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Football News: What I'm Looking for in a Coach as a Chelsea fan

What I'm Looking for in a Coach as a Chelsea fan
Image from: freelargeimages.com

In the context of another new manager, one that I personally am massively excited about (though with the learnt cautiousness that comes from having supported the club through the RA years), it's interesting to consider the things we as fans are looking for; what would, ultimately, make us Chelsea fans happy in a coach?

My personal list in no particular order is as follows:

1. Youth integration - For Lampard, a coach with very little tactical acumen, the fact that we saw players like James, Mount, Gilmour, Tomori being trusted with opportunities gave us fans some optimism for the future, even when results weren't great.

Why is youth integration so important? I guess it's about a sense of 'belonging' - of course, the idea of 'local' isn't even remotely realistic any more, and many of our youth players are poached early on for the academy from other academies, but when a player has been at the club since the age of 8 or 10 it seems likely they will care more about the club. This was probably the biggest mark against Tuchel (and pretty much every other manager we've had since 2004, Ancelotti and Lampard aside) .

Maybe most managers at Chelsea simply don't feel the security to give youth a try. But the most frustrating thing, not just in the last six months but in many other managerial cases historically, has been watching the team labour with the same senior players underperforming. We might not have won with youth players, but they'd surely have injected a bit of energy and at least the sense of building for the future would have made that palatable.

(I guess the counter argument here is that managers/ coaches don't want to throw a youth player into a team that's playing badly for fear of ruining their confidence, and possibly their career - but at the end of last season every Chelsea fan I knew was baffled as to why Tuchel refused to give a single youth player a chance in the last game of the season when the positions were already decided, bringing on Kenedy and Barkley, two players it was clear didn't have a future at the club. It was a similar story in our disastrous pre-season, and seemed to suggest something wrong at the club when integrating the academy, making it work, has definitely become more of a priority in the last few years. )

2. Attacking football - The outside perception of Chelsea's 'style' (when many lazy pundits reference it, for example) is probably encapsulated by the first of the two legs against Barcelona en route to the final, and victory, in 2012. A truly gritty, no frills performance. It wasn't beautiful, and it wasn't fun, but it was impressive. Whilst there have certainly been periods of really awful football, this narrative is plainly wrong; although by the end of his first tenure we were gifted the sight of Lampard receiving possession in the centre circle then holding it. holding it. holding it.

In Mourinho's first season we played beautiful, incisive counterattacking football, scoring a serious number of goals. Ancelotti's team were a wonder. Pre-RA (and I can only really talk here of the period from around '97, when I started watching the club as a child), we were typically a fun and unpredictable team to watch, beating some of the big boys (though never Arsenal) even when losing the next week to supposed inferior clubs, your Coventrys or Ipswichs.

For a long time we had a reputation as a more 'continental' team at a time when 'hoof it' was the default style in the Premier League. Our fans have a taste for flair, hence the impatience with what became more and more evident as Tuchel's style of fairly impotent possession (more in evidence against teams that didn't attack us, usually the so-called smaller clubs) . The attacking players in this side have been thrown under the bus - watching their confidence drain away, the total loss of form, has to be put down to Tuchel.

3. Effort - As a fan, your minimum is watching a player try. This probably links back to why we'd like better integration of youth players. A synergy between the team and match day fans is important. People pay huge amounts of money to attend after all, so basic effort is a must. Fans watching that kind of effort can forgive other shortcomings (though for a club at our level not major ones), as it feels like players and fans are united in a single cause.

4. Conduct - Tuchel handled things pretty well in the last year, quietly dignified when asked questions no football manager would usually be expected to answer about geopolitics. On the touchline he always seemed tetchy, angry even when the team was winning. He threw his attackers under the bus on a number of occasions when his tactics clearly weren't helping, and between those two things we've seen a frightening drop in form for pretty much every frontline player at the club, followed by the defence.

For me, for a long-term coach you'd have to expect a bit more balance on the touchline, a positive ethos and perhaps some knowledge of psychology, all of which Graham Potter seems to have.

It would be interesting to hear if other fans have a similar set of criteria to me or completely different. Winning does, obviously become the bottom line, but my personal enjoyment of football, it seems, is often about a sense of camaraderie and togetherness in the team. That's why I love it as a sport, not so much the trophies, the feeling of which last for but a moment or two in comparison.

Written by EdW September 08 2022 14:45:03


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