We all said that there was going to be ups and downs this season, especially early doors. And the Manchester City game on Sunday, as well as the Tottenham win on Monday, has been a mighty fine example of that.
The City game was so up and down, but Chelsea didn’t fold over and they didn’t drop their heads whenever we squandered a lead in the game, and THAT to me was the most important thing. But the ups and downs we all experienced during that 90 minutes is what we all spoke about to expect, and we will have plenty more of that.
It’s far from perfect (yet). I doubt that it will ever be perfect (because I’m not even sure such a word should exist). I will still be concerned about how we break down the lesser teams and how we get results against them. We still have all of that to work on. We still lack a natural all round number 9 and a real finisher in the box. There are still a couple of players where the jury is out on, for me at least. I still see inconsistencies from some of our players. And I still think we could use one or two more experienced additions to ‘complete’ the squad.
But all of the above is natural under the circumstances, and we are still a developing and young team. Whether anyone wanted to accept it or not, we are in a transition and in a project. The project was pinned back by early mistakes when we didn’t have sporting directors, and managers not working out. So really, the actual project under a new manager and proper recruitment, has only begun this summer.
We can all question some of the things we have done and some players we have signed – I’ve done that as well. But I’m still giving them every chance to prove me wrong and show that they can be a big part of this project and this team.
The bottom line for me right now is that under Mauricio Pochettino, who is leading our new build, we have the tools to do the job, we laid down some strong foundations, and we are now heightening the build and developing it upwards. The trajectory is moving in the right wat.
Pochettino for me has always been a top choice as manager due to the squad we have and how young they are. He’s proven time and time again that he’s a good fit if you want to develop young players and spearhead such a project. That’s the biggest reason I was always an advocate for him. He’s stuttered at times, but like I said, we should have all expected that and STILL expect it.
I can’t fully ignore the concerns I have seen still even in this positive moment, but again, I also do accept that is all just part of the teething problems. I think we will get there with this project, and I have never changed my stance on that.
I see the City performance as a bit of a crossroads, and at these crossroads there would be two arrows. One would say ‘this way for future success’, and the other would say ‘this way to spiral back down again’. And our performance and the way we stood up to City and actually deserved to win, was us selecting the ‘this way for future success’ option at these crossroads.
The players showed me they are here, they are up for this battle, they are ready to work for each other and work for their coach. I saw fire in the belly of the manager, and I saw a mutual respect and mutual trust between him and his players. These are all very good signs.
I still have full belief in this project. I think we are close, we are getting there, and it really sucks that we can’t play this weekend to keep that going.
I’m expecting more bumps. And I’m intrigued to see Chelsea play against lesser opposition again soon to see how we approach that now, and if we are more confident to be able to break these sides down. But the City performance proved to me that we will not be fearing any team and even though I thought City would turn us over, we can go toe-to-toe with the best. We had to be fully up for this to stand a chance, and we did more than that.
And remember, we still have the likes of Christopher Nkunku, Romeo Lavia, and Carney Chukwuemeka to add into this squad as well – all three are expected back in full training soon after the international break (Nkunku and Lavia should be during), with perhaps Carney the one who is a little further behind the other two. But he should be back soon.
I am proud today, and I am feeling cautiously positive.