New Chelsea manager Andre Villas Boas has promised to evaluate his current squad before going out the the market and spending irrationally. The 33-year-old technician has been linked with a move for some of the Porto stars that shot him to fame, but so far it has been a quiet transfer window at Stamford Bridge. The end of the Carlo Ancelotti era will sadden some of the squad, who had a close affiliation with the Italian, however other players will be eager to have the slate wiped clean and start anew at the club.
Daniel Sturridge will surely be one of those who will hope to get more first team football under the new man in charge. Having found himself well and truly down the pecking order after signing for The Blues from Manchester City in July 2009, he will hope to be on a level par with Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka in 2011-12, with selection based on performance and form.
With only four goals to his name in his time at Chelsea, the 21-year-old will have been boosted by his loan spell at Bolton last season, where he impressed and found his scoring form. Eight goals in 12 games is a record that speaks for itself, and the Birmingham born attacker looks reinvigorated from gaining playing time in the top flight.
By no means a certainty to get games, Sturridge will be happy to hear that AVB intends to play a 4-3-3 system, which will give him an extra starting spot to contend. Versatile, skilful and with an eye for goal, 2011-12 is a big year for the England under-21 star.
Yuri Zhirkov signed for the London club after an impressive Euro 2008 campaign with Russia, but has failed to live up to the hype of his £18 million transfer fee. With injuries and a drop in form resulting in only 29 appearances in two seasons, predominantly as a substitute, it is make or break time for the former CSKA Moscow man.
The 27-year-old is one of only a handful of left footed wide players in The Blues’ squad, and his versatility of playing at either full back or on the wing will be useful to Villas Boas. The most expensive player in Russian football history has show at times that he can be a real danger to opposition, but needs to be included on a more regular basis to fully meet his potential.
There are a number of other fringe players that will have welcomed a new man at the helm. Paulo Ferreria has seen his career in England fade over the last two seasons, as a starting spot is no longer guaranteed. Yossi Benayoun showed fantastic craft and vision whilst at Liverpool, but has had an injury plagued time in London, whilst centre half Alex slipped out of Ancelotti’s preferences and will hope for more opportunities under AVB.
With potentially more new players to arrive it will be interesting to see the Portuguese coach’s starting XI and matchday squad on August 13th, with all available players given a fair crack at the whip to be included.