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(with suitable apologies and homage to John Le Carre)

(Author’s Note: The main character of George Smallie should be imagined as Colin Hutchinson, Alec Guinness and perhaps a dash of Alan Bennett thrown in the blender and given a quick whizz. Whether you then imagine Delia or Nigella doing the blending is your own private hell for which I have no remedy.)

1

George Smallie, bespectacled, lost in thought, stared out of the first floor study window, quietly interrogating the grey London day. The grip on his whisky tumbler tightened imperceptibly, anticipating the question.

“And Eve, George, how is she?”

“Oh happy enough, Peter. She’s away down in the Chilterns at the moment. A friend from university days wanted some help starting an antiques business… Um you know…”

Good manners had dictated the enquiry, but aware of the pain it engendered I moved, perhaps too quickly, to the purpose of my visit.

“Do you know why I’m here, George?”

“I know it is not a purely social call. How long has it been?”

It was as needling as George would ever get, but since he had missed my wedding, while off pursuing Eve in the vague hope of rescuing her from the consequences of another reckless entanglement, I had not had an opportunity to call on him. And truth to tell, the inner emptiness, touching on despair that he exhibited after those painful episodes with Eve, had not encouraged me to remedy the oversight. This did not however assuage my sense of guilt.

“Longer than was really decent on my part, if I’m honest, George.”

“Honest? Well that was always one of your salient characteristics wasn’t it, Peter?”

A wry smile wanes and is replaced by the inscrutable mask.

“But go on, explain the haste, or should I say, unseemly desperation?”

A flicker of the hooded lids betrayed his eyes. He was enjoying himself.

“Well, George, no-one knows I’m here talking to you and it’s vital it stays that way. As I’m sure you’re aware there is another upheaval at the Motel.”

“Well they do come round as regularly as Christmas after all, don’t they?”

George blinked owlishly, but his laconic delivery could not fully disguise an imperceptible change in attitude, a quickening of interest.

“Yes, but this time I suspect there’s more than a little internal, departmental blood-letting. I sense a tipping point has been reached. You have the nose for this don’t you, George?”

I knew George would understand my veiled reference to his last days in Chelsea Station, when Control had finally overstretched. The Cousins probing untraceable contacts that petered out in Hong Kong and asking difficult questions about how particular operations were being financed.

“It didn’t smell right did it? You knew where the bodies were buried and helped put a few of them there yourself, but you sensed there was something else going on, something deeper. Isn’t that why you got out and left Roy Ash to watch Control’s back until Percy parachuted in?”

“Oh Peter.”

The sigh had just a trace of impatience.

“I’d had enough of trying to placate Eve. Sitting by a pool in some God forsaken oven with a telex chuntering, purely because I couldn’t trust the Motel not to leak like a rusting tug. Too many moles Peter. That was the problem. Running operations in those circumstances became too trying. It was for a younger man. I couldn’t have survived under Percy, with all those attack dogs of his. And yes I worried about Control. I still worry. The loose ends. I hate loose ends.”

We both knew that while Control had supposedly gone rogue after leaving the Motel, George had maintained contact with him. Some assumed Control’s presence in the Leeds Bureau was a long game they’d cooked up to finish off one of the Motel’s old and bitterest adversaries, while others wondered if George was just keeping the channels open to ensure he could anticipate any damage that might come his way should Control finally slip up.

But more than that I guessed he was fretting about Trafford Centre and its spy-master, Kargie. It was Kargie who stood as the implacable reminder of the days when the Circus (as the FA was known) battled to hold back the ever growing threat from Scotland. Like Reivers they rolled South, capturing not just Trafford Centre but Anfield or the “Ghost Hole”, as it has been recently re-christened by the agents of the Motel. But back then under the fearsome Shankski and his successors it was the “Boot Room”.

They had even got as far as the “Library”, when George Gentleman lay siege on our very doorstep with his impeccably drilled cohort. Indeed in the days before Control, Chelsea Station was infiltrated by the “Doc” who when flushed out eventually re-appeared in Trafford Centre to where, many suspected, he had been recruited some years before.

It was only down to a combination of the skills of men like George, who ensured that the Motel and other agencies of the Circus became a bulwark against these enemy sleepers by recruiting heavily from Europe, allied to the inexorable erosion of Scottish finances by the glacier of macro economics that an identifiably English game had survived.

More irksome still for George was that he had very nearly succeeded in curtailing Kargie’s career, but would forever regret hesitating to apply the coup de grace. A palpable empathy with his fellow dwellers in the shadowlands, a core of decency, of humanity, was tangible in his dealings even with the most depraved of operators. And it had cost him dear with the Scottish spy-master.

“It behoves a man to consider the finality of his actions, Peter. There is always a need for consideration. It is a virtue. But when does it become needless hesitation, vacillation? Unfortunately my choices on that particular day have given me some insight into the moment of transition.”

Since he was not an obviously vainglorious man or given to extended periods of self-criticism, I had never forgotten this conversation or its context. The words were spoken in the early morning hours as we headed away from Moscow by rail, having witnessed a particularly bitter and soul destroying triumph for Kargie, which had left George in a strangely reflective state of mind.

He had enlisted my assistance in what he said was a spot of “consultancy work” for the Circus, which he airily referred to as some effort to uncover the latest machinations at UEFA. Yet strangely, after a week’s inconsequential touring of the minor cities of Mittle Europa, he conspired to have us arrive in Moscow just in time to see the Motel’s finest field agents rolled up by a Kargie inspired team from Trafford Centre.

It was then that I came to suspect that George’s “freelancing” and “consultancy” might have closer ties to the Motel than he cared to reveal. But given the disdain he had for Percy and his manner of conducting operations, I found this knowledge rather unsettling. And how did this co-exist with ongoing contact with Control, the irascible grey beard, whose unspoken surname, synonymous with one of Hitchcock’s most famous villains, gave rise to the jocular nickname for the Chelsea Station?

George was far from retired then. His requests for excerpts from files, confirmation of dates and other small enquiries, along with providing a companion on a few road trips or “sojourns”, as he referred to them when a lighter mood was on him, had told me that much over time. But obscuring the nature of his “projects” while requiring my trust, so that he would not imperil what was left of my career at the Motel, was his way of protecting me and yet keeping me within his ambit.

I had become convinced that it was his sure-footed sense of Kargie’s weaknesses and his careful prompting from the shadows that enabled the Motel to successfully turn Peter Kane and bring him into Chelsea Station. And equally his prolonged absence from London while tracking down his errant wife to a backstreet souk in a small Algerian town a few years back, meant there was no-one to prevent what I, but few others, could clearly see was a Kargie counter stroke, the employment of Ray Gourmet.

Percy had always protected himself with the same team of ruthless figures. The urbane American-trained lawyer Brice Buick, the dead-eyed Eastern European enforcer Eustace Baumgartner and the glacial Russian arch communicator Marta Dontaslipova. But they had their limitations. The bright new world of 164-bit encryption, algorithms, facial recognition software, drones and the other facets of modern intelligence might be their strengths but they evidently lacked the tradecraft that a man like George Smallie brought to negotiating the murky waters of espionage.

Otherwise they would have refrained from seeing Gourmet replacing Kane as yet another coup for the organisation. They would have been looking to stage left, looking for subtleties, changes in tone, in temperature and most importantly taking the long view, three, four, five steps ahead.

“Anticipation, Peter, anticipation. It all comes to nothing if you are not looking beyond the horizon, making sure the sun is going to rise tomorrow.”

George had uttered what at the time seemed merely a pointless aphorism when we were discussing whether the Cousins taking over Anfield was a good thing. Only now, with the very recent events at the Motel fresh in my mind, was I was starting to appreciate how carefully chosen those words were. I now had reason to believe that George was already deeply embedded in one of those opaque, subtle, strategic ploys for which he was legendary.

Convincing evidence of this emerged during the past summer when Bernard Roper, one of George’s proteges was taken on by our “friends over the water” to run the field operations for Anfield, now finally purged of the Shankski Boot Room idealogues. All the better to keep an eye on Dennis Mores and his team across the Stanley Park divide as well. Mores, a steely-eyed Pict was very much in the Kargie mould and George was obviously concerned as to his future movements along with suspecting there was a reason his stairwell had seen the termination of Calvino’s Motel career.

Placing sleepers and active agents had always been part of the game and the Motel was no exception. This summer had all the hallmarks of George working below the radar. For not only was there now a key man in the Ghost Hole but Three Point Lane was graced by a recent graduate of the Motel’s tough training regime as well. Coupled with operations in Madrid and Paris already up and running (the re-emergence of Calvino), it was obvious that George had been backing more than one horse these last few years. For this work was too, too subtle for Percy and his colleagues to have managed alone.

Having wittingly, or otherwise, played some role in these machinations, I was expecting ever more regular work with George as projects gained traction. But the opposite had been the case. And while I had hesitated to call on him and had indeed apologised, the ball had really been in his court.

So, even as I surveyed successful Motel field operations in London and Munich during May, I was uneasy. He had trained me well and I had a heightened sense of anticipation for what might presage disaster.

“You have to always be conscious of absence, Peter. Sense that pieces are missing from the jigsaw even before you lay them out.”

And throughout the autumn an awareness of something being deficient had gnawed at me. As is always the case when a major crisis starts to unfold, events were now verifying those concerns but also moving almost too fast.

“George, I think Kargie is making a significant move. I know you’ve suspected he’s got someone high up in the Circus, well I’m now sure he’s also got a placeman in the Motel. It’s the only way I can explain these recent events.”

George was motionless for some time. I sensed he was weighing options, preparing to offer a deeper insight into a situation of which he feared the consequences. Then slowly he eased the curtain with the forefinger of his free hand. The classic side step.

“You said no-one knew you were here? Are you sure about that?”

His gaze was fixed on the road below.

“Seven cars back. Other side of the street. Been there for at least 20 minutes. Seems vaguely familiar.”

“He’s one of my “groundsmen”.”

“Ah, one of those quaint euphemisms they’re so fond of down at the “Pitchowners”. How are you doing there by the way?”

As if I needed to tell George what I felt about being farmed out to a remote station away from the Motel, with a brief to run interference and throw up sufficient chaff to jam the radars of the trustees and overseers, while Percy and his team went about their business.

“Oh I’m tickety-boo, George, just tickety-boo.”

I paused, waiting a response. A silence sat between us.

“And the reason you recognise the man watching my back is that he’s Jim Sutton.”

“The scalphunter from Hackney?”

“That’s him.”

“And you trust him?”

“With my life.”

“Yes, I see. You may need him sooner than you think.”

George frowned.

“But he can be a little… explosive can’t he? I seem to remember a rumpus with two of Langley’s finest in that rather dingy bar in Budapest, something about the pronunciation of Uipest Dozsa wasn’t it?”

“Something minor like that. But they’d all had a lot to drink.”

“Do you know, Peter, to this day I still have no idea what he meant by shouting at the two Americans, “And you can pair-up if you like. And you can fucking pick someone else to help you and you can bring your fucking dinner”.”

I smiled. George’s well modulated suburban delivery couldn’t convey the tone of senseless violence and extreme menace that phrase carried when uttered by a man like Jim Sutton.

“I’m not overly familiar with the argot of the Hackney native either I’m afraid, George.”

“I seem to remember that their dinner was an ever present part of their vocabulary when I worked for a short time in the “Mystic East”. And it wasn’t only our people. There was someone in the Flying Squad down the road in Walthamstow. Regan I think his name was. He always threatened suspects with the fact he hadn’t eaten his dinner. Don’t you find it rather curious how different meals are culturally significant to different groups of people? Americans seem obsessed with breakfast, the professional middle class always talk of “doing lunch” yet over in East London they have a show on the television called “In Bed With Me Dinner” fronted by a comedian who supported Leyton Orient.”

“Anthropology isn’t my strong suit. But it’s important to note that for the natives, Leyton, Walthamstow and Hackney are all really North East London, George. I’m not sure how far the “dinner” thing extends into East London proper, which starts somewhere around Stepney or Plaistow, I’m told.”

It was difficult to resist the opportunity to subtly correct a man as fastidious as George in matters of geography.

“Yes well, back to business. Perhaps you’d like to go through some of the details of the last few days. I’ve been out of town. Is that “off the grid” or “under the radar”? Technology moves so quickly. Anyway, I have rather fallen behind events…”

The manner in which his voice tailed off as he moved from the window to the comfort of an armchair alerted me to the possibility that while Eve might be in the Chilterns, it wasn’t for antiques. And if George had taken his eye of the ball, it could only mean that his trip involved considerable heartache, which was a worry, as I needed the full focus of his forensic mind.

Starting with the difficulties of the West Bromwich and Turin operations, pausing only to reflect on how George interpreted the presence of a former Motel Scotsman in the Midlands, I laid out how Swiss Rob, the head of Field Operations had paid the price. I then took him through what I knew of the hurried meetings, night flights and encrypted communications which left the wranglers in a state of high agitation as they worked on them. And more importantly, how often conversations stopped when you entered a room, suspicious looks across meeting tables, hurriedly scribbled notes. I was careful to covey the febrile atmosphere.

“And then in walked Ibanez. Calm as you like, George. Now how could that be?”

“But you seem to think Kargie’s behind this? Now Ibanez is many things, but not a product or asset of Trafford Centre, of that we can be sure.”

“Oh give me some credit, George. It’s about who’s put him in there.”

“You know only Percy makes the final decision on the Head of Field Operations.”

“George, come on you’re being deliberately obtuse.”

I’d watched Smallie’s surgical interrogation technique carefully extract information without the target even knowing sometimes. Like leaving hospital only to realise days later that you no longer have a spleen. It was a layered, careful eliding of fact and supposition.

I sensed that I was now the subject of just such a procedure. What I had only seconds to decide was where George was already positioned, because while some of these small details were new to him, despite my previous concerns about his focus, he was exhibiting all the facets of a man ready to make his move.

“How do I put this? Percy is a man of singular mind. He has his objectives and is ruthless in achieving those, as we’ve observed. I think his being so focused on where he wants to be in a year’s time has enabled someone to convince him and the board that Ibanez is the man he currently needs. It’s the only rational explanation I can see. But you try and put a finger on who first tabled the name, and when, and you’re met by blank stares. But whoever that person is, they have a motive that can only come from Trafford Centre because the arrival of Ibanez will surely destroy everything we’ve worked for, George.”

“Perhaps that’s a little over dramatic, Peter, but the situation is serious. Gourmet of course is not our man, but merely there to confuse matters. That much you’ve worked out I take it?”

“Yes, George. That’s a given.”

“Well, there are no easy answers to this, particularly as we are on the outside looking in. We have to move quickly and get our hands on as much relevant material as possible.”

As always George’s first point of departure were the files. It was one of his earliest lectures.

“Research, Peter. You have to do your research. Detail is everything. Few can keep control of the detail. That’s the imprint in the sand, the shred of cloth on the branch, the hair on the pillow.”

I let the irony of the last observation hang heavy in the air, unsure how to take up the conversation.

Sitting back in the armchair, with his legs crossed, he slowly extracted a handkerchief from a trouser pocket, carefully removed his glasses and started to polish them in a distracted fashion.

“Do you still have your Registry access?”

“I do as a matter of fact. I’m on good terms with one of the archivists.”

A slow smile crossed Smallie’s lips.

“And charm was of course another of those salient features. Veracity and charm. Quite the winning combination with the fair sex.”

It seemed superfluous pointing out that the dynamic of male-female relations had changed somewhat from the days of quiet assignations in a Carnforth Station Tea Room.

“I’ll compile a list of the material we must have a sight of. We will definitely need a number of communications logs and I know of half a dozen files we must look at straight away, going back to before Percy took over. But I’m afraid there my memory fails me. But I know someone who can help us.”

“Connie?”

“Yes. Dear old Connie. An almost photographic memory and the powers of recollection undimmed by a lifetime’s predilection for cheap sherry and Turkish cigarettes.”

He was momentarily lost in a private moment of memory. Then he was back to the business of the present.

“The problem as I see it is that Kargie has played a very subtle hand. I’ve thought for some time that he had penetrated the very highest echelons of Chelsea Station. I was sure of it under Control but thought that with the new regime he’d lost his foothold. Somehow, though, he has it back. And to think that an operator like Ibanez is within the walls.”

Little needed to be said between us about the Spanish former Inquisitor. His history spoke for itself. To succeed the Boot Room in the manner he did, said everything.

He put his glasses back on, sprang up and made for the hallway.

“Come on, Lewis, I need a pint to help me think this through.”

And there it was, the famous Smallie impersonation of a well known television detective. It was a signal that he had the appetite for the chase. His blood was up and he scented the chance of a result. The rumpled, careworn figure from a couple of hours ago, was suddenly moving lightly on his feet. The burden of an ever broken heart had been briefly put to one side. There was work to be done.

The character could vary and with it my association. It was always one of the more cerebral figures and his loyal attendant; Holmes and Watson, Morse and Lewis, Foyle and Milner. Famously he once arrived at the Motel as Poirot, addressed me as ‘Astings and claimed his moustache was real and grown for “Movember”. Despite the use of a pool car, when he was in a Sherlock frame of mind we often found ourselves getting suburban trains out of Marylebone rather than driving up the M40.

Well today it was Morse. Refreshment would be taken at his local around the corner and then we would be off to see Connie.

I signalled to Jim Sutton to stay in the car. I didn’t want some hapless Bayswater locals being informed that they could bring their dinner, should my loyal operative get out of shape on the sauce.

To be continued, possibly…




There are 80 comments

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    • bluebayou

       “utterly wasted” Yes it only takes a couple of cans of Special Brew these days :-). Thanks for the kind words.

    • bluebayou

      I enjoyed it, Thought Oldman did a good job. But then I love the slow moving, steady accretion of detail type of spy story. Bond and stuff does nothing for me.I really liked that US series Rubicon that was on recently for the same reason. Pity they only made one series.

      • GrocerJack

        I really enjoyed the original series with Alec Guinness but couldn’t persuade anyone to see this in the cinema. The original series is on order (for those gout or manflu days when I’m immobile). Was this film as good? bearing in mind I think Gary Oldman is a nailed on ‘Sir’ and just about the best british actor around today (I love Winstone….but to be fair he’s a bit Connery-esque in that he tends to play Winstone playing the character)

        Of course, there is also now the Tucker-ism oft in the game of mylife at work and play

        ‘What is this…..Tinker Tailor Soldier…Cunt?’

  1. PeteW

    Hugely enjoyable BB. Am currently reading Mailer’s Harlot’s Ghost, which is the best spy book I’ve ever read (though I have never read much Le Carre). 

    The uselessness of the CIA never fails to amuse me, but then I remember that MI5 was even worse.

    • bluebayou

       I saw you mention that the other day on twitter. Mailer is on my list of writers I have to read before I kark it. Might be a good one to start with then.

  2. Cunningplan

    Excellent work, I think you could get an honorary mention for the Booker prize next year BB

    I’m currently reading Enid Blyton and the Famous Five collection  😉

  3. ChelseaAfrica

    1. Mikel-Ramires(non-English man)-Clantteburg-FA-ChelseaFC. I
    read all the statements severally and only succeeded in understanding the
    literal meaning of the whole saga. Can someone help me out?

    2. ‘1 feeble shot on target from long range after 35 minutes’.
    I can’t even call the football we were playing before an attacking one rather
    than the so called tiki-taka, the one in which we were always opened in defense,
    not even only with better opposition.

    3. It is like when a new manager comes in there is always
    revelation of the weakness of the previous manager. Rafa said in his first statement
    as Chelsea manager about an aspect of football tactics that when your full
    backs move forward the holding midfielders have to stay and vice versa, and this
    really shown in the match with cup holder. I hope his own weakness too will not
    expose soon.

    4. Yes, Rafa was our enemy but now he is the club manager
    whether we like it or not. By booing is like we don’t know what we are doing
    because it will have negative effect on the team and the club at large. So, not
    only the booing is needless or unnecessary but it is also senseless, more so
    that the protest can never lead to his sack unless the billionaire wishes to.

  4. Musumba

    Plasticine fans now booing Benitez, why don’t they start with Torres or are they the same ones that booed Didier and glorified Terry before he was put in the guillotine?all respect to Roberto, but he was slowly losing the plot after the Atletico drubbing ,the subsequent near exit in the CL just made it worse.Its high time we get used to these sackings, i mean its part of that permanent change that typifies the  Romans reign and we have had a fair share of trophies.

    • Blueboydave

      I assume you mean that as a witty comment – or did you run out of steam reading the long article before it gets to the part where it says, if this happens, it won’t be until 2015, which is at least 2 or 3 manager sackings in Chelsea time 😉

      • Cunningplan

        I’m now starting to view our managerial merry go round, as Chelsea doing their green bit for the environment.
        If Jose returns at the start of next season then we can look at it as recycling, the only real flaw in that plan would be if Avram turned up in some form.

  5. Guest

    Much better in my opinion: better teamwork, better pressing, better defending and even our passing was more varied than recently. I
    think, perhaps optimistically, that we might even nick a trophy this
    season. Only negative aspect was our insistence on crossing the ball for the non-existent striker.

  6. Timmy

    Difference between tonight and Sunday. Playing the league Champions and playing a poor Fulham side. If we hadn’t looked a more cohesive unit tonight to truly would have been woeful.

    Simply, we had decent possession, failed to muster more than a handful of opportunities, and have a striker who is afraid now to put himself into a position where he may miss… We also look generally decent at back now.

    How to solve a problem like Fernando indeed?

  7. Biggs

    So, Roman has no problem getting rid of a manager that does not perform – but, sticks with Torres, who does not perform.  Confused.

    The game today was crap again. Clean sheet and all – and it was still crap. What happened to Hazard?

    • Timmy

      I’m guessing his logic is that he didn’t spend £50m to put Robbie in the hotseat. So, ditching him isn’t the same omission of failure that doing the same to Torres would be…

      • Biggs

         oh, but i was referring to a number of managers…doesn’t the total of €uros splurged on them for not finishing the contract reaches close to 50 mil?

  8. GrocerJack

    Dreadful game. Shit atmosphere. Worst for any derby in the entire league I’d guess. A real ‘meh’ feel about it. Wasn’t concerned at Mata and Mikel omissions, Rafa has a point saying some players look knackered and in all honesty we should be able to swap players around without losing too much. Bertrand looked comfortable as attacking left midfielder and Romeu also looked very assured bar one or two errors. But he ain’t a Mikel yet, and Mikel has been pretty outstanding this season, especially in moving the ball out from deep. 

    Luiz has obviously been reined in, he made one or two forays into the opposition half to a deep point but no more. He also has a good understanding with branners, but maybe branners has the seniority over Cahill and a stronger personality. That’s also good to see. 

    Hazard was fine, but has no outlet for his talent. At times it was just bollocks tippy tappy arse gravy football like Arsenal serve up, with no end product. In fact lots of it was very Arsenal like. 

    No players had a very poor game tonight but neither did many shine. Oscar had a stinker 2nd half by his standards, passing poorly, getting in the way and losing the ball with a piss poor touch. Happens to us all, bad day in the office. Marin…..is not a mythical creature!!! And he looked very lively. Cech needs to look up more, on several occasions he had an outball to ‘Dave’ in acres of space on the right but elected for the short pass to Crazy David or Branners.

    Torres. it’s not apathy. It’s just that he’s finished. Done. His chapter is over. Let him go in January, get Falcao, get Bent, get Defoe, give Studge a run, whatever. Fuck me even Crouchy, now he’s on parole form the cupboard we share, could show more skill and effort. 

    One positive is just a few short weeks ago we were losing games like this, or drawing whilst conceding. balance is needed, but until we get a dirty, cheating, diving, spitting, snarling, bullying hungry striker then forget it. 

  9. GrocerJack

    BTW……boy am I glad our Dear Leader didn’t ask me to write the match report. Much like MOTD I’d struggle to get a minute of highlights out of that that dirge.

  10. Joe

    How much is the total cost of Torres – Transfer fee + His Salary + Compensation paid to 3 managers, could have built a new squad with that money, Wake up Roman, and let him go in Jan.

  11. GrocerJack

    just a quickie before whichever poor soul got to do the match report for last night gets their work published. Unlike pete who thinks RA is some sort of kindly benevolent benefactor putting loads kin and taking nothing out (that was the phrase he used) I’d say everything in terms of Chelsea Highs, lows and woes can be laid at the door of RA, Not Buck, not Gourlay, not Tenenbaum, not Emenalo and not Benitez. You may as well blame Neil Barnett. The club is not run as a democracy, or by committee. Only one man hires and fires. Only one man supplies cash for specific players on a whim. Only one man demands certain players play. One man sacked Jose, hired grant, Scolari, AVB, sacked Wilkins, sacked Carlo Ancelotti (I may not like Ancelotti but he deserved another crack) reluctantly hired RDM and then sacked him AT 03:10am (yes that’s the true time of the sacking). Only one man bought Torres and Shevchenko and replaced a football based CEO (Kenyon) with a brand fuckwit Gourlay. Only one man hired Benitez despite knowing the large number of fans who didn’t want him. 

    Roman Abramovich. I’ll say it. I think it’s time to go. 

    • mark_25

      Yes, why not.

      Ken Bates will be free from Leeds soon so we could have him back.  Maybe appoint Neil Warnock as manager.

      I’m sure Ken will provide sufficient funds to acquire a new centre forward, maybe enough for the likes of Darren Bent?

      • GrocerJack

        I hated Ken Bates. An embarassing prick.  But at least he spoke to the fans. Even if it was with utter contempt. You knew wyere you stood with him. Roman is treating us with contempt but not even bothering with the contemptuous communications.

        My gut feel is Warnock would be hated at 8/10 rather than 10/10 from the mewling hordes. Which is an improvement. Small steps and all tnat 🙂

        And at this moment I’d take Bent over Torres. I’d take Fleck over Torres.

        Hell… I’d take Stephen Hawking over Torres. At least he’d be able to exlain the maths behind our failure to score.

    • PeteW

      This isn’t anything close to what I said. 

      I said Roman has made some fuck ups – the big three being signing Shev, signing Torres and sacking Ancelotti – but he’s also responsible for all the good, the trophies, the new training ground, the great players, the regular European football and he does it all with his money, he isn’t using us to make himself richer like Arsenal and United. Generally speaking, he’s very much in credit and it would be pretty churlish not to appreciate that. But he’s on thin ice with Benitez, the mood is revolting.

      • GrocerJack

        “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”

        Yes, maybe I can see why I interpreted it that way. It wasn’t meant to slur, it was me making a point in a cumbersome manner. However, Benitez is not too blame for the current state of the club. Like you I didn’t say we were that bad last night and individually no-one bar Torres didn’t put a decent shift in. But no-one could have that negative an influence in a week. Going into the lasty 2 games we’ver been impotent or incontinent in equal measure.

         My point was a bit like the way people feel about…God.

        God is good, all seeing, benevolent, loves us, provides for us. The miracle of birth, the joy of parenthood, the beautiful landscapes and he gave us free thought etc…… 

        BUT

        All of this on the condition that we worship him/her. Benevolence it seems is conditional.

        So much so, that before we even breathe our first we are born with sin. Just as a little reminder of who holds the power. Fuck you newborn, you’re a sinner because I, God, say so. God is the creator and therefore everything that happens is because of God. Famine. Cancer. Childhood death. Poverty. Terrorism. Hatred. Racism. The list of shit that God throws our way (if you believe…I don’t… is endless) and seemingly even those who worship aren’t immune to suffering. Mysterious ways indeed. Cuntish ways is another. If God exists, then he/she is bipolar. His alter ego is Satan. But they are one and the same.

        I’m not calling RA God, but I wonder if he has that God complex. On a much smaller scale he has created this Chelsea and given it all the good stuff. Along with all the shit that long standing fans are getting rather tired of. Yes, we have the new training ground (one for the fans there) and great players, immense success and a global ‘brand’. All of that you might think would be enough for unchallenged loyalty, but just like God he chucks in the shit as well. Piss poor PR inflamed by piss poor management. Fuckwit executives (Kenyon was an error because he was rather good at the job), trigger fingers reacting like a 5 year old who doesn’t like a particular toy, hollywood players way past their sell by date, stitiching managers up with broken promises, team interference, CPO/New ground arrogance and subsequent cock-up. He’s a multi-billionaire success so running stuff isn’t new to him. He isn’t ‘learning’ his trade. He thinks he can control more than he can, and when things go wrong he veers from extreme to extreme.

        A classic God complex control freak and totally to blame for the current situation. There is no plausible deniability for RA as he controls  everything. Micro-managing his ‘project’ whilst the faithful flock meekly comply, bought by the heady drug called success.

        Well, I’m sticking my neck out here. I’ve been as guilty of being swept along but now I’m tired of it. My eyes are open. I’ll stick with it because I love the club, but now the milk has been tainted. I had a veneer of cynicism on the football industry anyway. It’s now a suit of armour. This latest fiasco would be rewarded anywhere else in industry or politics with the head being chopped. Yet not one CFC exec has fallen on their sword. Why not? Well, they’re jolly well paid to ensure what Roman wants, Roman gets. They have been bought. They have sold their souls. And that goes for coaches as well. Jose excepted who I suspect was ejected because he refused to accept that level of impotence in his role.

        I care not a jot for Rafa in reality. I don’t hate him. I don’t like him. He deserves his chance. But his employment is purely down to RA and his trigger finger. Not Buck. Not Gourlay. Not anyone else except Roman.

        If Roman goes it’s a pretty solid guarantee that someone else with deep pockets is waiting to own a prime piece of London estate witha  huge revenue source almost guaranteed and a global brand.   

    • Nick

      I spared some poor soul the pain of writing a match report by forgetting to ask some poor soul to do one. I was out all day with an old school friend on a mini pub crawl of our old home town celebrating the day after my birthday. Links to match reports and “highlights” are on the home page.

      Rafa Benitez. I’ll say it. I think it’s time to go.

      As you were.

  12. PeteW

    I didn’t actually think we were all that bad in the second half. First half was dire, about as bad as it gets, no ambition at all, very Rafa-like. But second half was an okay game of football, plenty of shots, they were just all blocked.  Benitez has got them organised very quickly, but he’s sucked all the life out of them up front. 

    This isn’t what Roman wants, though, and Benitez needs to add something going forward very quickly. Apparently it took him three years to get Valencia playing decent football and it was about the same with Liverpool. He has about two months here, I reckon… (thought – Hiddink was a bad thing for us because it gave Roman the idea that a sharp change will ALWAYS bring immediate rewards. RDM confirmed that. But Benitez is not an impact coach.)

    Be interesting what happens in Tokyo, morale could plummet or it could be the bonding session they need – a mid-season mini training camp….Hazard needs a rest, start Marin or Moses. Romeu is not a great player. Torres needs shooting.

    • GrocerJack

      Agreed, Japan might be the tonic required. I only thought one player had a rough period (useless lumps aside) and that was Oscar who went awry second half with passing, touch and tackling. To be fair he looked shattered though. Maybe benitez has a point about fitness levels and the key players are just a bit tired. Fulham had a defensive game plan which to be fair also worked. At points Oscar and Hazard had 3 players on them within seconds.

      Marin looked capable for the 10 minutes he got and Romeu was OK but not as assured as Mikel has become (vast improvement but I’ve always liked Mikel)

      Can anyone confirm if the mazy Frei run was a dive or if we did….ahem…..halt his progreess?

      I hear Hiddinck is retiirng, but am buggered if I can find one single report on this. I know he’s had previous heart issues (minor but real) and he does like a celebratory stogie as well knew from the dressing post Everton FA cup final. I do wonder if that means a boardroom type role for him with us, replacing Campbell perhaps, or even slotting in above Emenalo. That would be no bad thing.  

  13. Blueboydave

    I refer you again to that quote from the official announcement of Mad Rafa’s appointment:

    “a manager ….who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives”.

    What in Boo-nitez’s history made Roman think he could achieve anything quickly?

    Still, playing a mid-table side who’ve come to defend, we play with even more defenders than v Citeh and take 30 minutes to get a shot on target [against 35 on Sunday] and actually manage a couple more in the 2nd half.

    It looked dire on TV and the bloke from the PA doing the stats for the Beeb must have had a brain-freeze moment too, as he put 13 of our 17 attempts as “on target”, which MOTD duly reproduced even though they struggled to find the 3 real ones to show again.

    I fear Uncle Avram is on the phone already offering to step in again…..

  14. limetreebower

    I sit pretty much in line with where the Frei incident happened (edge of the Shed End penalty box) and didn’t think it was a penalty for a moment, though I didn’t think it was a dive either. At full speed it looked like an innocent tangle. Could be wrong.

    It was a pretty dismal game. If one of our half-chances had gone in, though, everyone would be saying we’d been ‘tight’ and ‘disciplined’ and pointing out that we looked well on top in terms of dangerous possession. I have no problem with the selection either; the coaching staff will know whether Mata and Obi need some rest.

    But Roman’s own behaviour means that everything happening at the club can only be defined by short term results. So, successive nil-nils means a sterile team. I don’t know what he does if this goes on for another few weeks. He’s painted himself into a bit of a corner, hasn’t he? Can he really ditch Rafa in, say, January? But then if we keep failing to win games, how can he not?

    It’s ridiculous. Tony’s quite right. Roman’s done innumerable good things for the club, elevating us into a front-rank European team, but now that the investment in facilities and playing staff is pretty much sorted bar the inevitable future stadium issue, it’s the owner’s job to create stability. Who’s going to stand up to him and insist he does so? The fans? I suspect we all feel safer (me included, I have to confess) booing Rafa.

  15. PeteW

    Anybody heard the rumour that Roman called in six fans on Sunday before the City game and gave them the lowdown on what’s being gone on and what the future plan is?

    Some good comments here, and LTB is very good on ‘the painted himself into a corner’ line, it is absolutely true. As far Roman, well if we could replace him with somebody just as rich and not likely to turn Stamford Bridge into a block of flats, I wouldn’t mind him leaving now – but as somebody who is naturally cautious, i’d be terrified we’d end up with some Glazer/Hicks&Gillette style wideboys at the helm, and after seeing the club nearly go udner in the 80s – well, that worries me a lot more than having a different manager every other month, even if it does occasionally mean one we don’t like.

    With Frei – notable that nobody in a white shirt appealed for a pen at any point, which made me fairly sure the ref had made the right call. 

    And yes, oscar was very poor. The movement of front four wasn’t great (Hazard improved second half) but Fulham closed down space very quickly and put in a huge number of blocks.

      • Blueboydave

        Err, pardon my cynicism,  but is there any reason why we should treat this story with any less scepticism than if he claimed he’d been transported to a spacecraft by aliens from the planet Tharg, who revealed the Meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything to him – but he didn’t feel he could tell us the details?

        • Nick

          I’m with you, BBD. Take (almost) everything you read on the internet with a pinch of salt. It remains rumour as far as I’m concerned. That said, if one of the Chelsea Bloggers had been part of the meeting and written about it here, I would believe them. It all comes down to who you trust.

  16. Der_Kaiser

    Read that a day or two ago and found it all a bit far-fetched.  Can’t see why Roman would want to ‘judge the mood’ after the event aside of anything else, and the likelihood of them explaining the reason behind Robbie’s departure to a bunch of fans – sorry, just doesn’t wash.

  17. Agh57

    Agreed. Let’s face it if Roman had wanted to “judge the mood” after each managerial change he’d be getting towards the end of season ticket holders by now.

  18. Vik Sohonie

    Been away for a few days, lovely piece BB.  Great way to spend the time on a flight. 

    I wrote in one of the match reports that anyone who professes to understanding the workings of Roman’s mind is lying.  

    From sacking Robbie, to hiring Benitez, to regretting our decision to pull up Clattenburg, the club’s image is truly tarnished after such a magnificent season. 

    I still believe Torres’ form and the decision to drop him against Juventus had a great deal to do with Robbie’s sacking.  And I think Roman really wants to see his 50m plaything come good, and that is one of the few reasons Benitez was called upon.  Just my not-so-profound theory. 

    “Double-dip transition” should be the buzz words for the season.  

    West Ham away – one of the favorites of the footballing calendar.  Have my Fuller’s London Porter waiting to be savored for the London derby. 

    C’mon you blues!

  19. Benjami

    Lol great performance from Carlton Cole, shows how much influence a Striker can have on the game. Torres was laughable again, other than one moment he did nothing, it is like playing with 10 men, and no I am not using him as a scapegoat.

    We also can’t take Torres off as we need someone to stay up front ;/ recall lukuka Benitez!!

    So annoyed by that performance, we could be outside the top 4 by Xmas if this continues.

    We lack power and drive, can’t wait for Frank to be back.

  20. Blue_MikeL

    Simply ridiculous, but it is worse than 10 men on the pitch, because when ever he gets a pass he (Nando) loses the ball even before he has an opportunity to touch it. WHO IS THAT FUCK THAT DECIDED TO BUY HIM?! Emenalo, who is it? AVB, Di Matteo, now Benitez come on guys there is no way anybody can resurrect him. He plays like shit he scores like shit (doesn’t score) he is a damn shit! Should be freaking sold or sent out on loan this coming January. Bring back who ever, somebody who can at least hold the ball. Emenalo should be fired , big time fired!      

  21. dustylancer

    Well I laughed. What other recourse is there for fans when the fuckwit who is also our glorious benefactor takes out a man that won him a CL trophy replaced him with Rafa, a tourist for a mere six months.

    The oft qouted fact of Chelsea having great success thanks to managerial merry-go-round has one huge caveat. None of the core that Mourinho led for 2 years is now on the field. The core sharpened and honed to a deadly blade now resembling a cheap Chinese knockoff.

    There is no one at the helm long enough to inspire the same grit, loyalty, determination and arrogance that fashioned a team so good it lasted through 6 managers. The result is, you have what you saw today. Atleast under RDM we rallied back. The team was beginning to get behind someone, even if his appointment was for a year. With him gone and Rafa in charge, I would really love to know what is going through the minds of the current players. Despite of all the talk of them being massively overpaid sportstars there are and will always be the same inherently flawed human beings the rest of us are, and I don’t see how you can build any relationship of substance when the man you take orders from might be fired in a few short months. Not only do you have to do the whole song and dance routine for the new guy, you basically do it at the expense of your teammates. This does definitely not promote unity or trust.

    Its ironic its been a decade since Mourinho left, his shadow still looms. Roman stupidly keeps trying to fashion a team of the same calibre without addressing the root cause, his interference has too stop at the team level. This being Roman the man with the attitude of a bored four year old is a hard ask. But does he really expect Pep to waltz in here and do the same magically in under a year.

    You cannot build an elite fighting unit if you keep playing musical fucking chairs with the CO.

  22. Guest

     Rafa failed to strengthen the midfield after it became obvious that our
    defenders and midfielders weren’t able to deal with the increased
    pressure from WH midfield. His insistence in sticking with his tactics
    reminded me of AVB efforts to introduce a new system last season. It is
    interesting to see if the club’s board has the patience this time,
    considering that the fans apparently don’t. Personally I hoped for a
    counter measure from Rafa and was bitterly disappointed when none came,
    on the other hand the first half’s performance was encouraging.

  23. Biggs

    look at today from a bright side:

    1. there will be way more posting on the blog than when we win
    2. arsene might be available soon

    hanger…coat…door…

  24. NorthernVA

    Wake me up when the Spanish scouse are gone…for good. The only elixir at the moment is re-watching the second leg against Napoli from last season.

  25. NorthernVA

    At least the reputation and overall relevance of the “Old Guard” has been enhanced over the past few weeks.

  26. SweetDairyAir

    Benitez, the master tactician, got out-thought by Allardyce. Couldn’t he have shored up midfield when he saw what effect Diame was having on their play instead of making straight for straight subs at 70 minutes (Rafa-time). We wouldn’t have been in a position where individual mistakes from Cech or Ashley Cole mattered if we were controlling the match like the first half. Instead he saw the way the match was heading and left it to carry on as such, waited until Rafa-time, made pointless subs, didn’t change anything in terms of shape or tactics or tempo, and hoped Torres would score or whatever.

    Whatever was said or done at half time, let’s hope he never does it again.

    • ChelseaAfrica

      Could you or anyone SPECIFICALLY suggest the change Rafa should
      have made in the second half? Football is not arithmetic, though it has to do with tactics but then psychology, confidence and team spirit have role to play

      • SweetDairyAir

         Firstly I’m not being paid millions of pounds to coach these players but even I could see that Diame came on and changed the whole dynamic of the match. Why didn’t our manager react to that? As someone who isn’t being paid millions of pounds my opinion holds less sway, but why didn’t he bring on Romeu to play alongside Mikel and Ramires to shore up the centre of midfield, to try and negate the effect Diame was having on us. Maybe even bring on Bertrand to help out Ashley Cole and provide more defensive cover. Try to hold onto our winning position.

        Still with no changes being made, after they equalised we instead needed to try and win it. Negating Diame wasn’t as important anymore, instead trying to create more chances and win it was. Why then make like for like substitutions? The second half was going terribly, and bigger things than changing one attacking midfielder for another were needed. One arguably valid criticism of RDM was that he didn’t have a plan B, and couldn’t change games when things weren’t going well. It doesn’t look like Benitez is much better, so what was the point of this whole debacle. One of the big reasons for hiring Rafa was his apparent tactical accumen. We didn’t hire him for his man management skills, ability to suddenly boost team morale, or his relationship with the fans. He was meant to shore up our defence and be tactically more aware than RDM.

        I’m not looking forward to Wednesday because if we go out of the Champions League the atmosphere is going to be toxic. I don’t necessarily agree with the fans who boo, and I can kind of see where Roman is coming from in not trusting RDM, but I just expect a lot better from Rafa. The fact that Sam Allardyce out-thought our manager is pretty embarrassing.

        Finally you made a point about luck. Being strikerless isn’t to do with luck. That was down to the board not signing anyone. It was painfully obvious we were very short up front, but to have made the decision to rely on Torres and Sturridge all season is baffling. The Torres experiment is a failure, and if we don’t buy a forward in January, this is going to be a very long season indeed, a season Rafa looks increasingly incapable of saving unless he gets a signing or two.

        • ChelseaAfrica

          I succumb to your view about the tactical change. But I mean strikerless and luck/bad referring as different points. Especially Cole’s goal, it could’ve disallowed.
          I think Mikel did less with Cole, he was given enough chance to have the ball. Also Cahill for the second goal. How come he left to mark for the throwin considering the fact that almost every chelsea player were there to defend. I personally forgive Ashley for the third goal.
          Thanks to Stoke city and at least Everton

  27. WorkingClassPost

    Half time team talk:

    ‘Go back out there, ponce about, let them dominate, concede a few and don’t score any more’

    Surely we could’ve got Robbie to give a talk like that, and saved £xxxm?

  28. limetreebower

    ‘We didn’t hire him for his man management skills, ability to suddenly
    boost team morale, or his relationship with the fans. He was meant to
    shore up our defence and be tactically more aware than RDM.”

    — I think this is a *hugely* optimistic interpretation of how hiring and firing works at Chelsea.

    No offence though SDA, I see what you mean: but we hired Rafa ‘cuz Roman had found his excuse to get rid of Robbie and he was the most plausible-looking “world class manager” available between now and the end of Guardiola’s self-imposed sabbatical. And that’s it.

    Remember, this is the man who sacked The Eyebrow after one trophyless season, replaced him with someone who was supposed to supervise a long-term transition project and then sacked him too because short-term results weren’t good enough. Also the man who replaced Mourinho with … Avram Grant.

    I’ll keep saying it until they have to lock me in a padded cell: there’s *no point* blaming the manager. (Nothing wrong with booing him, of course, I’m all in favour of that.)

    • ChelseaAfrica

      “Nothing wrong with booing him, of course, I’m all in favour of that”.
      Birds of the same feather.

    • SweetDairyAir

      I agree with your assessment, but I don’t think Roman fires managers without at least coming up with a valid reason, at least for himself. With Mourinho I think in reality he wanted too much power, and Roman wasn”t having that, but I think it could also be argued (to himself at least) that results and the football we were playing were on a downward trend. I don’t necessarily agree with this but then again what do you expect when you sign the likes of Sidwell?! Anyway Ancelotti’s downfall could arguably be the team appearing to be on its last legs, and Roman felt he wasn’t the man to overhaul the team from top to bottom. Going out to Mourinho two years in a row in the Champions League probably didn’t help. AVB was the man who was meant to usher in a new era. In my view at least he didn’t get what he was promised. He was fired for poor results, and RDM rescued the season in a magnificent manner. Having said that, RDM was never Roman’s first choice, and like you said the first excuse he got, he got rid of him. And now we find ourselves in our current situation.

      Like I said I think one of RDM’s criticisms is his lack of tactical acumen. At least on paper that is something that Rafa has, as well as a ‘world-class’ reputation (or close to it). Ultimately I feel that Roman doesn’t just fire managers on a whim. I think he tries to justify his decisions to himself. And in theory Rafa has some of the attributes RDM doesn’t have. Those attributes haven’t manifested themselves (yet?) but hopefully they will soon because no matter how much I dislike Rafa, I want the team to do well. But like you said this is all just a waiting game until he gets who he really wants in the summer. As long as we don’t drop out the top four (even I don’t think Rafa is that bad) he’ll stay, and no amount of ‘Rafa Out’ banners is going to change that. It just harms the team. I’ll just sit at home and quietly stew, and hope the fans do that too instead of boo because it can’t be helping the youngsters like Oscar or Hazard (who don’t appear to have the mental strength of Mourinho-era players) to be hearing things like that. I understand both sides’ point of view but if we are to make progress things probably need to calm down a bit. Maybe Rafa will then be able to perform, because unlike you I do blame the manager, at least today. His decisions, or lack thereof, were baffling. Moreover let’s just get this little period under Rafa over and done with as smoothly as possible, and let’s also hope Roman gets his man in the summer so that maybe, just maybe, there is a degree of stability for a few years at least.

      Of course this is all pure speculation on both our parts because Roman never does interviews. Maybe he just has terrible advisers. Maybe he really does think these are rational decisions. Maybe he’ll fire Guardiola at the first sign of trouble, and we’ll be stuck in the same position again. Maybe he doesn’t want Guardiola at all and is just pining for Mourinho again.

      At least we aren’t Arsenal though.

  29. dustylancer

    @sweetdairyair:disqus  Well we are very close to becoming Arsenal. A joke side who no one fears or respects.
    That’s chiefly it. There was a time when mid and lower table opposition feared us. Dreaded the very sight of a fixture with us. Last few years we’ve been torn to shreds by the very same teams. And it’s funny, cause these same teams go to OT and play like new born babies.

    It’s like us ending Man City’s unstoppable streak. When everyone was saying there were unbeatable, we beat them, and Chelsea were by far one the crappiest teams in terms of performance among the big 4 at that point of the season. Man City din’t do too well after that.

    The simple fact is perception. Roman despite being a firgging billionaire does not get it. Barca is Barca mainly because 90% of all clubs fear them. Whimper like scared pups in their presence. The Chelsea Fulham fixture does not even come close to the ManU Barca CL final. That was by far the most brilliant performance of rolling over and dying I’ve witnessed.

    Now Mourinho instilled and nurtured in 3 key players Drogs, Terry and Lamps a belief and conviction of being better than the rest. Deserved or not, that mentality rubs off on the rest of the squad. I haven’t seen anyone take up that mantle of leadership in the absence of the 3, not even Cole or Branners. Its simple, people need leaders. No manager has been given enough time to nuture that mentality in the future players Chelsea currently has. I mean lets face it do you want to be the prick the current manager deputised to lead the squad, only to have a new manager a few months later. You can see sparks of it in Mata, Oscar and a speck of it in Branners. But I ask with men being simple and vain creatures who need validation, you surely can’t get it from the person with one foot out the door assuring you it’s gonna be ok and the “midget” from Spain won’t terorise them anymore. 🙂

    • SweetDairyAir

       You’re right regarding how other clubs perceive us. Roman doesn’t seem to get it. However if you talked to him, he’d probably tell you that we’ve won pretty much the same number of trophies as Man Utd have since he took ownership. But overall I tend to agree with you that with a stable manager that sense of invincibility can be built up, players’ egos can be soothed (especially if they trust your word because you’ve been in the job a while), and for me at least it’ll make it less embarrassing to say you support Chelsea. We just need the right man, and the long and short of it is, since Mourinho for one reason or another he hasn’t found that man. Let’s hope Guardiola is that man, because those times under Jose were the most productive and successful we’ve had, and relatively speaking that was the most stable management period under Roman.

  30. Blue_MikeL

    I am slightly surprised that nobody discusses our squad depth and abilities. Although everybody noticed that Sam has made a change which had an obvious impact on the dynamics of the game no one could actually suggest what change we should have made to counter it. Please remember that for this game our subs were: Turnbul, Ferreira, Bertrand, Romeu, Oscar, Marin, Piazon. It would be interesting to see someone suggesting a change that could actually make a change (excuse me for this tautology). Who out of 6 is a proven goal scorer that can come out and make an impact, does anybody know?
    Now another question I have is “Who is responsible for squad?” Is it a technical director? If yes, than he is the one who must have been fired some long time ago. I still remember the days when we had 3-4 tested strikers, who could come out and make a change. There is nothing like this right now. We have splashed plenty of money on striking talent, but didn’t get anything adequate for money we spent! Why managers have to pay for this fallacy and not those who are actually responsible for staffing the team. Carlo had to put up with clueless Emenalo as a second manager who is right now our clueless technical director. Obviously something is rotten in  Denmark kingdom.  Questions, lot of questions….
    P.S. The answer may be lies in fact who is an agent of Emenalo. Quick search provides the answer – Pini Zahavi. The same guy who brought to us another clueless manager Uncle Avi. Who knows may be the answer is there.

  31. Guest

    I would have removed Torres for Romeu and moved Moses up front (4-3-3),
    to counter Diame’s introduction, but it’s all academic really. Our squad
    depth is decent in my opinion (if you ignore the fact that our main
    striker is Torres), the actual problem is the lack of tactical
    stability, stemming from the manager merry-go-round. Arsenal, ManU,
    Barcelona and maybe even Swansea all benefit from their tactical
    consistency as they can field average players without suffering a
    significant negative impact on their game. This is because their players know what to do and what the other players will do in any given situation. I
    suspect that when WH changed their approach in the second half, our
    players just didn’t know what is expected of them and they all started
    doing different things resulting in a mix of tactical plans at play at
    the same time.

    • Blue_MikeL

      While I agree that such change might have been interesting neither of them, particularly  Moses up front is a proven change. 
      In the rest I agree with you, since Carlo Ancelotti we didn’t have any proven manager and somebody must freaking pay for it!  

    • Jonno

      I think you are over complicating it.As I saw it as soon as Diame and Taylor come on West Ham pressurised  our central midfielders ,Mikel  Ramires and Mata ,won every second ball and stopped them. playing out from the back as we were doing in the first half.Same thing happened against West Brom ,Swansea and Juventus.Basically we struggled to  get control of the ball and when we did we gave it away cheaply. .Seems to me a change of personnel in our central midfield position is required as clearly what is happening now is not working and other teams will quickly suss out our vulnerabilities. 

      • Blue_MikeL

        We are trying to score and moving the ball forward, but then we hit the wall as there is no body who can score. We, of course, miss the ball and start all over again and again; create chances for no one to convert them. 


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