Date: 16th June 2008 at 5:40pm
Written by:

Merlin from Vital Chelsea approached me for a Lion to Lion interview, so thought I’d do the same with him, so … well here it is really!

Would you agree it’s been a strange close season so far? The Euro 2008 competition seems to have interrupted the flow of transfers and it looks like it’ll turn into a last minute scramble. Who would you expect to, or hope, to see arriving at Stamford Bridge in the next five to six weeks?

I think we’re in for a bit of a roller coaster ride. The squad Scolari has inherited contains far too many players who are merely fringe players. The likes of Tal Ben Haim, Claudio Pizarri, Juliano Belletti, Khalid Boulahrouz, Steve Sidwell and Shaun Wright-Phillips must be nervously looking over their shoulders. There are also a few more established stars that could be on the move. Didier Drogba seems to be unable to make his mind up where he wants to play next year, Frank Lampard needs to sit down wit h those in charge and sort his new contract out and Andriy Shevchenko remains an enigma!

With regards to those coming in, I would have said David Villa but he seems keen to stay in Spain or join ‘Little Spain’ up on Merseyside. Scolari seems keen on the ageing Deco and Robinho’s name has also been mentioned as a likely candidate. In reality, much will depend on whether the club wishes to hang onto Drogba, if they decide enough is enough then Samuel Eto’o could well be on the agenda.

Interesting times ahead!

Are you Chelsea boys happy with the new manager you have got and do you think that Roman Abramovich will stick with this one or will he be looking at competing with Old Dougy Ellis in sacking managers every 3 years?

If we were to be brutally honest we’d have liked to have seen the appointment of Mark Hughes with Steve Clarke and Gianfranco Zola as his assistants, but it wasn’t to be. Therefore, we need to get behind Scolari, we could have done a lot worse with many papers pushing the merits of Frank Rijkaard. Scolari will get the players respect and the squad doesn’t have a great deal wrong with it, once the deadwood is cast aside. However, I get the impression we could be about to be hit with a Portuguese influx.

It’ll be interesting to see if Roman gives Scolari time, I’m not sure he’d be too happy with a second season without a trophy but then again he must realise if he wants to implement change, it’ll take time!

However, what does worry me is that Scolari has openly admitted he wants to retire in five years; hardly long enough to create a lasting dynasty is it!

Naturally, a new manager will want to bring in some new players, are there any Villa lads you’d like to see at Stamford Bridge and any players you would like to see move to Villa Park?

If you’re encouraging us to splash the cash then we’d willingly take Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor off your hands. In fact, how about a straight swap for Sidwell, Wright-Phillips, Boulahrouz, Ben Haim and Pizarro?

Much has been made of Sepp Blatter and his suggestion relating to a maximum quota of foreign players in a starting eleven. Do you believe it’ll ever happen and would it benefit the national side?

I look around at the players available to play for the current side and we’re not far away from being a good team, we suffered under poor manager choice in McClaren and Sven. I’m not sure the quota system will work. Even if it gets implemented the current rule whereby anyone qualifies as home grown if they’ve spent three years in the youth set-up between the ages of 16 and 21 would mean that the big clubs would simply swoop up all the emerging youngsters around the globe. Perhaps if we’re looking for a scapegoat at national level look no further than the government of yesteryear who saw fit to discourage competitive sport in school and sold off school playing fields for development.

In my interview with Vital Chelsea you asked what I thought of the Gareth Barry situation. What is your take on it from the press speculation? Good move for him or bad mistake judging by the fact it is through MON he has started getting a place in the England team!?

I’d urge Barry to stay put, to show some loyalty etc. etc. Martin O’Neill is slowly, backed by Randy Lerner, transforming your club. You’re a sleeping giant and it will not be long before you’re well and truly awoken. The tabloid press are scum, our own situation with our managerial appointment showed just what depths they will plumb to destabilise matters.

Lastly, the prospect of that dreaded 39th game refuses to die, what’s your take on the subject? Is it another nail in the game we all grew up loving as kids or is it the way forward?

In my opinion, it’ll be the death knell for football as we know it. One game will become two; two will become three and before we know where we are it’ll be a global league watched by corporate types keen to use it to impress probable business colleagues. Kick off times will be all over the place (bit like now) and the true supporter will be cast aside, in other words a grander version of what Sky Sports and Setanta Sports are doing to us now!

With thanks to Merlin from Vital Chelsea: Click Here