Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea – The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

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The Preamble

Late Saturday night our Dear Leader, Nick emailed me to kindly ask if I fancied doing a match report for the City game. Just a year ago I would have willingly accepted such a chance to exercise the literary grey cells for such a prestigious game.

But after a few minutes thought I sadly had to answer no. One very good reason was my prearranged golf game which I needed to win in order to avoid a match series defeat. The other key reason was my own current level of apathy and disinterest in everything Chelsea.

I played a very competitive game but in the end was overcome by a man on top of his game who ruthlessly exploited my every error. A shame but I lose this series with head held high, and now go 3-2 down in the series of series. I competed. I fought. I never gave in.

I only ever ask the same of Chelsea, but this fight has all but disappeared from the team. So instead of a match report I will discuss the current malaise surrounding the club, from the owner to the fans and areas in between.

If you want a match report, you’ll find very good ones at the BBC website and many others. If you want to read the thoughts of a man venting his spleen… then read on.

Here Goes the Spleen…

Where to start? This feels like I’m a forensic scientist picking over the corpse after its unexpected and sudden death. But the patient isn’t dead yet, so perhaps I’m more the palliative care nurse, watching helplessly but compassionately as the patient rallies and fades as the inevitable demise looms.

Chelsea Football Club is ill. Very ill. But although the diagnosis is serious it isn’t necessarily terminal. There is still hope for the club to remain a decent competitor, to cross swords with others in search of great prizes. But it needs treatment and radical treatment in my view.

The rot is set through the upper echelons of the club, extending its shadow of bleakness across the playing staff and through to the fans, every day spreading its insidious toxic fog a little deeper into the performances of the players and into the spirit, trust and faith of the supporters. Of course I still use that quaint old term ‘supporter’ because I believe any successful club needs the level of blind unfettered devotion they supply in order to survive and hopefully prosper. These are the people who buy the tickets, spend the money in the ground, and buy the programmes and the merchandise. They spread the word, they evangelise, they agonise, they adore, and they love the club. But we’re no longer supporters in the eyes of Chelsea Football Club.

No, you see in the eyes of Fat Ron and the board, including the demon Abramovich we’re not supporters. They don’t want supporters.

They want customers.

They want customers to spend money. They want to build the ‘brand’ like typical vile money men and marketeers. The brand brings the loyalty, not the team. Not the football. Not the passion. Results will help of course, but the new world of the casual supporter, resplendent in their fancy dress, adorned with the loathsome friendship scarves means there is far more passing casual football tourism going on. Come and experience the atmosphere of a real English football match is the brand mantra. Except that the ‘supporters’ that stubbornly remain are an ageing band of ne’er do-wells, male-oriented and increasingly confused by the changing world around them. The supporters have finite matchday resources as they attend regularly, so invariably spend less each game. The football tourist customer may go to handfuls of games a season, maybe even just the one. They may take their family which is admirable. That may initiate the youngsters into the excitement of football. But only if the excitement exists and at Chelsea the excitement factor barely has a pulse. The atmosphere is not toxic as some describe. It is non-existent. Games are almost observed in dinner party style near silence, the murmur of the watchers occasionally rising to nearly audible levels. Shut your eyes and you could be in a busy Harvester. A toxic atmosphere means something interesting is occurring, a good atmosphere means the crowd is happy, but the dull levels we currently experience indicate that the supporters have been ground down into an apathetic mental mincemeat. The customers on the other hand watch their football, see some famous players, take some photos and then disappear after the game. Some may even know the result.

It’s all about passing trade and maximising the matchday revenue opportunities.

Since we sold our collective souls to the Devil that is Roman Abramovich, we’ve seen the good times. Riches and trophies only ever dreamt of have arrived with regularity. Until now we’ve accepted the managerial merry-go-round as a sign of Abramovich trusting in some sort of chaos theory to deliver results. And results have been delivered. It started with l’enfant terrible of football, Jose Mourinho. He came in, he saw, he changed everything, he conquered. The press loved him then hated him. Other coaches either loved him or hated him. He was Marmite. You couldn’t feel apathetic towards him. The press smears soon took hold and everything about him was box office. A criticism of medical facilities at Reading, criticism of referees, criticism of the press. It all added up and eventually Abramovich decided Mourinho was too big a liability and sacked him. It wasn’t the liability issue in truth, but more likely the fact that Mourinho was box office stuff. And he was the bigger name. The fact that Mourinho attained this as part of his fortress mentality was irrelevant. He was upstaging Abramovich and the club in general. Abramovich had already undermined him by appointing an utter conman as Director of Football (Avram Grant). Then he humiliated him a bit more with Hollywood signings Ballack and Shevchencko. One worked and worked very well. The other was already in the knacker’s yard. Mourinho recognised this but persevered, to no avail. Even he couldn’t work the miracle of resurrection with Sheva’s career.

Since then we’ve veered between coaches with dizzying speed. Grant was appointed and everyone knew this was a huge fraudulent act on Grant’s behalf. Everyone except the dictator at the helm of the club. Scolari followed, Hiddink fought the fires left by Scolari but knew he wasn’t a long-term option. Abramovich then captured his coveted target, the much-loved Carlo Ancelotti who delivered a thrilling double in his first year, only to be ejected the following year having failed to win a trophy with an underpowered squad. In fairness Ancelotti didn’t cover himself in glory by remaining largely silent over the sacking of Wilkins but that aside, he had been hung out to dry by the club. Andre Villas-Boas followed, then Roberto Di Matteo, one sacked for sticking to his coaching guns, the other because he shouldn’t have been given the job anyway despite winning the FA Cup and the coveted Champions League.

And now we have the coach the supporters didn’t want. Now I’ll be honest and say I didn’t despise Benitez. I couldn’t care less about the alleged (and bollocks) previous slurs he was said to have made on Chelsea. But time had dimmed my memory of just how mediocre he really was at Liverpool. The point is, the club, the hierarchy of power, in reality Abramovich alone, knew how the bulk of the fans felt about RDM and Benitez. And yet, with utter contempt for the supporters (not the customers) they sacked a loved one and appointed the hated one. I say ‘they’ but mean ‘he’. The collective ‘they’ is a fictional construct reflecting the board. The board are a collective of frauds, charlatans and yes-men, lining their pockets with money from the fans whilst not giving a shit about them. Fuck ‘em, they’re just customers. Customers are the king. Unless of course you are selling to them in which case you make them think that whilst you smile and rob them blind.

Now we have seen how Benitez has ‘improved’ us. We’re out of the Champions League (yes, RDM’s issue in reality), but failed to get the League Cup final after two of the most dismal semi-final ties we’ve ever seen. We lost the World Club Cup final to a team who would barely beat QPR on a normal day. Of course, we need to bear in mind we failed to beat QPR this season as well. One of the select few that failed in fact. Aren’t we lucky? When we sacked RDM we were four points off the top. We’re now 19 points behind United. That alone is disgraceful. The press to my knowledge have yet to ask the fat fraud Ron Gourlay how this is better than before. How has this made our objectives for the season more achievable?

RDM: 12 games/24 points.

FSW: 16 games/25 points.

Even the Ministry of Truth would have trouble spinning that as better. But of course the Ministry of Truth has already done some work. For those who don’t know they’ve already replaced the team photo outside Stamford Bridge of the Champions League winners with a new one where Robbie Di Matteo has been airbrushed out. If that doesn’t smack of a despotic paranoia and rewriting of history then what does? Did I think RDM was the man for the future? I was undecided, but I do know he deserved better treatment, the chance to rectify a blip, and he damn well deserves to be enshrined in Chelsea history for ever. That one act of picture removal is shameful, despicable, underhanded and utterly cowardly. I’m ashamed of the club and everything it portrays at the moment.

Since Rafael Benitez took the helm, Aston Villa aside, we have delivered a sterile brand of tippy-tappy, slow, ineffective, dull football. It’s as if Benitez is having the longest piss over the Chelsea fireworks ever. Of course for Benitez it’s a great move as I’ve alluded to before. He’s in the limelight doing what he (and others) would describe as an impossible job. He can fail and blame the culture of the club and claim he did a decent job. This may not be far from the truth. Let’s face it better than him have come and gone after working for this utter lunatic asylum of a club.

I think he’ll go post-season, and before the season ticket renewals are due. But the damage is done for many ‘supporters’. My own @GrocerJackUK Twitter timeline is full of people saying they’ll not renew. In honesty, I’m in the same place. £1000 on a season ticket could be well spent on so many other things. That makes me sad. Supporters are being marginalised and frozen out as the club attracts new customers. Who knows, we may be pioneers of a new relationship between clubs and fans. I won’t be part of it though.

The Solutions

You might not like these, but for me they are now necessary if we are to gain any respect and dignity associated with the name of Chelsea Football Club. Yes, the community schemes are nice and worthy and good, but in truth nobody knows about them. Or probably cares. Good news doesn’t sell. We are a laughing stock of a club, currently making notable basket case clubs like Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham and Liverpool look like paradigms of serenity and calm.

The first thing is to sack Benitez and sack him now. Yes it makes us look mad, but only in the sense that it’s just another mad irrational act from an off the scale lunatic anyway. Forgotten in a few days, they could go back to Hiddink for another temporary hand on the tiller until the season’s end and the precious mammon of fourth place is achieved.

Then replace Emenalo with Hiddink.

Then in the summer recruit Mourinho to come back and rebuild the fortress and restore our former formidable reputation.

Then sack Gourlay and employ a proper CEO who knows the football business. As in knows football. And also knows business. That Peter Kenyon chap seemed to know a bit about both.

Then Roman, walk away. Sell the club. Move away from everything Chelsea. I trust you to sell to the right people but your time is done. You’ve used us to gain the respectability you crave. It’s time to move on and let new money, new ideas and new visions to set the club’s strategy. Yes, Roman, strategy. All top ‘businesses’ have it. Lots of top clubs have it. Even Arsenal have it. You don’t though, and whilst you don’t then neither does the club outside of building the brand and attracting revenue.

Those actions won’t fix it immediately, but would send us on the way to where we should be and should have been since that fateful day in 2007 when you sacked the best manager we ever had.

I’m a ‘supporter’. This club has been in my blood for 42 years. I’ve cried for it. I’ve cried with despair and joy for it. I want to die one day doing the same. What I don’t want is to shuffle off this mortal coil in hopefully 30 odd years with a dim and distant memory of something I used to care about which ultimately in one mad 12 month period discarded me and everything I stood for.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High.

Press Reports

The Guardian, Jamie Jackson: “As United coast past their latest obstacle – as they did in the 2-0 win at QPR – City continue to scramble results and appear nothing like the threshing machine of last season. They had to survive a rare Frank Lampard miss from the penalty spot – courtesy of Joe Hart’s save – before Yaya Touré and Carlos Tevez confirmed a deserved win against a Chelsea side that lacked fluency.”

The Daily Telegraph, Chris Bascombe: “Lampard, normally so reliable from the spot, saw his well struck kick pushed away. City then piled on the pressure and deservedly took the lead thanks to a brilliant individual goal by Toure as he danced his way through a packed Chelsea defence and side-footed past Cech on 63 minutes. A superb second from Tevez late on completed an accomplished second half performance.”

The Independent, Ian Herbert: “Eden Hazard and Frank Lampard didn’t afford the manager so much as a cursory glance when, justifiably on the basis of their contributions, he substituted them. None of his players, in fact, displayed stomach for a fixture bereft of the edge it has carried in recent seasons, when the nation’s two most moneyed clubs have collided with impact.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “In a game that sprung to life after a first half of limited opportunities, Chelsea were left to rue a saved Frank Lampard penalty when Yaya Toure gave the home side the lead soon after. Substitute Carlos Tevez sealed the result with a late strike.”

Goals

63′ Yaya Tore 1-0
85′ Tevez 2-0




There are 89 comments

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  1. GrocerJack

    “But although the diagnosis is serious it’s necessarily terminal” – 

    I was tired when I wrote this – it should say

     But although the diagnosis is serious it isn’t necessarily terminal”

  2. Vik Sohonie

    Amen, Tony.  You can usually tell there’s going to be open heart surgery when you see your byline on an article.  For someone who’s been bleeding blue longer than I’ve been alive to feel this level of disillusionment and apathy is truly telling and this team has been bled dry. I’ve given up even trying to articulate to family, friends and rival fans how soulless we’ve been left with everything that’s happened this season. 

    “For those who don’t know they’ve already replaced the team photo outside Stamford Bridge of the Champions League winners with a new one where Robbie Di Matteo has been airbrushed out.” 
    I saw a picture of a man on a crane tampering with this photo, but this is outstandingly pathetic and stinks of a company – not a club – a company run by lunatics with some sort of social disorder.  I worked for a company that shall go unnamed that would remove plaques, photos etc of its long-serving veterans who it chose to sack unceremoniously for truly asinine reasons. The boss of said company was also a despotic lunatic. I left that company post haste. Others I know are now following suite. Are we to expect something similar at Chelsea if nothing changes? 

    On a more on-field related note, it is a terrible sight to see a man lose his already frail mind, but today we just witnessed Rafa lose the plot and every literary device possible. The man has no future in football. I sometimes wonder if Mourinho really is the panacea.  There is so much more than just the manager that needs to change. 

    There is no plan, no grand goal, nothing.  We take it as it comes, laugh now cry later – a terrible way of doing things. As they say, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.  And we’re truly on our way! 

  3. Chris

    You’ve captured, precisely and poignantly, exactly how I feel about the club at the moment. I was 8 years old when I watched Chelsea beat Leeds in the 1970, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ll always remain one. But I feel taken advantage of. Someone — Roman, the people around him — substituted the best interests of the club for its market value and global brand. What a fucking waste.

    • Sei Array

       “Roman, the people around him — substituted the best interests of the club for its market value and global brand.”

      I wonder if these focktards realize that in process of doing this, they’ve pretty much devalued and destroyed the value of that brand. Reduced Chelsea to the level of a donkey basketball team. How the fock do they expect actually make value from what they’ve done? I don’t know. You tell me.

  4. Day Tripper

    Lots of thought provoking stuff here. One thing I would say regarding Grant is that I always assumed that Abramovic appointed him so that he, Abramovic, could manage the team by proxy. I don’t see a man such as Abramovic being conned by a clown like Grant. Grant was not only totally malleable but he could also speak Russian, so very precise instructions could be give him.

    I went to my first match in 1965, chose Chelsea as my club because my other primary school mates also supported Chelsea. We could walk to the ground from where we lived. I loathe the idea of a football club being referred to as a ‘brand’ or a ‘franchise’ – which is semantically incorrect anyway. Times have moved on since the sixties and supporters come from far and wide – even worldwide – but it is still a community, a gathering of people who know each other, who chat about the game pre-match and post-match, even on blogs like this. Once this is gone the soul of the club has gone. Much as I’ve loved all the success since 2003, I am worried that this is happening,

    But I’m still not sure where Abramovic stands on all of this. He uses the club as his plaything, almost like a mistress – it would be a fickle one – but is he really trying to convert the club into a business? He was on record as saying in 2003 that if he had wanted merely to make money, there were plenty of easier ways of doing it than owning a football club. Clearly what he doesn’t like is losing and the team is doing a fair bit of that at the moment.

    For what it’s worth, I thought that yesterday’s performance was not so unexpected. Less than 3 days after a Europa cup game, we were always going to be a bit jaded, and that showed right from the kick off. Taking Hazard off, and leaving Ramires on was bizarre, but Lampard had had a poor game in my view and that is nothing to do with the missed penalty, which was just a mixture of bad luck and good goalkeeping.

    There are things to look forward to. Piazon gives a good account of himself for Malaga; Lukaku shines for WBA – why, oh why wasn’t he recalled? – a young Nigerian performs excellently in the ACN; Chalobah gets rave reviews from none other than Gianfranco Zola. So all is not darkness

    • Franco's Bruvva

      Great post. I started following Chelsea from a distance aged six when my dad suggested I support them as we watched the 1967 Cup Final in black and white on Irish TV. I followed the Blues through the newspapers, kept clippings of mTch reports, listened to Sport on 2. Back then in rural Ireland we could.not get UK tv and there was hardly any football on TV.

      Times have changed and cheap flights allow me to realise a dream and follow Chelsea every week web though I live in Ireland.

      You’re right it is a community. My Chelsea friends are mostly English-based but I have friends from many countries, many UK expats but not all. – who follow online a d by occasional visits.

      Football is about the supporters. Sadly our club hierarchy seems to have forgotten that. Heroes like Wilkins and Di Matteo cruelly removed, people we despise brought in, greats like Lampard and Terry disrespected.

      I was at Citeh on Sunday. A grim day because team and supporters alike were flat. Our hearts weren’t in it.

      This season cant end soon enough but will the top man see sense? The omens are not good.

  5. mark_25

    Nice article Tony and can understand why you feel this way.

    Even though I’m currently frustrated with our performances I don’t feel the same however.

    You’re right to point out that football is a business and no longer just a club with loyal members.  I don’t know exactly when football transitioned from a club to a business but it was probably before I was born.  Clearly though the business angle has dramatically accelerated since the creation of the Premier League with revenue streams being generated from every possible physical and intellectual property available.  Of course fans moan about this but it’s these very same fans who draw up their summer wish lists of wanted players costing zillions to purchase and millions to feed.  If there’s no ‘business’ how do these acquisitions get funded.  Usually these same fans also want a welfare state with low taxation and 50p burgers without horse meat.  Sometimes things go hand in hand.

    All clubs are now businesses so I don’t feel any angst about our club.  Personally I feel Roman is the owner least worried about a capital gain at his club. All he wants is exciting players to titillate him and win.  Sounds more like a fan than a businessman to me!

    Regarding air brushing out RDM I’m not familiar with this story.  However if it’s been done then it’s petty, childish and shows insecurity.  But so what, I’m often petty, childish and insecure.  They’re only human.  Of course the management team are puppets for Roman’s wishes.  You can’t expect Roman to check pre-match that there are sufficient barrels of Singha in the basement.  He’s got a few lackeys to manage the day to day.

    I hope Roman stays.  If you want him to go be careful what you wish for.  Would you prefer the Arsenal board?  They’re definitely being run as a business.  Or the Man City board?  That club’s more bananas than us.  Or Tottenham?  Daniel Levy won’t buy big, he’ll buy mediocre at 11:59 hoping to pick up a bargain.

    Personally my support will be unwavering. There are ups and downs but that’s the whole point. I’m happy to keep spending, will be renewing my season ticket for as long as I can keep body and soul together and will be on the East Coast train to Middlesbrough this Wednesday.

    • dakida

      Finally a rational soul!
      I understand the feelings of everyone else, but wishing Roman away could leave us sliding down, probably, faster than Leeds United.

      And who’s going to buy the club at the sort of price that even Roman would want to at least break even (north of £1bn)? Let’s get real.

      So thanx for the more measured supporter/fan’s view. You spoke for the rest of us.

  6. Peterw

    This is interesting. A lot of people seem to be reacting as if losing to the champions at a ground where they’ve only lost once in two years is some sort of great disaster, even though they had a week to prepare and we only had two days.

    I didn’t think we were that bad. Yes, it was a dire, incoherent first half from both sides but we started the second half well and if Lampard scores that penalty or Ramires takes the chance…

    After they scored, the heads dropped and the substitutions were baffling, but these are the thin, thin margins at which top-level football is played. The thing that has got me about Benitez is that he is all about the margins. He said a while back that ‘we could have won all of the games we lost’ and he was mocked but is dead right. What he didn’t add is that ‘we could have lost all the games we won’. What I mean is, you never get the feeling he is in charge of his destiny and that surprises me. I didn’t rate him as a manager, but he’s worse than I thought.

    All the same, the comments on twitter are ridiculous and people are blaming him for everything without stopping to ask what would have happened if Lampard scored, or why should we expect anything other than defeat at City anyway, given that they have been better than us for a couple of years. (The fact they aren’t as good as they should be is entirely different.)

    As for the deeper stuff about a rot at the heart of the club, a cancer etc, I’m not really interested in any of that, probably because I stopped going regularly in the early 2000s when the match-going experience became, frankly, rather boring. I have few expectations about the way Roman behaves having grown up with Ken Bates, and I have little doubt that if he went, he’d be replaced by a different kind of cunt, probably with less money. That is the way of modern football. Nobody is happy unless they are winning. (Notice how United’s loathing of the Glazers ebbs and flows depending on how well the team are performing.) So is Chelsea rotten? Probably, given that football is. Do I care? No, given that I already became a passive supporter several years ago.

    What bothers/interests me more is the make-up of the squad, and the daft decision to play the season without any strikers and hardly any midfielders, which is slightly counterbalanced by the fact we brought in brilliant players like Hazard and oscar. We cannot hope to challenge successfully until we strengthen midfield and buy a couple of strikers and possibly a defender. I don’t really care if we qualify for the CL or not, but I do want us to hang on to Hazard, oscar and Mata for a few more years as they are a joy to watch (I think they will all eventually move to bigger clubs whether we are in the CL or not). I didn’t think all our problems would be solved in one summer – this is a transition season after all (although this transition is going on a bit longer than I’d have liked) – and we got fairly far along the way last summer, but sensible player recruitment in the close season is essential. I couldn’t give a monkeys about anything else. 

  7. Mr.Gianfranco

    It hurts i cannot deny, but i’m trying to cope.
    What I have tried to rationalize most is Roman’s role at the club.

    To be honest I didnt grow up to seeing Chelsea win cups and leagues season in season out; there was the odd FA Cup final the 1999 champions league run but we hovered outside the top 5 at best.

    So when Roman came along football changed for me in more ways than one. I have to admit I was uneasy at his arrival at first but after that first title (I wasnt around in ’55) I had felt something I had never felt.

    I may be trying to convince myself otherwise but I genuienly feel its those around Roman that are harming the club as opposed to Roman himself. I appreciate what he has done for this club and the joy he has brought me over the last few years and even if I am wrong (and Roman is the decision maker) I think he deserves a thank you from us before he departs; if he is to do so 

    Even if we forget about the players he bought the club we were in a dire situation before him came. There were horror stories that we would need to sell Terry to Arsenal; Lamps needed to be shipped out etc to help pay back the debt Ken Bates brought upon us. (I for instance still have a lot of respect for Bates and still hold gratitude to the man that helped save this club from exstinction; although I know many fellow fans feel differently)

    I dont know who to blame for our current state. I look at our team and think its good enough to compete for the title and not for a top 4 place. Surely if Roman leaves we can only hope to compete for the latter.

  8. Peterw

    I think what Mark and I are talking about is expectations and fans usually have entirely unrealistic one. 

    What did we expect from Chelsea this season? What was reasonable to expect from a side with four or five new faces, a substantially younger team, trying a new style without all the parts yet put in place, having sold its talismanic striker and being coached by a so-so manager? Third place at best, surely. Should we have rebuilt better in the summer? We haven’t handled it perfectly but it’s not a computer game, you can’t buy a new team overnight – given that, it was always going to be a frustrating season given our ridiculous expectations. 

    We shouldn’t have sacked RDM and appointed Benitez – that’s a given – but remember that fans were already whining about results under Robbie. They always want more. 

    If we wanted balance and stability and sensible results given our strengths and weaknesses, we’d have stuck with Carlo (or appointed Mancini). But Carlo doesn’t exactly haul in the trophies, so that wasn’t good enough. He had to go. 

    I’m guilty of this myself with AVB, I accept that.

    Sacking Robbie was a horrible, stupid, self-destructive thing to do but one that was inevitable. The board knows they fucked up. But even if we’d stayed with RDM in November, we’d be looking for a new manager in May – he was never going to be here longer than that. And people would have still spent all season whining simply because they cannot accept the team isn’t quite as strong as we’d like.

    What happens off the pitch occasionally annoys me but not a great deal. So we’re a laughing stock are we? What, like Arsenal were in the Champions League this week? or Spurs were when the got dumped out the FA Cup by a team we thrashed? or when City failed in the CL again despite the millions they’ve spent? or when United fucked up the title last season? or Liverpool are, pretty much all the time, now?

    Every big club is a laughing stock for a week and then it’s somebody else’s turn. It’s not nice but modern football is built on schadenfreude almost as much as it is on money.

    of course, we could all support Swansea. Nice, well-run club yadda yadda yadda, bit like Bolton were, or Charlton, or any of the other dozen clubs that have come and gone in the past twenty years. I respect them all, but we are operating at a different level and have done for years.

    That doesn’t mean we should expect the moon on stick, though.

  9. Neugwu

    How nice of the chelsea fans to cement their reputations as well-meaning and open-minded and not bigots by consistently supporting the ‘rascist aldulterer JohnTerry’ while giving Rafa Benitez a chance from day one

  10. Der_Kaiser

    Strong stuff, TG.  Understand the sentiment in general, but on the whole despite moments of (fairly extreme) doubt I’d rather Roman hung around than left.  With football club owners in the current climate I think it’s very much a case of better the devil you know.  Like Mark says, a glance at Lerner, the Glazers, the current Arsenal set-up and a few others leads me to believe that life could be an awful lot worse.

    Pete’s point about the squad is also true – having made the mistake of shedding a number of experienced players to leave Carlo struggling, to be left with roughly the same situation only a couple of years down the line is particularly galling (not to mention just plain bloody daft).  Particularly frustrating to watch Lukaku doing a decent job and Essien playing some kind of role at Real.  Summer for me is 2 strikers (Lukaku being one), 2 central midfielders and a centre half at minimum.  De Bruyne back would be nice, too.

    We’ve ‘done’ Benitez to death – simply put, he doesn’t have the extra 5-10% that separates the reasonable from the top level; he’d probably keep Villa up and might make the final position of an average mid-table side a bit more respectable, but he’s not top 4-6 material by any stretch.

    Depressing to be wishing for the end of the season in February, but it’s got that way.  There is hope in the distance, though – when the lump in the dugout moves, hopefully we’ll see daylight again.

     

    • GrocerJack

      It’s how I feel m’lud. I do see that he’s perhaps not the worst, but for me he feels like the uncle who adopts me,  buys me sweets and then smashes me from wall to wall before buying me more sweets. Then when it suits him he repeats the cycle ad infinitum. A sort of mass group abuse of sorts for wantg of a better analogy. The RDM picture debacle is unforgiveable and I refuse to believe RA didn’t know about it or instigate it.

      One more point, the Glazers may be unpopular with some Utd fans.  But they’ve maintained that clubs success and SAF has never to my knowledge been refused funds for players HE wants. Compared to Roman and his dictatorial style, I think the Glazers look quite good*

      *Obviously having seen them I don’t mean physically look good

      • Der_Kaiser

        United are also still the best part of £400m in debt.  I’m not sure I’d like to be their accountant should a (relatively) fallow period follow when Fergie eventually departs.

        The Robbie picture thing is shoddy and pretty bloody daft, but it just smacks of some corporate branding stupidity which may or may not have Roman’s fingerprints on it.  Seen plenty of similar examples in other walks of life so I actually wasn’t terribly surprised by it, to be honest.

        It’s unquestionably a frustrating time, but at best I was expecting a draw yesterday so when the afternoon unfolded as it did the reaction was more shrug of the shoulders than anger and rage.  I’m more often in the glass half empty saloon than not, but if Benitez goes and competence of some sort is installed (looks a big if, at present I grant you) things will immediately look a great deal better than they do now.

        Point is this, I suppose – if Roman hauls Jose back to the Bridge in the summer and gives him £100m to fling around, Benitez and this fairly grim season will soon be a distant memory.

  11. Fredw Nelson

    I too am a supporter who started going to SB in the 60s. We were ok then with Bobby T, Barry B and “Ruby” Murray. Nothing special but ok. I have lived through the desperately poor stuff of the 80s – losing at Gay Meadow and struggling against York City.
    But I have never felt as low as I do now. That is 9 months on from the euphoria of Munich. A night of nail biting, excruciating wonder and excitement and ultimately of relief and disbelief. Just like Robbie as he reached RA in the stand and he said “I did it, I did it”. I was so happy, a 58 year old git who loves almost all sport but mostly football and above all my beloved CFC
    I feel so much pain when we lose, I sleep fitfully and wake up thinking about the defeat. Not just the core but the manner of it
    Where are those heroes of 19/5/12? Yesterday at the Etihad I witnessed some men going through the motions. A passion free zone.
    Would I trade the trophies of the last 10 years? No of course not. Do I want a successful club? Yes of course. But something has to change. We need structure, strategy and a bit of common decency towards people’s feelings. The love for a club does not come from scarves that have both teams names on or lunch in Corporate Hospitality. It comes from our tribalism, our joint love, our sinning at the top of our voices, our belief in our team
    Something better change and change soon because my love affair of 50 years is running thin

    • mark_25

      I also started in the 60s.  Unlike you I didn’t venture into the gay meadow but that was back in the 80s.  I’d like to think I’ve become more open minded and enlightened since then.

  12. Fredw Nelson

    What, of course, I should add to my last post is that I will never stop loving my team. It feels sometimes that my love is waning but it isnt really. That is what passion is about in fans terms – whether you support Chelsea or United, or any other big sporting name
    Have we become a “franchise” or a brand? Not in my mind. In my mind we are and always will be Chelsea Football Club
    My mate (who is a season ticket holding Spud) said to me “How does it feel to be the worst CL winner ever?” My reply? “Let me tell you how it feels to be a CL winner” You see it is not about who is the best or worst (opinion based) winner of the CL. It is FACT based, we did win the CL. We are still the reigning champions. Nobody from London (in my opinion one of the greatest cities in the world) has won it before. We were the first. We will always be the first
    And thats what we are first and foremost – we are Chelsea
    Are we down at present? Yes. Are we still (by our fingertips) 3rd? Yes. Have we won more trophies than everyone else in the past 10 years? Yes. Well the same as Man U but many many more than anyone else in England
    So please Roman, in between your meetings with CEOs and Oil Ministers please spare a thought for us. Those that loved this club before you came and will love it after you go. Thanks for everything you have done
    Bu please do not think we are a brand. We are Chelsea Football Club. We are the fans who will always be here. We will still be here if you leave. We will be here if we are at the foot of League 2 (well I will for one)
    WE know what we are – supporters of Chelsea Football Club – we know what we are

  13. Somewhere down Fulham Rd

    Are there open lines of communication between the board and suppoter groups ? Obviously the supporters feelings are quite clear with regards to Rafa but is there physical meeting between supporter group leaders and the board or certain members of the board. In the end we both want the same thing

  14. Nozzle

    Very good article Tony. What should have been a celebratory season has turned into a nightmare, the club has knocked the stuffing out of the fans, like most Chelsea fans I want the season to finish now. Airbrushing RDM out of our history is truly pathetic, gives me more reason to keep the 16 minute applause for Robbie going. Quite agree about replacing Emanalo with Hiddink. Real Madrid have Zinedine Zidane as diector of football, we have Emanalo?….. says it all really.

  15. Dave

    Spot on. Yesterday typified how we are no longer at the level of a title challenging team, but just outsiders who are relying on cup runs to make our season. Don’t get me wrong, i didn’t expect to win, but thr lack of fight or determination to come back into the game shows the change in team ethic.

    As a supporter who goes to most home games, it feels like their is a poisonous atmosphere whatever the circumstances. Even beating arsenal there in january didn’t feel like we had beaten a rival, just a delaying of the next shoddy display and ranting of fans, which has been born out of the disillusion we feel with our club.

    When roy keane spoke out about the prawn sandwich brigade, it was the result of his team becoming so successful that middle class supporters, tourists and new fans turning up and expecting victory. These new fans you speak of have become a part of chelsea as we have become more successful, but for a number of years it has been a drain on the matchday atmosphere. This is the downside to becoming one of the world’s biggest clubs.

    There is no doubt this season has become a joke, and i can’t wait for it to finish, but the lack of stability i do not see changing in the future. Whether roman does need to move on is a good point, but let’s not forget how fortunate we are to be financially backed by him and where we were before he arrived. Something has to change, but what?

  16. Fredw Nelson

    Question for all of us to ponder – “What is Roman Abramovich’s prime motivator now that we have won CL?”
    Unless there is an objective there will be no plan. No plan no chance. Hope is not a strategy. We need a plan, an objective, a strategy. Once we have that we may have some hope (if you get my drift)
    Communication is key to understanding what is going on – there is none. Neither from the Manager nor, even more unfortunately, from the Board
    Communicating of the strategy to get us back to potential CL and Premier League winners is what we need for starters. Until and unless we see/hear that we will continue to be disheartened, fearful for our club and full of bluster about our woes
    I want to get back to enjoying the big games. At present I fear them

  17. Blueboydave

    Like TG I’m very down about Life Under Rafa and The Roman Empire and thought things could not get any worse this season.

    But then I just read Dan Levene seriously speculating that Uncle Avram might yet be shipped in to replace him till the end of the season within 1 or 2 more bad results – with our trip to Anfield playing on the minds of our suits.

    Dear God, now I’m really depressed.

  18. Agh57

    I can’t make my mind up to be honest. I’d disagree that Roman and the board making these decisions for financial reasons. If results are okay then to a certain extent this side will take care of itself.
     
    I think it’s more down to a knee jerk response when things don’t appear to be going our way. When results turn bad there is an assumption that changing the manager will immediately improve things. To a certain extent, they may look back at the trophies we’ve won and claim this approach is vindicated. However, as Der Kaiser has pointed out in the past, this is perhaps more to do with the mental strength of the group players/team put together by Jose.

    My main concern, is that if we don’t get Jose back, then god knows who we’ll end up with and the whole thing will continue. We have quite a decent squad on paper at the moment. With a couple of of additons and another season they could become quite special. My worry is that, if we continue down the same path, the squad will disintergrate, players will leave and we will find ourselves in a worse position than Liverpool.

    I can take not winning things, but to see the possible loss of the current squad’s potential worries me.

  19. Ryan_shot

    Excellent article mate. As a squad we’re not that far from being very, very good but crucial footballing decisions are being ballsed-up at a fundamental level. Torres is one particular example. It’s no coincidence that we’ve ended up with the only manager around that could possibly have any faith in him. He’s the kid who plays every week because his Dad’s the
    manager & his Mum washes the kits.

    Probably the worst aspect of yesterday’s game for me (I touched on this with GJ on Twitter) was how tamely we lost. I’d rather have seen a few players lose the plot and get sent off for kicking fuck out of some City players or starting a 12-man brawl even we ended up losing 3 or 4-0 as a result. The worst thing about Benitez for me is he obviously doesn’t give one single fuck about CFC. He just saw us as a springboard to get back into a lucrative management job. That is being transmitted to the players. They don’t fear his reaction to their performance. Leaving Ramires on merely confirmed this. A brave manager would’ve hooked him after half-hour. I don’t dislike Ramires. Yesterday though, Mo Farah could’ve done what he did. Couldn’t stop giving the ball away, couldn’t tackle, beat a player etc. I could go on but basically he was unable to play football at the required level. Benitez left him on until the end and hooked Hazard.

    I highly doubt now that Benitez will be offered any sort of job in the summer never mind the Chelsea-job.

  20. John D

    You spoke too soon, Vik…  Don’t worry though, we’ll finish above Spurs at the end of the season!

    I think that you’re too pessimistic TG (having said that I only make 1 or 2 games a season, so I’ll bow to the opinions of regular goers).

    I saw the 2nd half on Sky yesterday, and I thought that Citeh played really well so there’s no need to beat ourselves up too much about losing this game. At the start of the season, I thought that we’d finish up 2nd behind citeh and if they played like that all season I think that they would have retained their title. I still think that we should have finished above Man U this season but for reasons pointed out consistently on this blog we’ve had unnecessary crises and upheavals.

    I think that there can be a simple solution to all of our hiring & firing of managers – just tell Roman that he knows very little about coaching a football team, and he should leave our footballing side alone (eg interfering in transfers & style of play). I don’t want Roman to go, but in 2007 I preferred then that he would have left rather than Jose.

    After Jose left I didn’t want him to return, I wanted his achievements with us to remain untarnished, but I’ve recently changed my mind about this. If anyone can be guaranteed to knock us into shape and get us playing well consistantly it’s him.

    And a funny thing about Benitez – when he was with the scousers, Liverpool were the team that I dreaded going 0-1 down to the most, they would just shut up shop. So how is it that we’ve lost so many leads recently?? I’m baffled. I don’t like Benitez but I thought that he’d be steady for the rest of the season, but he hasn’t. I still don’t see the point of sacking him before May – as long as he isn’t here come August…

    Let’s hope we win the FA Cup again, we always get rid of our managers after that (apart from Dave Sexton).

  21. TrueBlue007

    I totally disagree with this article and without wanting to cause problems, not sure why someone so apathetic towards Chelsea is even writing for this blog. 

    I didn’t think we would win this game, City are a great team these days with great players and playing them at home is always difficult. I thought we played well, Benitez got his tactics rightish by defending narrow and trying to hit them on the counter. It was a game of what if’s – what if lamps scored the penalty, what if Ramires had scored, etc. 

    As for Roman – the man has done wonders for this club and has spent a huge amount of money on us. He will never make a profit from his stint as owner of Chelsea and unlike the Glazers or Kronke, is NOT running CFC as a business. He wants success and is ruthless about it. That’s his style and fair play to him. I do not always agree with his decisions, but I know one thing. He loves CFC more than the author of this article and only wants the best for his team and his investment. In my opinion, all he wants is trophies and attacking football. We are very lucky to have him and those that disagree should got support Fulham or West Ham instead. I’ve been supporting chelsea since the days of Spencer, Wise and Duberry (perhaps I’m not as old as some others) but have really enjoyed the progression we have made under Roman. 

    We are a team in transition, it’s very difficult to remain at the top the whole time, only Sir Alex seems to be able to do it. Support the club, support the players and support Roman. As for Rafa, I’m not his biggest fan, but I sure as hell don’t boo him on 16 mins. That said – if it’s true about RDM being deleted from photo’s, I agree thats unforgivable. 

    So in summary – if you don’t give a shit anymore, thats your prerogative. But this is a CFC blog. If your not happy about the manager, tactics then thats fine. But don’t start a report stating how you would rather be playing golf then watching the game and follow it by how despotic our club is now. 

    Sorry to rant – but I will always support Chelsea through thick and thin and i will always care and never be apathetic towards it. I leave that for plastic fans who only take an interest when we are winning leagues cups of becoming kings of europe. 

    • GrocerJack

      Your entitled to that view. Don’t ever dispute my feelings for Chelsea though. The fact I feel like after 42 years is the issue here and Abramovich doesn’t come close to having put anywhere near the same amount of his life and soul into following the club, and frankly the fact you think club loyalty and passion is bought by how much money you spend rather than how much emotional investment you’ve had says more about you than me. Abramovich may well love the club, but I support it and have done through many more lean times than you could know. You can’t even fucking compare the two. 

      And to diss the Glazers, when whatever their currently very successful model for running MUFC is in comparison to the basket case that is us is fucking laughable. In their time at MUFC the trophies and the success have hardly dried up eh? Fergies hardly struggled for cash has he? The reputation of that club has hardly been dragged through the mire has it? I don’t like MUFC much, but I will say that they have never managed to be the laughing stock we’ve become.By the way, perhaps the fact I could be arsed to put pen to paper and emote on how I feel says that apathy towards the club isn’t a factor here. Apathy to what the club has become, the way it is run, a soulless, corporate, brand obsessed, history re-writing fucktard is my point of reference here. Why would the club want supporters? When they can get the tourists in with their families, spending money in the shops and bars and restaurants? A lot of the supporters may buy a pint in the ground, but unlike the casual football tourist or fan who can make one or two games a season they aren’t in general spending upwards of £200 for every visit. Lest we forget the initiative a few years back to cut the ST from 24000 to 18000 under the guise of ‘giving more people the chance to savour a premier League game’. That was hardly a ploy to look for long term hard core support was it?

      As i say, criticise the article, but don’t ever question my feelings or loyalty – whatever happens I will always be Chelsea. 

  22. dustylancer

    @33d0d71a8c191ffa789005ef5b69fd8d:disqus
     What a load of shit. And I’ll repeat it, what an utter load of shit. Supporting Chelsea has become tedious this year whichever way you coat it. It’s fine if you live in England and the matches are at a decent time to watch. You can get on your high horse and say I’ll support it through thick and thin. Try watching the shit that has been on display this year till 3am my time and your outlook would match mine and TG’s.

    As for Roman our wonderful and infantile benefactor, his decisions this year have left me baffled. For one the fact our multi billionaire apparently can’t be arsed to take feedback from people who know better than him in a sport as volatile as this beggers belief. He sacked Ray Wilkins and Mourinho for having the gumption to form an opinion contrary to his. It mirrors your lovely attack on Tony as well.

    You can argue all you want that his hiring and firing has led to string of trophies culminating in that POS trophy that was the CL, but your basically ignoring 2 simple facts. One, the core of that team forged by Mourinho has only this year been retired. They were that good. Yet our owner fired the man who gave him that. Two, we were fucking lucky these last 3 years to have not collapsed as we did this month with the patchwork job done by the interim managers with Roman trying to his damnedest to sabotage it at every conceivable turn. The sacking of Wilkins, the premature hiring of AVB followed by his equally childish firing. Finally the fucking despicable way in which he sacked RDM. These aren’t in fact a testament to his ruthlessness or this bullshit about him looking out for the best of the club. It fucking reeks of immaturity, churlishness and childishness that only fucking billions can buy you. The sacking of RDM proved it.

    Logically RDM was the perfect man to helm that final voyage with the SS TSO core come what may. It would have been good publicity, good for morale and been a good incentive to managers that look we are not in fact the SS Looney Toons. Instead on his firing, long term fans and I’m talking 40+ year fans justified it saying look we were defensively in shambles, and all this goal scoring was for naught if we couldn’t hold it. But it was fun. Hair pulling, gut wrenching, screaming at the top of your lungs fun. We were decidedly not in contention for anything major but your expectations were tempered knowing it was finally going to be a year for actual transition, you know the one everyone kept alluding to under AVB. Yet in a case of classical fuckwittery Roman’s decides lets axe him knowing full well the message it would send. Again long term fans said hey he always had our best interest at heart, and surely we wouldn’t want to drop out of the top 4. You say he wants trophies, and he wants it in style. I ask you did it appall him so much that Chelsea won the CL in the fashion it did. Did he looked at it as a soiled trophy, its worth forever tainted by the defensive style of play we adopted. That RDM would forever be the niggling reminder of how hollow a victory it actually was. That we were not playing the Barcelona style of tippy tappy, diving, red carding brand of football that made me personally loathe what the fucking CL stood for.

    Well he sacked him first chance he got, on the phone, because hey billions of dollars gives you that right I suppose. Pep decides Bayern’s a better bet and Rafa is hired, the man who went from we are in contention for everything to I am prepared to sacrifice the cups for a top 4 finish. Long terms fans through it all have baffled me in the slew of responses that followed as we dropped out from every cup that was available to us. What really got my goat was hey it was a Mickey Mouse cup for “insert cup name here”. Apparently egos have swelled to Liverpool levels that we have deigned ourselves to good for such cups when the simple fact is we were given a fucking hiding by teams ranging from not as talented to not as good but dedicated pasionate and hard working.

    Am I blaming the sqaud’s current gutless souless play on Rafa, hell no. Roman was and is the primary reason we are the way we are today. With long time fans calling  other long time supporters plastic for having the gorm to suggest Roman should perhaps leave. The home atmosphere having more boos then say a stadium featuring West Ham, Newcastle and the rest of the Terry he’s a fucking cheating racist bandwagon with Terry, Ashely and Lamps playing. Yea he did that. And I ask you if you in his quest to mirror Barcelona and his need for instant gratification that every Chelsea supporter seems to become increasingly guilty of what is he going to do say if Mourinho shows him the finger, Moyes as well and he hires someone he will fire in another 6 months. Or say Rafa is given an extended contract. Will you all still bindly say hey its Roman’s money he can do what he wants. What about when Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Lukaku and say Courtois ask for transfer irritated with the lack of personal development the manager merry go round has induced.

    As for supporting Chelsea, well we can thank Rafa for a few things. He has without a doubt highlighted the need to either offload Torres or buy 2 more strikers and transition Torres to a Anelka style player or winger. Say what you want of his inability to score the crosses he makes are amazing. Get 2 defenders a CB and a LB. The need to puts Lamps to pasture, though it is not the way I would have liked this guy to go. But lets face it he was shit last for a majority of last year and despite his recent revival I have to outweigh the need to transition several youth players as well especially in the absence of a long term manager. The fact is this last paragraph just shows what might have been had Roman a bit more common sense and Chelsea in turn a stable manager. Lukaku alongside Drogs, McEachran learning from Lamps, etc, etc.

    • GrocerJack

      “That we were not playing the Barcelona style of tippy tappy, diving, red carding brand of football that made me personally loathe what the fucking CL stood for.”

      Wonderful. Just wonderful and perfect description. Cap doffed sir!

    • GrocerJack

      I think I’ve just been shown what an amateur spleen venter I am. 

      Mr Lancer, a truly splendid rant of the highest order. 

  23. Day Tripper

    Well, TrueBlue and DustyLancer will make excellent
    companions on a shipwreck! As I said in my earlier post, I think Abramovic
    treats the club like a prince treats his mistress. When he acquired her in
    2003, he showered her with gifts, presented her to his public, and, very
    quickly, with only the slightest of delays, she gave him exactly what he
    craved: glory. Then things started to turn. She looked a little jaded and began
    to behave capriciously. So he did what he has done on several occasions since: he
    distanced himself from her, slapped her around a bit, and told her to change
    her appearance and her general attitude. At first it didn’t work but then
    slowly things started to return to normal. So he bestowed even more expensive finery
    on her. Unfortunately these gifts were not necessarily those that set her off
    to best effect but they had cost him so much money that he insisted on her
    wearing them whether she liked it or not. A new stylist was assigned to her –
    many had preceded him – and through his tending, she won the prize at the
    biggest ball of all. But still the prince was not wholly satisfied. At that
    ball, his most expensive gift was only worn at the end, and she’d had to work
    very hard without being at her most beguiling. And so the next year he made her
    change her appearance again. And so the pattern continued….

     

    I don’t think Abramovic gives a toss what we supporters
    feel. We are, like the chorus in a Greek play, just there to fill up the stage.
    By paying for our tickets and buying the merchandising, we also help a little
    bit towards balancing the books. Oligarchs who loot their countries of their
    natural resources, and acquire absurd wealth and lifestyles that are totally
    disconnected from any normal reality, are not a respectable bunch. But I am
    ambivalent towards Abramovic because without him, the team I have supported
    since I could walk, would never have won the Championship let alone the
    European Cup (I am deliberately using anachronistic terms). Endless FA Cups as
    well. And let’s face it, if he left, the whole fabric could come falling down.
    We only made a profit last year because we won the Champions League. You can’t
    assume that that will happen every year. Indeed this coming year, I’m sure we’ll
    plunge back into large losses again. He funds those losses. So he has become
    the proverbial person that you can’t live with, but you can’t live without

     

      • Blueboydave

        Very possibly, but:

        1) What will the Greek chorus be wailing v West Brom on Saturday?

        2) Does this fairy tale have an ending where we all live happily ever after as tradition demands?

        • GrocerJack

          They won’t be wailing. 

          It’ll be a discussion about the previous nights TV.

          I fear the fairy tale is heading for Paris tunnel territory sadly. 

  24. Fredw Nelson

    Passion. That is what we all have for our club if we are true supporters. Did you see AVBs passion last night when Bale scored the winner? Did you see Joses passion when Porto scored at Old Trafford, when we won the Prem, when he left Inter, whenever he is within a 100 miles of a Barca player?
    What passion have you ever seen from Benitez?
    Ive seen it from RA in short bursts I have to say. I certainly saw it from RDM. Maybe not so much from Carlo but he did at least have tactical nous, common decency, a sense of humour and not a little leadership skill
    Passion throughout – all pulling in the right direction with leadership on and off the field. A full, loud, singing SB. Blood and guts passionate football – and no im not saying it cannot also be flowing, beautiful, elegant football. But it has to have passion – just like the comments on this thread
    We have potentially a very good team of players. WE need some leadership. A manager with a Board seat and the trust of the players
    Until we get that we will continue to cry into our beer

    • GrocerJack

      Danny Baker:
      “Chelsea fans. You HAVE no voice. That is the price you paid to be what you are now. You are season tickets. Programme sales. Product. Face it.”

      Hard to argue with that. 

          • Der_Kaiser

            I think the shrewd cabal of advisers around Roman have decided that physically harming the customers is generally a bad idea. 🙂

            Do keep hearing a recurring rumour that the car park underneath the Bridge has been converted into a giant shark pool, though.  If the booing gets too loud, we’re all sleeping with the fishes…

          • Blueboydave

            Doesn’t ECT have history as a treatment for rendering dissenting voices more docile and amenable?

            Perhaps, just a quick blast from electrified seats to discourage 16th minute RDM-praising might be on the Roman agenda 😉

          • Der_Kaiser

            Won’t be long before we’re all sat there like a partially lobotomised Randle McMurphy at the end of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, waiting for someone to put us out of our misery…

        • GrocerJack

          I dont think he was claiming exclusivity for us. Just stating where we are. Its the price of success, and I’m not advocating success at all costs, just a plan, a strategy and the odd comforting caress from the club. All of which are currently missing. 

          • mark_25

            Well you’ve certainly managed to divide opinion here Tony.  Good job!

            Do we need a plan or a strategy?  Plenty of old blokes on here hankering after the so called ‘good old days’.  Did Brian Mears ever have a strategy apart from trying to engineer a meeting with Raquel Welch?

            Did Uncle Ken ever have a strategy apart from electrocuting us and ducking and diving each week to avoid bankruptcy?

            Roman’s strategy is clear and simple.  Spend lots of money, buy the most expensive and demand excellence.  How much clearer does he need to spell it out?

            Plus a few comments below highlight how nasty Roman has been to our loved ones like Butch and RDM.  Let’s not forget that during the Roman era all the old guard, previously excluded by nasty Ken, have been welcomed back into the fold, get paid for hospitality visits and, with the hard work of the now departed Tony Banks, saw the creation of the Past Players Trust during his tenure.

            At some point Roman will be gone.  Unlike his peers, who will leave their clubs with debt, Roman’s legacy will be zero debt, a world-class training facility built with bricks and mortar at Cobham and plenty of great memories, like Munich, Cardiff and repeated visits to our second home at Wembley.

          • GrocerJack

            Yes Mark,Thank you. I know we disagree slightly here and maybe it’s a hissy fit, but I can’t deny I’m not enjoying things now and see little sign of change. I’ve no doubt come June we’ll get Jose or some other manic in to run the team and sign one or two Champagne players and the old hope will slowly fill up the mojo tank.

            However, my point is if I’m to spend £1000 on a season ticket, then that outlay requires some enjoyment, which is a long way from where I am now. It’s partly a business decision for me. Like many it has to be. Some might put that outlay for a season ticket above clothes, food, family and living requirements  but they’re idiots.Well done, you’re not plastic I say to them. What’s that? You’re skint and need money for some food? Flog your ticket then. 

            Can I justify that £1000 for something I am not enjoying when my daughter is off to university and will need help? Or I may not have a job come April (we have an annual culling based on some sort of rune casting algorithm). I haven’t paid the fees on our mobile in France for the first time ever banking on some shares coming through before April to fund it. I holiday there with my extended family every year, so in my liffe its a prevalent and important fixture.. The chances of a bonus if my job is safe seems minimal as the company will no doubt jump on the poverty train after churning in profits a £100million or so short of some City fuckwits expectations. Season ticket and golf membership are ultimately nice to haves. I’m crap at golf but love the game and it’s local and I can play when I like. I love Chelsea but I need to enjoy the spectacle and atmosphere or else it becomes a 140 mile round trip chore. And its not about results either. I’m no glory hunter bandwagon jumping newbie. I rather enjoyed us being a bit crap. And Bates was a loathsome person, but at least he spoke to the fans, of sorts, even if it was to abuse them! The place had soul even if it was slightly tainted by the smell of mouldy goings on.  

            Maybe you’re right I am hankering after a ‘good old days’ scenario which didn’t exist (well between 2004 and 2010 it sort of did) but win or lose the day was fun. Now I sit their in near silence, watching players who don’t seem to care some of the time (I’m sure they do, but the body language says otherwise to me) and despairing that fantastic talent like Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Luiz, Ramires, Cahill and Dave will want out because they’re not getting the success or development they might have expected. 

            So, if Roman goes, well it’s just a bit more excitement. We end up owned by Apple or or by Greggs CEO. The slate is clean and a reset of expectations occurs. I find it odd that for many RA seems to be above reproach in the current situation. It reminds me of political leaders who cause problems when in power, and then tell people they’re the best people to lead us out of the crap. (Major, brown, no doubt Cameron/Clegg and then Milliband and successor). 

            Maybe everyone deserves a screw up and subsequent second chance. But we’re way beyond just one screw up. Sacking TSO was one. Employing the con man Avram was another. Adding Emenalo as Chief political officer was a mistake.Not securing Guus was an error. Sacking Carlo was  a cock up (yes I was wrong on that and have u-turned completely). Sacking Wilkins was another. I’d argue sacking AVB was daft (guilty of what? sticking to his remit?). Employing RDM after the CL was arguably a mistake. RDM not quitting after that win was a mistake as well, he could have gone and issued a ‘come and get me when you want me’ message. Sacking RDM was number stupid (he wanted RDM gone after the QPR draw and RDM knew that. Bruce Buck talked RA out of it).and then employing a mediocre, bland, passionless coach with a ‘waxy pea sized heart’ at his core was another. The current situation around Frank Lampard seems nonsensical when every other coach in the PL would be offering extended contracts. The way we let Ballack go. The purchase of Sheva (rumoured to be in with a shout now he’s allegedly done his badges) .The purchase of Torres (say no more). The sale of Sturridge with a cup tied player to replace him. Whichever way you look at it it chaos theory strewn with cockups amongst the good stuff. Lets face it, the decline since Munich has been unprecedented. We’re the worst Champions of Europe ever. We’ve wimped out of virtually every competition this year without a crisp bag pop, let alone a bang. 

            I take your point on the good stuff, but that’s already in place isn’t it? I fail to see how strategically building on the success from ;last year has been such a difficult target. Its not like there was much else to do is it? We have made no progress at all, and won’t do whilst we go down the tactical route of getting an Operations Coach in to keep things ticking over and accepting decline. It needs long term thinking. Hell, even mid term thinking would be good. 

            I’m going to overdose on Lemsip now. Manflu….it’s a killer you know.

          • Musumba

             not to forget  Mr GrocerJack you are one of the lengthy essay writers  who strongly advocated for Rafas appointment! you exhibit all signs of a Markovian system

          • GrocerJack

            And yet, somehow have the humility to admit my mistake and be accountable for it. You might want to try humility yourself, but of course that might also assume a level of intellectual and emotional intelligence. 

      • Peterw

        Baker is so fucking bitter, I’ve gone right off him. What voice does he think Millwall fans have? He’s meant to be pro-fan but he’s just another petty jealous onlooker. 

        • GrocerJack

          Couldn’t care less, he’s entertaining, funny and honest with his dislike of Chelsea. The statement was made in reference to us, not Millwall or anyone else.

          I think he’s absolutely spot on. it’s just I’ve never felt like that until Benitez came in and applied his ‘brand’ of dull, average, safety first, dont lose before you’ve won football. And all of this whilst the powers that be refuse to communicate with supporters unless it’s through rose (blue?) tinted marketing bollocks talk, the puppet organ of CTV, the official bollocks twitter route.

          Whilst some fans/supporters/customers may be fucking stupid, a few of us aren’t and we’re a bit trickier when it comes to pull wooly things over our eyes.

          I’ve paid my near on £1000 to watch this drivel. Right now i think the club is a bunch of arse. I’ve earned that right to say that in my view. I’m ‘product’ and I hate it because I’m ‘product’ thats not having much fun at the moment.

          • Peterw

            nah, he’s jumped the shark. stopped following him on twitter yonks ago, bored with his kneekerk petty snark. As Jonny says, it’s the same as it ever was and ever has been in the history of football from day one – the owners have the power and we are the pawns. But what that doesn’t mean – which is what he seems to be claiming – is that we don’t have the right to complain about things we don’t like, even if we know we’ll be ignored. 

            Do you think Bates gave a shit what you thought? He only wanted your money, And it’s the same at Millwall, it’s the same at Sutton United, it’s the same at Tesco, it’s the same as my local independent fucking bookshop. Some may dress it up better than others and throw different flavoured bones, but the relationship as far as they are concerned is purely commercial even if we like to think it’s sentimental.

            Baker is smart enough to know this but he knows slagging off Chelsea will get him more retweets. 

  25. Vik Sohonie

    In truth, we could well finish 5th given that our fixture run in is arguably the most difficult and littered with teams we often struggle against, in which case it would be an improvement to last season’s 6th place finish… sigh. 

  26. Psmith

    yes, chelsea football club is dead ( for now ) and chelsea plc is going through a tough patch, the ground has too many tourists, corporate and new fans who dont have our die hard culture, but the chap who wrote this is also a complete wanker and typical of why chelsea is how it is. 4 th in div 1, still in fa cup and in uefa cup, fuckin amazing . when we nearly went down to div 3 this was stuff dreams were made of. only new breed of supporters only interested in premership and champions league, been hypnotised by media bullshit .but only way chelsea can become a football club again with real local support is to make tickets so normal people can go games, £12 kids and £25 adults be about right, still alot of money to follow home and away , burn them fuckin stupid flags , I want our support from  south west and west london not america, china or bloody iceland and start making sure all these tourists dont want to come back , wont take long for word to get back that not welcome down the bridge. yeah wont have 50 million to spunk ona useless cunt like torres but will get back that chelsea roar that makes the linesman think twice about putting his flag up if he wants to get home in 1 piece

  27. Somewhere down Fulham Rd

    Gents,
    It is normal that we have differing opinions but we all still have Chelsea in our hearts.
    I appreciate both the author of the post and post from TrueBlue007. All the comments are valid

    No need to get personal. If only our players and manager can show as much passion as we have shown collectively in this post Torres could become a world class striker 😉

    See you Saturday lads

    • TrueBlue007

      Glad to see there is life in this blog yet and passions are still strong. I read this blog avidly and sometimes it can get a little quiet. 

      Not sure who mentioned it, something about waking up at 3am to watch games. I currently line in the US, so am constantly waking up at 6am to catch games on a shitty web stream. No better way to start the weekend, especially if we win. 

      I did not mean to insult GrocerJack, so apologies if you took offence to my comments about your feelings towards chelsea. Of course I appreciate you wouldn’t take the time to write articles if you were truly apathetic, I just wanted to make the point that I am from the school of thought that if your on the terraces and your team is losing 3-0, that’s when you need to be shouting support the most. 

      I began my love affair with Chelsea when we were mid table as I was born and raised near the ground. Those times were great, occasionally winning trophies and the occasional exciting signing like Vialli or Gullit. 

      Then Roman comes. In a matter or minutes we are buying Crespo, Duff, Robben Joe Cole etc al. We suddenly became a big club, attracted big names and played in huge matches. I will never forget nights that Roman has given us … our epic battles against Barca, Ghost Goals against the Pool. The one night I remember the most was under Claudio when we beat the Arse at Highbury to go through to the semi finals against Monaco in the CL. Arse were undefeated all season and awesome at home. Eidur lays off to Bridge and boom – i had my first footy orgasm, ecto-plasaming everywhere (sorry couldn’t help myself).

      Anyway – the reason I mention the above is that it was all due to Roman buying our club and investing billions in us. So I personally cut him a lot of slack when it comes to running the club he owns and has done so much for. I couldn’t care less if other clubs or fans think we are a laughing stock due to our manager rotation policy. If Roman brings back Jose in the summer – then surely he will show he values CFC over his pride and ego? 

      Enough said – we all want the same thing – the best for chelsea. Come on you Blues!

  28. Nozzle

    Hi Tony, sorry to throw a spanner into the works about your excellent article, but re RDM being airbrushed out of the Champions League photos on the West stand, I’ve gone through all my pictures of that great night and cannot find where Robbie was in this team picture. See picture attached.

    • GrocerJack

      It was a post event pic – like a team pic where they have standing back row with coaches in middle seated at front….you know what I mean i’m sure.

      That’s what has been removed.Allegedly in error, but I’m not sure I believe that  

  29. mark_25

    Based on some of the apathy I know this is a long shot but I have spare ticket and return train ticket for the Boro tonight if you’re interested?

  30. TrueBlue007

    Marin on the bench against Boro … Ake and Yossi ahead of him. Amazing. 

    I rate Marin and think he could really offer us something if given a chance. He’s clearly gonna leave, but I suppose with Kev De Bryune coming next season, maybe it’s not so bad.

  31. Vik Sohonie

    Lovely stuff from young Nathan Ake, calm composed, and a left foot that adds balance.  Hazard Oscar and Moses did great for the 2nd goal. Torres is declining even more rapidly that once imagined. 

    Benitez has let it all out, against the hierarchy and the boo boys – http://www.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/195226.html

    He has a point regarding creating an atmosphere that galvanizes the team and it’s good to know he is 100% gone come season’s end. 
    Jose is very much on the cards and he can still very much do to United what he just did to Barcelona yesterday. 

  32. Blueboydave

    Another day for Kremlinologists to savour.

    With Fleet Street’s finest full of “Meltdown in Middlesbrough” and “Mad Rafa in Rant Mode”-type headlines [OK, I made both of those up , but] how does the club official website report the FSW’s post-match comments:

    In addition to considering the action on the pitch on Wednesday evening, Benitez expressed his wish for the fans to unite in creating a positive atmosphere for the team to play in at our games. 

    ” It will be much better for everyone to have a good atmosphere and to back the players”, he said.

    Classic stuff – the P.45 will be following soon I imagine.

  33. Ramone

    I’ve been wondering how I can constructively add to this collective tirade for a little while now. 

    We’re all entitled to an opinion so here goes. 

    1. My view is that we are 3 players spine short of a fantastic side.  Chuck a strong centre back,  holding midfielder and centre forward,  sell some chaff, welcome back  DeBruyne and Lukaku and all of a sudden, with a bit of discipline and direction installed by a decent coach,  we could win the league.

    2. We have been shit before and we will be shit again,  but that doesn’t mean we stop being fans.  It might
    mean we don’t go as much,  or don’t get up in the middle of the night to watch, or don’t renew our season tickets but that’s no big deal. That’s a prerogative. The big deal is if we stop being fans.   I don’t think anybody here would stop being a fan.  And even if you convinced yourself that you had – you’ll be back.

    3. Fans v customers.  We have an aging male fan base that  are grumpy old gits.  It’s all over this blog for starters.  We need to lower prices, get some kids and 20 somethings in the ground and ensure our season ticket fan base only skips one generation.  If we don’t do that then – in 20 years time – customers will be all we have left.  I’d like to think that part of the rationale behind a bigger stadium is to have the capacity to recruit of a new breed of young fan. And to include a terrace.

    4. Roman ?  You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone. We’re having a mare and we’re 4th in the league. That’s not usual for a Chelsea fan of 40 years.    Yes.  It seems flat at the moment and we’re not inspiring or setting the world alight,  but it’s not like our history is littered with glittering teams playing mesmeric stuff.  We have had shed loads of work-a day teams who could perhaps muster a cup run once in a while. So whilst we don’t have a strategy now, and we’ve sacked some good blokes, R.A must know that he needs to sort that out.  Pep gave him two fingers, and now even Benitiez is having a go at him.

    Besides, Benitez will go at the end of the season, we’ll have qualified for the CL, we’ll sign a spine,  we’ll have a new manager,  we’ll be excited about a new dawn, we’ll be reunited with a purpose and we will all laugh about the angst spat out on these pages in the last week. Why would you torture yourself thinking anything else ? 

     

  34. mark_25

    A fairly pedestrian performance but a decent outcome. Not making excuses but winning the CL means extra games in the Europe Super Cup plus a trip to Japan. A run to the Capitol One Cup semis and for the likes of Mata playing in two international tournaments during his rest period it’s not really surprising that some players look a bit flat. This is putting to one side all the other stuff.

    So I thought it made sense to rest a few. Shame this means the likes of Benayoun get a game but that’s a reflection of the squad we’re left with after loaning out the youth.

    Ake made a decent full debut. Clearly he wanted to get rid of the ball as quick as possible to avoid any first night cock ups. His passing was neat and tidy and looks comfortable on the ball.

    Middlesbrough were rubbish so it would have been really difficult not to win this game. We tried our best not to win with lots of sideways passing, eventually getting the ball back to Cech who duly obliged by kicking for touch. Shame the Czechs don’t play rugby. We did manage to intersperse two bits of quality to score. The first, a Ramires shot, was awarded by the stadium announcer to Torres who tried his best to get in the way and block and had the slightest of deflections. Thankfully the press awarded the goal to Ramires. It would have been a travesty to award the goal to Torres – my life would have been far more successful if one were to gain credit for getting in the way.

    There was a surprisingly good turnout from the Chelsea fans considering the distance for a Wednesday night. The atmosphere was more acrid than usual with a constant loud medley of anti Rafa songs. Well the man finally cracked, everyone’s got what they want so one option would be to shut up and put up with the rest of the season. This seems unlikely and I suspect the angry mob to continue their boorish behaviour until they see Rafa hung, drawn and quartered.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Well said…

      Frankly, the reaction of our fans to what Benitez said having spent the last 3 months c**ting him off is the equivalent of running to the teacher shouting “MISS, HE WAS RUDE TO ME!”

      All quite pathetic, really.

      I think it’s time Pete posted a link to his seminal work on loyalty etc. in football; full of many relevant point, the crux of it being that fans hold players (read managers) up to ridiculously lofty standards that they’d never consider keeping themselves.

       

  35. Peterw

    Feel sorry for Ake actually, Rafa’s little strop has taken the shine off his very decent debut. Shame we haven’t had more imaginative use of the squad as it worked pretty well last night, bar the deadweight we are carrying up front. 

    Interesting timing from Rafa. Has he just been waiting to get a semi-decent result under his belt so he can let rip at everybody else? Has he got wind that the pursuit of Mourinho has been stepped up? He’s not exactly a canny politician, is he?

    This is, at the very least, an admission of failure. ‘The fans will get behind me when I improve results,’ was his line. The fact that hasn’t happened means he is accepting he hasn’t improved results – and only an idiot would think that is the fault of the fans, unless Rafa finds quiet tutting and sighing offputting when he is preparing his genius substitutions. Wonder what he’s going to have to say for himself before the West Brom game. Think he needs to bite down on his ego and apologise to fans, then he might have the chance of not getting further pelters on Saturday. 

  36. limetreebower

    This has always been my thing with Rafa. He may be a decent enough team manager (his record’s not bad) and I really don’t give a monkey’s what he said about Chelsea fans when he was in charge of Liverpool, but I just think he’s a bit loony. He made a complete tit of himself with his anti-Ferguson rant all those years ago, he made a tit of himself at Inter and he’s doing the same here, all the while huffing and puffing about how great he is.

    José was of course also prone to semi-crazed rants, and has an equally if not more titanic ego, but he had charisma, he had panache, and you always had the sense that he knew absolutely what he was doing: he was in control of the image he was presenting and (crucially) it was increasing his authority in the eyes of the players. (This last part doesn’t seem to be working in his current job, but it certainly did while he was at Chelsea.)

    Whereas Rafa’s outbursts just make him look more vulnerable and, to be honest, rather absurd. It’s certainly going to make the crowd even more determined to share its collective opinion tomorrow, which is the last thing he, the players or the club needs.

    The situation’s a complete mess and it’s quite obvious to me that the suits should be held responsible. Their *only* job is to steer the club. They don’t coach the team or play the games so they can’t do much about results; the one thing they can (and ought to) do is manage the club as a whole. So if there’s massive discontent and a poisonous atmosphere, it’s their fault.

    To excuse Abramovich from his part in the responsibility for this disaster is just sophistry. If it’s not his fault, whose fault is it, exactly? He takes the credit for the massive injection of money which brought us all those trophies; by the same token he takes the blame for creating the conditions whereby the club appears rudderless and unhappy despite being perpetually successful and having brilliant players.

    Everyone who thinks things will be fine and dandy once Rafa’s gone is fantasising, I’m afraid. Of course I’m looking forward to the day Rafa leaves as keenly as anyone (and I still insist on my right to join the boors in making my feelings on the subject vocally explicit when I’m at the game), but the problem won’t be fixed by a new manager because —

    — does this even need saying yet again? —

    — the new manager will last 18 months at the very most and will be waiting to get sacked even when the results are good.

    The only thing that’s going to resolve the issues is a fundamental change of heart on Abramovich’s part. Until he not only accepts that you can’t win every game, but also (this is the important bit) changes the overall mood at the club so that everyone from fans to players to manager agrees that you can’t win every game, we’re going to go on exactly as we are now. (The way things are currently going I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Capello brought in next, with the same expectations as before.)

    To excuse Abramovich by saying that he “expects excellence” is silly. What’s “excellence”? Is “excellence” what José did for two seasons? Okay, so since José’s third season wasn’t as good, that means it was right to fire him, yes? Or why measure it in seasons? Maybe “excellence” is winning three out of four games every month, so as soon as that doesn’t happen, out the manager goes. Why not extend the same logic to players? Let’s expect “excellence” from them too, and trade them away if their form dips for a few games. “Expecting excellence” = stomping around the house slamming doors screaming I WANNA PONY!! I WANNA PONY!!!

    Daniel Taylor’s piece in today’s Grauniad is a very good neutral survey, I think:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2013/feb/28/rafael-benitez-chelsea1

  37. ChelseaAfrica

    When you are working in accompany and your boss employs
    somebody who happened to be your enemy. I know that if you are not ready to
    quit the company you must be fully cooperated with the newly employed. Any
    action other than this will just affect everybody; you, your enemy who suppose
    to be your friend at the moment and the company at large.

    Yes, Rafael was CFC enemy so to say. But now that the
    honourable dictator has imposed him on us I think we should be patient so that
    at the end of his (Rafael) departure we would not regret the damages our anti
    club behavior might have caused.

    And again if there is somebody whom you know very well but
    one way or the other the two of you are not in good relationship and the person
    is in a fight with your enemies. It is either you join him in fighting them or
    you try to sit on the fence. Definitely it will be idiotic to support your
    enemies at the expense of the person you know but you are not in good
    relationship with.

    For goodness sake I think everybody should reluctantly accept
    him as friend at least for now. And as a saying in my tribe that ‘a hot food
    requires patience to swallow’.

    So if you call yourself a true fan/supporter and you are a
    member of the booing fans club you are just deceiving yourself, especially if
    you are expecting a good result with your idiotic action against your own club.
    If your reaction is not disturbing the players on the pitch (talk much it is)
    is it not affecting your enemy (Rafael) on-pitch and off-pitch? If it is affecting
    your enemy is it not in turn affecting the players? And moreso, don’t you think
    that the opponents are getting more energy and confidence when you are booing
    your own.

    Yes, I don’t really like Rafael and his work at present is
    questionable but anybody that is saying that anti Rafael reaction when on the
    pitch is not partly affecting the team is a big idiot.

    So, if truly you are a true fan you should sing to praise
    your team when they are playing or you just keep your mouth shut as there are
    other several sensible ways to protest, which will not be of detriment to our
    dearly CFC.

    KTBFFH.

  38. limetreebower

    Right, I’m off dahn the Bridge.

    As everyone keeps reminding us, it’s a day to show unity. So — all together now —

    BOOOOOO!!!

    RAFA RAFA RAFA!!! OUT OUT OUT!!!!


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