Pat Nevin will be working on the World Cup for the next few weeks and, after bringing the domestic action to a close, turns his attention to Qatar with his blue glasses on…
i wrote in this column last week I thought it might be beneficial for Chelsea to have this upcoming World Cup break, to give the manager time to take stock and plan in depth. I feel even more confident about that statement now after Newcastle. It’s been a tough few weeks, and with such a closely packed group of teams in the Premier League, even a brief winless run takes a huge toll on league position.
Two points out of the last 15 available in the league have changed the entire landscape of the season. On the other hand, a short win streak can propel you up the table just as quickly, so there should be a reset ready to go at the reset.
When the team assemble for the next games after Christmas against Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, they should be ready to rocket out of those starting blocks. Hopefully, we’ll have almost all of them available by then. One big question will be about the condition of the players after the trip to Qatar – there are some Chelsea players there, all hoping to play for as long as possible.
The England contingent is the most obvious and the largest with Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher and Raheem Sterling each capable of making a huge impact in the tournament. There’s a lot of pressure on each of them, but don’t complain about it, as Reece James and Ben Chilwell would love to share that pressure.
If those two had kept fit, they would have been favorites for the England squad, bringing the total to 14 players from Chelsea’s current squad in the tournament, and let’s not forget N’Golo Kante would have been in the squad as well. french team. team had he managed to get fit in time, there would have been 15 current Chelsea players there.
Had that happened, only Man City in the Premier League would have had more, with their 16 players on display. It’s unbelievable when you look around the world, how heavy the Premier League World Cup is. Flipping through the squads the other day, I was surprised to find that Brazil’s squad has 12 players out of the 26 who ply their trade in the Premier League, and that’s without picking Liverpool’s Firmino.
Thiago Silva is likely to remain one of the classiest players in the tournament, if not the most, which is exceptional considering he was on Brazil’s squad for the 2010 competition and here he is with his fourth. The one game that stood out above all the others he played, the one I was in at a World Cup, was Brazil’s 2-1 loss to Belgium in Kazan, Russia, in 2018.
What an incredible Chelsea influence there was on that game in retrospect! Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku, Willian, as well as Thiago Silva, with Thorgan Hazard and Michy Batshuayi on the bench.
This could be a feature of this competition again as it develops. There are a lot of Chelsea ‘old boys’ playing for other countries, so there will be a lot of head-to-heads between them. Even current Chelsea players taking on their current teammates could become a feature.
It’s a weird feeling playing against your teammates, but unsurprisingly, as pros, we know how to ‘park’ that friendship for 90 minutes.
Don’t be surprised when Mason Mount takes on Christian Pulisic in the November 25 game at Al Bayt Stadium, neither player will stop when tickets have to fly. Denis Zakaria will be delighted to get far enough down the field. playing for Switzerland against Brazil to come face to face with Thiago Silva. Considering the effort Mateo Kovacic puts into each game and the ground he covers, if Hakim Ziyech is on the field for Morocco when they meet, then they will meet!
The most obvious and likely clash will be when Spain take on Germany and Cesar Azpilicueta could be spending a significant amount of time around Kai Havertz. There is no point in asking either of them to take it easy, they are passionate about playing for their countries.
I remember playing against my teammates in international matches a long time ago. Kerry Dixon was in the England team when I was in the Scotland team and I remember very well my roommate from my Everton days, Tony Cottee, playing up front for England wearing the number 10 while I was in the shirt. of Scotland with the number seven on the back.
Considering how average we were at tackles and how much TC hated chasing after them, there was no chance of us getting hurt. In one of those Scotland vs. England games, I played against Glenn Hoddle and Ray Wilkins, two Chelsea legends, but to be honest, I had to look it up.
This is the point, as nice as it sounds for old mates to reunite on these big stages, most of the time you completely ignore it and forget about it completely. You might see him in blue every weekend, but if he’s wearing a different color shirt this time, then for those 90 minutes he’s not your friend anymore.
We want everyone to come back safe and sound, and we certainly don’t want any ‘blue on blue’ injuries, but it’s just luck of the draw. They must be committed. The players will forget about possible injuries and for a while our guys could forget about the difficult times at Chelsea.
As for me, when I arrive in Qatar and show up for the first of my 13 games, the first on Sunday between Qatar and Ecuador, I will keep thinking about Chelsea. I will watch the games closely, but unlike others, I will also comment on them, even though I know many fans unintentionally do so too! I’ll still have time to contemplate who might be good enough to do a job for us.
If I see something special, I’ll let you know and give you a taste of what it’s like to be there in the games. I have been to many World Cups since France 1998. They are all different and all wonderful in their own way. The only thing they have had in common is that they have been surprising in some way. I can’t wait to get out there, see the surprises, and then tell you what it’s like.