Why the outcome of last night’s match showed what the club prioritises the most…

Let’s just get it out of the way… Ruben Loftus-Cheek is going to be sorely missed by ALL Chelsea fans.

The England International ruptured his achilles tendon during last night’s ‘Final Whistle on Hate’ charity match against New England Revolution in Boston, which was part of the ‘Say No to Antisemitism’ campaign.

Whilst Chelsea comfortably won the game 3-0 thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and a Ross Barkley brace, the result means absolutely nothing now in my opinion. The only thing that keeps repeating in my mind is that innocuous moment that happened in the 69th minute.

We have now lost Loftus-Cheek – who arguably has become as important to the team as Eden Hazard in terms of what he offers – for the UEFA Europa League Final against Arsenal in thirteen days time and quite possibly will not see him in a Chelsea shirt until next year.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek collapsing in pain during last night’s 3-0 victory over New England Revolution (Photo – Metro)

Ruben suffering this serious injury is unfortunate and frustrating. But what is frustrating and angers me is where and when he suffered it.

If he had suffered the injury in training or in a competitive game – whilst it would still be frustrating, it would be more understandable. But suffering it in what is basically a glorified friendly… TWO WEEKS before a major European final… totally unacceptable.

Of course, all of this is being said with hindsight. The purpose of the event and the match itself is fantastic, let’s not forget that. The event, the reasons for the match, the campaign – to raise money and awareness to the discrimination that is unfortunately on display in today’s society and how to tackle it going forward… should be applauded. Rightfully so.

But in terms of the actual timing of the match being played, it should have NEVER happened last night. Completely disagree.

The timing of the match was dreadful, the pitch was dreadful, the (maybe) forced management/selection was dreadful… Dreadful all round.

Plus, it also shows the lack of confidence that the board had in the team because the timing of the match makes it come across to us fans that the board simply wasn’t expecting the team to make the Europa League final, which is simply inexcusable.

And before it’s assumed this was hastily arranged or a ‘last-minute’ match, the match was confirmed by Chelsea themselves back on 4th March. So for the club to confirm this match, knowing full well that we had (and now do have) a potential competitive match still to play on 29th May, over TWO months later… it’s a ridiculous decision from the board. And when I mean the board, I’m talking about Roman Abramovich and Marina Granovskaia.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and club director Marina Granovskaia

The match (& the cause itself) would have benefited more if it happened in pre-season, so in the June/July window for example. But it’s believed that Chelsea feared delaying the match until June at the very earliest could have resulted in some of the bigger names in the squad being unavailable due to international commitments.

As much as the cause itself means to Abramovich personally, I’m sorry Roman but guess what? EVERY major team will always have players missing in the summer (pre-season) due to international commitments.

Football is played all year round.

Chelsea should never have post-season games. Period. Clubs play too many games – especially English teams – as it is already. Players have to stop being seen as robots and expected to play every two minutes.

With the UEFA Nations League Finals coming next month, along with the CONCACAF Gold Cup as well, some of our players are realistically going to have little to no break at all in the post-season, which will become evident come pre-season and the start of next season, where they’ll more than likely still be showing signs of fatigue and/or not even close to being match-fit for the upcoming season.

They need a break too.

Do fans want to see the best players? Absolutely. But you know what fans want to see more? Watching those best players in peak shape and fitness, putting on an entertaining show.

I’m frustrated, but also angry with what happened yesterday. And I hate to feel like that. The fallout of last night could genuinely affect our chances of another major trophy, another European trophy and our chances of a successful start to next season.

As the saying goes, ‘timing is everything’. And Chelsea’s timing was so ‘off’, the proverbial clock might as well have been broken if we’re being honest.

Last night’s game was part of a great cause. It’s just a shame that the cause and the purpose behind the match is going to be completely forgotten now due to Ruben’s injury.

The board’s logic behind the timing of the match is nonsensical and simply unforgivable. Start thinking about the players’ health as much as the dollar/pound signs please Roman.

Let’s just hope now it doesn’t cost us dearly going forward besides what has unfortunately already happened. Wishing Ruben a successful surgery and a speedy (and full) recovery.

Terry Sazio

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