GREAT EXPECTATIONS

shakhtar_h7

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve scribed here, but hey, that’s because I do have a day job you know. And yes, I’ve even changed from ChelseaTony to my proper name for future articles. Maybe I’ve grown up? But also, and probably more likely, it’s because after the artery bursting excitement of That Night In Munich it’s taken me far longer to get the full on football mojo back in place.

It’s always an issue for me when there’s a Euro or World Cup, but add to that the sheer conjoined heaven and hell of That Night In Munich and the refuelling of the mojo tank has really been slowed up. So much emotion was drained from me on That Night In Munich that I genuinely felt like writing to the club and resigning as a lifelong supporter. After all I’d now seen everything. From 20 plus years of next to nothing from 1971 to 1997, like London buses the trophies kept on arriving culminating in the greatest club trophy of them all. What else was there to see?

I’m guessing that by the time we played Stoke, in a game that might define the phrase ”hard earned victory’ my mojo tank was roughly about 60% full. By Manchester United it was hitting 90% and after Shakhtar and Liverpool it now sits proudly at 100% and looking for a reserve mojo tank to put the excess into. Of course with this fully refuelled mojo one might expect that I’m also full of expectations that this season will lead us to a similar climax of joy and ecstasy as last season did. But you’d be wrong, so very wrong. No, what this slow build up of mojo has done is in fact dilute that level of expectation with a good mixture of wise old experience, familiar Chelsea bi-polarity and a healthy dollop of gloom and cynicism drizzled over the top. Why should this be?

Well, it’s quite simple really. My old mind has mixed logic with reality and some anecdotal statistical analysis and come up with what I believe could be called a Pragmatism Sundae. I always smile wryly at some of the commenters we get on a little blog I occasionally write for at www.chelseafcblog.com who predict that we’ll constantly move on to greater and greater things relentlessly season after season. To a degree I believe this could be the case, but it will not be constant annual success. No team really gets that ever. Even Manchester United and their phenomenal record under Fergie (don’t squeal, it’s the truth) have had trophy-less seasons as the price paid for rebuilding teams and styles. Granted Arsenal have taken that philosophy a little too far, as have Liverpool….and err….Tottenham, but the point remains that sometimes a team in transition needs to build towards success even if that means not achieving it outright for a season or two. That’s where I believe we find ourselves now.

Now I’m aware that this opens me to accusations of being a ‘plastic’ and that any sort of realistic underplayed ambition is seen as heresy, but the fact remains in my opinion that despite a very good start to the season, and some exciting new players we are still very much a ‘work in progress’. If Robbie Di Matteo is to be our Monet or Van Gogh, the artist creating the Chelsea masterpieces of the future then he is very much breaking in the brushes and mixing the palette to make sure he has the right colour and tone for every occasion. This will take some degree of patience from the fans, fickle by nature and as Danny Baker oft says the ‘most bi-polar fans in the world’. Since the heady days of Mr Abramovich’s arrival we swing from uncontrolled ecstasy and optimism to downright despondency and pessimism. Sometimes in the space of 90 minutes. I’m sure other fans would say the same but I’d disagree. We don’t have the history of WINNING trophies like Manchester United, Arsenal, Real Madrid and yes, even Liverpool but we are creating a new history and writing new chapters into footballs annals.

So most of us older fans remember comparatively recent lean times thus making the current success all the sweeter. We remember nearly losing our ground to developers, we remember nearly losing our club trying to finance a single new stand. We remember 27 years of winning nothing worth remembering. Contrast that to the fans of the aforementioned ‘greats’ of whom two, Arsenal and Liverpool have had to readjust their views to the opposite of ours. They’ve stumbled from success to mediocrity which for any fan has to be the harder journey.

I’ll sit and watch with glee the new ‘creative herberts’ of Oscar, Mata, Ramires and Hazard in our midfield build their understanding of each other, hold my breath as the new defensive formations involving Gary Cahill and Crazy David Luiz ply and continue to learn their trade under the tutelage of John Terry. I’ll watch with a keen eye as John Mikel Obi continues the path to Vieira like greatness (and he will be better than that, mark my words) and Apzilicueta and Bertrand complete their apprenticeships and move towards being regulars rather than understudys. My only concern is our strikers. Fernando seems determined to remodel his game into the Anelka mode of supporting striker rather than out and out striker, whist Danny Sturridge seems uncertain as to his best position. I hope we keep both, Sturrudge is young and crammed with potential and Torres is still a very skilful player. But there’s no doubt in my mind that either Lukaku starts to fulfil his promise and comes back within 18 months as a fully fledged striker, or we buy an alternative at the next opportunity.

I am not saying we definitely won’t win anything this season, and it would of course be great to do so. But I am saying that if we don’t then we as fans must understand that we are building to a new squad and style that will see us through the next 10 years of Roman’s reign onto even more frequent and greater glories. If that means a transition season of no trophies whilst qualifying for the Champions League then we need to have the patience and foresight to stick with Robbie Di Matteo rather than fall for the attractions of the next hired gun, no matter how attractive that might seem. And that goes for the owner, Chairman and CEO as well.

KTBBFH!

 

 

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