This column was supposed to be about Čech. It really was.
After watching our beloved Blues hang on to beat AVFC on Wednesday, it was obvious the Čech was the clear difference in securing 3 points. He was magnificent. I wanted to fill these pages with a simple thesis, “Courtois is good, but we need Čech to be elite.” I was going write about his saves, his positioning, his composure, and all the things that have made him CFC’s #1. I couldn’t wait to write about the player who prompted me to buy my first CFC t-shirt “Čech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.”
Then I turned on ESPN2, watched Atlético Madrid v. Barça and I knew my thesis had a problem. Thibaut Courtois is very, very, good and Chelsea has a problem. It’s a good problem to have… but it is still a problem.
There’s a saying in the American Football, “If you have 2 QB’s, you really have none,” the inference being that if one guy can’t separate himself from the competition, then neither guy is likely elite enough. Is this the case in Champions League Level Football? I don’t know.
Speaking of American Football, that might be where we find the proper comparison to what Chelsea is facing. In 2008 The Green Bay Packers had two quarterbacks; one was a legend with an unrivaled trophy cabinet, the other a young, unproven, player with a ton of upside. The Packers made an incredibly brave and, at the time, controversial decision to push the incumbent aside and roll with the new guy.
For 2 years, their franchise struggled under their new QB, and the second guessers weren’t hard to find. Then, in year 3, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to the Super Bowl and won the MVP. Not only did the second guessing end, the prevailing opinion was, “man those second guessers were insane.” While the fact pattern isn’t necessarily a perfect match, the bigger point is Chelsea faces a similar decision, and will face it soon. Roman won’t allow a similar two year window that Rodgers had. Roman wants all the trophies and he wanted them yesterday.
Should Chelsea make the switch to Courtois and maybe sacrifice the last few years of Čech’s prime? Should they sell Courtois to the highest bidder (there would be suitors), ride Čech to the end, and hope Blackman is the answer?
Most importantly, Chelsea can NOT get this one wrong. Sustained success at the UEFA level must start with a rock-solid #1 (Valdés being the exception), and maybe, just maybe, Chelsea does have 2 of them. I wish I had an answer for you. Maybe I will at some point during the season.
Until next time #KTBFFH
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