After a sorry start to the new season, we all could do with some comic relief. And for that, there’s no need to look any further than the Chelsea Worst XI. This week, we lift the bonnet and take a look at the engine of our jalopy – the midfielders.
Here’s how the votes added up.
- Mineiro (50%)
- Steve Sidwell (17%)
- Jiri Jarosik (17%)
- Juan Sebastian Veron (8%)
- Yossi Benayoun (8%)
- Alexey Smertin (Clean Sheet)
Just like last week, the votes for the second midfielder were tied, so we flipped a coin to see who would win. And as in real life, Steve Sidwell popped up as the lucky winner. So, your midfield shall be marshalled by the runaway winner, Mineiro, and that lucky sod, Steve Sidwell. If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, nothing will.
Before The Blues
Mineiro was not your typical ‘unknown quantity’ before signing for Chelsea. He had played for around a decade in Brazil and won the Copa Libertadores, which is a big deal. He briefly captured the attention of Europe when he scored the winner for Sao Paulo against Liverpool in the Club World Cup in 2005. And that’s about it. He then got an opportunity to play in Germany where he arrived as a fresh-faced 32-year old, which is not really the age when the best prospects from South America move to Europe. Nevertheless, he must have done something truly magical to come to the notice of Chelsea after just one year. Or maybe it was another one of Scolari’s revolutionary ideas. My bet is on the latter.
Steve Sidwell followed the typical youth prospect route and spent two years being sent out on various loans during his time as an Arsenal trainee. He could not make the cut at the Gunners and was sold to Reading. He spent four successful years there, winning promotion to the Premier League and giving a good account of himself at the top level. The only way was up and Sidwell knew it. As the bigger fish started circling, Sidwell ran down his contract at Reading and became a free agent at the end of the 2006-07 season.
The Chelsea Years
Sidwell started his Chelsea career on the wrong foot, committing the cardinal sin of taking the number 9 jersey which eventually ruins the career of anyone who is not a striker (and of many others who actually are). He made only 25 appearances in total for Chelsea, producing nary a memorable moment. If Ballack was the standard-bearer for a free midfield signing, Sidwell fell well short of those standards. He was swiftly moved on after one underwhelming, though not entirely unexpected, season in blue.
Mineiro did not play enough at Chelsea and thus the terraces did not have a chance to belt out this super-original and creative chant I made for him. Sing it to the tune of ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ by Rednex:
Where did you come from, where did you go?
Where did you come from, Min-eiro?
After striking out at Chelsea, Mineiro returned to Germany and played for a couple of clubs, including one in the fourth tier. That’s about it, really. As for Sidwell, he is back in the Premier League with Brighton after stints at Villa, Fulham and Stoke. Despite being a limited player and not really at the level needed for a Chelsea midfielder, Sidwell has carved out a decent career for himself. That said, I look forward to Kante running rings around him when we meet Brighton for the first time in the Premier League.