Unfortunately, former Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf has hit the nail on the head with his latest comments on Chelsea’s struggles in recent years.
Frank Leboeuf was one of the players I would probably include in my top ten players that I enjoyed the most while watching Chelsea as a kid. He played the game with ease and class. His vision of the long pass and his changes of the ball were a beautiful thing, a really majestic player but also a good captain and a good leader. He knew the game well and could read it perfectly. His footballing mind has always been clear for all to see. He played bravely and was never afraid to hit that pass.
That’s why I appreciate hearing his views on the game still now, and he recently had some damning words to say about Chelsea.
Frank Leboeuf: “Although Chelsea’s construction game is improving under Graham Potter because they are more vertical than under Thomas Tuchel, they still seem more interested in keeping the ball rather than hurting the opposition.
“That seems to be the frame of mind, don’t turn the ball over instead of risking an incisive pass. Lots of back and side passes without risk and the stats will show a high proportion of completions, but I want to see more progressive passes.
“My main concern for Chelsea is that I don’t see many players who risk missing a pass and play more vertically. Everything is too calculated. Soccer is a game of intuition to make something special happen and surprise the defense.
“It’s been the same problem for the last three years, providing a supply line to allow someone to consistently score goals. Chelsea tried Romelu Lukaku and it didn’t work out and now it’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“The problem is that Chelsea don’t serve them consistently because the football they play is more about horizontal passing and keeping possession rather than trying to score goals quickly like Liverpool do for example.”
This is exactly. These have been our problems for the last three or four seasons at least. The nail in the head is that the players do not want to take risks. Ultimately, Chelsea lack the quality to do this on a regular basis, in general.
We have all seen that our forwards have lacked service. Timo Werner used to do the runs weekly, he was always ignored. The same with Romelu Lukaku, and again now with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, as Leboeuf has mentioned.
Everything is calculated, as Frank says. We are too predictable. When we play 3-4-3, we are too predictable.
But the bottom line is that we have lacked the quality to open up defenses and play fast one-touch football. No one has wanted to take responsibility for making that killer pass or facing players. Because to me, creativity is not just passing, it’s also players hitting two or three guys at once and opening up. We have some players who can do that, but again, they just aren’t doing it enough and we need more.
When I read these quotes, it all seemed so obviously true to me and many other of us fans. So why hasn’t it been obvious to Chelsea’s managers, trainers and owners over the last four years? This has slowed us down immensely.