Change is sure to be afoot this summer at Chelsea, with John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Samuel Eto’o, Mark Schwarzer and Henrique Hilario all out of contract and yet to be offered new deals.
The Blues are 21/50 for victory when they head to Cardiff on the final day of a campaign that promised much, but has ultimately delivered little beyond a Champions League berth.
With the already-demoted Bluebirds swatted aside they will concentrate on the important business of deciding which of the ‘Stamford Bridge Six’ should remain on the roster for next season.
At 35, Frank Lampard is the Jose Mourinho acolyte who must be given the ‘Old Shep’ treatment.
In the Elvis Presley song, ‘The King’ lamented his inability to look at his faithful but dying old hound as he supplied the coup de grace and bidding the club’s all-time top goalscorer farewell is likely to be little easier for the Special One.
However, the midfield goalhound’s fates have moved in stark contrast to his skipper’s since Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge.
A glance at his scoring form supports visual evidence gleaned over the course of the campaign that aging legs have impaired the ability to make the trademark late surges into the box that have supplied a wealth of his goals in the past.
Having notched just eight times this term, he is a least five short of his lowest Blues tally since 2003/04 and seven short of his previous minimum in every season he made 40 appearances during that timeframe.
Terry, marginalised under Rafael Benitez, has made more Premier League starts than all bar Branislav Ivanovic this term as the Blues have gone about compiling the best defensive record in the league.
Cole, meanwhile, has been used similarly sparingly to ‘Lamps’, yet his showings in the big games this term, such as against Liverpool at Anfield, show why (unlike Lampard) he still holds a strong chance of starting for England in Brazil this summer.
Keeping Terry and Cole condemns the remaining trio to the scrap heap.
In his own sweet way third-choice stopper Hilario is every bit as cherished as Lampard, Terry and Cole.
Yet, with Thibaut Courtois rumoured to be returning to his parent club sooner rather than later and youngster Jamal Blackman’s promise illustrated by two FA Youth Cup final penalty saves, the cult Portuguese and Schwarzer can be sacrificed.
Lastly all 12 goals Samuel Eto’o has hit for Chelsea have been notched on home turf and his epic reported £100,000 wages make him a prime candidate for replacement with a younger model.