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Anything you can do, I can buy better. I can buy Englishmen better than you.


Mark Snellink

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Well, since I have enjoyed reading the exploits of Liverpool and Manchester United in their attempts to purge their squads of those pesky foreigners soaking up hard-earned English money from hardworking English men, taking away English jobs, English women and possibly disrespecting the Queen, it has now become Chelsea's turn.

Roman Abramovich found himself bored with his team's struggle to put together a superteam full of international stars and the like, and on a whim has decided that he wants an all-English team, thus gaining the popularity of the nation when it rallies behind it's their proudest sons, a team whipped in shape with the sole purpose of achieving the Word Cup, making him the first person in the history to own a World Cup winning side. Or at least a majority shareholder in it, if you will.

But first, there had to be a manager found with the abilities, vision and nationality to pull it off. Someone with the respect of the people, someone who was a star for the national team perhaps. Gary Lineker said no when they asked him due to his history with Tottenham, and when they called Peter Osgood's agent they were informed that he would not be available either, being as he was dead.

So now the responsibility lies with me, Kerry Dixon. I may not be Gary Lineker or Bobby Robson, but I have scored one goal for every two games I ever played in the national colors, and that's got to count for something. And the nigh-on 200 goals I've scored in the royal blue kit certainly should speak to the fans I'd wager. I suppose I am the first English manager here since 1996, and quite frankly I'd like to think I can do better than Glenn Hoddle did.

So, now the challenge of building an all-English side, and proving to the world (and our own countrymen) that eleven English lads can perform just as well if not better than a hodgepodge of foreigners. Unfortunately, the number of English players of the appropriate caliber at the club are fewer than my total number of caps. Which would not have been a problem for Gary Lineker, some might say.

So, after a careful review of the players I found, the following players were definitely staying, with a look to make an impact:

Frank Lampard (AM C, 31) - Legendary midfielder for both club and country, Lampard is a staple at Stamford Bridge, and even if he was 49 and utter **** I would not sell him for the world. Only behind yours truly and Bobby Tambling on the all-time goalscoring list with us, and that's out of midfield. A true playmaker in the center of the park with a devastating shot and excellent goalscoring abilities, more of an attack-minded midfielder.

John Terry (D C, 28) - Another Chelsea staple, team and country captain John Terry is the rock on which I will build my defense, and as with Lampard, I couldn't care less if he was in a wheelchair, I'd still keep him on the squad. A leader through and through, and a very dominant defender, both in the air and in terms of ballwinning and marking, he is one of the best defenders in the world.

Ashley Cole (D L, 28) - The most capped Englishman on my roster, solid defender Ashley Cole will feature on my back line for years to come, I should hope. Aqcuired in a messy transfer from Arsenal, he has since proven to be a valuable player for us, and has been named one of the best left backs in the world. Blazing fast and highly determined, he can also be of use coming up the field, but his true strength is in his defensive skills.

Joe Cole (AM RLC, 27) - Dazzling winger Joe Cole would also most certainly be at Stamford Bridge to stay. With 53 international call-ups to his name and 10 international goals, he is a valuable player at possibly the height of his ability. A very creative and technically gifted player, capable of playing anywhere in midfield, he is capable of creating as well as scoring goals in any game, having so far scored 25 goals in just over 150 appearances.

Daniel Sturridge (AM L/ ST, 19) - A good prospect for the future, young Daniel Sturridge has just been acquired from Manchester City, where he had been in the process of breaking into the first team line-up. He is a natural striker, with the ability to swerve out onto the left wing. He has decent ability with his weaker right foot, and his biggest prospect lies in his tremendous speed and physical ability. Not much of a threat through the air, he will also need to work on the mental aspect of the game, specifically his decisionmaking and his work ethic.

James Ashton (M C, 16) - An ambitious young midfielder, will need several years of experience on loan before he can even begin to think about coming near the first team. My assistant tells me he has the potential to be a decent player. I am curious to see if that'll ever be enough.

Josh McEachran (M C, 16) - A fancy young midfielder, slightly further along in his development than Ashton, but still a good long way from being ready to play. Again, my assistant tells me that decentness is all he has to look forward to, but what will that mean in the long run?

Sticking around for the time being, until I can find better would be:

Ross Turnbull (GK, 24) - Middlesbrough product Ross Turnbull is resolute, if nothing else. Not a Petr Cech by any stretch of the imagination, but a suitable back-up in any case. Being as he's about as good as he'll ever get, he's going to have to suffice until I can find the next David Seaman. He is a no-nonsense man in goal, strong in one-on-ones and mostly adequate all-round, if a bit slow off the line. And there's the injury concerns.

Sam Hutchinson (D RC, 19) - By virtue of our current renovation, mister Hutchinson might find himself picking up a few games here and there. But in the long run he will never make it. Too slow, too weak and fundamentally lacking in technique, I foresee him having a tough time making any kind of impact at a high level.

So, I have two midfielders and two defenders in my starting line-up, a striker with potential and a goalkeeper that is easily just as good as Cech with one hand cut off. Things are looking good.

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Jose Bosingwa was shipped off to Inter on a loan, gaining us 5.25M in loan fees, with an option to buy for an additional 2.1M, while young Northern Irish defender Carl Magnay was loaned out to Torquay for the season.

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After quietly disposing of Leeds in a boring 1-0 fashion, on which I don't even want to elaborate, we hosted French side Olympique Lyonnais.

I decided for the time being, with the players we have a 4-3-3 system would be a good fit, with a straight back four, a defensive midfielder, two central midfielders, two wingers and a lone striker, in what one might call a counter-attacking system, collapsing into a 5-4-1 when off the ball and then breaking out down the wings as soon as possession is won back.

With clearly not enough English players to set up a team and Joe Cole being off fitness while recovering from damaged cruciate ligaments, I've decided that if nothing else, I can make sure I include every available English player in the starting line-up.

The starting line-up then will be: Turnbull; Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, A.Cole; Lampard, Essien, Ballack; Kalou, Drogba, Sturridge.

I instructed Lampard to work his magic all over the field, supporting both defense and attack, while Essien will have a building role behind the midfield while Ballack will attempt to distribute play from the middle. Kalou would play as a true winger on the right, running at the defense, while Sturridge was instructed to alternately go down the flank and cut inside whenever possible, getting in the occasional cross, but focusing more on long shots, through balls and quick breaks into the middle.

Olympique would have the first chance of the game, as Essien committed a foul on Govou, and Drogba headed the ensuing free kick away, giving away a corner in the process, which Essien would clear. Terry and Alex headed away the next two balls lofted into the area as Lyon pressed on, and the second header out was picked up by Kalou, who played it out to the right to Ivanovic, who ran past his marker and played it back to Kalou, who moved it inside to Lampard, to Essien and finally out left to Sturridge, who couldn't quite get it past Reveille. Just like that, Lyon came up again, with Govou making a run and setting up a shot for Toulalan, who won another corner. That corner resulted in yet another corner for Lyon, getting my nerves a bit tense. The second corner however was cleanly picked off by Turnbull.

In the same minute, we won our first corner as Ballack headed a clean ball to Sturridge, who took it forward and then put it into the middle, where Lampard took control of it, laying it back to Essien, who found Drogba on a well-measured through ball and his shot at the top corner was only barely deflected. The corner came to nothing, and Lampard picked up the loose ball, finding Sturridge, who got to the byline and won another corner off Reveillere.

In the twenty-sixth minute, a cross by Sturridge and a long range effort by Lampard both tested Lyon goalkeeper Lloris, but he was equal to the challenge.

Four minutes later, though, he would be scooping the ball out of his net as Kalou picked up the ball inside his own half and turned on the afterburners down the right flank, leaving Boumsong for dead in the process. He then centered the ball perfectly for Drogba, who had all the room in the world to put his head on it and so we were up 1-0.

Lyon then piled on the pressure, resulting in two missed shots from range and a corner off of a deflected cross and a corner off a free kick. Ballack then took it to the other side, skipping past Govou and placing a clever ball into the area. Drogba blasted the ball at goal, down low but Lloris got to it in time, only for Lampard to knock in the rebound, putting us up to 2-0 right before half time.

I told the lads that I was pleased with the way things were looking, keep up the good work, and it seemed to work as Lampard played a couple of one-two's to get himself in position to shoot at goal, only narrowly missing. He then put another curling shot right over the crossbar shortly after that after Essien put him in space. Several fringe chances occured on each side of the field, but nothing came from it. I decided it was time for a change after 70 minutes, Drogba looking tired I took him off to a well-earned round of applause, bringing in Anelka.

At this point, my team looked content to fall back and take home the win, I took Sturridge, Essien and Ivanovic off the pitch and put on Malouda, Mikel and Carvalho to finish out the game.

Anelka had a great chance to put the score up to three as Malouda crossed in and he found himself with all the room in the world, but his header was sadly off target. Anelka and Ballack further tested Lyon's defense, but nothing came of it and the match ended with a solid 2-0 win.

I was not pleased, however. Lyon had actually played the better game, controlled possession (which I had anticipated) and taken as many shots on goal as we did, even if they were less well-aimed. I also was not happy about the fact that most of our shots were from distance, even if most of theirs also were.

Chelsea - Olympique Lyonnais 2-0

30. Drogba 1-0, 44. Lampard 2-0.

Attendance: 38,660

Yellow Card: Jean Il Makoun (Lyon)

Man of the Match: Frank Lampard (Chelsea, 7.8)

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After the game, defensive midfielder Obi Mikel departed to Fenerbahce on a loan deal for 1.4M, with a 5.25M option to buy, much to the ire of loud-mouthed youth Emmanuel Sarki, while centerback Ricardo Carvalho was sold to Sevilla for 13.5M.

On the buying front, things were quiet, and I was starting to get nervous about it. I'd hate to be remembered as the guy that sold half the squad without replacing them.

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Mourinho decided to tell the press that he thought I made a mistake in letting Carvalho go. Obviously, I had not yet revealed Roman's grand plan into making Chelsea into the pride of England, as that seemed like a pipe-dream for the time being.

Right back Ivanovic was also offloaded, for a fee of 6 million to Fiorentina.

My first purchase would be youtful striker Gabby Agbonlahor, a bit player in the English side at best, having only two caps amassed so far at age 22, he is far from the ideal for my side, but he's decent enough, having scored 32 premier league goals over the past three seasons, and I'm hoping that will improve. Being that the nation's best goalscorers are more than likely out of reach at Manchester and Tottenham, I fear up front will certainly be a weak spot for me for the next couple of years.

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Another friendly came up in the form of Hamilton, and with another starting player sold out of the line-up, I added young Sam Hutchinson out of the reserves at right back. In the mean time, Anelka replaced Kalou on the right, while Deco started in favour of Essien.

It became clear quite rapidly that Hamilton were not going to make things hard on us in the least, as Lampard and Anelka came very close to opening the score inside ten minutes, but it would be Drogba once more running on to a brilliant pass by Deco which left the defense completely wasted and Drogba converted one-on-one no problem. Three minutes later he dove at a well-taken corner to head in his second, after Anelka had created havoc coming down the right wing.

Anelka continued to terrorise the left back, and had him all but in tears by the half-hour mark, firing in crosses at will, but the third goal would be set up by Deco on a long bomb down the middle, after Hamilton's attack broke down in our half, he saw the space behind their defense and launched Drogba, who controlled the ball well, lost his man and smashed it in the top corner off the post, putting us up three-nil.

Sturridge then picked up a knock just before half-time, and with the game well in hand I decided to give one of the youths a run out. Adam Phillip, a player able to play on either wing, who prefers to play as a striker, was brought on in his stead.

At half-time, young Hutchinson was already exhausted, not being used to the pace of play in the main team, and I decided to trot out 18 year old Nikki Ahmed, despite him not having a prayer to ever make the first team.

Deco was then pulled in favor of the next hopeless youth, Daniel Phillipskiri, just before Frank Lampard decided to put his name on the scoresheet by blasting one in from thirty plus yards into the top corner, leaving the poor goalkeeper to admire it from his spot.

After Essien came on for Ballack, Lampard decided to become a repeat offender, blasting another missile into the top corner from well outside the area.

Kalou then took the field instead of Anelka, who was undoubtedly tired of ruining the life of Hamilton's poor left back, and would eventually place a corner kick into the box that was headed in by fellow substitute Essien to put the final score at 6-0.

Hamilton - Chelsea 0-6

11. Drogba 0-1, 14. Drogba 0-2, 27. Drogba 0-3, 64. Lampard 0-4, 76. Lampard 0-5, 92. Essien 0-6

Attendance: 5,797

Man of the Match: Didier Drogba, (Chelsea) 9.5

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In the mean time, Agbonlahor arrived at Stamford Bridge after the game, and during the photo-op was handed the number 12 shirt.

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