Are Chelsea confident of pulling off a win in David Moyes' home debut in the League?
Ahead of the game against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday evening, we have invited Gary Bacchus from Chelsea@vitalfootball.co.uk to answer some questions.
Red Scot: How did you assess season 2012-13 for Chelsea including the Europa League win?
Gary Bacchus: It was a strange season. We started it as the Champions of Europe, Roberto Di Matteo was the manager and a string of good results saw us leading the table. But having only been given the permanent job at the last minute, it didn’t take long before Di Matteo joined several other Chelsea managers through the exit door. An early exit from the Champions League group stages, the first winners to do so during their defence of the trophy, saw Rafael Benitez become the most unpopular Chelsea manager, albeit interim, in the clubs history. But fair play to Rafa, he fulfilled the objective given to him by ensuring we qualified for the Champions League this season whilst also winning the Europa League. Although Jose Mourinho has mocked the Europa League, it should be pointed out that we’re now amongst a handful of clubs to have won every European trophy there has been. So, all in all, it wasn’t that bad a season.
RS: Who was your most important player last season?
GB: Without a doubt, Juan Mata. I lost count the number of times the influential Spaniard was a major factor in victories. It became noticeable that when he didn’t play we were poor and struggled to trouble the opposition. Mata has been hampered with an injury in pre-season, this time around, but hopefully he’ll soon be back on the pitch controlling games and providing that little bit of magic that can turn games on their head.
RS: Which player are you expecting to be vital to Chelsea this term?
GB: Oscar – When he arrived last season it was expected that he’d be sent out on loan, but it never happened and the little Brazilian showed that despite his small physique he is up to the rigours of the Premier League. This season I expect Oscar to be the star, laying in that advanced role alongside the likes of Hazard and Mata.
RS: If you could have one Manchester United player, who would you select?
GB: Wayne Rooney!Our chase to land the striker is well documented, but we see him as the player that would suit our style whereby we operate with a threesome behind the main striker. We also believe that a change will rejuvenate his career. Whether it’ll happen or not remains to be seen.
RS: Where do you think Chelsea will finish in the league this season?
GB: Having come third last season, in such troubled season, we’re looking for an improvement. Now whether Jose Mourinho can pull off a title win remains to be seen but our squad, although filled with youth, has some exceptional talent and with Jose’s famous motivational and man-management skills, I wouldn’t bet against him pulling off the improbable.
RS: Where do you think Manchester United will finish in the league, and predict in order the top four teams?
GB: I find it staggering that some pundits, following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, are inferring that the title race will come down to a fight between Chelsea and Manchester City. Okay David Moyes may not have made a hefty move into the transfer market but the squad he has inherited is the same squad that won the Premier League last season, therefore I reckon they will, come next May, be there or thereabouts. As for a top four, I’ll go for Chelsea, United, City and Spurs. Surely you can’t blame me for opting for Chelsea to win the title, after all are we not all filled with hope at this time of the year?
RS: Predict the three teams to be relegated?
GB: Climbing out of the Championship and into the Premier League is a monumental task, staying in the Premier League is a huge task! Looking at the three teams that came up from the Championship last season, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Hull City, Crystal Palace and Cardiff were the three to go down.
RS: Jose Mourinho was long touted as a replacement manager for Sir Alex Ferguson, do you think Mourinho would have accepted the job, if he had been offered it, rather than David Moyes?
GB: A hard question, even more so considering that Jose was never actually offered the post. My view, and call me an old romantic, is that Jose would only ever have returned to England for one job, the one he has now. There’s a unique bond between Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho, something that cannot really be explained.
RS: Tell us your view of Jose Mourinho and your expectation from him second time around?
GB: Jose is a legend. He may rub some people up the wrong way but, to us, he can do no wrong. He always said he’d come back one day and he’s been true to his word. Furthermore, I get the impression that it’ll be a long stay this time. The buzz word around the place is stability with even our owner seemingly pleased that he’s reunited with the manager who started us off on the trophy winning trail. As for expectations, the word dynasty springs to mind!
RS: What have you made of David Moyes' initial start at Manchester United?
GB: Pre-season the results looked a little dodgy but the last two games (Community Shield and Swansea) have seen the old United earn the victories. I’ve been a little surprised that he hasn’t been more active in the transfer market but perhaps he’s been biding his time. I was also surprised that he brought so many of his Everton backroom staff with him instead of working with the staff Sir Alex left behind.
RS: Are you glad to see the back of Sir Alex Ferguson?
GB: Yes and no! I’m glad he’s no longer a threat to us with his enviable habit of carving out title wins but, on the other hand, I reckon the Premier League has lost an iconic figure and will be all the worse for it.
RS: What did you think of Eden Hazard’s first season at Chelsea?
GB: Eden started brilliantly and looked to be world class. But then injuries and a spat with a Swansea ball-boy soured matters. He finished the season in fine form but picked up a hamstring strain that kept him out of the Europa League Final. At times his skills left me spellbound and if he can stay fit, I reckon he’ll be a star of the new season.
RS: Do you think Fernando Torres is a £50m flop?
GB: Far from it! On the playing side of things he may not have had the best of times but his goals return, last season, was respectable. On the commercial side, the goal he scored in the Nou Camp, a goal that secured us the Champions League place at the Allianz Arena (a competition we went on to win) provided Chelsea Football Club with a cash injection few have ever experienced on the playing front. So, is he a £50 million flop? Quite probably not!
RS: Do you believe Chelsea are still serious in attempting to sign Wayne Rooney, and can you see him fitting in at the football club and London?
GB: Hard to say, Jose is keeping his cards very close to his chest. It’s well known that bids have been made and that Chelsea are after a striker but what’s to say we’ve not switched our attentions elsewhere. Rooney, although a Liverpool lad, would have no trouble fitting in, he knows some of the Chelsea squad and the club go out of their way to ensure new arrivals are well looked after. On the playing front, he’d fit our style of play like a glove.
RS: Your view and assessment of Chelsea fans singing at him every season, ' the fat granny sh***er'?
GB: Banter, mere banter!
RS: Tell us your early views of Marco van Ginkel, Andre Schurrle and your returned from loan player, Kevin de Bruyne?
GB: I’m glad De Bruyne is being given a chance at Stamford Bridge. He did exceptionally well whilst on loan in the Bundesliga and could be something special this season. As for Schurrle and Van Ginkel, I’ve not seen much of either in competitive football so I’ll reserve judgment.
RS: Your view of Roman Abramovich's 10 year tenure at Chelsea?
GB: It’s been absolutely superb. Who’d have believed that before Roman took over we’d have won a top flight title for the first time since 1955, let alone a Champions League Final, plus all those FA Cup’s. The last ten years have been like a dream, long may it continue.
RS: Can you update us on Chelsea team news, for the matchon Monday?
GB: As I speak, ahead of the fixture with Aston Villa, we have very few injuries. Juan Mata and David Luiz are both nursing little niggles but I expect Jose to have a relatively full squad to pick his starting eleven from.
RS: Finally Gary your score prediction for the match?
GB: I’m confident we can win this, I’ll go for a 2-1 Chelsea victory!
RS: Thanks Gary for taking the time to answer our questions.
image: © gordonflood.com