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Was Ferguson right all along about Chelsea?
The crushing 3-0 defeat to rivals Manchester United recently was just one of a string of lacklustre performances and while their struggles may come as a shock to many, United boss Alex Ferguson saw this coming some time ago.
Looking into his crystal ball last July, a month before the new Premier League season had started, Ferguson boldly stated that new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari had inherited a Chelsea squad which had already peaked and that progress was unlikely.
This season’s performances include six draws and three defeats in the league, while they were losing 1-0 at home to Stoke City last weekend before late goals gave then a 2-1 win.
A League Cup exit at the hands of Championship (second division) side Burnley and a 1-1 FA Cup draw with League One (third division) side Southend United before nervously going through in the replay would also suggest that Fergie may well be right.
“How can they accelerate beyond what they’ve done up to now when you see the ages they’ve got?,” Ferguson told the Times.
“I don’t see outstanding progress in a team that’s in their thirties,” he added.
John Obi Mikel, 21, and Salomon Kalou, 23, are the only established first team players under the age of 25 in a Blues side made up of many big-names who have struggled to deliver this season.
Germany captain Michael Ballack, former Barcelona midfielder Deco, Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba have been inconsistent among others. Injured Joe Cole is out for the season.
Is this all Scolari’s fault or is Ferguson right and will ‘Big Phil’ now need time to dismantle the current crop and build his own side capable of competing for silverware?
PHOTO: Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari looks confident during his unveiling. REUTERS