Salomon Kalou had been the centre of attention in the week that led to Chelsea’s humbling defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Ivorian sent a strong message to Carlo Ancelotti during the game against Tottenham Hotspur and it was not by scoring the winning goal. The talented winger had rather chosen to get his manager’s attention by refusing to celebrate the strike. Evidently, sources claimed that Kalou was upset with the fact that Fernando Torres was picked ahead of him and got to start the game, despite the Spaniard’s recent form being inferior to that of Kalou’s in the previous matches.
Normally such antics would attract a snub from a manager. However Ancelotti exhibited his strong character by ignoring Kalou’s obvious statement and included the Chelsea No 21 in the starting line-up against Manchester United. The winger however could not deliver and put forth a woeful performance until he was substituted and replaced by none other than Fernando Torres himself.
There are many who would argue that none of the Chelsea players had a good game against United and that Kalou should not be singled out. However, Kalou was guilty of playing for himself, refusing to pass the ball which often led to a loss of possession (as the Blues forward could not dribble past the Red Devils defence) and taking on shots instead of playing in teammates in better positions.
For fans who have observed Kalou closely this is an all too familiar story as he has seldom delivered on the big stage. Kalou does have a few games where he showcases talent but against the big teams he fails to step up his game. It is surprising that when he makes a cameo appearance he often finds the net and dazzles fans with his weaving runs and awareness around goal. Perhaps it his pace against tired defenders that makes him appear better than he really is or maybe he is simply more influential in short bursts. One thing Kalou should realize is that his manager calls upon him more often than others, even if it is a 30 minute appearance. Yossi Benayoun would be happy with the chances Kalou gets on the pitch.
The Ivorian had earlier stated his intention to seal a regular starting place, even if it means seeking a move away from the Bridge in order to achieve that. In a team like Chelsea it is a challenging task to break into the first team, especially considering there may be new arrivals in the summer, not to mention the return of several players from loan. One thing Kalou should take note of is that last season Joe Cole faced a similar dilemma and chose to leave the club in search of regular football. Despite every effort by the Blues to keep him, Cole left believing he would get better chances elsewhere, but his time at Liverpool has been little better.