Chelsea fans may well be rejoicing today. A solution has been found to all their problems. By capturing the signature of Gary Cahill in a £7million transfer from Bolton Wanderers, the West London club can now take their rightful place in the top three of the Premier League.
Correct? Probably not. For all the excitement that the capture of Cahill will create, one man will not change the fortunes of an entire club.
Let us not forget that this one man “saviour” is hardly in the form of his life. Cahill has been the mainstay of a Bolton defence that has shifted 46 goals from 21 Premier League matches this season, the worst record in the division. He comes to Stamford Bridge at a time when his confidence could probably sink no lower.
Having said that, an injury to John Terry and a prolonged spell next to David Luiz in central defence might prompt Cahill to consider another career.
To his credit, Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, has identified a problem area and acted. Unfortunately for the Blues, it has come six months late. It is a damning indictment of the Portuguese manager that he didn’t sign Cahill in the summer, given the common knowledge of Luiz’s profligate defending.
Pairing England’s current defensive partnership at club level ought to see Chelsea reap the benefits, but this must only be the start of a full scale remodelling.
The full back areas desperately need addressing. Ashley Cole’s form is starting to go the way of his fellow defenders, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt given his performances over a prolonged period.
However, Jose Bosingwa’s continued involvement has long been cause for hearty laughter for everyone away from New Kings Road.
Perhaps a move to right back is the end game for Luiz. His marauding and carefree defending will be less exposed and his obvious offensive skills can better be utilised. There is no doubt he has talent, but Villas-Boas’ claim that his defender could go on to be one of the best centre halves in world football looks wildly speculative.
What of the rest of the squad? Chelsea fans would have been delighted to see Michael Essien return to their side on Saturday, and some will feel that it is like a new signing. While this is true in terms of bodies available to Villas-Boas, to suggest that Ghanaian will be the same player of three or four years ago under Jose Mourinho is wide of the mark.
Central midfield is an area that will require regeneration in the summer. For all the fuss over the Villas-Boas – Frank Lampard relationship, the England midfielder has delivered when called upon this season, and finding someone to fill his boots long term must be one of the highest priorities for the Chelsea manager.
Fernando Torres looks more and more comfortable in a blue shirt, and one strike might spark something more spectacular. A goal glut is certainly due, given the complete absence of success during his spell so far, and only the most cold hearted spectator would enjoy continued failure for the Spaniard. Torres, alongside Daniel Sturridge, represents the next generation for Chelsea.
But that is for next season – as are the benefits of Cahill’s signing. There are likely to be many more unconvincing days at the Bridge before the seasons end. A quick fix is rarely found in January – as Torres showed. Fans should not expect to go surging past Tottenham and challenge the Manchester clubs for the title. But the Villas-Boas revolution, promised but undelivered in the summer, finally looks to be underway.