I watched with interest as Kai Havertz scored a hat-trick against second division Barnsley in the Carabao Cup Third round tie at Stamford Bridge. I was pleased for him of course, and I was pleased that the goals, along with his input on another goal and the several chances that he made for others, gave me and hopefully others, a small insight into what we can expect when he gets up to speed against higher opposition.
I’ll be brutally honest. I’ve supported Chelsea since 1967. I was in a pub wearing a Chelsea scarf in 1962, but being some ten or so days old, I don’t have any recollection of it. From five onwards, however, I’ve knowingly followed the boys in blue, supporting them through thick and mostly thin, when we seemed to be a yo-yo club, winning promotion one year and getting relegated a couple of years later. It’s been a wonderful journey though, even in the bad times. There have been times when I’ve been embarrassed by the supporters, notably in the 80’s with the racism, the throwing of bananas at John Barnes and even the sending of razor blades to Paul Canoville, our own player. I’ve never understood how skin colour is an issue. It’s a womb lottery, we are all human. I couldn’t get into the racists heads. It was a small minority, but it was sad and embarrassing all the same, because all anyone sees is the blue shirt or scarf. They tar everyone with the same brush. That’s the nature of the beast, that is the media and rival supporters.
Thankfully, those horrible days have to a very large extent, disappeared. What we seem to have now though is a minority of ‘expectors’ and
not supporters. People who spot rhetoric like, “We are all entitled to our opinion.” Which of course we are, before they go on to slag a
player or manager or someone off, before they’ve even done a lot wrong. Mason Mount was last year’s kicking post of choice, for those
entitled to their opinion, even if knowledge of football or indeed the word ‘support’ is seemingly sparse, if existent at all.
So, it was still with a little surprise that after two games. Yes, you read that correctly. Two games into his Chelsea career, a 21 year old kid, notably Mr. Kai Havertz, had many in this minority on his back. Sure I was surprised but upon reflection I shouldn’t have been. Why should I have expected them to factor in how difficult it must be for a 21 year old to move to a new team, in a new league, in a new country, train for just five days and not immediately set the world alight? Many of these people have probably just discovered fire, so how could I expect them to factor in human emotion, human physiology and knowing how your team mates work and think? It was I who was the stupid one to expect so much from them.
I first became aware of the name Kai Havertz, when Jurgen Klopp was interviewed and asked about the German National Team, he was asked
about talent coming through and mentioned the name Kai Havertz. Klopp said “If Havertz keeps on developing and stays injury free,
he’s going to be a very, very, special player for Germany.”
We all know Kai Havertz is a player who at Bayer 04 Leverkusen was usually deployed as a number 10, a false 9 or an attacking winger on the
right flank, known for his vision, dribbling, technique and overall intelligence. A two-footed football player, his playing style has drawn comparisons to former Germany captain and Chelsea star Michael Ballack and Arsenal enigma Mesut Ozil, in his Real Madrid pomp. We also had his stats available and knew that Havertz’s creative side is further proven by his big chances created record in the past five years. Only Mbappe and Sancho have set up more than his 37 before their 21st birthday. When it comes to shot conversion, Havertz has found the net with 17% of his Bundesliga efforts. That puts him sixth for players in the big five leagues under the age of 21.
So Havertz made his debut away at Brighton after training with the first team squad for four days. On my YouTube vlog, I said his performance was subdued with a few nice touches. He’d run back 90 yards to retrieve a ball that he’d given away and at that moment, I could see we’d bought a player, even for such a large price tag. It should be a given, but in the modern game it’s not. If you watch that game again, you can see him blowing hard and I won’t beat around the bush, his performance was subdued and in my non-medical opinion, he looked weak and short of match fitness.
When I went on social media after the game, he was already being written off and I saw one supporter saying that he was a waste of money? After one game and presumably keeping mindful of all the circumstances mentioned above.
Another subdued performance against Liverpool and again he was written off. Now whilst I respect the right of Sam the Plumber from Willesden to have an opinion, I thought I’d look and see what the experts thought? After all, Chelsea had watched him, they’d sent scouts. Lampard and Petr Cech had gone and watched him personally and Klopp reckoned he was a great emerging talent. Now why I wouldn’t take anything away from Sam, maybe he’d missed something? Unlikely I know.
So what have others said? Now I looked but couldn’t find the opinions of any plumbers or Salespeople online who’d actually made quotes about Kai Havertz, before his move to Chelsea, so I had to make do with people in the game. Rudi Voller being the first one I found saying, “We’ve had many good players through the history of the club at Bayer Leverkusen, but Kai Havertz is the best of them all.” Wow, what a contrast to the opinions some of our star supporters online who have the ability to assess a player based on one and a half games. I’ll admit being slightly envious of them. Why aren’t they in the game professionally, with such an eye for a player and with such an understanding of the human psyche? Just advising us on twitter seems a waste.
Sam also pointed out that Lampard was at fault for the Liverpool loss and should be replaced immediately. The were lots of Sam soundalikes agreeing with him. Two games in without being able to play 75% of the new acquisitions, wasn’t a problem for Sam. He’d factored it all in, and Lampard and Havertz should have their Chelsea careers terminated with immediate effect. Yes, I sure am jealous of Sam and the Samettes. What knowledgeable people. We are lucky to have twitter to hear what they have to say. As a Chelsea fan from 1967 onwards, I feel truly blessed to witness such support. I’m sure Sam would have been at Grimsby away in the old second division, (now the Championship), when we were fighting to stay in that division with a few games left. I can hear him singing his supportive songs and spurring those in blue on, in my mind’s eye.
So Barnsley in the League Cup and Havertz for me, just tipped Mount to Man of The Match, largely because of his hattrick, but also because of his work rate and some of the lovely touches, including setting up a goal for Tammy. I thought of some of the other opinions I’d read about him. There was Joachim Low, Germany’s International Manager, who told Kicker magazine “To play such a season at 19 and score 17 goals is exceptional. With Kai Havertz I asked myself after the first time he trained with us whether he could’ve already been with us for a year or two. It seemed as if he’d always played with the others. I’ve seen that very, very rarely with a player before.”
Then there was Hansi Flick, the Bayern Munich, European Cup winning coach, who said, “I think very few coaches wouldn’t want to have Kai Havertz in their team. He has developed enormously at Leverkusen. He moves very well between the lines, is quite fast, safe on the ball and is good at finding space. He has got a strong goal-scoring instinct at a young age.”
All of this is okay, but as fans on Twitter quite rightly pointed out, “It was only against Barnsley, a second division side.” Sam and the Samettes were also in agreement with that, so I thought it’ll be interesting to watch him in the game against West Brom. Are all these football type people wrong and are the online fans right?
It is all about opinions, but I thought Kai Havertz looked to have double the strength and a better all round game against West Brom, some of his touches and offensive passing were lovely to watch. The lad also put a shift in. That’s after two weeks training! Just two weeks with a new team. I smiled to myself and thought that in my opinion, that I am of course entitled to, it’s more likely that Matthias Sammer, the former International and Sporting Director at Bayern Munich, is right when he says, “He’s an extraordinary player. Anyone who can recognise situations like that is something special – and he’s something special.” That Sam and the Samettes, bless them. Upon looking at their views, they’d gone off of Kai Havertz being Chelsea’s worst signing ever, for the night and were now wanting Frank Lampard sacked. They’d moved onto pastures new, in their own supportive way.
So as for Kai, I like the way he’s not rushed. All great players I’ve seen, seem to make their own time. He has that quality. I think it’ll be a steady improvement and maybe after Christmas, if not before, we’ll see our two-footed, hard working, goal scoring, assist conjuring, prodigy at his best and he may well prove to be one of our best ever buys. All those football people surely can’t be wrong and after what I saw against West Brom and witnessed, when he was at Leverkusen, he could even turn out to be the 75 million pound bargain of the century. I certainly hope so and I’ll be supporting him all the way, when he pulls that blue shirt on.