You can question whether or not he’s capable of playing at the same level as he used to, ponder if that horrific injury in 2006 left him bereft of his potential to forge a legacy as the Premier League’s best ever ‘keeper and even laugh at the claim that he remains the best man between the sticks at Stamford Bridge.
One thing you cannot accuse Petr Cech of however is a lack of confidence in himself. Faced with what is undoubtedly the biggest challenge of his career following the return of the fledgling Thibaut Courtois, you can’t help but feel sorry for a man who has presided in a virtually unrivalled state as the No.1 for the Blues since arriving in 2004.
The battle for No.1
For his Belgian adversary is arguable the most talked about goalkeeper heading into the new season, with his loan spell at Atletico Madrid propelling him to stardom and allowing him to carve out a reputation as one of football’s most promising commodities.
A La Liga title and Champions League runners-up medal provided the icing on the cake for the 22-year-old, and he now returns to the fold in west London with the firm intentions of ousting Cech.
Recent revelations have made it clear though that a ‘this town ain’t big enough for the both of us’ scenario isn’t going to happen. Jose Mourinho, very much the Sheriff in those parts, has already boasted over how he has a fantastic predicament with regards to having two of the best shot-stoppers in world football to choose from, and it’s now abundantly obvious that the only way Cech is going to leave the club is by forcing an exit.
Of course we now know that’s not happening anytime soon. Earlier on today quotes broke confirming that the Czech international will remain and fight for his position at the club. In Cech’s words he is “sure” that he’ll be playing for Chelsea next season, and the idea of the returning champion usurping him and taking the ‘keepers crown off of his head has merely served to motivate him further.
Excuse my pessimism, but the 32-year-old appears to hold himself in too high a regard concerning his status with the Blues. Though it’s only fair to label him a devoted servant of the club, and one who has admirably stood the test of time through both thick and thin, Mourinho’s decision to retain the services of Courtois, when he could so easily have sold him for a handsome sum, screams that The Special One intends on using him.
The 51-year-old has previous with trading in legendary goalkeepers for younger, hungrier models; just ask Iker Casillas, and Courtois’ claim for the No.1 jersey is far stronger than Diego Lopez’s ever was at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The wrong move
For me Cech should have viewed that case as a precursor to what is sure to happen at Chelsea next season, as Mourinho sets about ringing the changes to ensure that last season’s relative domestic failure was merely a one-off blip on his managerial resume.
The long-serving Blues ‘keeper had interest from the likes of Arsenal and Monaco, and he would have been wise to push for a transfer to either outfit.
Those bridges have now all but been burned, and it’s looking a certainty that Mourinho will have two world-class ‘keepers at his disposal until at least next season. For one opting to offer his services to the Blues was the obvious next step in his career, for the other however it may well have just been his biggest mistake.