Micah Richards has impressed in City colours, but is he good enough to play for Chelsea?
Other ‘young’ stars have enjoyed rave reviews (hell, John O’Shea had a great first year), so I’m a bit skeptical on whether the Manchester City right-back is as good as his reputation is.
Seeing Micah play for England, you know that he’s a strong kid and isn’t afraid to get stuck into challenges or to go forward to support in attack. He’s also disciplined, which will be a very key point in his favour for gaining Chelsea’s interest.
Paulo Ferriera is the player Richards would be expected to replace, and the Chelsea man is suffering from a lack of form coupled with a severe dent in his confidence because of his relegation in the pecking order after KB’s signing. Ferriera is not a ‘bad’ player, and if he’s given a solid run in the right-back spot again he could regain his form enough to help Chelsea mount a realistic challenge to United’s lead.
Whether Chelsea move for Richards or not (and if they move for him, you can rest assured they’ll get him sooner or later, unless the player doesn’t want the move himself) will depend on 3 things:
- Micah’s ability to provide solidity to Chelsea’s back four – or rather, Mourinho’s assessment of his ability.
- Mourinho’s confidence (or lack thereof) in his current crop of players to handle the right-back spot. When Terry, Robben and Joe Cole return, Mourinho can use Essien at right-back and play Robben/Cole at right midfield. Terry will be out for 4 more weeks, maybe 3, Robben for 2-3 weeks and Cole for a month. By the time the transfer period is over, Chelsea will be back to full strength and capable of dealing with their defensive problems.
- The pressure on Mourinho to retain the Premiership title – the decision could be taken out of his hands and Richards could be another one of ‘those’ recruits (like SWP and Shevchenko).
Mourinho and Chelsea cannot afford to wait for Manchester United to make mistakes (which they will inevitably make). They still have to catch them, and even if Mourinho is not thinking about losing the title he will know that if Chelsea keep under-performing they will lose the title race. The pressure on Mourinho is a bit over-hyped (I’m sure Abramovich will not fire or kill Mourinho if Chelsea finish second this season) because he’s an excellent, top-grade manager with or without Roman’s bilions.
In all likelihood, Richards won’t move till the summer, when teams would have had a full season to observe his performances for Manchester City and at a time where the greater interest could easily hike the price up.
I don’t think Chelsea will move for Richards unless the higher-ups push for it – but they could, and should, move for Richards in the summer.