Date: 7th January 2011 at 6:05pm
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Ahead of Ipswich Town’s FA Cup 3rd Round clash against Chelsea this weekend (and before Roy Keane got sacked!), Vital Ipswich contacted the good chaps at Vital Chelsea to get some insight on our opponents from the perspective of their fans. So without further ado, here’s the view From The Other Side:

Vital Ipswich: So the New Year is upon us – what has 2010 been like for Chelsea?

Vital Chelsea: A year that’ll long live in the memory! It was the year in which we secured our first Double, a year in which we racked up over a 100 Premier League goals and a year where I really thought we were setting ourselves up for a golden future.

And then cometh the summer! Trying to move towards UEFA’s financial targets we had a clear-out, a plethora of talent was moved out – Cole, Ballack, Deco, Carvalho, Belletti – to name but a few of the more recognisable names, but recruitment wasn’t on the menu and although we signed Benayoun and Ramires, there was disappointment in the air.

But 2010/2011 started well, two six goal flurries saw us pick up where we left off, talk of running away with the title was rife and then the roof caved in. Injuries proved that the summer policy was flawed and confidence took a real dip. Talk of a blip soon became talk of a crisis and retaining the title looks far off. Whether the situation can be recovered in the January transfer window remains to be seen but, as we always say, there’s always the Cups!

Vital Ipswich: Well true… or in Town’s case at the moment, there’s only the Cups! Moving into 2011 then, what do you feel the club should be achieving for the remainder of this season? (Winning everything, presumably…!)

Vital Chelsea: I feel the Premier League title has slipped away from us but there is still hope. If we can pull ourselves out of this slump then we can still play a major part in the destiny of two of the four trophies we play for each season.

We’d like nothing better than to win the FA Cup for a third year in a row and of course we all harbour dreams of a Champions League triumph but we’re realistic to know that, on current form, we’re way off the mark in that wish. But, as they say, good players don’t become bad players overnight, so keep an eye on us?you just never know!

Vital Ipswich: I ask this question after watching your boys get beaten 3-1 by Arsenal in the Premier League a couple of days ago. I’ve heard a lot of talk about ‘crisis’ at Stamford Bridge at the moment – do you think that is an exaggeration?

Vital Chelsea: It certainly is! Before we entertain you (and at the time of writing) we face home games with Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa. If we don’t pick up maximum points in those two, the word crisis might be an under-statement. [They got four points in the end, folks! ~ Ed]

In recent weeks we’ve lost that swagger, we’re playing without confidence and we really are there for the taking. True we’ve not had the best of luck, like when did you ever see Chelsea give away two sloppy goals like the two Arsenal ones in a gnats-cock over a minute?

But football can be a strange game, today’s crisis could be long forgotten if we can get back to winning ways and push on towards glory!

Vital Ipswich: What about Carlo Ancelotti? I know he has been under a lot of pressure recently – do you think he is still the man for the job at Chelsea, or is it time to move on? (Assuming he hasn’t already been sacked by the time of publication…!)

Vital Chelsea: Carlo has my deepest sympathy, he seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place. Life must have been hard at AC Milan under the tyrant he worked for there, but life at Stamford Bridge must be doing his head in. I have no idea who is pulling the strings anymore. Did Carlo agree to the summer exodus? Should Carlo have put up more resistance when Ray Wilkins was removed from his post? Does Carlo have any major say in who the club signs? Three questions we’d all like the answers to.

As for being the man for the job, can we continue to get rid of managers without giving them a chance to build a dynasty? If he were to go, who would we bring in instead? Sam Allardyce or some unknown who knows naff all about the Premier League!

Vital Ipswich: How do the fans feel about the way the club has been run in the years since Roman Abramovich took over? How are you sitting financially these days?

Vital Chelsea: We’ve been living the dream! As one of the older generation who experienced life in the old Second Division, winning the Premier League title was something I could only have ever dreamed about. To win it three times is the dogs-wotsits!

Sure mistakes have been made. Looking back we’ve wasted enormous amounts of cash on players that were not up to the task. Matters were not helped by the fact we were fleeced by several clubs who knew we had untold riches at our disposal, in the early days we were like kids in a sweetshop grabbing everything we could.

Nowadays, with UEFA keen to ensure those who have loads are brought back onto an even playing field, we’ve had to be more prudent with our spending; the emphasis is on bringing through some of the great talent we have in our academy.

Financially, the cash is there but with expenditure having to match income (more-or-less) under the new UEFA guidelines, we’re doing our utmost to be compliant.

Vital Ipswich: You probably wouldn’t bother yourself too much with what goes on in the little leagues(!) but I dare say media-magnet Roy Keane has kept Ipswich in the spotlight. Do you have any views on the situation at Portman Road in recent times? (Assuming you would have any interest…!)?

Vital Chelsea: As somebody who doesn’t reside in London but resides in the Anglia region, I do keep an eye on what goes on at Portman Road, it’s kind of force fed me through the sports bit on Anglia news.

I can recall the emotional scenes when Sir Bobby Robson passed on being shown and occasionally we get treated to historic pieces of action during his reign, days when you pushed Aston Villa so close to the old Division One title.

Footage featuring the likes of Paul Mariner, John Wark, Alan Brazil, Kevin Beattie, Terry Butcher and the two Dutch lads, Muhren and Thijsen (excuse the spelling). [Thijssen, actually, but close enough! ~ Ed]

Roy Keane is a strange lad, tuning in recently, I get the impression that he’s only saved his skin because of his high-profile, your recent record isn’t that good but then again perhaps he’s being given the chance that so many managers don’t get these days! [How ironic…! ~ Ed]

But as for liking him, no sorry! I’ll never forget what he did to Alfe Inge-Haaland in the United v Leeds clash that time!

Vital Ipswich: Looking ahead to the Cup tie then – what sort of team do you think your gaffer will be putting out to face us? Anyone you think we should be keeping an eye on?

Vital Chelsea: With our Premier League hopes dwindling and with the Champions League campaign not scheduled to resume just yet, I’d imagine it’d be a pretty strong side. Sure we’ll rest some, the likes of Cech, Cole and Drogba may possibly give way to the likes of Turnbull, Van Aanholt and Sturridge but it’ll still be a very strong eleven.

Vital Ipswich: Strong enough to beat us anyway, I would think! Is there anybody on the Ipswich Town side that you are remotely concerned about? We hear enough rumours in the tabloids about Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal et al contemplating a move for our striker Connor Wickham…

Vital Chelsea: Wickham is a talented youngster who you will struggle to keep hold of but as to his destination that’ll be anybody’s guess. The way we’re playing I’m concerned about your whole side, if you have the belief there’s every possibility it’ll be a tight game that either side could win.

Vital Ipswich: What sort of game do you think we’re in for on Sunday? Anything like the 3-1 a couple of years ago?

Vital Chelsea: I’d like to think the result will be the same and if I recall right wasn’t that the game that Frank Lampard scored a wonderful long range goal from out wide? [It was – and Michael Ballack too! ~ Ed] But, we’ve a penchant for starting slow just recently and falling behind. If we can eliminate that and if we have a couple of wins under our belt (Bolton and Villa) then I fear we’ll have too much in our locker for you again.

Vital Ipswich: Neck on the line – what’s your score prediction?

Vital Chelsea: I’m sticking by us to win this one 2-0!

Our thanks go to the guys at Vital Chelsea for participating in this interview. Don’t forget you can check out the Vital Ipswich half of ‘From The Other Side‘ on the Vital Chelsea website.

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