The Abramovich-Shevchenko-Mourinho love triangle may be what seems to have brought Chelsea’s dominance of the Premier League to a temporary halt this season, but it could be argued that the “Special One’s” evil plans were undone by something altogether different.
A couple of fine early goals from a Liverpool side with plenty to prove has all but sunk Chelsea’s season. It leaves most of the country on a high, content that signs are that the “natural” Arsenal-Man Utd-Liverpool harmony at the top of the table is on as the Roman Empire appears to crumble, a return to the three party state possibly on the cards.
Chelsea, though, the big bad wolves of the Premiership, have been undone by their own big bad wolf, Peter Kenyon. In trying to turn the club into The Biggest Club In The World TM overnight, Kenyon and his cohorts are starting to make glaring errors of judgment.
Bringing Adidas in as kit sponsors may have seemed like extremely shrewd business at the time, but it has brought with it a massive piece of baggage nobody now knows what to do with. Its name is Michael Ballack. And his transfer, in terms of its importance, may well turn out to be arguably the worst transfer in the history of world football.
Now Ballack, like Lampard, is an Adidas poster boy. In fact, throw into the equation the fact that he, like Adidas, is German, and you might even argue that he is THE Adidas poster boy. If he was not going to stay at Adidas club of choice Bayern, where on Earth could he go? United, who would have desperately loved a Ballack back at the end of last season are sworn to Nike. Realistically, he could only go to Real or the new Adidas flagship club, Chelsea. A deal was born. One in which the Special One had no say in at all.
Take a step back to last year. Central midfield is the engine room of any given Premiership club. The discovery of the priceless Cesc Fabregas saved Arsenal from any post-Viera misery; at United there was a black hole – which is why they struggled last season; at Liverpool in Sissoko, Alonso and Gerrard there was an embarrassment of riches which propelled them on to FA Cup glory and a good second half of the season.
However the prize midfield combo was Makelele/Essien/Lampard. There was nothing of the spectacular here, just grit, determination and raw footballing talent.
This season the combo is still going. Except they have Michael Ballack stuck in there with them. And neither they, nor he, nor anyone else, for that matter, seems to be able to understand what he is supposed to be doing. The most effective midfield in the country (if not in Europe) has been reduced to a laughing stock. Against Liverpool at Anfieled, the Chelsea midfield, though admittedly lacking personnel, looked at sea. Remember this is the team that beat the Merseysiders 1-4 in the same fixture last year, when that midfield was running like the smoothest of machines.
The business deal that brought Ballack to Chelsea has critically destabalised them in the area where they were the strongest: midfield.
Buying Shevchneko may have upset the balance behind the scenes for Chelsea, but a dysfunctional and undroppable Michael Ballack has stalled things for them where it matters most – on the pitch.