best interest to look at the aforementioned plethora of attacking midfielders and succumb to a recent trend in football – ‘The False 9’.