In an exclusive interview, former Chelsea and Leeds player Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes Chelsea won’t get top 4 but urges Boehly to stick with Potter.
He also wants Chelsea to bag Kane for £50m this summer and said that Mudryk could be as pivotal for Chelsea as Hazard was.
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Highlights from the interview:
- Mudryk will be the next Hazard
- Chelsea capitalsed on Arsenal’s wavering over Mudryk
- Trossard is a cheap buy
- Chelsea should bag Kane this summer for £50m
- Haaland and Saka standout players of the season so far
- Chelsea need to clear the dressing room to find success
Question: Chelsea drew 0-0 at Anfield. What did you make of the game, was it a better point for Chelsea in the circumstances.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: “Not particularly, no. I thought Chelsea played well despite not really making many out-and-out chances. They got into dangerous areas and with a little more calmness they maybe could have scored. I think overall it was a really good performance away at Liverpool which is somewhere that has been proven a very difficult place to go in the past. Yes maybe it could have gone either way but Chelsea had the disallowed goal, so on another day they could have got all three points. In my view they were just about the better team.”
Q: Mudryk looked sharp on debut, what did you make of his cameo appearance? Could he ignite Chelsea’s season?
JFH: “I’ve not watched a full game of his before but I was impressed. He had some really nice touches, nice quick feet in the box and he reminds me of Joe Cole with his ability in tight spaces. The only thing I would say is that certain balls he should have taken with his left foot and then maybe he would have scored. But a very positive performance from him and he looks like an exciting buy for Chelsea.”
Q: Did Chelsea overstep the line hijacking the Mudryk deal from Arsenal or should Arsenal fans get over it?
JFH: “Arsenal had their valuation but when you get into a bidding war it’s up to the selling club to hold their price. Chelsea wanted to do business but Arsenal didn’t want to get it done to the same extent and Chelsea capitalised on that. I think for Chelsea it’s a very, very good acquisition. I can see him making the fans very happy over the next few seasons. I mentioned Joe Cole but I think he could be even as important as Eden Hazard was. I’m not comparing them because that wouldn’t be fair but if you remember, Hazard came from Lille and in his first year he needed some time to settle. But then all of a sudden he took off and became a vital player at Stamford Bridge.”
Q: Arsenal signed Leandro Trossard instead of Mudryk but is he a step down in terms of quality?
JFH: “That’s hard to answer. They’re different players. Playing for Brighton is a very different prospect to playing for Arsenal. He’s got Martinelli and Saka in front of him, as well as Jesus and Smith Rowe so we’ll see if he can handle that and make that left wing or right wing position his own. It’s a cheap buy in terms of where the market has gone in recent times. He’s got the quality and the technique and now we’ll find out if he has the mentality to match.”
Q: Chelsea have scored only 2 goals in their last 5 games, why are they so impotent recently in front of goal?
JFH: “It’s a combination of things. Havertz isn’t really a striker but he can play up there. I think he’s the best they have but he needs more support from the midfield and the wide players around him. It’s not only about the striker, although yes, top strikers do create chances for themselves. But also they do depend a lot on the wide players and full backs. As we know, injuries have deprived Chelsea of Ben Chillwell and Reece James and that’s a lot of creativity missing. Sterling and Kante are missing too and that’s a lot of energy they could do with.”
Q: Aubameyang has only scored one Premier League goal for The Blues and has had limited opportunities of late. What do you expect his future at Chelsea to be (if there is one).
JFH: “He’s not had the amount of games in a row that he would’ve wanted in order to get himself really match fit. But I expect him to do more and want him to do more to make that position his. Can he score goals? Yes. We know he can but he’s someone else that needs someone to provide quality chances for him and at the moment Chelsea are not doing that.”
Q: Can you think of someone you would look to sign as Chelsea’s number 9 next season?
JFH: “Chelsea have brought in Felix but he is not a central striker or an out-and-out number nine. They are hard to come by, they’re few and far between and most teams don’t play with them these days anyway. Chelsea will have to be creative and find a different way to accommodate that position.
“The only person you could go and get who is that type of player who will strengthen Chelsea in that position is Harry Kane. If I was in charge I would go after him. I know he might not make the move because of the rivalry with Spurs but I would at least try. I know he’s 29 but at the end of the season he will only have one or two years left on his contract. I don’t think that he would cost £100m this summer, perhaps he will cost more like £50m or £60m which is much better value.”
Q: Is the top four out of the question for Chelsea now?
JFH: “Chelsea are in a transitional period and I do believe they have an outside chance of top four. But they’ve chosen to go in a different direction. They’ve chosen to buy young players and when you do that you have to give them plenty of time.”
Q: Do you think Todd Boehly will stick with Graham Potter?
JFH: “I think they’re going to stick with Potter and rightly so. They bought all these young players and they need a manager who will play them. Otherwise why buy them? I know some Chelsea fans are calling for Diego Simeone but he’s not a manager who plays young players. Let Potter do his work and develop these young players and make Chelsea a force again and fight for the Premier League. Of course it’s crucial to be in the Champions League to attract the top players but Boehly needs to stay calm and let Potter keep on building for the future.”
Q: Benoit Badiashile has 2 clean sheets in 2 games since arriving and is keeping Koulibaly out of the team. What have you made of the start of his Chelsea career?
JFH: “I’ve been very, very impressed with him on the ball. He’s very calm and looks for the right options and gives a nice balance because he’s left footed. I’ve not seen enough yet of him in one-vs-one situations and emergency defending to make a full judgement but so far, so good. He makes Chelsea play out more from the back.”
“You know how it is in the Premier League when you don’t win matches, it becomes a matter of time. But it’s going to be difficult for somebody else to go in there and win matches as well. Everton is a club that’s not in a good place at the moment. Unfortunately, it had become inevitable that he would go. You need results in this business but us managers are always the first to take the hit and that’s what happened to Frank this time.”
Q: Should Chelsea look to sign Joao Felix on a permanent contract?
JFH: “Let’s see how he does. Felix had a lot of good touches and movement before he got the red card on his debut. He is an exciting player, although not a goalscorer but he needs time to get used to the English game. It’s one you can only really judge at the end of the season. Chelsea have brought in a lot of players so a lot of players need to go too because otherwise the dressing room will be overcrowded.”
Q: Are there any names that you expect to see Chelsea leave this summer coming. Aubamayang, Pulisic, Lukaku and Kante are all rumoured to be heading for the exit.
JFH: “The players who aren’t playing basically. You need to clear the dressing room otherwise you are going to have a lot of negativity in there. You want to work with a small group ideally. You don’t want to be working with 30 or 35 professional players that are all thinking they should be in the starting XI.”
Q: What did you make of Leeds 0-0 Brentford. They’ve not won in any of their last six Premier League games.
JFH: “I don’t think they’re in drastic danger of going down because there are three worse teams than them. Goalscoring is difficult for them at the moment but I must say that Brentford are a difficult team to play against at the moment. It’s not that simple. Leeds were the better team but they couldn’t find that bit of quality in the final third.”
Q: What do you know about new Leeds signing Georginio Rutter? He stayed on the bench yesterday.
JFH: “Yeah I didn’t really understand the decision not to bring him on, especially when you need a goal. There might be a reason behind that we’re unaware of but yeah hopefully we see him getting some minutes very soon.”
Q: How good is Wilfried Gnonto? He was signed for £3m up front which could rise to £10m with add ons. Is he looking like a steal in this transfer market.
JFH: “I really like Gnonto. He’s fierce. He’s not scared to take his defender on in a 1-vs-1 which is good to see from a 19-year-old. What I didn’t understand was why the other Leeds players didn’t give him more space. They crowded him instead of giving him more room to do his thing.”
Q: Should Leeds be thinking about replacing Jesse Marsch at this point?
JFH: When he came in last season Jesse did an absolutely magnificent job to keep Leeds up. This season they’ve never been in the bottom three and yes they’re going through a difficult time but I’m not one to shout ‘sack the manager’ straight away. They need continuity and I think he deserves more time.”
Q: Are there still other areas you think Leeds need to strengthen in January?
JFH: “Well they’ve brought in a centre half. I think what Leeds really need is more creativity in central midfield, in the spine of the team.”
Q: Man CIty and Arsenal both won this weekend. Who do you believe is going to win the Premier League.
JFH: “Arsenal are doing so well and they keep on surprising me. They’re doing great and playing really good football but I do think they’re going to have a bad time of maybe two or three losses and then we’ll see how they react. My favourites are still Manchester City but I’m getting closer and closer to saying that perhaps it is going to be Arsenal’s year.”
Q: Was Arsenal vs Manchester United the game of the season so far?
JFH: “Yes it was the best game we’ve seen this season for me. It was such a nice, open game. It was a great game for the neutral. It was such an attacking game but at the end Arsenal deserved the win.
Q: We’re only halfway through the season but who have been the standout players so far for you?
JFH: “Everybody is going to say Erling Haaland because of his 25 goals and rightly so but I would throw Bukayo Saka in there. He was absolutely magnificent against Man Utd and if you look at how mature his performance was against France in the World Cup too. He showed me that he is at the top level. I’ve been impressed with Luke Shaw recently but Saka made him look ordinary on Sunday.”
Q: Middlesbrough lost 2-0 at Sunderland this weekend, but what do you make of the job Michael Carrick has done at Middlesbrough so far. They lie 6th, do you feel they can go up?
JFH: “Yeah he’s doing great, I interviewed him the other day actually. He’s got them playing a certain way that I like. He’s brought in some stability and he’s playing more of a passing game in a 4-3-2-1 formation. They’re going well, apart from the blip against Sunderland but now they need to show some character and prove it was just a one off. If they do, they can stay in the top six you never know what might happen.”
Q: Can you give us your reaction to the breaking news that Everton have sacked Frank Lampard?
JFH: “You know how it is in the Premier League when you don’t win matches, it becomes a matter of time. But it’s going to be difficult for somebody else to go in there and win matches as well. Everton is a club that’s not in a good place at the moment. Unfortunately, it had become inevitable that he would go. You need results in this business but us managers are always the first to take the hit and that’s what happened to Frank this time.”
Q: How are you enjoying the current break from day to day managerial work? Are you looking to return to the dugout?
JFH: “It’s very difficult. I would say maybe that’s me done with management now and I’ll concentrate more on the media. The other day I applied for a job and I was told that they didn’t want to speak to me because my track record at Burton Albion was not great. That was directly from the director of football. But they don’t understand that my budget at Burton was in the bottom three teams in League One and every time you avoid relegation that’s like winning the FA Cup to them. Ipswich who we had to compete with had a budget of six or seven times more! And then the club I spoke to go recently went and employed someone who has never managed. In the back of my mind I’m thinking “why should I bother?”