The Chelsea View
With the Seasiders taking on Chelsea infront of the Sky tv cameras on Monday night, we decided to have a chat with a Chelsea fan to get their thoughts on the game.
Chelsea season ticket holder of 16 years, and Branislav Ivanovic enthusiast, Martyn Landi writes for cfcnet.co.uk and is the Community Correspondent for footymatters.com.
Now then mate, after all those years of mocking me and the Seasiders at school, on Monday Chelsea play Blackpool in a league game at Bloomfield Road... I bet you never thought that that would happen?!
I must admit I didn't think I would. Obviously having been at school with yourself I've always kept an eye on your results, but to actually see you in the Premier League was a huge surprise. In the nicest way possible you've never set a league alight; you've snuck up on sides in the playoffs, but you've got a fantastic spirit and Blackpool are the perfect example of how far that can actually get you.
What are your thoughts on how the Seasiders have done this season? Do you think that we have enough in the tank to stay up?
I'm a big fan to be honest. I think most fans would say Blackpool are probably their 'second team' these days, but not in the same way Hull or Reading were when they got promoted. That was a bit condescending perhaps; 'look at them having a go, bless em'.
But I think people respect how you've come up and not changed your game plan. You've gone to Anfield and had a go and got the result. You came to us, ok went 4-0 but then came back at us second half and were the better side. You've scared, and beaten some big sides in the Premier League.
Other sides like Hull had great starts because they were an unknown entity but once they were found out got put to the sword. You're still popping up with results, the delightful (from our perspective) win over Spurs being an ideal example. So yes, I think you've got more than enough about you to stay up.
Who's caught your eye in a tangerine shirt this season, and where do you think we need to improve if we're to establish ourselves at this level?
Charlie Adam is the obvious one, Matt Philips looks like he's one for the future, a very exciting prospect. On a personal note I'm delighted to see Gary Taylor-Fletcher doing so well. I remember watching him when I lived in Lincoln so to now see him in the top flight is brilliant. David Vaughan is another I like, he's got an engine in him that boy.
The main thing to establish yourself in the Premier League is to start keeping clean sheets. A few years ago our neighbours Fulham were heading south when Hodgson arrived, brought in Hangeland and they stayed up. That's the difference, turning a tough 1-1 at Bolton on a Tuesday night into a hard-fought 1-0. I think Cathcart, Evatt and co have got it in them, and once they've got more experience at this level they'll be a difficult unit to take on. Another area is normally the keeper, but I think you're pretty much set with Gilks and Kingson.
The likes of Liverpool and Spurs (and nearly Man Utd) have already come a cropper at Bloomers this season - do you fear that Chelsea could suffer the same fate? Do you think that some of your players might underestimate us and struggle to adapt to the settings and atmosphere?
Given that everyone keeps telling us how old we are, I should hope not. There's more than enough experience running through the side to stop things like that happening. But having said that, we've been in a funny mood for the last 3 months now. We'll blow away Bolton then not turn up against Liverpool, go three games without a goal (in 90 mins), then beat the league leaders.
I think we need to treat it as a cup tie almost. Bloomfield Road is a tight, intimidating place and walking out there thinking we'll stroll it just because we're playing a so-called 'smaller club' is what gets you beat. We need to be sharp and realise you're going to chase every ball. If we do that, I think we should get the points. The United game was the first time we've played with real pace in a long time. We need that intensity again on Monday. Just because there aren't 40,000 screaming for Rooney's blood doesn't make it any less important.
If we're to beat your boys, where are the weaknesses in your side that we should be looking to exploit?
Anyone whose managed to break up our midfield play has got the better of us. Also, the space behind Ashley Cole is a worry for us. There are cross channel ferries that turn quicker than JT so if you get in behind Cole and at him, I imagine your front men will fancy their chances and why not.
David Luiz also, despite being flavour of the month, over-commits and can be rash in his decisions. He`s young and still a bit 'death or glory' so drawing him out will again expose our overall lack of pace at the back.
Earlier in the season you tore us apart in a sensational first half display at Stamford Bridge before we regained some dignity in the second half. However, since then, your season has tailed off somewhat and your form has been patchy - why do you think that is?
Everyone's got a theory on this. Ray Wilkins leaving is the most common answer, and whilst I agree with that to an extent, there were issues before he left. Our shambolic performance at Anfield came whilst Ray was still with us, and a lot of the poor form from then has been in a similar mould to that defeat.
Personally, I think our 4-3-3 had finally been found out. Ever since Mourinho first installed it in every club in the country have tried it, and tried out formations to beat it. Isolating Makelele used to be the way to do it, but Ancelotti brought his own attacking take to it and suddenly we looked unbeatable again.
But this season teams realised that we hate them sitting off us, and if you can pin the fullbacks in our half we've no width at all. Last year everyone thought we'd gone soft and had a go at us. We picked them off and won the title. Now they've backed off and we don`t like it. We don't move the ball fast enough naturally, only when forced by the opposition. Although ironically we tend to play our best football when this happens.
Also, you don't need me to tell you we're a side full of egos. When things go well the likes of Drogba, Malouda and Anelka will try and take people on, but when we're down they go in their shells and we've no cutting edge. That's what happened this season, we've been exposed and the players don't like it.
Are you overdue a big win (scoreline wise, obviously the win over United was a 'big win'!), or are Chelsea in a transitional phase?
Well it'd be great to hit a side for 7 again, what football fan wouldn't say that.
Given our strikeforce its not beyond the realms of possibility. Sit down any defender and ask them to name the front men they fear the most and I imagine Drogba and Torres would pop up.
But as much as I hate the term 'transitional period' (Arsenal have used it for 6 years now) I think it may be the case. We've changed our system again and have a new man leading the attack. We're also coming off the back of our worst run for 11 years so there's still creases being ironed out for sure.
Is it fair to say that a top four finish is probably the best you can hope for this season?
Definitely. I should probably be defiant and say we can still win it but realistically I can't see United and Arsenal dropping 12 points. I think 3rd is the target. I've got a sneaking suspicion City might be the side to miss out again.
Is Carlo Ancelotti under pressure from Roman Ambramovich, or like Ian Holloway, is his job secure for the foreseeable future?
The problem with the Chelsea job is there's always pressure on the manager. When as much money is pumped in as has been at The Bridge then success has to come.
I think Roman is still learning about football, and hopefully is starting to realise that sustained success comes with a long term manager. My Dad said when we appointed Carlo he thought he could be our Ferguson, maybe Roman has a similar idea. The papers will jump on anything Chelsea related because of the way the club is, and the hysteria it creates. I don't think Carlo is under huge pressure. Obviously this season has been disappointing domestically, but if we were to win the Champions League he's ticked every box on Roman`s brief.
Speaking of Ollie, what are thoughts on 'Pool's enigmatic gaffer?
How can you not love him?! He`s been a cult hero for years now, and like everyone else I'm happy to see him in the big time. He's a talented coach and exactly where he belongs.
Fernando Torres has tasted defeat against us twice already this season, will Monday be a case of 'third time lucky' or 'third time unlucky' for the striker?
He's got better with every game and has reached that stage where he just needs one to go in. Off his backside if need be. One goal and he'll be off. Maybe Monday is the night for it. He's at a bigger, sorry, better club now so I think he might get his revenge.
The £50 million man has hardly been firing on all cylinders since his controversial move to the Bridge, but could a game against Blackpool (who will be without Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell) be just what he needs to rediscover his touch in front of goal?
Why not. Blackpool minus Charlie Adam is a big plus for us and maybe Torres will rise to the occasion. As I said he's gradually finding his feet but that price tag will only get heavier until the goals start going in.
Speaking of that £50 million (and more), what are your thoughts on the Blues (and other sides) spending such vast amounts of money on players, when this season Blackpool have proved that quality players don't necessarily have to cost the earth?
Blackpool have proved that team spirit and hard work can get you places, but I think they'll only get you so far.
The nature of the top four in this country is that you need to spend to survive. Arsenal have spent money on their academy, its not as in your face but they're still doing it. We need to do it to stay competitive as well.
We've never been a club associated with a conveyer belt of players coming through the ranks. We've had some greats come through over the years, with the likes of Greaves, Venables, Terry and even Leroy Lita… but Chelsea have historically always been a buying club. As football's got bigger so have the numbers. Its just evolution for me.
At Stamford Bridge we played with a more defensive line-up in the first half, before switching back to our normal style (attack, attack, attack!) in the second. Ollie says he learned from that day and has vowed to never go defensive again. Bearing that in mind, do you expect that Carlo will name a more attacking team than usual to take advantage of the inevitable gaps that we will leave at the back?
I don't think it'll be more attacking, the only change I expect is Drogba to come in for Anelka. For the first time against United Drogba and Torres treated each other like team mates. Maybe its taken Drog that long to actually believe Nando plays for us. I still think he looks weird in blue…
I couldn't interview you and not ask you about Ashley Cole's shooting of our old schoolfriend Tom Cowan... do you think that the incident has been dealt with appropiately or should Cole be subject to the same treatment as 'the bloke off the street' i.e. be investigated/charged by the police?
This whole story wound me up because it had happened a week before yet got saved for 2 days before the United game. But I suppose that's part of being the most hated side in the country.
Cole was an idiot, no two ways about it, but I don't want to see us lose our left back so I hope nothing else comes of it. I know its selfish but there you go.
Footballers shouldn't get preferential treatment but so many people are emotionally invested in what they do its means they often do get off lightly for the team's sake.
Does the behaviour of some of your players concern you, or are you not bothered providing they do the business on the pitch?
I'm a believer that ignorance is bliss. I'll be the first to put my hands up and say that certain players have done things I don't agree with, and there are some I don't like as people, but as long as they turn up and perform in a blue shirt they're free to live their lives and make their own mistakes. But my Christ it'd be nice if the next scandal involved someone else for a change…
Switching focus back to Monday night finally, can we have a prediction?
I think we'll both put on a show for the tv cameras, but I think we'll be too strong for you. 3-1 Chelsea.