John Terry. Frank Lampard. Didier Drogba. Ashley Cole. Petr Cech.
Listing leaders in the great Chelsea teams of the past is an easy task, but not so of the current team. The success that we’ve achieved over the last two decades has come mainly from a spine of passionate and dedicated leaders, what Rory Jennings would call ‘Chelsea men’.
We lost Lampard and Cole in 2014, Cech and Drogba (for the second time) in 2015 and Terry in 2017 and we’ve never properly replaced that incredible spine. Not only were they crucial players, but they were proper leaders, people who’d shout at you on the pitch, demand more from everyone around them, and not stop until they achieved success. And then they’d do it all over again.
This current Chelsea side just doesn’t have that.
Just look at our away form against the top sides since the last of the ‘leaders’ left us. It’s nothing short of abysmal. In the past, that sort of record would never happen, simply because they wouldn’t let it. We used to have warriors, players who cared about winning and not caring about letting your teammates have it.
The closest we have to that now is in the form of Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz and that’s really just quite depressing.
In my opinion, our lack of leaders is due to two issues, the recruitment and lack of promotion from the academy. Chelsea’s greatest ever captain, John Terry, was a youth product and his love for the club was a huge reason why he was such a good leader. His passion meant that he wanted and demanded the best from everyone around him. I agree that not every youth product is a leader, but look at some of our youth team captains. Their lack of involvement in the first team is worrying.
In terms of recruitment, Chelsea target good players, players that will fit the system and improve the quality of the squad. But do they think about the personality or mentality of that player? I would say no. When you sign players, it’s important that they’re a good fit for the team AND the club. That hasn’t happened recently and it’s left us in a state where Azpilicueta is the best leader at Chelsea.
All teams need leaders and Chelsea need to solve that by first buying some, and then promoting and moulding them from the academy. One thing is certain, we can’t carry on without a serious look at where the leaders are in this squad.
We need a new generation of Terrys, Lampards and Drogbas and we need them now.