Last night’s game against Sunderland in some ways defies description. Jose Mourinho was obviously so flummoxed that in his post match interviews he had to fall back on the succinct and forensic summary provided by one of the game’s finest analytic minds. This appeared on Twitter in the moments after the game and before TSO stood before the cameras:
“Why Should I Love My Sport So Well?” – Isaac Watts, 1715
Should occasion ever bring you to Abney Cemetery in Stoke Newington, which nestles in North London between the Emirates and White Hart Lane, you would see standing proudly a statue of the great Non Conformist hymn writer and thinker, Isaac Watts. He wrote over 700 hymns during his 74 year sojourn on this earth before departing in 1748. Some of these would be familiar even to non-church goers, particularly “Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past” and the carol “Joy to the World”. He is buried in Bunhill Fields in Islington but lived for a time in various parts of Stoke Newington, particularly with the Abney family, hence the memorial in the cemetery that carries their name. He was, however born in Southampton. So in honour of the visitors and as it was a Sunday game, I will pepper this report with the hymns of the great man.
The Observer, David Hytner: “For José Mourinho and Chelsea, there was beauty in this East End stroll. Needing victory after the loss at Newcastle United and the fortunate home draw against West Bromwich Albion, they found opponents only too happy to oblige. West Ham United were a shambles in the first half. Sam Allardyce persisted with his 4-6-0 formation and the manager watched his players offer nothing and, seemingly, look to do little more than cling on. So bad were his tactics and his team that he made two substitutions in the 40th minute, with one of the new faces being a striker, Modibo Maïga. Joe Cole was furious to be withdrawn and he stormed straight off to the dressing room. The damage was done by then. Chelsea took advantage of West Ham’s lack of ambition and, also, defensive slackness; the opening goal, thrashed home from the penalty spot by Frank Lampard against his old club, followed a faintly ludicrous lapse. Oscar got the goal that his man-of-the-match performance deserved after the half-hour and that was pretty much that.”
A little preamble
A sad day for our little band of travellers from the Deep South of England into the great metropolis for our occasional delectation of Blue-tinted delights. Our much loved, slightly ramshackle, but always warm and friendly café, The Broadway Grill closed its doors Saturday after 37 years of providing the best proper pre-match fayre on earth. Proper wholesome football food, the sort of stuff that’s a naughty treat, not organic wholesome healthy tasteless expensive shite, but kebabs, burgers, breakfasts, mixed grills, all with chips, bread and butter, pitta bread, chilli sauce and so on. The owners have retired and sold it on and with heavy hearts our next home game will involve a no doubt painful search for something similar, that isn’t Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, gourmet or fucking sushi. To Mum and the family, enjoy your retirement, we’ll miss our Chelsea FC café and all the fellow fans we’ve got to know by face if not name.
A little preamble
So, you’re sat at home, satisfied that as The Dear Leader of the blog and Generalissimo of the Podcast, the Alan Parsons… the Nile Rogers… the Quincy Jones of all Podding Sheds that everything is just tickety-boo under Jose v2.0. Who do you reach for when a potential banana skin fixture scheduled for the atmosphere graveyard of Saturday lunchtime hoves into view… why not that Tony Glover chap, after all he has possibly the best track record of covering potential tricky games (a euphemism for games we’re likely to bollocks up).
Somewhere in a parallel universe, Michael Fish was sitting on the Soccer Sunday sofa, chuckling at the tweet he’d just read.
“There’s a gentleman from SW6 who has heard that the fabled ‘El Nino’ phenomenon has been gathering strength in recent weeks and is due to arrive in London on Sunday afternoon. Well, sir, I can assure you that it’s really nothing to worry about…”
The Sunday Telegraph, Ben Findon: “Chelsea overcame a defensive mix-up to cash in on a controversial goalkeeping incident and a fine display of finishing, eventually subduing Cardiff City to move into second place. Perhaps it was all too much for Jose Mourinho, sent to the stands by referee Anthony Taylor for dissent after stepping beyond his technical area to harangue the official who had appeared to warn Branislav Ivanovic for time-wasting. Mourinho could, at least, admire his side’s newly-acquired predatory instincts alongside some delighted fans in the East Stand as Oscar and Eden Hazard applied a blue sheen to the score.”
A little preamble
The headline for this article? You can blame our beloved Jonny Dyer (@KaiserJonny) for that. He cracked a similar ‘pun’ after a very good strike by our £32m steal from the loathsome Spurs which lit up a turgid second half today.
It was approaching the middle of a typical, sixties black and white, social-realist sort of a Saturday afternoon, when the sound of a key scrabbling for the lock, brought the dapper figure of Mike into the neat, compact hallway of the small terraced house. Dressed in flannel shirt, cable stitched, knitted, sleeveless jumper and corduroy trousers, his tartan slippers squeaked uneasily on the worn, linoleum floor as he watched the door open.
In advance of today’s Manchester derby, there’s been some high-profile nervousness about the possibility of tribal fury spilling over into violence. Managers, players, and officials have all been heard discreetly appealing for calm. Nevertheless, I expect quite a few of the Greater Manchester area’s plods are going to have pulled in a bit of overtime by the time the day is done.
A Little Preamble
It’s been some time hasn’t it?
In fact such is the low key nature of the season so far, one might even be mistaken for it having started. Which it sort of has, and sort of hasn’t. The much maligned international break so early in the season, now a regular feature every year, does beg the question as to why the season starts in August, and why not replace the first two or three weeks of the season with the qualifiers scheduled for September and October? That might serve several purposes, by giving the home international sides the bonus of fit players, might help those players sharpen their match fitness levels and provide a fairly fan unifying opener to the club season. Then once the club season starts it can flow uninterrupted until Christmas. And then have a break. For which a friendly international could be arranged.
The Guardian, Daniel Taylor: “Maybe the game arrived too early in the season to be a classic. José Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford certainly never brought the drama that had been anticipated. No knee-slides in that crisp, dark suit and only a few sporadic moments when David Moyes’s first home game as Manchester United manager looked as if it could turn into one of the nights of his life. For the most part the two men just stood there, hands in pockets, watching two teams slug it out without managing to create a single clear-cut chance.”
The Guardian, Daniel Taylor: “The stadium announcer cleared his throat and held up his microphone. “I’m looking forward to introducing this manager more than the last one,” he told the crowd. Stamford Bridge bellowed its approval and the new era was underway. … [I]t was probably a surprise they did not mark the occasion with a proper thrashing given the way they pummelled their opponents in that opening period. Chelsea’s pace dropped after the interval. They had started to look a little jaded before the end and, for ten minutes or so, Hull were even emboldened enough to start threatening Petr Cech’s goal.”
Some things can be measured absolutely where as others can only be measured relatively or subjectively.
A pint glass containing half a pint of beer is filled to 50% of its capacity. But is it half full or half empty? It’s a subjective judgement depending on your state of mind.
There are those (you know who you are, you know who you are…) who have considered this season to be half empty, desperate for it to end and put it behind us and start afresh, following the resurrection of the chosen Special One.
Personally I view Season 2012/13 as pretty close to the pint marker. Having followed Chelsea for the best part of 50 years I’ve seen plenty of ups and downs with more lean years than years of plenty. Therefore my subjective measurement is based on expectation levels set between 1963 and now.
On a cold day some folk think it’s evidence we’re entering another ice age. But I remember 1963. On a hot day folk get panicky about global warming. But I remember 1976. So instead of getting hysterical, like a Daily Mail headline writer, one or two losses don’t make me inclined to search www.nostradam.us for references to mad Rafa, the devil incarnate.
Looking at the season through my blue-tinted spectacles the glass filling achievements are:
The Observer, Stuart James: “On an afternoon of extraordinary drama in the Midlands, Frank Lampard etched his name into Chelsea history when he struck twice in the second half to surpass Bobby Tambling’s club record of 202 goals and give Chelsea the three points that secures Champions League football next season. Victory, however, came at a huge cost for Chelsea, who lost John Terry and Eden Hazard to injury and finished a pulsating game with nine men. Terry departed on a stretcher, with his left leg in a brace after he collided with Nathan Baker, while Hazard pulled up with a hamstring strain in injury-time, the Belgian’s pained expression shared by those on the Chelsea bench who reacted with despair.”
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The Scene is Set
Here was the deal going into last night’s action:
Arsenal with two games left have 67 and can hope for a maximum of 73.