It’s been a while hasn’t it? But that’s the price you pay for trying to hold down gainful employment in an employers’ market whilst appeasing all the members of the family, including two very demanding teenage daughters and a wife who thinks that my ‘working from home’ means actually working for her. And through all this I have to follow the most currently bipolar football team in the UK, make sense of it all and then compose a few words here for the baying crowd to either like or tear to pieces.
Why do I define myself as mad? Well, balancing that lot above might be deemed enough to push anyone to the very edge of their mental boundaries, but add in the over-riding definition of being a football fan addicted to the game in any shape or form to the point where despite the inevitable pain I will still watch England games, then had I existed in the pre-industrial age society then surely I’d be eating gruel shoved into my very own asylum cell.
Some observations from my sick bed, confined as I am to my house by that most debilitating and cruel of illnesses, the man-cold.
An acquaintance on another fine Chelsea site wrote a match report in which he mentions his in-match notes about 2-0 being the worst of all possible scores when faced with a must win game like Valencia. As I watched the game unfurl I did think to myself how hateful that scoreline is. You just know that if the other team get that goal back with a decent amount of time to play, the psychological impact and the doubts that creep in can almost inevitably lead to the situation where every minute suddenly works as a London Transport minute in that it changes to being 120 seconds long rather than 60.
The players become shrouded in doubt and fear, and unless you can steady the ship then you will feel your heart sinking when the equaliser flies in. This is a proven fact and now sits in the pantheon of Universal Laws as shown by the great Professor Daniel Baker esq, of Broadcast Boulevard. As he has oft stated, to prove this universal law just stand up in the middle of any crowd when you’re team is 2-0 in front with more than 30 minutes to go and declare at the top of your voice “NOTHING can go wrong now!”. You will either incur the wrath of those mercurial footballing spirits who will conspire to land the evil angel of Captain CockUp within the mind of everyone of your players, fans and coaching staff, or the fans you proclaim this to will set upon you like starving dingoes leaving just the tatters of your best Matalan outerwear as evidence of your existence.
The same acquaintance then noted that a mere few lines later he had written “Surely now!” after Drogba had got his second and our third. This settled him down, but not only him, I’d estimate around 99.999% of Chelsea fans exhaled a huge sigh of relief at that point. To parapharase the late but great William Shankly Esq, it was he I believe who said ”If you go a goal up, then go for a second, if you get the second then go for the third, if you get the third then shut the shop”. This is somewhat true as a mantra to relax by, except for occasions such as games versus Bolton (April 2009) when we were 4-0 up at home only to run out 4-3 victors. That was sphincter clenching stuff as the shroud of self doubt and fear fell over everyone involved with Chelsea.
Personally I tend to start relaxing after a few more. In our famous title clinching game versus Wigan (the 8-0) I realised we’d win the title when the 6th goal went in, and since then that’s pretty much set the bar of where the ‘totally relaxed about the result of the game’ level is for me.
Let me now move on to the bruhaha regarding AVB and the press. So, the scribes of the 4th estate are upset are they? The natives are revolting and all that. Following, as I do, several of these hacks within the Twitterverse, I have to say I was surprised at the level of precious indignation from them because someone other than Sir Ferg of Salford Quays had decided to ‘tell it how it is’. But when I looked at the main complainers and saw who they wrote for and the general level of vitriol they’ve spat in our direction as a club over the years I did start to wonder what the world was coming to. The single thought that that crossed my mind as they whined on and on about AVB, the ‘slap in the face’ and the comment about how it was unfortunate for them they would have to write something positive about us was this. Grow up. Followed swiftly by Get a Grip. They continue to dish it, they have constantly dished it in the past. They have written the death certificate without checking the pulse. They have booked the wake and written their eulogies without visiting the chapel of rest. They have sat and sniped and piled the pressure on. They have used the inductive reasoning method to falsely create an impression of impending doom. Chelsea have sacked all previously unsuccessful Champions League coaches, therefore they will sack AVB if we fail to qualify. Oh dear, even the most basic student of philosophy will know that you only need one example of the conclusion being false, even if the premises of the argument are true to destroy that line of argument.
Today’s doom mongering hacks are so ingrained in the culture of negativity and their own misguided view of their importance that they have forgotten the difference between reporting the news and trying to create it through tissues of lies and hearsay. Henry Winter, Martin Samuel and Patrick Barclay are about the only ones I view with any honour or integrity, perhaps with Andy Dunn close behind. And as for AVB, you carry on telling everything like it is. If its good enough for Alex and Arsene………
A word on mercurial enigmatic talent. Well Didier Drogba to be precise. Like many I had written Drogba off and I’m glad that on Tuesday night he showed me up for the footballing no-mark that I and most fans are. As much as we like to think we’re experts, the vast majority of us are not top line football managers (and no Football Manager, the game does NOT count). But one swallow does not a summer make. Until Saturday he hadn’t shown me anywhere near enough to think he could recreate his marauding best. If anything he looked to be in terminal decline. I believe we must start building for the future and this inevitably means less games consecutively for players like JT, Lamps and Drogba. I would hope they’d accept it gracefully. I’ll mention it again, they need to adopt the same mentality that Scholes and Giggs have done, and to a degree Gary Neville did, and as Michael Owen appears to be doing with Rio as well, remaining loyal to the team, not putting in transfer requests and accepting that less games might prolong their careers. Maybe Lord Ferg of Manchestershire has the right touch in keeping players onside whilst winding them down gently to lucre laden retirement. If the seniors don’t like it then let them go. Thank them, shake their hands, wish them well but let them go. The club’s progress cannot be hindered by unwitting or witting intransigence and egotistical sulking players, no matter how good they once were.
And lastly, yes..I promise for now…….I’ve seen lots of interesting comments overall on forums, blogs, twitter and social networks as well as the broadcast and print media about the lack of possession from us against Valencia. Maybe it is the ghost of Special One’s past in AVB that I see from that night, but cast your mind back 2 years to a Champions League game between Inter Milan (eventual winners) and Barcelona (perennially annoying arrogant tiki taka merchants with a penchant for double pikes when tackled) at the Camp Nou with Inter holding a 3-1 first leg lead. Just look at the stats. Possession 76%-24% to the Catalan synchronised swimmers. Inter Milan down to 10 men with an hour to play, away from home. Barcelona 7 shots on target, 9 off target. Inter Milan 0 attempts on or off target, yes ZERO, NIL, ZILCH, NADA attempts. The result was 1-0 to Barca and an exit at the hands of the Inter coach, one Jose Mourinho. To this day I rate this as one of the best examples of digging in never-say-die football I’ve ever seen. It’s the Rourkes Drift of football. If that’s what we need to do to win key games, much as we almost did when we played Barca under Guus Hiddink, then so be it. The key to being a great team, as shown most recently by us and Manchester United is about trying Plan A, but having a Plan B and Plan C to fall back on. It’s about mixing up the styles from tippy tappy to power play to Wimbledon-esque long ball if that’s what’s required.
And that’s it. Let’s not join in the media’s game of finding reasons to criticise when we have no real reason to. Let’s enjoy a little moment of quite dignified celebration at the fact we’re through, top of group and the red and blue sides of Manchester are now contemplating exposure through ITV4 and Channel 5, along with trips to Outer Mongoligradsburg. Kind of gladdens the old heart doesn’t it?
Please note : the views in many of our blogs are written by fans of Chelsea FC and are not necessarily the views of the club