Ex-Chelsea Defender Jason Cundy: Mesut Özil Is A Passenger When Things Go Wrong
Posted by Daniele Accurso | Published on April 13, 2017
With Chelsea seemingly walking away with the title and into the semi-final of the FA cup, Chelsea fans are loving life under Italian manager Antonio Conte, including ex-Chelsea defender Jason Cundy. A short while ago, I had the privilege to discuss how the seasons unravelled for the blues whilst touching on topics including José Mourinho last season, Wenger’s contract situation at Arsenal, the move away from Stamford Bridge temporarily and how Jason found a new career path after his retirement from football.
As an avid listener of Talksport, my first experience of Jason Cundy came when I tuned into the Andy Goldstein’s Sports Bar at 10 pm several years back. His humourous personality mixed with his feisty opinions made the show a must listen alongside his co-star Andy Goldstein. After listening to countless stories of his experience in the game, it was clear Jason Cundy was a blue through and through.
Having played 41 times for Chelsea over four seasons at the club, Jason had achieved a lifelong dream of playing for his for boyhood club. Skip forward nearly 20 years later after he first played for Chelsea in 1990, making his debut away against local rivals QPR, Cundy still has a connection to the club, now working as a media presenter on shows such as “Chelsea Re- Seen” and “Wherever they may be”.
With Cundy being a Chelsea man, there was no better place to start than talking about the London club; how has Conte transformed and reinvigorated the team from what Mourinho had overseen last season?
“The 3-0 battering away to Arsenal was the turning point, Conte had to change something. After that period, we only conceded 2 goals in the following 10 games.”
Cundy, a former centre-back, was quick to praise the formation change and the defensive work of the back five.
“Luiz has slotted into that back three superbly, Azpilicueta has been fantastic in that centre back role, everyone’s playing a 7/10 minimum so far. There are no passengers in this team, everyone’s working their socks off.”
When highlighting the use of Alonso and Moses as wing backs, more praise was heaped on Antonio for his role in this tactical change:
“(Using Moses and Alonso) is all down to Conte. Every player knows his job, Antonio works endlessly on the training pitch with these players, it’s hour studying opposition footage which has allowed the team to play so well. Obviously, the players need to perform but Conte’s giving them the right tools to succeed.”
Conte’s success of getting the best out of these players led us to why the players were such a shambles last season under the much-loved figure at Stamford Bridge, José Mourinho. “They’re simple creatures footballers, they just want to know what their job is, which is something I felt Jose got wrong last season. They didn’t look they were enjoying their football and that’s key to success. If the players don’t enjoy themselves and don’t believe in you, the manager will get the sack which is what happened, unfortunately.”
The topic of sackings and managers underachieving led me to ask Jason his thoughts on Arsène Wenger and players such as Mesut Özil. Cundy’s known to be critical of both the Frenchmen and the German World Cup winner and once again, he told it as he saw it:
“Footballs made up of so many different aspects, sometimes you have to win ugly. Chelsea, this season have ground out tough home wins against Stoke and West Brom at home for example. Özil, he’s a luxury player. When the teams playing well, he looks amazing, but the games which are tight, he’s a passenger. I don’t see the world class consistency which makes talks about. In games which are tight defined by tight margins, he goes missing.”
“However, this is the problem with Wenger. He’s been a world-class manager, champions league for 20 years in a row which is something that has to be respected as no club has managed this, United haven’t and neither have Chelsea. When the games get tough, he lacks the answer as shown so many times when they go away to big clubs. He used to have a team made up of personality; Adams, Campbell, Keown, Bergkamp, Vieira but now, who are their leaders on the pitch? I don’t see any leaders on that pitch, they get bullied when the games get tough.”
“But, Wenger still manages to achieve what that board want financially. He meets their financial targets. So why would the board sack him? He achieves top four each season which is their sole aim. The board haven’t sacked him yet and I can’t see them doing so until he misses out on top four.”
Cundy did point out the struggle Wenger has had to deal with the financial burden of building the Emirates and this brought me onto the recent news about Chelsea’s stadium revamp being approved by new London major, Sadiq Khan.
“It’s a necessity, the club has to move with the times. Look at Anfield, the Emirates and now with White Hart Lane, all clubs are doing it and so do Chelsea in order to progress.” Cundy realised that for a few years there would be some commotion and difficulty playing at a new ground and pointed at how Tottenham have underperformed away from White Hart Lane at Wembley this year in the champions league. However, he acknowledged that it’ll only be a temporary switch and one the Chelsea fans have to accept and move on with.
And the topic of moving on in life brought me to the final topic, life after football. Having had his career cut short due to numerous injuries, Cundy managed to find a new passion within the game all due to what he described as “a stroke of luck”.
In 1997, when Cundy thought he was suffering from a groin injury, the Ipswich Town medical staff brought him in for a scan which unfortunately showed he had developed testicular cancer. Cundy, through treatment, managed to successfully beat cancer. It was because of his personal health situation which got Cundy into raising awareness about testicular cancer and subsequently, he was brought onto Talksport as a guest to talk about it.
“When I went onto the show I must’ve made an impression. I was offered to do commentaries and then got offered a radio slot twice a week. Media was something I was thrown into but am grateful of and the opportunity to work for Chelsea has worked out very well for me. It’s a labour of love. I love this club, I was there when I was 11, I coached when I retired and now work in the media with them. I coached for three years after I retired, however, I couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I done my UEFA B badge, I was offered the chance to work with the club but I preferred to work in the media and luckily now I work for a national radio station and the club I love.”
Interviewing Jason Cundy was an absolute pleasure. Jason didn’t hold back with any opinions and took the time out of his busy schedule to allow me to interview him which was a great privilege as a Chelsea fan and someone who has listened to him on Talksport for the past few years.
You can follow Jason Cundy on twitter @jasoncundy05 and you can listen to him on Talksport at 10pm on the Andy Goldstein Sportsbar which is a great night time listen!