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Chelsea 2-1 Wigan Athletic – The Road to Catalonia (via Fulham)

George Orwell

Updated with Fulham match reports and goal videos Monday, 9 April 2012 at 11:08 PM

Pre-match

Only recently have I realised that when players use the phrase “thick and fast” they’re not describing themselves but instead the frequency and importance of matches.

At this time of the season, what with Easter and the fact we’re the only English team left fighting on three fronts, planning, rotation and squad freshness are important factors. Strategy and tactics are also crucial. And so it was that yesterday in the ivory towers of Cobham that RDM and Eddie Newton, with their double espressos and biscotti, discussed the Wigan plan. Whilst fourth place in the league was of importance they were more concerned about the spies from Barcelona gaining insights into our structure and methods. How could we defeat Wigan and yet at the same time reveal nothing to Barcelona. RDM gazed out of the window, deep in thought wishing he’d bought the mock Tudor mansion, with six bedrooms and a built-in Nespresso machine, that could be seen in the distance behind the neatly trimmed hedge aside the juniors training pitch.

Eddie had a plan: “Why don’t we revert to playing like we did six weeks ago under AVB?”

“But how? All the tactical documents were burned in accordance with Roman’s instructions,” exclaimed Robbie.

“Not all.” Eddie put his hand underneath the desk to release the secret drawer. “Take a look at this, Robbie,” as he handed over the A4 folder.

Robbie lifted the cover and slid his finger down the tabbed index, pausing at ‘S’ and flicking open the page to reveal ‘Slow Ponderous Tactics’.

“That’s not drastic enough,” proclaimed Eddie. Robbie’s finger returned to the tabs and slid down to ‘U’.

“This’ll do it,” pronounced Robbie. “Barcelona will learn nothing from this, Tactic 16 – Ultra Slow Passing. Use with caution because it may make fans suicidal.”

The match

I’m not able to report on this because:

a) Guardiola is known to frequent this blog.
b) If you think I’m going to re-live that experience by typing it up, think again.

The players

  • Cech – didn’t have too much to do. Only the Post Office has worse distribution.
  • Ivanovic – a modern day David Webb. Can play in multiple positions, always committed, pops up with the goals when needed and has equally prominent buttocks. The fact I’ve even looked at Ivan’s buttocks and can remember Webbie’s from 40 years ago is slightly stressing me but I’m hoping my Barbara Streisand CD will straighten me out. How many more goals does he have to score to lose the moniker “Two goal Ivanovic”?
  • David Luiz – a modern day Socrates and the gap between comedic error is widening.
  • Cahill – OK performance and one great shot. He’s a bit one-footed and is a typical English centre-half – committed but ultimately lacks top level quality.
  • Bertrand – excellent performance defending and going forward. Makes the decision to swap Bosingwa to left-back to cover for the injured Ashley Cole a while back all the more unbelievable.
  • Essien – the only remnant of the player we signed seven years ago is the name “Essien” on the back of the shirt.
  • Malouda – what with games coming thick and fast it’s important to fully utilise the squad and spread the workload. Malouda hasn’t played much recently so was an ideal candidate to inject freshness and energy to the team. How can I best describe his contribution? Close your eyes for a moment and try to visualise a typical Malouda performance over the last two years. Wake up! Yes, it was like that just five times worse. He was an utter disgrace and had to be taken off after 60 minutes, so instead of giving the A team players deserved R and R they had to be rushed back to the front line.
  • Meireles – an OK game. Regardless he could have played a shocker but had enough brownie points from Wednesday to see him through.
  • Mata – fairly anonymous and may have passed unnoticed had he not been wearing fluorescent adverts for Dyno Rod on each foot.
  • Drogba – often alternates between Jekyll and Hyde performance. Normally switches personality between matches but today he was morphing every five minutes.
  • Sturridge – lazy, selfish, gutless and sullen. Taken off and deservedly booed from all four corners of the ground. Winston Bogarde has finally climbed off the foot of the “Most uncommitted players of all time” table. If you hate the place and can’t wait to get away at least play so that you get another club interested in bidding for you.
  • Mikel (sub) – played a decent last ten minutes.
  • Torres (sub) – if he could stay on his feet and stop slipping over he’d be lethal. His fantastic strike from the edge of the box crashed against the post to bounce onto Mata to bundle home the winner. Having performed a similar act against Sunderland with his overhead kick thumping the bar to bounce back into the goal off Lampard, it’s a coincidence. If he does it again I guess it’s a deliberate tactic.
  • Kalou (sub) – if you’d told me 12 months ago that I’d be relieved to see the appearance of Kalou I’d have sent for the men in white coats. Is this new found relief a measure of the status of Kalou or the fact I’d even be pleased to see Christopher Biggins dressed as Widow Twankey come on for Sturridge?

Post-match

No one has made Wigan appear this good since George Orwell.

The press reports

The Observer, Paul Doyle: “The major riddle Roberto Di Matteo must resolve over the coming weeks is: how can Barcelona be beaten. The only help he got with answering that in this game was: not by playing like this. And, perhaps, by getting the sort of decisions from officials that contributed to this low-rent performance being rewarded with three valuable points.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Jonathan Liew: “Wigan’s howls of protest rang loudly into the west London dusk. But Chelsea were deaf to them. So too will be Uefa, should Saturday’s result prove decisive in the race for the Champions League. Most importantly, so was linesman Dave Bryan, who failed to disallow goals from Branislav Ivanovic and Juan Mata when both were in offside positions.”

The Independent on Sunday, Glenn Moore: “The Wigan manager called the performance of the referee’s assistant Dave Bryan “disgusting”, before intimating that he felt it was easier for officials to give decisions against “little clubs” like Wigan. That Bryan failed to raise his flag after Chelsea’s winning goal, an injury-time fluke by Juan Mata from a crowded goalmouth, was perhaps understandable. Even Martinez admitted it was a tight call. However, his failure to spot that Branislav Ivanovic was offside before scoring Chelsea’s 62nd-minute first was, said Martinez, “not a difficult decision”.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Juan Mata inside stoppage time rescued the win for the Blues after Wigan substitute Mohamed Diame cancelled out Branislav Ivanovic’s opener. It was a dramatic ending to a game that had previously lacked major incident, a much-changed Chelsea side failing to find the net in the first half against the strugglers from the north-west. But then Ivanovic scored a controversial opener from an attack he had initiated, his fourth goal in his last six appearances, before Mata did similarly late on after substitute Fernando Torres struck woodwork.”

The goals

62′ Ivanovic 1-0
82′ Diame 1-1
90+3′ Mata 2-1

Fulham 1-1 Chelsea – Down and Out in Fulham and London

The match reports

The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “Chelsea’s plod back into Champions league contention has stalled. This derby had entered its frantic final stages with the visitors ahead and contemplating joining the bottleneck beneath third place, behind Tottenham Hotspur only on a solitary goal scored, when their defence yielded to cast their challenge adrift. The equaliser shipped to Clint Dempsey seven minutes from time left Roberto Di Matteo’s team in sixth place, their momentum checked.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “When Lampard stroked in his 150th Premier League goal, a remarkable record for a midfielder, Chelsea threatened to go on and overtake Spurs but Fulham, their players and fans, refused to go quietly, and Dempsey brought them just reward.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “Not since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 have Chelsea been out of the Champions League places at this stage of the season. And lest it be forgotten, it was the 2003 final between Milan and Juventus that inspired Abramovich to buy a football club. The modern Chelsea are not supposed to be, in the eyes of their owner, a Europa League team.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “In the end, it was a disappointing result given the fact we were in front with only 10 minutes remaining, particularly considering results from elsewhere earlier in the day.”

The goals

45′ Lampard (pen) 0-1
82′ Dempsey 1-1

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  • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

    Not much to say, just like some graffiti artist I couldn’t resist being first to scrawl all over this new page.

    Great last few minutes when we looked as though we realized that there are only a few games left and much hangs on them. How close was FT to matching Crouchie’s for GOTS?

    Only saw a bit of the first half and then the last 20 mins due to family expecting me to partake in the holiday experience, and I do kinda like Lisboa. Passed the Benfica suburb a few times and I’m gonna go back and read that post now that wi-fi is finally established.

    Cheers

  • Trueblue

    Poor match. 

    Thought Cahill was solid though, but harsh to say he has not quality. 

    We got lucky, but boy did we need it and we have been on the other end of those decisions this season so all is fair. 

    Personally – and I have been saying this all season … I’d rather we put our a B team against Barca and make sure we win the Arse game. 4th place is paramount. 

  • Fat Nakago

    Bravo!! What a great write-up on this dismal display by our lads.

    I thought I was being clever when I described the match as donkey basketball using ostriches on MY liitle bloog ((http://www.themagicworld.org/bloog/  for those who are curious)).

    But man you brought out the bug guns and kept shooting right ’til the end.Funny as hell and sadly true.

  • Marco_Chelsea

    Very witty and very funny, Mark.

    Don’t think we were quite as slow and ponderous as prescribed in Villas-Boas’ ‘lost’ diaries. Their goal-keeper largely kept them in it with three world-class saves and our potty shooting let us down yet again. And full credit to Fermando for injecting a bit of urgency and direct play in the final 20 minutes.

    Let’s hope we can play as well as Wigan when we meet the Catalans.

  • limetreebower

     Had to miss the game but thanks to Mark I feel like I was there. Magnificent report. Unfortunately feeling like I was there means I now have to go pop some Prozac. Toodle pip.

  • Blue_MikeL

    Spot on mark, very much spot on!!!!      

  • Ryan

    Not bothered about today’s performance. Got the result and at this stage that’s all I care about. Reason being that the closer we get to Spurs the more I think they’ll start to wobble. They’re already on a poor run and having been so far ahead in third and been collared by Arsenal if they were to drop any more points and lose fourth to us (or Newcastle) they could find it very tough to go again in the last few games. If Arsenal lose to City tomorrow then we have a chance to get them too and we might have to the way Newcastle are carrying on.

    All in all the performance was basically as expected considering the presence of certain personnel. Bertrand was a big plus. Although he had a couple of suspect moments. I summed this one up to a friend before kick-off by suggesting that quite frankly I’d take anything today provided we got all three points. I suggested a shinner in the last minute or a ricochet off Didiers arse, a Petr Cech overhead kick any fucking thing as long as we didn’t miss that opportunity to close the gap. So frankly I was happier with that game than pretty much any other this season. Winning games in the last minute like that can give you a great boost. We need it because we’ve got to do it all again on Monday.

    I was pleased to see the team rotated because as well as giving much needed rest to some of what we can now assume is RDMs preferred XI it also provided a reminder (if one were really needed) as to why we still need a big clear out in the summer and 4/5 quality players adding to the squad.

    I’m not sure where the general negativity around Sturridge comes from. I’ve never heard him be anything other than fully committed to Chelsea. His frustration yesterday seemed to come more from being in great positions for a certain tap in and players failing to pick him out than him wanting to leave. I’m still pointing out to people that he is being played out of position essentially. I think his talent is worth persevering with. He has basically had a pretty impressive breakthrough year. The idea that he is arrogant and selfish on the pitch might be justified but he is a striker. Welbeck is no different. Didier as well (although he is possessed of wonderful vision/passing-his chipped cross to Torres yesterday was exquisite). I’ve seen Studge play some good passes but it’s an aspect of his game that needs work. It will come though. When you’ve been the star striker your entire life and your sole focus is on banging in as many goals as possible it’s not easy to change that mentality in one season. People assume that footballers make conscious decisions about how they play but actually more often the nature of the pace of the game means that players must act on instinctive reactions and reflexes. These reflexes are built up over years of practice and aren’t easy to unlearn in a season.

    Finally the level of attention given to our two offside goals yesterday wasn’t unexpected. I don’t remember MoTD endorsing AVBs views about the officials after the United game though (Smallings header-offside, Nanis goal-came back from an offside position to pick the ball up and score). They also failed to show the (decent) penalty appeal we had turned down, didn’t fit in with the editorial policy for last night I suspect. No change there then.

  • Lakes41

    Gents
    Enjoy the blog and the podding shed.
    Especially like this match report!
    WOULD LIKE YOUR INPUT comments about  “Romeu where for art thou Romeu”

    To me one of our developmental bright spots.
     Reasons behind the recent decision to leave Oriol Romeu out?

    • Coorsyellowawaykit

       CAN The above BE A PODDING SHED QUESTION?
      How do we send ?’s (and casio keyboard requests) into the POD CASTERS?
      Thanx

  • BangkokBlue

    Thanks, Mark, for an excellent post on a depressing subject, and for lightening my day by connecting  Wigan to the road to Catalonia (how will Chelsea’s international brigade fare?) 

    Getting 4th seems a priority – but so too is winning FA Cup, if only not to lose to Spurs or (possibly) Liverpool. 

  • Blueboydave

    First hour was another serious contender for Worst Game at The Bridge this season – the pigeon that took up residence in the Wigan penalty area looked more likely to score than anyone in a blue shirt.

    Ron Gourlay’s “finishing 4th is more important than beating Barca” comment earlier in the week obviously wasn’t a contender in the motivational speeches we discussed on the last blog.

    Then the “lucky” RDM thesis got another big boost with the benefit of some dodgy refereeing decisions for the goals. 

    Seemed to be more down to incompetence by the officials rather than Martinez’s complaints about “little Wigan” being screwed though: take the wrong Torres offside decision just after the first goal, the blatant penalty handball by a Wigan defender ignored or the handball by the Wigan player on the ground before the shot Ivan cleared off our line. 

    Unbelievable that we were both Game of the Day on Sky and first on MOTD running order, though the latter still contrived to miss out large numbers of the significant incidents in their usual hack it to bits manner.

    • Cunningplan

      And I just wonder how MOTD2 will spin Utd’s penalty today, with Young being offside and the contact being minimal, and to add insult to injury QPR down to 10 men because of it.
      On saying that we shouldn’t be too bothered as it’s only QPR.

  • Mike12

    I’m with Ryan here, Sturridge has actually had a damn fine season, through all the shit, and through the change of managers, he’s been good, and although he’s inconsistent, his performances average out to have a positive rating, methinks. 10 goals in the league, 12 overall, plus 5 assists in the league, with 7 assists overall. Compare that with Kalou, a player he is often compared to, and you’ll find that Salomon, although a handy squad player, comes up short to Daniel. As does Joe Cole. And Torres. And, so far this season, Drogba.

    I think, although he is a little raw, we may have a little Henry problem here; not fulfilling his potential out wide, but possibly would seriously benefit from moving inside? An opinion often brought up, but worth mentioning all the same, is that players who score a lot out wide, often score more when moving inside to score. Messi, Henry, Eto’o at Inter, Podolski at Koln; all players who score(d) more when moved inside.

  • Cunningplan

    You know guys, you can say want you want about some of our players, selfish, lazy, not good enough etc etc… but I wouldn’t change any of them for that fool Balotelli. Mancini putting his faith in that idiot he’s probably cost him his job, we need a bandwagon now, Rafa for Citeh!!! not JM

    • mark_25

      Don’t know about that. I’d offer Sturridge and Malouda in exchange and throw in Boswinga if needed during the negotiation.

      • Blue_MikeL

        While I generally agree with what you are saying, I still believe that Daniel has got bright future. Yes, he is trying hard to prove himself and quite often overdoing, but still I believe he will come out good.    

    • Radicalevan

      Would we even want JM now? Madrid are doing a fantastic City impersonation, dropping points all over the place. 

      Barcelona go into our tie only one point behind Madrid, we’re cooked. The only thing worse than Barcelona is Barcelona with their heads up, tasting blood.

  • Mark Jerzak

    Great match report. Had me laughing out loud. Keep the Blue Aspidistra Flying High! 

  • Coorsyellowawaykit

    oops I suck at blogging…It moved..so The podding shed question is above>
    Why the freeze out of Oriol Romeu..he should get a run in now right?
    Romeu where for art thou Romeu..?

  • John D

    Can someone please explain to me the logic behind Ron Gourlay’s “finishing 4th is more important than beating Barca” comment.

    We’re in the semi-finals of this year’s Champions League – and yet, rather go on and and win it, Gourley thinks that we should make qualifying for next year’s tournament a higher priority! Why – to enter next year’s competition without the aim of winning it (and what does Roman think of Gourley’s comment)?

    Yes, I know there’s the cash income and attracting top players to sign for us if we qualify for the CL. But, ffs, what about the glory of winning silverware? Have we lost our sense of priority about what the aim of a competitive football club is, to win competitions?

    I certainly won’t be going to an open-top bus parade to celebrate finishing 4th (or to commemorate being financially successful).

    I back up Blueboydave’s recommendation of David James’ Observer article yesterday (which I’ve plagerised a bit here, although these were my thoughts before I read the Observer article!).

    On another note – as Citeh are demonstrating, money doesn’t buy the league. So next time someone says “Chelsea bought the league”, point this fact out to them. Alternatively, tell them to fuck off. 

  • Ryan

    Basically Gourlay is probably diplomatically suggesting that we ought not to be placing too much faith in beating Barcelona and RM/Bayern if we can’t beat Fulham, QPR, Newcastle, a struggling Liverpool and Blackburn. Of course in theory if we win the CL it doesn’t matter where we finish in the league but realistically he is right.

    I’d also say I have no respect for David James and his opinions. He himself has never anything. Arsene Wenger has built numerous teams at Arsenal, made them the most solvent team in the league, his ability has built that 60,000 seater stadium by the Holloway Road pretty much single handedly and ensured that Arsenal will be one of the biggest PL teams for the forseeable future. What has David James achieved? Flapped at a few crosses, made some high profile fuck ups and… what else? What makes him think he’s qualified to question Arsene Wenger? Just his own arrogance I’m guessing. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Wenger is too stupid to see that he would have more success if he went out and spent a couple of hundred million on players. If we can all see it then so can he. The fact is though that that it just isn’t viable for Arsenal to spend that sort of money.

    Regarding Romeu. He got dropped after coming on against Utd and having a bit of a shocker, then he got injured. Now he is back on the bench I expect he will get some time before the end of the year. I suppose it may be that since Barca started making noises about buying him back we’ve taken him out of the limelight a bit. I actually think that the reason he was starting so regularly was due to the so-so form of Mikel and his subsequent injury. Mikel has performed pretty well since his return and him and Romeu in our now preferred double-pivot probably wouldn’t work as they’re too similar. I don’t want to see Romeu over used if it’s going to cause him injury. He is only 19 remember. No hurry.

  • Ryan

    Branner looks like getting a three match ban for his body shot on Maloney Saturday. Welcome back Jose Bosingwa then…

    • Coorsyellowawaykit

       hmm, I  looked it up ..here is link

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdqEJKnBGkU

      pretty obvious ..also Maloney seems to start off with a punch out too.

      let’s hope for Ferriera if bad news from FA.

      Here’s hoping that Clint Dempsey has an off day!

      • Ryan

        Potential three match ban wouldn’t start until after tonights game. FA paperwork.

  • Cunningplan

    I don’t know what they put in the water where Fiftee lives, but boy do we owe Norwich a favour if we win tonight.

    • Blue_MikeL

      We have a chance, very good chance! 

  • mark_25

    25 gone and Mikel is the problem

  • Blue_MikeL

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17659543
    Our Ladies doing very well :-) 

    • limetreebower

      At last we discover a use for Kalou’s ability to fall over his own feet.

      • Blue_MikeL

        It looks like they all can’t stay on their feet, but you right at least for Kalou’s instability we have got some satisfaction :-) However, Frei makes Mikel look ridiculous and Meirelis yet again disappointing.

  • mark_25

    We’ve lost our ability to pass in midfield

  • Blue_MikeL

    To tell the truth I didn’t have any doubts that we are going to concede after 80 minutes! Fucking shambles… Out of 38 goals we have let in so far, 20 goals we have conceded after 80 minutes.

  • Trueblue

    Well I have been saying all season that all we had to accomplish was 4th place, however after today I just don’t think we deserve champs league next season. Maybe we are just tired after all the games, but our play was terrible, we can’t pass and can’t make good scoring chances. 

    So now we are in the 6th place, so is our goal now to qualify for the europa league? 

  • mark_25

    To be fair heavy rain does cause a high volume of sewage to flow into the Thames.  At least six turds got swept over the embankment into the Cottage tonight.

  • Fiftee

    What a shitty shambles. Even the surprising assist from the Canaries early in comes to nothing. We were second best nearly all game.

    Beyond ‘everything’, it’s hard to pinpoint what can be changed short-term.

    Still don’t think we’ll pull off a top 4 finish. Nothing that happened today makes me change my mind.

  • Guest

    Oh what fun that was! Our incisive passing and intelligent movement is only matched by our solid and imposing defensive effort. Take a bow, fellows.  

  • http://www.chelseafcblog.com Der_Kaiser

    The moment Spurs lost it was obvious what would happen at Craven Cottage.  Most annoying thing is that both last night and the City loss were basically down to daft errors – we rode our luck last night (midfield the worst I’ve seen it for some time as has been noted) but should have hung on for want of some rudimentary defending at a set piece. 

    Not entirely sure what good 4th would do us at this stage, anyway.  Endless preliminary rounds in July just after the Euros, knackered squad struggling with injuries come January / February next year and we need some fairly drastic surgery to the playing staff anyway.  Let Newcastle have it – they’re looking the most likely but they’ll be there for the group stages, maybe drop into the Europa and probably won’t qualify again.  Harsh, but probably realistic.

    Just Spurs and Barcelona to worry about now.  First game will be about who is the least crap given current form, and the second simply doesn’t bear thinking about at present.

    • Blue_MikeL

      “Not entirely sure what good 4th would do us at this stage, anyway.”  Not much apart from 30-40 million income. 

      • http://www.chelseafcblog.com Der_Kaiser

        You have to travel a fair way in the competition to make that kind of money.
        Get the new manager in (Robbie or whoever) early on, give him time to sort the squad ins and outs, let him and the players have a proper pre-season together without the grief of traipsing around the arse-end of Europe whilst everyone else is on the beach.

        The ridiculous obsession with the CL has become a very unhealthy pastime at Chelsea – next season is critical in terms of putting a new manager in place and rebuilding the squad; let’s get that right before we worry about anything else.

        • Blue_MikeL

          It is not that I disagree with what you are saying. You are most probably right. Building team is more important than qualifying for competition, which can’t be won with current team.   
          However, we don’t have to worry about CL next year anyway :-)    Hence, let’s not argue about it.

        • Blueboydave

          But how low do we need to finish to avoid having to “traipse around the arse-end of Europe” in mid-summer in the equivalent Europa League stages?

          Worrying that even some vigorous squad rotation [5-6 changes between games recently] isn’t curing that late season too jaded to play 3 games a week problem we had under Carlo – I read we’ve now conceded 10 goals in the last quarter of an hour of games since West Brom at the beginning of March :-(

          • http://www.chelseafcblog.com Der_Kaiser

            Lord knows – if we don’t make the CL then the pointlessness of the Europa is best avoided for me; it seems to go on forever and basically means pretty much no Saturday games for months on end.

            Fatigue definitely seems an issue – some fresh legs definitely required.

          • Blue_MikeL

            Out of 38 goals we have let in so far (this season), 20 goals we have conceded after 80 minutes.

    • GrocerJack

      I agree, far too much is made of the CL. Lets put it this way, what is it…10 years now of qualifying as opposed to Spurs and City’s once? Don’t see much damage to either of those clubs so why are people spouting bollocks about it being terminal for us? We have a rich owner who will find ways around FFP, bet your ife on it. A season away to rebuild and get back the following year suits me, and despite rather thinking we should try and win the Europa league if we’re in it. I’m with you M’lud on the sheer paucity of Saturdays games that would mean.

      And yes, I’m being selfish. I have other things in my life than fucking Chelsea and constant Sunday kick offs means one thing for me. less games and more selling the ST. Thats just the way it is. 

      And our recent ‘style’ of play and the luck versus Wigan despite the abysmality of the performance (yes I did just make that word up) and the piss poor display of last night has shown us one thing. The fearsome Dr Blue Bayou was right. Post AVB, still in the first flush of the RDM era, and its what we all suspected about our players. Old, slow, ponderous, incompetent at times, disinterested at others.  It’s a real time example of regression to the mean my friends. Regression to the mean (my favourite saying this year). 

      But on the arse gravy note that no CL means not being able to attract the top players…..hmmmm….City didn’t struggle did they? Spurs never had any trouble getting VdV did they? Lest we forget they managed to keep Modric as well, despite us lifting our skirt and flashing the CL goods. Players are mercenaries at the end of the day. They care about one thing primarily, as do most of us if we’re honest. and that’s money. Lucre. Wedge. Cash. Readies. Spondoolicks. 

      Yes, they may have ambition but football success (or sporting success) is such a parlous phrase these days when 2nd, 3rd or 4th are hailed as success. 

      A case in point. The current number 1 golfer in the world is Luke Donald. How many majors has Lukey boy won? Zero. Zilch. Fuck all. Nada. Diddly fucking squat. But then when he’s earning hundreds of thousands in 2nd, 3rd’s and 4th’s on the lucrative US tour, plus millions to sponsor clubs, balls, shoes….well where’s the incentive to go and win something? Ditto Lee Westwood. Ditto Ian Poulter. Andy Murray. Tim Henman. Justin Rose. Mark Webber. Rubens Barrichello. The list of rich but ultimate failures thus far is wide and extensive. 

      They’re not hungry, therefore they’re not hungry. 

      Arsenal are a prime team example of success in the loosest sense of the word, fulfilling the Dalglish description of success. A top 4 place. A new stadium. A new kit sponsorship deal. All signs of the tenuous gossamer like description of ‘success’.  All I’m saying to the CL obsessed twitterati, blogmeisters and cyber space surfers is stop wheeling your meta-physical wheelbarrow through SW6 yelling bring out your dead. because even without the CL we will get the players we want with the right coach and the right motivation to get back to our previous best. The reason we will get the players is simple my friends, 

      PAY THEM AND THEY WILL COME.*

      *Apologies to K Costner

  • http://www.chelseafcblog.com Der_Kaiser

    True – two bald men arguing over a comb… :-)

  • Radicalevan

    We (or the joke we’ve become) was written about on Grantland!!!

    Hooray!!! Yippee!!!

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/23464/it-does-not-matter-who-is-the-manager-of-chelsea

    • mark_25

       Who cares?  I suspect the other 90 joke clubs who’ve won nothing major in the last 9 years care.

      • Radicalevan

        I’m…not sure what that means. 

    • Blue_MikeL

      Look, they talk about us because we are big and changing of all these managers in a way made us big. However, the one thing is true we have to stop somewhere. I personally disappointed with sucking of Carlo and AVB and more we are getting fucked this season more I am ruing departure of Carlo and then AVB.

      • Radicalevan

        Until City wins a few things, I think we will be alone in the “big clubs earning ridicule” bracket. On the bright side, Liverpool have largely fallen out of that bracket entirely. So it could be worse.

  • Guest

    Fair enough: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2127749/Roberto-Martinez-receives-apology-referees-chief-Chelsea-offside-goals.html
    Did we get an apology for those two offside goals against us at Old Trafford? 

    • Blue_MikeL

      No because life full of double standards 

  • Ryan

    Whatever we did pre-season wasn’t good enough in terms of strength and conditioning coupled with our handy knack for making any bunch of wankers look like Barcelona (see my comments post-Benfica first leg, x10 when they repeated the trick at SB with 10 men) mean that we have dropped more points from winning positions than every other team in the division except Wolves. Remember that doesn’t include the points that we did our best to drop (Wolves (a), Villa (a), Wigan (h)) only to pull it out of the fire late on (see also Benfica (h)).

    Last nights Iggy Pop award (Passenger) goes to the following

    Ramires (back too soon from illness? Don’t know but he’s really starting to piss me off).

    Torres (don’t know what happened last night. Fair enough the midfield was shit and provided fuck all but he wasn’t any better. Should’ve been hooked for Drogba early on)

    Meireles (has about as much creative ability as a trequartista as me. Against a Championship side maybe anyone else, forget it.)

    Mikel (pretty much back to his mediocre best)

    Kalou (won the penalty fair enough but has anyone ever told him he isn’t Lionel Messi. He might actually be ok if he just occasionally didn’t try to beat the third, fourth and fifth defender. Watch Messi. Beats one maybe two defenders, plays the ball continues his run, gets it back. He’s ok (Kalou, obviously) he’s just not as good as he thinks he is.)

    Ivanovic. (performance was ok despite getting terrorized by a Fulham youth team player. I’ve put him in because he’s let himself down and he’s let the fans down. If he can punch like that why the fuck didn’t he lay a few of those listed above out last night? The Shaun Moloney one was brilliant. That was the best Chelsea attack we’ve seen all fucking season!)

    Anyway enough. Ironically we’re a lot closer to fourth than we were going into the weekend. So that’s something.

    Finally. I want more than anything for Di Matteo and the players to stop going on about tiredness. It just becomes a mental thing. The more you think about and go on about it the more you feel tired.

    I still wouldn’t be surprised to see us give our best performances of the season against Spurs and Barca having had a few shockers recently.

  • kikan

    Was waiting for the match report on the Fulham game, but then realized Mark’s wit here. If the wigan game didn’t deserve a match analysis, this drab fair surely shouldn’t have a post itself. Great work, Mark.

  • limetreebower

    Regarding the Fulham youth team player terrorising Branners: I think Frei’s more than just a decent prospect. He looks a properly good player in the making.

    So does Bertrand, though. One of the few enjoyable things about the last couple of weeks has been seeing one of our stars from the recent standout yoof team actually playing a couple of games for the club.

    • Ryan

      Agreed but when we played them in the Carling Cup he was a fringe player for them. Now suddenly playing against us 6 months later he’s a world-beater. Problem is that Rami was so bad down the right that even Darke and Macca (ESPN commentators) noticed that we were managing to make Riise look like Dani Alves.

      You’re right though Frei looks a lot more appealing than some/most of our lot.

      • bluebayou

         Yes, the right hand side was a disaster last night. Ivanovic was constantly exposed and made that worse by insisting on playing narrow so that they always had the run on him as he scrambled back out.

        Contrast that with the double cover on Kalou and Ramires when they ventured forward.

        • Ryan

          The fact we offered so little going forward on that side exacerbated things. For all his faults I did feel that if Sturridge had been down the right at least Riise might’ve been thinking twice about getting the overload that side. Then again Studge is often worse than useless at tracking back so fuck knows what the answer is.

  • bluebayou

    I didn’t see the Wigan game but watching last night, Chelsea seemed to pull off the trick of making the pitch look small while attacking and big when defending, which unless I’m mistaken is the opposite to the way it should be.

    They seem to be sliding back to the poor defending of the late AVB days, particulalry in midfield.

    When you take the quality of performance in the last four games, setting aside the results, there seems to be little spark in the football. With the odd exception it’s been missing for most of the season.

    It’s difficult not to feel that the blend and balance is all wrong and that’s not something that’s going to change with the current squad. We’re left to hoping that something can be salvaged from the season and then hope that some of these issues are addressed close season. Genuine wide men being one problem that stands out. Irrespective of form, Ramires, who had an awful game, is not a natural wide player or a front three man. Kalou and Sturridge are both doing their best but again are not genuine widemen.

    Watching, you see little natural understanding in the groups around the pitch and this seems to engender the sense of static, slow play. Possession is fine but needs to be progressive but that just doesn’t happen. The ball is played around until out of frustration the riskiest option is taken and usually doesn’t come off. It’s a one shot and out kind of strategy, which means periods of sustained pressure, as opposed to just possession, are too few and far between. Defences have time to recover their composure and are never stressed enough.

    Even if morale has recovered, this particular edition has yet to really gel I think. There’s no real opportunity for RDM to work on that. So hey ho on we go.

    Thanks for the Wigan report Mark. Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and your nose always seems to run as well.

  • bluebayou

    Oh and in the absence of a podcast, those who require a Tom Boonen update, well he won Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Only the 2nd man in history to win 4 times. And the only man to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year, twice.

    To the uncaring or the uninitiated let me just say, this is serious shit. Forget blokes called Bubba playing stick ball or them fellas doing car pointing, yes they have merit but… hey we even have to set aside Sir Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish.

    Tom is a true leg end in his own lunchpack and a proper subject for true man love.

    http://www.boursier.com/illustrations/feeds/reuters/tom-boonen-remporte-son-quatrime-paris-roubaix-big.JPG

    And here is what Chelsea’s Belgian keeper, Thibaut Courtois (in case you’d forgotten him) had to say on Twitter

    “Ongeloofelijk van Boonen! Wat een solo! Nog even volhouden! ”

    and a bit later

    “Petje af voor Tom Boonen! Wat een solo, hier zijn geen woorden voor! Proficiat!”

    Ah a nation rejoices.

    Though he’s strangely silent on their Davis Cup victory over one of the world’s great tennis powers……….

  • bluebayou

    In case it had passed your notice, Chelsea and Spurs are playing the Cup Semi-Final 100 years to the day that the Titanic went down. Built in Belfast, sailing from Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, the Titanic was of course registered in Liverpool, though it never got to visit the port.

  • Cunningplan

    The draw was of no real surprise to me how many draws is that in the past few years?, plus Fulham have an annoying habit of raising their game against us!
    It should also be no real surprise to all of us in the way we’re playing, all RDM has done since AVB’s departure is hit the F8 key and go into default safe mode. Watching us play is a bit like watching the running sequence of Steve Austin in the six million dollar man (for those of you old enough to remember) when he’s meant to be running at 60 mph but they show it in slow motion that’s us.

    It’s a shame the Titanic didn’t make it to Liverpool BB, as I’m sure those scousers would have prevented the sinking. They would have it up on bricks and had those propellers off in no time, thus preventing the maiden voyage. ;-)

  • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

    Set out on Monday to watch the match in hope and anticipation, but the little bar across the road was already full of Portugeezers staring up at the TV screen, so I guessed that it wasn’t us on show.

    Sure enough, Benfica were playing Sporting, so no chance of watching EPL, there or anywhere else in town that night; thought it was them getting revenge for the CL, but by all accounts, they saved me a miserable evening’s viewing.

  • Desmond Bey
    • Blueboydave

      Yet another schoolkid target – we must be aiming to dominate the Youth Cup the way we have the FA Cup in recent years :-)

  • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

    Wondering if our poor league form could be the result of some kind of ‘rest inversion’ where players feel that being selected for PL means they might not get a run in the cup games, hence their lack of interest, or fear of injury – the complete opposite of earlier when not being selected for every match was the issue.

    Interesting that Gourlay chose this time to talk up the PL. Could we be turning back into a football club again, with senior management actually connected to how the players are reacting, and recognizing that we were going off the boil? 

    If we are trying to pace ourselves, then what about Sunday? Take it too easy and we risk ET.

    And talking Titanic…

  • Dannybrod51

    Just read this: http://plainsofalmeria.co.uk/2012/04/10/kitchen-nightmares-the-chelsea-project/
    That was flagged up by dan on this: https://twitter.com/#!/BluesChronicle
    And couldn’t help thinking that if Abro had left Jose in place and allowed him to spend all the money he’s since spent on bum transfers and hiring and firing in pursuit of his impossible dream, that we’d have won Champs League a couple of times by now and forced Man Utd into second place several times. Just goes to show that football is an insane business and based more on fantasy than commerce in real terms. I mean, how the flying fuck does this Board survive? How do Abro’s advisers remain his friends? Who is Emanalo, what does he do and how does he get work? It puts the achievements of this disjointed, undirected, largely unmanaged group of players achievements in reaching a semi-final with Barca into perspective.  

    • Blue_MikeL

      “We let players like Duff and Robben go, players who played with pace, flair and had an end product only to replace them in one form or another with the likes of Kalou and Malouda. ” Sorry, but wasn’t it Mourinho who let them go and signed instead Malouda? I actually accept author’s argument in favour of TSO, but this comparison does not not help author to make his case clear.   

      • Ryan

        I’m not sure about this article at all though. I agree with the spirit but we all know that we should never have sacked JM and signed players like Ben Haim etc on the cheap only to realise our mistake and go out and buy Anelka/Branislav in the January having already sacked JM.

        The writer seems to think that Meireles, Mikel and Ramires are essentially ball winning midfielders. Meireles and Ramires? Ball winning midfielders? Eh? Neither seem to be able to win the ball back in midfield without giving away a free-kick. So many mediocre teams completely dominate our midfield now. I’d say that’s our major problem and part of the reason we’re conceding late goals. We are no longer able to control games because we’re no longer capable of controlling midfield. That’s essential, especially when teams try to put us under pressure. The ball seems to keep coming back and we end up camped in our own half.

        • Blue_MikeL

          yes, the author mixes oranges with apples, but you said the spirit of things is right.

    • bluebayou

      If the Board did get recent pay rises as claimed in that article, how in keeping with the spirit of the age that as the prime product of the business is decling, and long term issues remain unresolved and questions loom large about their individual performance, their response has been to increase both prices and their personal take.

    • Radicalevan

      It’s nice, but he’s pissing into the wind.

      Chelsea is not a well-run club. It succeeds despite itself. Simple history tells us that, whether it’s looking at the managers or the players or the stadium, we are shambles. Chelsea make Wenger and Arsenal look like a combination of James Joyce and Einstien (albiet a whiney asshole).

      No, they haven’t won anything for a decade. But honestly, who is closer to winning, us or them? I appreciate the titles and the cups we’ve won, I do. But that’s history. That glory has passed. If Liverpool can’t crow about their accomplishments, neither can we.

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  • GrocerJack

    Fresh Podding Shed from tomorrow folks! As usual, its a rant….I mean a blast!

  • Fiftee

    So we’ve unveiled our new kit. Gold logo, gold stripes, gold sponsor.

    Isn’t gold normally the colour of success? Or does that not count in the annual cycle of football kit releases?

    • Blueboydave

      Seems worryingly symbolic to me that it’s hard to see any difference from this year’s version despite all the woffle about subtle stripes and gold piping.

      So which of the 4 players used in the promotion pics [Torres, Lampard, Cech and Sturridge] is most likely to need to be embarrassingly airbrushed out when they head for the exit in the summer?

    • bluebayou

      I note

      “The 2012/13 shirt again features the adidas Techfit™ technology in the playing shirt which is proven to enhance performance.”

      Given that they use the term “again” we have to assume that this season’s shirt and therefore performances have been “enhanced”.

      Jesus wept……

      It would be nice if they people writing the publicity drivel were in some way up to date with the team/sport/sportsperson they are writing about and also didn’t assume the target market were all completely devoid of any critical faculties.

      • mark_25

        I think you’ve misread it.  They mean enhances the clubs financial performance when the muppets  (sorry, customers) (oops, sorry again, fans) buy it.

        I’ve decided to go topless until we win the Champions League.

      • GrocerJack

        As mentioned in the twitterverse

        “TechFit™ – The players’ kit will incorporate adidas’ cutting edge
        TechFit™ technology to help improve speed, increased endurance
        capabilities and enhanced awareness. This works by stabilising and
        focusing the muscles’ energy to generate explosive acceleration and
        deliver maximum power output”

        Hmmm….an award should go to the ‘creative’ in the Adidas marketing team who dreamt up such a stream of utter gobbledygook bollocks arse-gravy vomit.

        Point 1: The ‘players’ kit will incorporate this techfit technology because the likes of you and me,dold, sweaty, sometimetimes drink laden, fag wheezy mugs could not possibly benefity from such luxuries as this material. Pass the Imperial Leather old chap.

        Point 2: How in the name of whichever God you follow can a SHIRT enhance awareness? Have they cracked a super-technology that would allow Kalou to be more aware of his position on the pitch so he stops running down blind alleys? Will itnhelp prevent him from getting in the way of better placed players on goal chances? Will it help Studge be aware of his team mates positions so he can start passing? Will it help Mata be more aware of where the posts are so he can get the ball inside them? Will it help Cech be more aware of the spin on the ball from a shot? Are we talking nano-radar here?

        Point 3:  I guess the punters material Climacool just has nornal properties likle the ability to stretch over beer laden bellies, and to wick away the copious amounts of sweat from stressed fans to evaporate into the air more or less directly under my nose.

        Point 4: A material…..on a shirt….can it actually stabilise and focus the muscles energy to generate explosive acceleration and deliver maximum power output?  Did they tyest this on John Terry? Will he transform into a Usain Bolt like sprinter becauise of this? Surely Gareth Barry would wear suits made of this (remmeber him being done by Ozil WC 2010?). What is maximum power output here? Is it the power shown by leadership?

        All in all a pretty underwhelming kit in my view, much preferred this years version and my favourite was the ‘armour-plating’ look of 3 years ago (our Double winning kit). But as you might well gather I hate this utter marketing garbage in every sense. Are people that stupid that they believe this stuff?

        I guess I’m still ranting…..(see The Podding Shed Episode 10)

        • bluebayou

          It is strange thatf as western man becomes more afflicted by the increased levels of estrogens in the water supply (insert your own cock-a-mamy pseudo scientific theory here) and thus sports ever larger love-handles and man-boobs to accomapny the traditional beer gut, sportswear becomes ever tighter fitting. When will one of these companies be brave enough to kit out an an elite club with a tent style garment of the type last last seen on Demis Roussos?

          http://admin.ziarulring.com/images/upload/vedete/demis-roussos-sta-in-acelasi-apartament-in-care-a-stat-si-madonna-434×326.jpg

          Ah yes on the subject of ranting, while I am very graetful for the puffery you have provided for my painful whingings, can I beg that in future they are not referred to as “Churchillian”.

          For reasons of sentiment and perhaps political symapthy, I would rather they were aligned with Dennis Skinner ” The Beast of Bolsover”.

          Thank You.

          And a very fine episode it was indeed. The podderatti did however miss the chance to hear my impersonation of Al Pacino giving the inspirational speech in “Any Given Sunday”. (Which from their point of view was perhaps not a bad thing)

  • mark_25

    I notice that Season Ticket renewals are due for next season. Doesn’t say if Europa League games are included.

    • http://www.chelseafcblog.com Der_Kaiser

      I do hope the relevant profit and loss implications of this glaring omission have been considered!

  • Harry

    In case any
    director of Chelsea FC reading this blog,
    I draw his attention to a young successful manager currently at the helm of
    Brussia Dortmund football club. Jurgen Klopp’s credentials and his track
    records are worthy of scrutiny.

    • Ryan

      True but he’s already publicly stated that he wouldn’t be prepared to leave Dortmund for Chelsea. Got some really good players there too. Better than some of the dross currently traipsing around for us.

  • Blue_MikeL

    We have released not only player, but manager as well :-)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17688465 

  • GrocerJack

    Not given to promoting other chelsea sites but this is a very good, well thought out piece from a tweeter called Joe tweeds

    http://plainsofalmeria.co.uk/2012/04/10/kitchen-nightmares-the-chelsea-project/

    Check it out. Worthy stuff indeed.

    • Blue_MikeL

      According to Clive double posting of links on this blog considered to be a crime. This link has been posted by Danybrod 23 hours ago  :-)

      • GrocerJack

        Oh yeah……well Clive can step outside with me if he wants. Queensberry rules and all that …….

        • Blue_MikeL

          Are we talking about elitism? All bloggers are equal, but some are more equal?

          • GrocerJack

            Of course! We are merely emulating the reality of life!

          • Blue_MikeL

            I think about this blog as of a nice world of a very special community  :-)

        • Cunningplan

          I’m afraid Tony if I stepped outside with you, it will only go one way….. meet my friend. ;-)
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0-oinyjsk0

    • bluebayou

      *Cough*  See Dannybrod51 23 hours ago* Cough

      “methinks you have been to long i’ the shed”

      • GrocerJack

        You see, at first hand, a prime example of the perils associated with the extreme sport of Skim Reading. 

        It’s hard to get insured these days it’s so risky….

  • Blueboydave

    Now, now chaps, why are you squabbling amongst yourselves when there are much more deserving targets elsewhere.

    Just finished listening to the new Podding Shed. Another fine effort even though bereft of Dr. BB.

    Picking up on the finishing fourth and CL obsession debate again, “Big Ron” Gourlay made his latest building the brand demotivating quote to BBC Sport here last Friday:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17636344

    while the David James article I and others mentioned on Sunday is now up on the interweb:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/apr/08/champions-league-mediocrity-david-james

    for those who don’t buy the Observer.

    If we were trying to be very kind, and why should we, I suppose you might try to argue Big Ron was just trying to dampen expectations about the Barca game outcome, possibly?

  • NorthernVA

    Anelka has been added to the coaching staff for the Shanghai Shenhua. It’s good to see a former player using his skills acquired at CFC in the broader football world.

  • Cunningplan

    We don’t need any inspirational speeches ahead of our game with Rottenham, our team talk has just been given!  http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17695062

    • mark_25

       Who’s a cheeky monkey!

      • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

        King Kong?

        • Cunningplan

          If my memory serves me correctly, I think Mark was referring to a remark he made a while back that Bale looks like a chimp from Planet of the Apes.
          Although I didn’t comment on it at the time as I thought the racial overtones where unfair on the chimpanzee community, come on they are more intelligent and better looking than Bale. ;-)

  • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

    Wandered out to watch last night’s falloverfest between the two Madrid’s. To call it poor is being kind: more belly-flops than a kids swimming gala.

    The portugeezers around me seemed oblivious to the childish antics and it must be something that Iberian football just accepts. The ref ignored lots but gave not one card for simulation.

    Could this be the Spanish secret weapon?

    So, in preparation for our meeting with Barca, is there any chance that we’ll use the Wembley outing to practise staying on our feet, and passing to team-mates?

    Might just come in handy.

  • bluebayou
  • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

    Thanks for the clarification, and the images.

    There is indeed a striking resemblance, which brings a whole new meaning to the concept of having a ‘family tree’.

  • CELERY

    The Yoof are in a two-legged final v. Rovers, after holding the holders to 1-1 draw at the Bridge (3-2 on Agg).
    Great second half performance with Piazon getting a superb equaliser on 70 minutes.

    Plenty of pace and passion on display by the Yoof today.

    I only wish the first team can duplicate that on Sunday.

  • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

    Back in Blighty and all set for tomorrow’s dohdah.

    Recorded the two poos, but can’t really be bothered to watch it now, might just give MOTD a go instead.

  • Cunningplan

    The podding shed should be good tonight, just spend the whole hour taking the piss out of Spurs. ;-)

    • GrocerJack

      We’re delaying slightly this week until after Barca. If that goes as wrong as some may suspect then yes, we’ll rip the piss from Spurs for an hour.

  • limetreebower

    Looks like Mata’s back. Huzzah.

  • NorthernVA

    ‘Arry your boys took a hell of a beating! I bet Bale feels a bit embarrassed. Well hopefully the “Welsh Walcott” learned a lesson and will from hereforth keep his mouth shut on all matters CFC related. Woj Szczesny, Arsenal goalkeeper and expert on player power, you are officially notice. Chelsea Football Club the Pride of London. Never has a truer phrase been spoken.

  • Blue_MikeL

    Great WIN!!!

  • http://www.chelseafcblog.com Der_Kaiser

    Oh, my aching sides…

    It wasn’t over the line…

    MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

  • Harry

    all comotions and media spin to distort Chelsea win over Spurs!? check it out ball crossed the line. No one can claim that the ball stopped in the air till a spurs player get the chance to kick it out of goal.

    http://p.twimg.com/AqjDlIJCAAA8UI8.jpg:large

  • bluebayou

    This appears to be the origin of that close up. Is this really an official FA image? (It says it is from Getty Images) Well they’re now carrying it on the Beeb website while still claiming Atkinson made a mistake.

    http://www.101greatgoals.com/blog/new-picture-emerges-suggesting-chelsea-phantom-goal-v-spurs-did-cross-the-line/

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/

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