Top Bins Talk is excited to announce our new column “From The Fans,” a dialogue between ourselves and the most passionate of supporters from teams around the globe. We ask them a whole host of questions regarding the current state of their side, their favorite memories as a fan, and their hopes for the future of their team.
We are joined by our good friend and Chelsea superfan Will Bennett (@WBennett16). See what he has to say on all things blue!
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been supporting Chelsea and what is your best memory as a fan? How and why did you become a fan of The Blues?
My name is Will Bennett and I am a Chelsea supporter from Katonah, New York. I’ve been following Chelsea since the arrival of Jose Mourinho in 2004, back when we had Damien Duff and Arjen Robben patrolling our wings and the Prem was only broadcasted on Saturdays on Fox Soccer, Channel 142. My first memory of supporting Chelsea was shortly after my dad returned from a trip to London. He regularly traveled there for business and somehow became a quasi-fan of Aston Villa. When Chelsea and Aston Villa faced off in December of 2004, I naturally had to choose the side competing against my father’s. In this game, an aforementioned Damien Duff scored in a 1-0 win and that is where my love for Chelsea began.
Throughout the years there have been many memories that have cemented my loyalty for Chelsea more so than anything on this earth. However, THAT NIGHT in Munich takes the cake by far. We are still the ONLY club in London to win the European Cup and by the looks of it, that title may last for many more years to come. Sorry boys!
How would you rate this past/current season from 1-10 and why?
Many football fans, pundits and analysts have spent hours and hours discussing this exact question. With an inexperienced manager at the reigns, no summer signings, and the loss of Mr. Chelsea after one of his most prolific years, the club’s future has been one of the major talking points of the season. However, I would give it a solid 8 out of 10. My reasoning for such a high score is quite simple: We are in a Champions League spot with 9 games remaining, the academy youngsters who we’ve talked about since they were 15 years old are REALLY starting to warrant their hype (exclamation point on Reece James) and finally, the brand of football Frank instills in this side could be a potent style of play for this young team in the years to come, especially if a couple key players are added.
Who does your club need to sign this summer? Who is your dream signing?
Speaking of adding an extra piece or two to this side, there is no doubt Frank could use additional help at the back. I believe every club from the big 6, bar Liverpool, is in desperate need of a stalwart to fill a gap left by a club legend in recent years.
Although I rate Rudiger and believe Tomori has a really bright future ahead of him, it is impossible to look at this side and say our defence is untouchable (like we have been able to boast in the past). Chelsea need an athletic, ball-playing CB to partner with the more nimble, pacey Tomori next season. If I could choose, I would love for the club to bring in Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig. While only at the tender age of 21, this guy is a full-on BEAST. Not to mention he has already raked up three years of Bundesliga experience. I would love to see any opposition try and get behind him and Big Fik next season.
In regards to my dream signing, however, this hope seems to be slowly and slowly fading away. It feels like it was only a few weeks ago when I thought Jadon Sancho was surely going to be convinced to link up with his buddy Tammy at Chelsea next season. Nothing is fully guaranteed during Silly Season, however, so we’ll just have to wait and see where Jadon takes his talents next year. If we aren’t able to land him, I would love for Chelsea to bring Jeremie Boga back from Sassuolo. He has developed into a tremendous player over in Italy, and while we already have Pulisic, CHO and Ziyech lined up for next year–I think Pedro and Willian are on their way out–Boga could be another excellent attacking weapon in Frank’s artillery.
Who is your dream manager? Are you satisfied with the job that Frank has done so far?
I don’t think any other manager better suited Chelsea’s aura than Mourinho during his first stint in charge. The us-vs-the-rest-of-the-world mentality he instilled in the core group of players was perhaps more impressive than the counter attacking football that dominated the premier league in 04/05. Making the world forget about the Invincibles that quickly deserved a trophy in its own right. Mourinho’s team just had an extra gear that I haven’t seen in any Chelsea side since.
In regards to Frank’s job so far, I believe he has definitely shown he is capable of leading this team. Personally, I don’t think there is another manager in the world more suited for this job. There is finally a sense of unity between the board, management and team that has not existed since Abramovich took ownership. Frank deserves a lot of respect for making this season successful so far. I think many managers would look for excuses as to why the team is sometimes inconsistent, but I appreciate how Frank either takes the blame or tells it how it is. I think we will really start to find out more about Frank’s philosophy of play once he is able to get all the pieces together next season. Exciting times ahead!
Who, in your opinion, is Chelsea’s best all-time player and who is their greatest manager? Who is your least favorite player or most overrated in your eyes?
The first part of this question is perhaps the most straightforward question I have ever been asked: Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho, respectively.
My least favorite player this season has to be Ross Barkley. For some reason, I just can’t find a way to like the poor guy. He looks like something out of a cartoon show. That penalty miss after coming on as a sub against Valencia after stepping up to it like he was prime CR7 is unforgivable in my eyes. His beard is coming in quite nicely during the quarantine, though.
Best club accomplishment?
2011/12 Champions League win. Just go and look up the starting lineup of the side that beat Bayern in their backyard. Still get goosebumps to this day. KTBFFH.
Favorite match you’ve been to (or watched)?
Unfortunately, the only Chelsea match I’ve ever been to was a 0-3 loss to Barcelona at the Nou Camp in 2018. Now if I had been to the first leg of this tie to see Willian run circles around Barca’s entire team, things may have been different. But as far as favorite matches go, I have to say the comeback against Napoli during that 11/12 Champions league run was the stuff of dreams. It is hard to choose a particular match from that entire cup run because every tie was so dramatic, but to do it at home made it that much more memorable. Go on Branislav! Legengsh!!!
What is your all-time starting XI?
Cech in goal, obviously.
A back four consisting of: David Azpilicueta – John Terry – Branislav Ivanovic – Ashley Cole
A midfield three of: Ramires – N’golo Kante – Frank Lampard. With Ramires in the side, Lampard could push forward and roam freely around the pitch. Nobody is getting around Ramires and Kante.
And a front three of: Arjen Robben – Didier Drogba – Eden Hazard. It was a tough choice between Robben and Willian but Robben gets the nod due to his game changing ability. One of the few players I remember watching that could turn a match on its head just by himself.
Who are Chelsea’s most exciting youngsters and who do you think has the brightest future?
Let me start by naming the ones who have made their debut this season and then we can dive into who I believe is going to become one of the best players in the world one day.
Under Frank’s management, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin, Ian Maatsen and Armando Broja have all made their debuts this season. They join Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ethan Ampadu, Connor Gallagher as well as Christian Pulisic in the group of Chelsea youngsters. All of these young men have the potential to make a name for themselves in the future. Some already have.
If I had to bet on who will become the biggest star, it would have to be Christian Pulisic. It pains me not to pick one of the Chelsea academy players but what I’ve seen from Pulisic in his first season in the Prem has been remarkable. I think Frank has done an excellent job managing him through this transition and I believe if he continues to develop along this path he will become one of the more exciting players in the world within the next few years. Watch out for Reece James and Billy Gimour as well. These two lads have no fear and I wouldn’t be surprised if they go on to be absolute studs for their respective countries and for Chelsea in the years to come.
Are you satisfied with Pulisic’s first season at Chelsea? Do you think he has justified his price tag?
See above. Yes and Yes.
In your eyes, who is Chelsea’s fiercest rival and why?
I believe our fiercest rival is, and has been for some time, Manchester United. When Chelsea and Manchester United play, I never feel quite as confident as I do against the other top 6 sides. I think the players and managers understand the history behind this rivalry and I always notice a more competitive edge to the match when compared to matches against Arsenal or Tottenham. With those clubs there is no doubt in my mind who is most likely to win. With Manchester United, however, you know the game isn’t won until the final whistle. Remember that Ross Barkley winner in the last minute and one of Sarri’s staff taunting Mourinho? That’s the stuff of a rivalry.
Who is a player from your rival that you secretly admire and wish you had in your team?
I believe there are many Manchester United players who could be great playing in Lampard’s high press, vertical style offensive phase. Rashford and Bruno Fernandes come to mind immediately. However, the best rival player to fit this playing style would have to be Heung-Min Son of Tottenham. His direct dribbling style and eye for goal would be a perfect match for Tammy and Pulisic as another narrow winger in Frank’s front three. It would be extremely difficult for opposition to build out of the back with Son, Tammy, Pulisic and Mount chasing them around all game. All of these players have V8 engines somewhere in there, and Frank would utilize that energy and commitment to punish opposing teams from the first minute. Enough of that pipe dream though; let’s move on.
Which player from your team do you think would survive the longest on a deserted island?
They say Jesus walked on water, no? Well we have a man who is Jesus in the form of N’golo Kante. This predicament would not stop little N’golo from walking across water back to France, no problem. But if we must follow the rules and choose a mortal man to be the longest survivor, I would have to choose Toni Rudiger. He would find a way to survive. Big trust.
Where do you see your club in five years? What do you believe your club’s short/long term goals should be?
Most of the promising, young players in the squad have now signed long-term contracts. With the addition of Ziyech and possibly a few other big names coming to the club in the next couple transfer windows, I can genuinely say this Chelsea team can make a run at the Premier League title/Champions League within that five year window. It really depends on how these youngsters develop and how many decide to stay. There are so many of them. Will the elite stay or be moved along to bigger clubs? With that being said, all good things must come to an end. I can definitely see Frank taking this side to the cusp of greatness to only have some unforeseen incidents take place, like we’ve witnessed all too many times with this club. I never get my hopes up. I’m just along for the ride. Gotta protect my sanity!
Who is the most underrated and overrated player on your team?
I feel bad not talking about this young lad enough during the Q&A and I think the reason for that supports what I am about to say. By far the most underrated player in this Chelsea team is Mason Mount. At 21 years old and in his first season in the Prem, Mount has been far more impressive than any Chelsea fan could have hoped. I remember watching the first game of the season–a 0-4 loss to Man U–while keeping a particularly close eye on this kid. He was so full of energy, buzzing around the field to do everything he could to help the team. I knew he was going to be a real player. He’s played the 2nd most minutes on the team this season, only behind Azpi (the warrior). He’s played in 4 different positions for Frank and contributed 10 g+a. I remember listening to your first podcast and NONE of you had him in your Under-22 Prem side!! I think those snubs will come back to haunt you in the years to come. I am very excited to see Mason continue to develop and hopefully earn a spot in England’s Euro side come 2021!
I’m not sure this Chelsea side has many players I would consider ‘overrated’. While I love shitting on Ross Barkley and Marcos Alonso, it’s hard to consider them overrated when they’ve played fewer than 1500 minutes in the Prem, combined. A player I believe is more expendable than most, however, is Jorginho. With the way Frank tries to play, I really don’t see a need for Jorginho to play the amount he has this season. You can just look at the 10 yellow cards he’s picked up in the league and realize his knowledge of the game cannot make up for his lack of athleticism in the defensive phase. With Frank in charge, I don’t think he sticks around too much longer anyway, but we’ll see. Maybe Sarri and Juventus will come calling in the summer.
How do you think the current season should be resolved? Should it be voided, resumed once the pandemic is over, or completed behind closed doors?
I could go on for a long time about how I feel about this pandemic. First and foremost, these guys have to get back to work. The virus is here and it ain’t leaving. Get the players back training and doing their job. Obviously precautions should be taken for those who are vulnerable, so playing behind closed doors makes the most sense right now. But the ball has to get moving on this sooner rather than later. A gradual re-opening of the league looks like our best bet right now. We’ll have to wait, pray and see.
If you could spend an hour with one player or coach (past/present), who would it be? And what would you ask them?
I would love to spend an hour with Zidane. I want to learn more about the mentality of his Real Madrid side that won 3 Champions Leagues in a row. How did they overcome certain obstacles along the way and what was said throughout those campaigns to drive the team to repeated glory? Aspects of that journey carry over to life in general. Learning more about how the players and staff mentally prepared for those games is something I believe can be very beneficial for life outside of football. To speak with the man who led the team throughout that period of time would be extremely rewarding.
How have you been keeping busy during this quarantine? (especially footywise)
I have to say this question highlights how lucky I am to be a supporter of Chelsea. The social media accounts have done an amazing job keeping fans engaged during this time. New YouTube videos are posted daily to feature classic matches, career highlights from players and, my favorite, compilations of highlights from The Season So Far. Apart from watching these short films, spending time with family, getting huge, becoming a legend at trivia pursuit and hitting bombs on the golf course has done me just fine so far. Let’s carry on.
What are your predictions for next season? Who will win the league, finish top-4 and where will Chelsea finish?
Next season should be very interesting depending on what kind of transfer activity happens during the summer. I still want to say that Liverpool and Manchester City will be the two front runners. Manchester City perhaps taking the edge in the league should CAS uphold their European Cup ban. If that is the case, I can see Pep just going full force in the league. Without all the rotation, Manchester City could really run riot, especially if they land another top CB to partner with Laporte. Following the two super teams, we’ll see the usual cast of characters. With another summer to work together and grow, Chelsea should be next best. I believe Leicester City, while a solid team in their own right, will drop out of the top four. If they manage to secure a Champions League spot, they are a Vardy hamstring strain away from being back in 6th or 7th due to fixture congestion and lack of depth. That leaves Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs. Out of these clubs, whoever has the least demanding back end of the season will complete the top four. Arsenal and Spurs should really be edging out Manchester United, though, since neither will be in a European competition.
Next season can’t come soon enough. I am most excited to see which of the Chelsea youngsters excels the most. Maybe drop a poll for me below to see who the fans think?
Thanks for having me, boys! Keep up the good work!