Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City – What’s the Point?

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Preamble

So, another unveiling; another bloke waving his arms on the touchline for a few months while he waits for his multi-million pound severance package; another round of arguments between those who think The Old Bloke Had To Go and those who think The New Bloke Is Going To be Worse, while those of us who only wish that Abramovich would stop acting like a particularly vile four-year-old and make his fucking mind up (like, you know, grown-ups and intelligent people do) wedge our hands under our bums and try to enjoy the experience of watching gifted players do their stuff.

I have my own opinions about our managers past, present and future, but really, what’s the point of airing them? What does it matter who’s directing the players when it’ll be someone else in less than a year?

We’ve got away with it since the José days for two reasons: first and most important, because Abramovich keeps pumping money into the club, thereby enabling us to buy bloody good players – and good players will always have a chance against less good ones, no matter who the manager is; and second, more subtly, because the core of the team José created was so ridiculously strong-willed that it could basically manage itself, as long as the new boss didn’t try imposing their own ideas (as both Scolari and Villas-Boas attempted to).

We’re not going to get away with it any more. There’ll be no repeat of last year, where we reverted to type half way through the season and fought and fluked our way to a magnificently implausible triumph. There’s no type to revert to any more. The type is playing out its twilight years in Shanghai, or heading off to Paris because it hates the English media for pointing out that it’s basically a complete dick. The type is gone.

The club’s future – brilliantly gifted footballers with their best years ahead of them – are not the sort to stick their chests out and decide to run the team on their own. They’re urbane, modest types, soft-spoken or non-Anglophone (or both). They need a manager to stay with them, work with them, direct them into a whole greater than the sum of its parts. They need to be able to develop in a coherent, planned, sustained fashion. What they don’t need is to be given a new set of instructions and a new way of working every six months (twelve if they’re lucky); to fall in and out of favour, to be asked to play different positions, to be first-choice one season and third-choice the next.

But that’s what they’re going to get, of course.

All we can do is enjoy watching them while they’re here. As for the bloke on the sidelines: forget him. Whether he’s earned our love, like Robbie, or our suspicion and contempt, as Mad Rafa has, there’s no point giving him any thought. There are managers out there who’d love to install an overarching vision at Chelsea, but – by definition – none of them are stupid enough to answer the phone if Abramovich’s spineless lackeys come calling. As Brendan Rogers so succinctly put it this time last year: “I’m trying to build my career, not destroy it.”

I’ll confine myself to reporting on events.

The Game

There were several loud choruses of “There’s only one Di Matteo” going around the ground as the players came out, and by “around the ground” I mean everywhere including the well-behaved and generally rather quiet Upper East Stand where I sit. As impressive as this show of feeling was, it was nothing compared to the furious booing which broke out when mic man and general club patsy Neil Barnett hurriedly mentioned Mad Rafa’s name. Clattenburg never got booed like that. Not even Ovrebo got booed like that. I’ve never heard anything like it. Barnett’s attempt to quiet the crowd to mark the death of Dave Sexton was drowned out by the booing: indeed, if it hadn’t been for the fact that the players were obviously gathering around the centre circle for some kind of minute’s silence/applause, I doubt whether the crowd would have let him speak at all.

Predictably, though, the manager was forgotten once the game started, bar a few rounds of “You’re not welcome here” from bits of the Matthew Harding stand, and the pre-arranged show of support for Robbie in the 16th minute.

It was immediately obvious that Cashley and Azpilicueta had been told to hold their position rather than make overlapping attacking runs, and that the midfield would line up in a bank of four when we didn’t have the ball.

The result: Citeh controlled possession with nonchalant ease, but without creating very many chances. Ramires and Obi impressed with their defensive work, and the back four looked very confident. But the hallmark of the team so far this season – the attacking interplay between the three behind Nando – was nowhere to be seen. When we had possession, Mata or Oscar or Hazard found anywhere between five and eight Citeh players in front of them, and with no outlets to the side they were easily dispossessed.

In the first half we managed one shot. One. And it was a free kick from somewhere in Shepherd’s Bush, which was moving about as fast as Mad Rafa at a gentle jog by the time it got through to Joe Hart.

Meanwhile, both Silva and Aguero missed free headers from short range; though, to be fair, Citeh otherwise had little to show for their obvious dominance. Dzeko was utterly invisible; he made Nando look positively threatening by comparison.

In the second half, Cashley and Azpilicueta were both allowed a little more leeway. The latter in particular started popping up in attacking positions on the right quite regularly. The game began to move a bit faster for a while, and we put together two or three decent attacking sequences.

Then, at around the 65th minute, both teams seemed to reach a collective agreement that a draw was probably fine and that they had more interesting things to think about.

And that was that.

In Credit

I’ve never been able to warm to Cashley, but he was excellent today. Azpilicueta also defended calmly and intelligently and looked another very good prospect. Branners made his usual case for being our first choice centre-half, while Crazy David was back to something like his form of the second half of last season. Obi – who’s quietly having his best season for Chelsea – was disciplined and efficient, and given that he was up against Yaya Touré and Silva you might have to make him our man of the match.

Dave Sexton. Before my time, but he deserved to be higher in everyone’s thoughts today.

Oh, and the ref was good.

Ho-Hum

Mata and Oscar were marked very tightly and never found enough options in attack to look dangerous. Hazard’s gone a little quiet for a month or two. Nando ran around energetically without seeing much of the ball; his close control will probably never come back but he got in plenty of good positions and had one decent chance which he struck with proper striker’s confidence and power, only letting himself down in the small matter of direction …

And Now

… everyone can start arguing about managers, based on selective evidence, personal bias, and absurd correlations between the chances and vagaries of a complex game played out by twenty-two people and the presence of one other man who stands or sits a few yards away, waving his arms about. Meanwhile, The Point will stroll quietly down the Fulham Road, missed by all and sundry.

Enjoy.

Press Reports

The Guardian, Daniel Taylor: “The mutiny was loud and sustained and, for Rafael Benitez, callous in its intentions. His team only sporadically threatened to lift the mood and Benitez’s first match as Chelsea’s manager will be remembered only for the vitriol that was waiting for him inside Stamford Bridge. Benitez should probably just be grateful that Manchester City were just as flat and uninspiring because goodness knows what kind of reaction there would have been if Roberto Mancini’s team had put away one of the game’s few chances.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “This was the first time that divorce papers were filed on the first date. As Rafael Benitez stepped out of the tunnel, Chelsea fans made venomously clear their total unwillingness to form any sort of relationship with this “interim first-team manager” who had replaced the popular Roberto di Matteo and who had derided those who keep the blue flag flying high during his Liverpool days. This was brutal.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “It was a quite remarkable response to the arrival of a new man at this or any club, one that had been brewing all afternoon and was delivered just seconds before kick-off when Benitez finally arrived by the side of the pitch. There had been banners and grumblings and talk of a protest but the moment that all the frustration came out was a spontaneous howl of anger.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Rafael Benitez’s reign as Chelsea interim manager saw the Blues and Manchester City play out a goalless draw, only the second occasion this season on which we’ve failed to score in the league.”

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  1. bluebayou

    Very good LTB.

    Does world-weary in a very world-weary sort of way that perfectly appeals to the world-weary. Certainly sums up where I find myself these days. When I’m not so world-weary that I can rouse myself to think about it.

    And that’s a very fine photo of Dave Sexton there too.

  2. WorkingClassPost

    So, alone with having the team that everyone loves to hate, we’ve now got the manager that we love to hate. It’s hard to imagine a more negative response unless we coaxed Plattini into club management.

    Agree that there’s no point in all this (cutting off noses to spite faces comes to mind here), but I feel there’ll be a few more displays of this nature unless he delivers something very special and very quick.

    On the positive side, we did improve after the half time team talk, so there must be some kind of understanding to work on.

    Wednesday should be interesting, but I guess that Rafa will be looking forward to a few away games for a bit of quiet.

  3. Cunningplan

    I’m no fan of Rafa’s type of football, especially the way Liverpool played under him. But in fairness what the team needed yesterday was one, try and keep a clean sheet, and two not lose, so he can’t, and shouldn’t be knocked for succeeding in that.

    We certainly looked a lot more organised and cohesive in defence, and if we can build on that, then perhaps our three amigos will be a little more free flowing and expressive in their football again. For all the booing which personally I think is fairly pointless, he’s likely to be gone in the summer with our next poor victim in the firing line for RA’s trigger finger.

    • Blueboydave

      Dear me, you have no future as a Chelsea board member if you adopt that kind of reasonable attitude, CP.

      As matters on the pitch were exceptionally dull as most have reported, my mind wandered to doing some compare and contrast:

      1) the official club announcement, repeated in the match programme that we have appointed “a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives” [note that “immediately”].

      2) the quotes from Mad Rafa after he finally got to meet with RA,  that what Roman wanted was to enjoy watching our games as we imposed our style of attack-minded football on the opposition.

      3) 1 feeble shot on target from long range after 35 minutes and a flurry of 4 or 5 other off-target efforts mostly in the 15 minutes after half- time when the defensive shackles were briefly removed and we looked as cavalier as we have all season.

      4) the apparent mis-match between 2 and 3 above, which suggest unless there is an “immediate” improvement on Wednesday we could be heading for our first 3-manager season quite swiftly.

      5) On the other hand, perhaps “our objectives” are really now just to accumulate enough points in any way whatsoever to scrape into next season’s CL when Guardiola will wave his magic wand and produce everything Roman wants instantly. Dream on!

      Incidentally, I have just looked at the Viagogo website: that’s the officially-sanctioned site where season ticket holders can sell their seat for individual games they are not attending.

      I’ve never looked at it before, so I genuinely have no idea if it is normal that just over 48 hours before our next home game there are currently almost 600 seats available to buy, with a choice from any part of the ground you fancy.

      Can anyone enlighten me if this is usual?

  4. Jmuballe

    The only positive i can take from the loud boos is that plastic fans with no strong feelings for the club wouldn’t do. So we have a lot of fans who take their club quite personally good. Can we move on now that anger has been vented.

    Great report. Mikel is becoming a real asset and think he will only get better under Rafa who seems to prize strength in central midfield.

    I thought we did well yesterday. Man City has a great squad; fantastic strickers and the excellent Yaya Toure to single out a few individuals. So a draw against them at a time of transition is good.

    The least a team out to do in sport as in business is not lose points or money in the case of business. From creating defensive stability and confidence we can then push forward and be sure that we strong enough in defense to hold onto a lead. Otherwise all the goals in the world will not be enough to help us win.

    Looking forward to Wednesday.

  5. bluebayou

    Just thought of something regarding the referee. While he was uncontroversial and could be said to have sensibly not wanted to dish out cards all over the place, it did help City more than us.

    The reason I say this is that, as with Juventus on Wednesday, the foul count was heavily with the opposition yet they had more of the possession. Playing on the break, particularly in the first half, Chelsea had what little threat they posed at times stifled by the traditional sharing around of the “professional” foul to stop any break that was in danger of getting beyond the first line of defence. If you have 4 or 5 players getting the trip in as and when necessary, it can be very successful if each of you avoid a yellow for the first couple.

    It is difficult for refs but they surely have the experience to spot the deliberate use of this tactic.

    I say this as a minor irritation, not as an excuse for not winning the game.

    And in his defence, while Hart saved from Cole and he awarded a goal kick, he did give Chelsea a goal kick in the first half when Azpi clearly deflected the ball out. So, curiously,  sometimes these things do even themselves out…….

  6. GrocerJack

    I will no doubt comment on o0ne point nfurther in the next podcast but………boo Benitiez as you see fit, but why no dissent towards the architect of all this? Roman Abramovich. He hires and fires and yet seems immune to any criticism.

    Are people scared of some sort of Polonium laced beverage episode should they dare to heap criticism on the man who hired Robbie when he didnt want him, fired him when most Chelsea fans didn’t want him to go, hired Rafa who a LOT but by no means most didn’t want. The man who hired the biggest con man of all in Avram Grant. Who promised AVB a project for 3 years but reneged on half way throught nhe first year. The man who introduced us to Hollywood signings like Shevchenko and now Torres.  

    Or does the trophy return soothe the fucking pain for the anti-Rafa mob. I’m just saying that I can’t see how hating Benitez and being angry at RDM departure can be divorced from Abramovich, or how he can be above any sort of fan reproach.

    I think I know what rank hypocisy smells like.   

    • Der_Kaiser

      Think you’ll find there are plenty of folk who are more than a little concerned at the way the club is being run at present; if Roman had taken to the dugout it may have been more apparent.  And people can surely be happy with winning trophies but disagree with aspects of the way the club is run?  It’s hardly a zero sum game.

      I’m probably one of the least partisan folk around in terms of football; most of it washes over my head as I find a lot of it pretty trivial, but the issue(s) around Benitez for me are very clear and twofold.  Firstly, it’s quite clear that he actively disliked the club during his tenure with Liverpool; some of this was Mourinho driven, but a lot wasn’t.  People find that difficult to forget and there is no reason why they should; call fans of any club plastic and passionless, slate some of the best players their fans have ever seen all you like, but to then turn up to manage their team and pretend that you didn’t hear them lift the proverbial roof off in protest is frankly pretty brainless.

      Secondly, and most importantly, he’s an example of what I’m going to ham-fistedly call the law of diminishing managerial returns.  The latest pursuit is obviously Guardiola; having chased Ancelotti around for two years and foolishly discarded him, we’re still picking up the pieces and are now reduced to hiring a guy whose recent CV says all we need to know.  Quite where we will be when looking for 2015’s interim manager is anyone’s guess, but the candidates will probably make Benitez look Sacchi in comparison.

      • PeteW

        I reckon by 2015 we’ll be giving everybody their second go, like a band reunion or something. 

        I did jokingly suggesting after the CL final that the future plan would be to give every ex-Chelsea player from the late-90s team a nine-month spell in charge – Wise, Poyet, Deschamps, Petrescu, Clarke can all have a go. At least they’re Chelsea. Nice little pension for them, and all. 

        • Blueboydave

          It doesn’t need too much of a leap to imagine we might get to your scenario a whole lot sooner.

          Catching up on Sky’s studio coverage after I got home yesterday I noticed their bookies’ list for next “permanent” appointment started with Guardiola, Mourinho and Hiddink. It’s not hard to imagine all three of those having the good sense to tell us to get lost as they pick from the many less-fevered offers they will all get.

          Assuming Boo-nitez will have fully demonstrated his uselessness by then and be out of favour for an extension, the list was down to Poyet, Clarke etc already.

        • Der_Kaiser

          Could be good earner commercially too; “I’m a Former Chelsea Player – Make Me the Manager!”

          If you’d like Frank LeBouef to take charge for the first 45 minutes of the Champions’ League home game against BATE Borisov, text ‘FRANK’ to 84215.  Texts cost £2.50 plus your usual network rate…

          • GrocerJack

            Why do I always see these after I’ve thought similar. Stranger things have happened……

            Back in the days of the Stones/Beatles/Zeppelin/Sabbath/Floyd/Purple…ect….if you’d suggested that the next huge star could happen from the popular vote of the proles, you’d have been laughed out of town.

            Then comes X-factor…..don’t get me started…

  7. GrocerJack

    Oh, and on yesterday. Defensive far more sound. Branners and Crazy David were excellent yesterday as was Ash and the other ‘Dave’.

    But what a dull game. I jumped from my seat once in the first half and twice in the second. On the seat jumping sclae that is the lowest for years. In the end it smelt like two teams too scared to conceded and therefore too scared to venture into the land of scoring a goal. I’m glad it wasn’t this game I took my nephew too for his first game or he’d be likely pursuing an interest in big peanut hugging.

  8. PeteW

    Don’t see the problem here Tony.

    I hate Benitez, I like Roman. I don’t agree with everything he’s done, but I’m not going to abuse a man who has invested £1 billion in the club while taking nothing back. That also doesn’t mean I have to meekly accept every decision he makes, and it should be fairly clear to anybody – Roman included – that booing Benitez is a pretty strong implicit criticism of the people that hired him.
    Nobody wants Roman to leave; a lot of people want Benitez to leave. Now we can be sure that Roman and the board are aware of the strength of the fans feelings here, which was woefully unappreciated by the media (as ever, they don’t ‘get Chelsea because there’s no value in us). It’s a delicate balance but not a complicated one. If the club has crossed the line here – which many supporters seem to feel – there is nothing wrong (and certainly nothing ‘classless’ as opposition fans were insisting, whatever the fuck that means) in letting people know about it. 

    As for the crappy football, that’s what Rafa does. And it’s another reason why fans don’t want him. 

    • GrocerJack

      I guess I’m different then. name calling/perceived slurs are in the area I class as childish to do, but equally childish to continue crying about. I guess I think people should man up. I’m not trying to insult people either, but I do find some of the flak i’ve taken because……

      a.) I think Roman is to blame for the entire fiasco
      b.) Benitez just took a job he was offered (wow massive crime there)
      c.) People change, so tarring him with the brush of unwise words said 5 years ago when managing a rival doesn’t necessarily stand today. His PR skills may just have been crap. Liverpool mas a club are hardly experts in PR. And when it comes to PR. Chelsea, including our fans are hardly role models.
      d.) My own views change from time to time as I learn more things and sometimes I (shock, horror) change my mind from a view I took previously. Quite handy for jurors that trait.
      e.) Apparently independent thought isn’t allowed. So I get called ‘drama queen’ for my anger at RDM being sacked and disloyal for not hating Benitez.
      f.) I’m plastic (how fucking insulting is that to me after 42 years of unswerving support and thousands spent? Yet do I cry?) because i refuse to succumb to the group-think mentality that exists in football (and now worryingly society)

      ………..is puerile, nasty, vindictive and unnecessary.

      Some of our own fans constantly shove the ‘plastic’ jibe at their own fans. And that’s OK? In the word crime society having someone who is a member of your ‘family’ call you that is way above someone else from outside in my view. And yet others just sit back and watch this inter-fan abuse happen meekly saying nothing. 
       
      Luckily I’m thick skinned, but it does make me question whether I can be arsed with it all anymore. Writing. commenting, attending, podding……Seriously, why would anyone be passionate or care about their club if all it leads to is utter contempt from faceless cowardly internet/social networking trolls. or as I like to call them. CUNTS? Something I’d happily call to their face before anyone asks.

      And how about some consistency. I note no-one seems to bothered by SAF’s outrageous attack on the club yesterday suggesting fabrication of evidence in the Clattenburg row. Not even the FA seem unduly bothered by what appears to me to be clear disrepute. or is it fine to attack the club and name of CFC but not the major part of that club which is the fans. Surely that’s a far bigger slur on us. It seems to me the collective sensitivity of the fans is akin to the skin of a freshly peeled baby in a bag of salt at selective times. Hypothetical of course, but I wonder what the reaction would have been if SAF or Wenger had been unveiled?

      RDM was doomed, so where else could they go? Any other managers available? Hmmm…can’t see any others that would be able to take such a high pressure role so quickly. Oh …hang on….there’s an ex-Barca coach on sabbatical in NYC…….doesn’t anyone find it odd he’s not interested right now? I mean it couldn’t be because he’s a flake could it?

      • Nick

        Tony – It seems like you’re letting the Twitter mob get to you (one thing to be thankful to Twitter for, is that they’ve drawn out the pus that used to infect the comments on here). I can’t see anywhere on the blog where someone has been less than reasoned in their arguments against the appointment of Benitez.

        Remaining passionate and sticking to your views is the best way to get back at the internet trolls, the cunts, the more unreasonable elements among a football club’s support. As the old adage goes – don’t let the bastards grind you down.

        You big drama queen.

        By the way, you’re so wrong about Benitez. Ho ho ho.

      • PeterW

        Apologies if I have caused any offence, but I think you have misjudged quite badly the almost universal anger at the fact Rafa went out of his way to insult us, the fans. Attack our club – has Fergie does regularly – and we can ignore it, but Benitez went too far, then took our money and still hasn’t conceded we have a right to be displeased. So yes, you can ‘man up’ if you like, but 40,000 people on Sunday felt very differently on a key matter of principle and that isn’t going to change overnight or get argued away.

        • GrocerJack

          You haven’t caused me offence Pete. I don’t mind rational well argued debate. But that is lacking on Twitter. The nature of 140 character limits I suppose. I enjoyed twitter once but now find it the cyber equivalent of pitchforks and burning candles. Still I know the choice ahead of me on that front.

          I’ll dip out of this debate here. My views won’t change and life’s too short too keep debating endless points in order to justify something that just happens to be the way i feel am.

          If ther atmosphere stays like it was on Sunday, I can see me and Viagogo striking up quite the warm friendship. And I mioght even be a grand better off next year which could help me afford the odd Rolling Stones gig or similar….£400 for a conceert….really Mick?

    • Jmuballe

       PeteW, unfortunately there are those who are calling for Roman to leave, which i think is odd.

      On whether it is classless to boo, i have a different view. While i agree with fan’s rights to express their displeasure, i think there is something classless about making our home ground more hostile than away grounds.
      We must think about unintended consequences; by investing so much energy in opposing Rafa, we do not spare much for the boys in blue.

      I’ve seen comments by fans who would rather see us relegated and have rafa leave as a result than see us succeed now that he is hired. I would say that’s pretty classless

  9. PeteW

    The CPO was another case in point – it’s important to show Roman every now and then that the fans do have at least a little power. That doesn’t mean we want to drive him out of our club. It’s hardly the same case as, say, the Glazers, who United fans occasionally agitate against, usually when the team is going through a bad patch. 

    Roman’s account is pretty massively in credit with us, whereas Rafa is as close to an enemy as it is possible to get. He doesn’t respect us, and now he knows very well that we don’t respect him. Just because Roman is paying him doesn’t change our feelings. It would be hypocritical to act otherwise. 

  10. bluebayou

    What a lot of folks outside of Chelsea and some within can’t seem to grasp is that a football crowd, or indeed any crowd, is not the place to look for nuanced interpretations of current events. Let’s be fair, you can watch an hour of supposedly “quality” news coverage on the TV and come away with little other than “he said”, “she said” , a dozen cliches and barrow load of spin.

    Yet down at the Bridge on a wet Sunday 40 odd thousand are supposed to project a mature response to the death of a significant figure from the past, their irritation or worse with the current owner’s latest decisions (but crucially not the current owner himself) and the majority’s understandable dislike for the new manager, while taking in a game of football at the same time.

    There are plenty of badly written 500 page novels which fail to convey even half that complexity, yet joe average is supposed to get that all on a bed sheet or something smaller.

    And if you did it would be ignored by the media who want everything in black and white to fit in a tabloid headline.

    And football is part pantomime, part circus and is being asked to shoulder a lot of moral and ethical baggage that wider society itself is barley able to address in it’s major institutions.

    There are serious issues and problems, no one can ignore that. And yes there’s going to be some depressing internecine warfare for months to come. But I am taking no notice of anyone who starts berating fans for expressing a view. When a gooner and a spammer started with the “your lot were a disgrace, what a way to welcome your new manager, no class” cobblers the shrift they received was short. And when another comment was started with the immortal line “On Talk Radio… ” you know you’re in the right. Because the day a Talk radio phone becomes my moral compass, there’s a revolver in the desk drawer…..

    And booing a well paid professional who has elected to take what he knows is an unpopular posting, whether you agree with it happening or not, is a long way down the ladder from the nonsense at White Hart Lane and the media, so keen recently to lecture us on morality should perhaps focus on that.

    • Jmuballe

       While i agree with you, i also expect fans support for the team on the field to outweigh their grievance to a manager.

  11. Fat Nakago

    The cynicism has reached, not epic proportions, but it’s on the verge of breaking through the metaphorical equivalent of a glass ceiling with a resounding shatter. The only thing that keeps it from breaking though is that it stops to contemplate it’s pretty image reflected in that glass, and backs away, and the sound of it’s falling back to earth now is very much like a muted chorus of boos.

    What’s the point? Well, at the moment there is no point really, and that in and of itself is a point. And there we all lie in a meadow of concepts of zero, looking up at the our reflection in the sky, barely able to hope for the best. One more concept of zero in an seemingly endless swarms of concepts of zero.

    But you know what? If Chelsea gets back to their winning ways, guess how many concepts of zero will matter to me?

    That’s right. ZERO!

  12. Agh57

    I wasn’t anti-Rafa just because he managed Liverpool. If it was just that I could have accepted it. His previous comments about Chelsea fans appear to be without precedent (as others have indicated) and it is those that put me off him.

    Do we think Roman, Gourlay et al agonised for weeks about whether his appointment was appropriate given his past comments? I thought not. To me that shows a certain element of contempt towards our own supporters.

    It would have made it better, if he’d at least come out and gave some sort of apology. Blamed it on the heat of the moment, that sort of thing. But instead he attempted to justify it and then finished by saying that two of the club’s longest serving players would be off in the summer. Even if this is to be the case, there’s no reason to bring this up in his first press conference as it had no relevance to the issues being discussed.

    I didn’t enjoy watching the game yesterday knowing that I really didn’t want the manager we had in charge. I didn’t even feel this bad under Grant too be honest.

  13. TrueBlue 007

    Personally I think Rafa is a good selection for us as our interim manager until Pep signs for next season. I don’t like him but I think he will steady the ship and get us to finish in the top four. Plus, who else was there? Mark Hughes? 

    Let’s get behind Rafa and make sure we qualify for champs league next season. Then bring on Pep and his brand of tica taka footie. 

    • Jmuballe

       I agree with you. As much as we have been making strides towards playing more attacking football, we have lost a lot of our structure discipline, which could have been costly. I think Rafa will do well in getting us to be more disciplined and attacking.

      The man has a lot to prove and i hope for our team’s sake he is successful.

      For those who say he insulted us, your point is well taken. But remember the circumstances were inflamed by our then manager.

      • WorkingClassPost

        Good point about the supporters.

        When we had players (DD etc) not performing in past, fans said that they’re professionals and should do their best for the club, whatever their grievance, yet now, those same fans want to be selective in who they support and why.

        After he’s left, we can say what we like about him, and if he doesn’t deliver, we most certainly will, but for now, surely we support him because it’s our team, and he’s our manager.

        Like the old saying goes, “You can chose your friends, but not your family” and none of us is in a position to chose our manager, so I guess that like it or not, this guy’s family now.

        • Jmuballe

            Funny, i don’t like Rafa either but i’d rather ignore him and cheer for my team than unintentionally demotivate our players.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Sorry, but I’d take issue with that because it’s simply not true.

        As much as the needle between Mourinho and Benitez was fairly toxic, Mourinho didn’t go out of his way to insult Liverpool’s fans which is what Benitez did to us.  Quite pointedly, in fact.  No fan of booing those on your own team, but his dismissal of it shows exactly why he’s so unpopular here.

  14. WorkingClassPost

    Couple of things to add here.

    First is that one of our biggest problems since Jose, has been managers who let the media and everything else, get to them.

    This was very clear with AVB and then Robbie, who both were doing fairly well (in Robbie’s case, very well) then, for whatever reason, they felt they needed to change following an unjustified result or two. 

    Whatever else we say about Rafa, he must have the skin of a rhinoceros to take the job, and then not appear to care about the reaction. I even saw him smiling in one interview, so he either really is mad or he thinks that we are, probably a little truth in both arguments. 

    We need a tough hombre, so, should Rafa apologise? 

    Not sure what his being nice at this stage of the season’s gonna do for us. If he lifts PL title in May, and says ‘This is for the fans’, that’ll do nicely.

    And Pep is not an automatic choice either. He has previously stated that he’d like to manage in Brazilian football, and the biggest side of all is looking for a manager to take them into WC 2014. 

    Pep is their first choice by all accounts, so we might have more time with our newest managerial acquisition than we might otherwise have expected.

  15. Chelsea FC in Australia

    I dont thinking booing anyone will help us in the end.
    He is here now and nothing we can do about it, so might as well get behind he team and hopefully get some trophies! (not too many trophies so Rafa gets an extension though)
     

  16. Cunningplan

    I just wonder how the players will eventually react if the fans continually boo Rafa especially if they bust a gut in wanting to play for him. I’m sure they’ll know it’s not directly aimed at them but they might just see it as an indirect attack which will eventually affect their performance.

    As I’ve said I don’t like Rafa, I think the man is a twat, but we’re stuck with him until the end of the season, and whatever he’s said about the fans or club in the past, I’ll take the grown up view and put name calling in the realms of childish nonsense. We coped with Grant for the time he was with us and I view his manipulation of Roman in engineering Jose’s exit from our club, far more heinous in the grand scale of things.

  17. PeteW

    I really doubt the booing will continue as it is clearly counter-productive, but I’m glad it happened. It was an instant outpouring of emotion, passion and resentment by a usually impotent fanbase and I like that. But Rafa is a decent enough manager and will pick up points, so we can ignore him. 
    I am going on Wednesday and won’t boo. But the animosity will never go away.It’s worth recalling that Ranieri was serenaded by chants of ‘Vialli’ for at least two years, and I think Benitez will similarly be ignored in favour of pro-RDM chants. Not sure about Rafa being thick skinned, I always thought Fergie had him hooked good and proper. Every manager we’ve had since Ranieri has got the better of Fergie’s boring banter, either by being a lot funnier (‘I’m more scared of bird flu’) or by simply ignoring the silly man. Rafa, we know, won’t be able to do that and Fergie will take pop after pop. 

      • PeteW

        I just remember it came out of nowhere. 

        That was a strong Liverpool side, even if we did dismantle them 3-1 at Anfield (probably the greatest all-round performance from a Chelsea side I’ve seen). They blew up badly and never really recovered. 

        • Der_Kaiser

          Beat us and United home and away and only lost twice in the league that season.  Think they only won about 2 of 7 or 8 games after he ranted about Fergie (one of them being against us), United went on their traditional New Year run and that was that.

          The only caveat Benitez had in his favour was that he was stuck with Hicks and Gillette who had fallen out by then.  Think he wanted cash that they wouldn’t give him for a couple of players, from memory.

          • Cunningplan

            I think you could add another caveat in his favour with regard his rant, there was certainly an element of truth in some of things he said about Taggart.
            Perhaps Liverpool should have shown him the Kevin Keegan clip after Fergie got to him, in how not to react.

          • bluebayou

            It’s quite difficult to do humour in another language and that was something Mourinho managed quite well. Looking at that now I think had it been done in a lighter tone it would have had a slightly different impact as plenty of what he says ridicules Ferguson (and rightly so).

            It wasn’t a Keegan losing the plot rant I don’t think. But because he couldn’t get the inate sarcasm across it failed.

            And of course once you even acknowledge any of Fergie’s nonsense you have to win or be condemned to the rant bin where you spend eternity listening to Keggy losing it big style.

          • Der_Kaiser

            It was all a little too ‘victim’ for me which he’d done on a few occasions with us – doubly odd because they weren’t due to play United (who had games in hand but were 8 points off), were top of the league and going very well.  I think it’s the point where people maybe questioned his judgement – difficult to know the mind of a footballer (and not sure I’d want to), but if you were Carragher or Gerrard and had been around for long enough, you’d have surely looked at that and thought ‘uh-oh…’?

  18. Dylbo Baggins

    I went out for dinner with some friends tonight and I swear every waiter looked like a certain bald fat Spanish man.

    On another note, the duck was lush!

  19. Cunningplan

    I will also add with the caveat JD mentioned with having him put up with Hicks and Gillette which must have been a bloody nightmare. But I happen to think that them not allowing him anymore cash to buy players was correct, considering how many millions he had and the crap he bought.

    So it has to be a plus that he doesn’t have control on who we buy, if we do buy come January.

    • Der_Kaiser

      He bought some duds; I think he (or whoever) wanted Alves plus one other but got Keane when he didn’t want him – season after was when he got overall control and really blew it.


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