Brentford 2-2 Chelsea – Stung by the Bees

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The Preamble

I woke gently at 8:30am to a warm, sunny Sunday morning in Britain after the big freeze of the previous few weeks. A day when Britain decides to finally step out of the house en masse to descend upon shopping malls, supermarkets and Sunday markets to the collective sighs of relief from retail giants and minnows facing the ugly prospect of a triple-dip recession as a pre-cursor to the inevitable coalition government cries of it’s a quadruple/quintuple dip recession. All of course caused by the endlessly bleated excuse of ‘the previous mob left us with a huge deficit’ which we all contributed to by just trying to better ourselves.

In fact such was the spring like aura of the day you could say it was the perfect day for a stroll in the park.

It seems our football team thought exactly that.

The Game

Rafael Benitez announced a changed side from the dismal XI that started against Swansea midweek. Not a lot to complain about on paper really. Marin in for Mata. JT back, Dave rested, Ivan back to right-back, Bertrand and Cole on the left, The Coward Torres up front, Oscar and Ramires and Lamps also in. On paper a team more than capable of beating most in the Premier League and certainly making short work of the minnows at Brentford, another South West London side (and arguably my local side from my London residency).

What we actually saw from this highly paid team of elite professionals was one of the most witless, dispassionate, spineless, gutless, apathetic and incompetent displays ever. The issue for me is I’m saying this more and more frequently under Benitez than I have done since Avram Grant. And even in the Grant era, the players decided to ignore him eventually so normal service was resumed most of the time. For about 10 minutes we seemed to be measuring Brentford for size, much like the undertaker does when measuring Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, expecting him to be the next customer. But an early warning came as Brentford fought harder for the ball, won more tackles and seemed unfazed by the bobbly pitch. Surely the Brazilians are used to playing on sanded uneven surfaces? Oscar, Marin and the others did not seem to understand that tippy-tappy bollocks football might seem nice on a surface cut like a green at Wentwoth golf course, but something more substantial might be needed on the rather more robust blades of Griffin Park. We had a half chance when Cole pushed a ball across the Brentford goalmouth only to find, as expected, that Torres was several astronomical units away from the ball. Then the returning, but patently as match fit as Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock, John Terry played a horrific ball back to Turnbull who had rushed from the goal and was forced to collect it with his hands to save even more embarrassment. Back pass. The free kick was in a dangerous spot and thankfully Brentford had no Zola-like figure to slot it in. But it was a warning, not so much of Brentford’s desire (and they had bucketloads) but of the total ineffectuality of Chelsea.

CLICHÉ KLAXON: by 25 minutes you couldn’t tell who was the Premier League team and current European Champions and who was in League One.

Chelsea did not create a chance of note during the rest of the half and on 42 minutes, by which time the only team looking to play the game and score, was Brentford, they finally got their reward and finally got our just desserts. One of the slumbering giants of the game, Frank Lampard, and I mean this almost literally because he is a giant and to me he might as well have sleepwalked through the game, catastrophically lost the ball which let a Bee in for a stinging shot which Turnbull could only parry to Trotta who slotted home with laser-like precision. It was bloody terrible from Frank. Maybe Turnbull could have parried it harder but to blame Turnbull is plain wrong and he is merely the patsy for an overall display of utter cuntery from Chelsea in the first half. The fans berated Benitez as expected and deserved and Brentford fans sung”

“Champions of Europe? You’re having a laugh.”

And they’re right. We look as much like Champions of anything as Paddy McGuinness does of winning Mastermind.

Half time came and the expected howls of derision from the away support must have made Benitiez flinching. Hopefully it made the players do the same because as much as Benitez ‘don’t lose the game before you’ve won it’ tactics are poor, the players work rate was worse than any Sunday morning dog walkers in the park.

Marin was duly sacrificed (a bit harshly in my view as Bertrand was woeful) with Juan Mata. Good news you might think, but the sad fact is if we can’t beat a League One side without Mata then we really are a one man team and seriously in the crap. However, we immediately looked a bit keener and after 55 minutes Oscar showed some sheer delightful skill to equalise with a lovely goal. Would this open the floodgates? Well no not really. We dominated possession again but failed to really capitalise on an inevitable temporary period of dropped Brentford heads. It was better, but despite the ESPN commentators waxing a bit too lyrical about our perceived dominance, I still felt we were vulnerable. I’ll be blunt. Barely a Chelsea player looked worthy of being in Brentford kit today. JT was so far from the races today he looked like there might be a kindly vet waiting to cover him in a blanket at the end of the game and do the kindest thing. Frank looked shot… did he really need to play today? Turnbull looks rusty as expected from rarely seeing any proper first team football. I’d much rather see a Shilton/Clemence rotation policy between Cech and Courtois next season. It’ll upset Cech, but the fact is we need a dominating and match ready second goalkeeper.

On 72 minutes, Brentford carved our defence apart, Turnbull came out, dived to a player’s feet, player jumped over Turnbull but went down. Penalty. A soft one in my view as replays showed no contact, but as the ref looked about my age and 10 kilos heavier we’ll gloss over that. The much vaunted (by ESPN and Brentford) Forrester stepped up and cooly slotted home. 2-1 and our world was on the verge of a deadly tailspin. Still, the bright side was that might finally mean Rafa’s future post June would be sealed. His inexplicable replacement of right-back (Ivan) for right-back (Dave) when we are trying to win a game after the like for likes versus Swansea are part of the reason I’ve now concreted both my feet firmly into the Rafa Out camp. It’s not what he said in the past, it’s that time blurred my memory of just what an indistinct, mediocre and ever so slightly inept coach he is.

On 82 minutes, after the introduction of Ba and the long overdue removal of Bertrand, The Coward Torres finally did something useful, perhaps for the first time since we beat Arsenal at the Emirates (September?) and scored what has to be said was a very nice goal. 2-2 and both sides huffed and puffed until the final whistle. As Omid Djalili tweeted perhaps it was solidarity with our smaller West London brothers and a deserved injection of cash for them with a replay at Stamford Bridge. Redistibution of wealth and all that. Truth is of course we were just very lucky.

Blue Cheese

  • Ramires – one of the few unfazed by rough and tumble Brentford and rough and tumble Brentford pitch.
  • Mata – where would we be without him.
  • Torres’ goal – if we criticise for the bad then we should applaud for the good and his goal was very good and IMPORTANT!

Mouldy Cheese

  • Rafa Benitez – enough with the ‘don’t lose the game before you’ve won’ tactics and like for like subs.
  • John Terry – truly awful and if he’s match fit then I’m Mo Farah. Surely it can be good he got a full game though.
  • Frank Lampard – a legend who was awful today. We all have days like that. Rest him for Reading.
  • The whole team display – a disgrace to the name of our club, I think we might just be the worst ever Champions of Europe to date.
  • Craig Burley – bitter ex-Blue suggesting a back pass to the keeper for which the FA law states is an indirect free kick, could have been denial of a goal scoring opportunity even though the Oldham player was three yards from the ball that JT passed back.
  • Martin Allen on the sidelines with ESPN pitch crew. Ditto. Fuckwittery personified.
  • Craig Burley again. Because I really can’t stand the bloke.

Subjectively Inaccurate Player Ratings

  • Ross Turnbull – 5/10 – Rusty and probably not good enough for us.
  • Branislav Ivanovic – 7/10 – One of the few to show any desire.
  • John Terry – 2/10 – Dreadful and obviously not match fit.
  • Gary Cahill – 4/10 – After huge display against Arsenal I suspect the baby is keeping him awake.
  • Ashley Cole– 5/10 – Busy. Clumsy and gave the ball away. Lots.
  • Oscar – 7/10 – A point for the goal but expected better on rough surface from Brazilian youngster.
  • Ryan Bertrand – 3/10 – I want to like him but fear he’s just a left-back and no more.
  • Ramires – 7/10 – One of the few to fight, tackle and hassle the opposition.
  • Marko Marin – 3/10 – Lightweight and easily bullied off the ball. Not writing him off though, he needs more games.
  • Fernando Torres – 5/10 – Was on for yet another stinker of a score but finally gets a VITAL goal which got him at least two marks.
  • Juan Mata (sub) – 8/10 – Laying claims to be the new Zola but I worry what happens if he can’t play.
  • Demba Ba (sub) – 6/10 – He comes on, we equalise. May or may not be linked but we look far better with him than without him.
  • Dave (sub) – 6/10 – Not a lot to say, not on long but looks a very good buy.
  • Manager rating – 2/10 – Detached. Aloof. Average. Mediocre. Dull. Obstinate. Risk averse.
  • Overall team performance – 4/10 – Rotten for the most, occasional flashes of brilliance but attitude and desire and steel all missing.

Man of the Match


Not a Chelsea player worthy of this. So I’ll give it to the young Brentford lad Harry Forrester who looked like he wanted to win so much he’d burst.

Final Thoughts

First of all. Listen to the Podding Shed. Tweet it, Facebook it, paint walls like Banksy with the details. You’ll love it. Probably.

I’ve said enough about the match. So here’s my Benitez theory. He doesn’t hate us. He doesn’t much like us. No football manager should have to like the club he works for. He’s clever enough to know that by working for us on an interim basis he is in the shop window. He doesn’t become a forgotten man of football. He’ll get a decent club as well when we’ve discarded him. I can see him getting the Villa post, or possibly someone like Dirty Leeds should they get up. Everton could reunite him with his beloved city of Liverpool although I doubt any Evertonians would be very welcoming, despite his dignity surrounding the traumas of the city. I say Everton because my dark horse for our job is David Moyes. Fuck all this ‘unproven’ bollocks I hear about him, he’s performed nothing short of miracles for Everton with next to zero cash. I think he could be another Ferguson and a dour steely Scotsman is what we need in the pampered changing room of Stamford Bridge. Even Ivan would cower under Moyes in a full Caledonian rage. So Rafa is being quite clever. We get third or fourth and qualify for the Champions League and he gets a plumb new role and can refer to the job he did with us as being tough under the circumstances but he did what was asked of him.

Of course my first choice would be Jose and his tenure at Real Madrid looks increasingly like it’s drawing to a close. And there’s mileage in his return – massive revenue lift from season ticket renewal, merchandising and for Fat Ron the all-important brand impact. For the sheer business side alone it makes sense. For Jose it means a return home to a club where he was almost universally loved, older but not necessarily wiser. It’s unfinished business for Jose. So I want Roman to swallow his pride and make this happen. Jose’s brand of three year top down winning mentality and cultural change is exactly what we need.

We have to bite the bullet as I doubt even we’d sack two coaches in one season, but the shame of it is what should have been a season of transition on the road to a strategic end game of continual success with a younger team and different style has turned into a car crash season of failure and scrabbling for the scraps that United and City leave behind.

And that’s unacceptable.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!

Press Reports

The Independent, Glenn Moore: “From the moment that Chelsea were forced to enter the Griffin Park pitch through a guard of honour of ball boys it was clear this was to be an uncomfortable day for the FA Cup holders and so it proved with League One Brentford twice poised to despatch them. In the end a brace of equalisers from Oscar and Fernando Torres enabled the European Champions to avoid a humiliating exit and with no players sent off and no ball-boys harmed it turned into a relatively quiet afternoon by their standards.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “At one point in the second half, with the League One hosts leading 2-1, Brentford’s raucous fans enquired of their visitors: “champions of Europe? You’re having a laugh.” Chelsea didn’t even look like FA Cup holders for long periods. They recovered to force a replay through Fernando Torres seven minutes from time but this was a deeply unconvincing performance.”

The Guardian, David Hytner: “Thank heavens for Fernando Torres. Chelsea were staring at FA Cup humiliation at the hands of League One opposition and Rafael Benítez was feeling the fury of the club’s travelling support when the striker, who has become synonymous with a failure to deliver when it really matters, cast off the shackles. Torres’s late equaliser was marked by the kind of quality that persuaded Chelsea to break the British transfer record to sign him and, although it is trite to suggest that it repaid a slice of the £50m fee, there could be no doubting the relief that it brought.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “The Blues are still alive in the FA Cup, but if we are to secure our place in the fifth round we will have to get the better of Brentford in a replay at Stamford Bridge after a 2-2 draw at Griffin Park. Our defence of the trophy looked in jeopardy at times, but we showed good character to fight back on two occasions in a frenetic west London derby.”

Goals

42′ Trotta 1-0
55′ Oscar 1-1
73′ Forrester (pen) 2-1
83′ Torres 2-2




There are 74 comments

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  1. Blue_MikeL

    well, not much to say really, but looking at Liverpool and other EPL sides dumped by lower teams glad we had a draw 🙂 and earned replay. 
    Ba had worked his arse to pass ball to Torres thanks to football Gods he didn’t miss this time!

  2. Swsfd

    Great summary of all that ails us at the moment . Can’t believe survival af Brentford is a good result we’re back to the 80’s !
    Steve

  3. Ryan

    Spot-on Tony agreed on all points. Particularly Rafa. Hopefully just for once CFC will do the right thing and bring back Jose. Klopp won’t come & I’m not convinced Moyes would either. I doubt he’d be offered the job anyway. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a completely left-field appointment. Diego Simeone? That’d most likely be a disaster. So it’ll probably be him. Maybe we’ll appoint Rafa permanently. That wouldn’t make any bloody sense either.

    Marcello Trotta! His name was the most enjoyable thing about today, Del & Rodney’s Italian footballer cousin. That’s all.

  4. mark_25

    I was disappointed we didn’t pose more of a threat after bringing on Dave for Ivan.  I mean surely a right back for a right back should have swung the game more than that?

    • Blueboydave

      He’s not called Mad Rafa for nothing is he?

      That’s 2 cup games in a row now when we were desperate for a goal he’s made like-for-like substitution of a defender around 70 minutes for no apparent reason.

      Plus, when asked after both games why he waited till the last 10 minutes to bring on the 2nd striker available has been quoted as saying there was no need to as the team were playing well!

      I know managers are always predisposed to look for positives in their team’s performance, but in Rafa-land can he really believe those were good 2nd half performances?

  5. Der_Kaiser

    A fairly lucky escape all round, really.  Other results of the day showed that the old FA Cup can be a tricky business – anyone expecting to roll over Brentford was probably in for a shock.  Not that we should have made the dog’s breakfast of it that we did, mind.

    Positives first – won’t take long, after all; two very well taken goals.  JT’s celebration of the equaliser was good to see – he may be creaking, but it clearly still means a lot to him.  Oscar and Rami looked fairly decent.

    Negatives.  Hmm, where to start?  Slow, ponderous and so lacking in character it was really quite worrying.  Don’t buy the pitch as any kind of excuse – they seemed to be able to pass the ball on it so I don’t see why should have had any problem.

    Happy to be proved wrong as always, but I just don’t see Bertrand and Marin cutting it at this level.  Cahill and Branners may be decent defenders, but neither is too spectacular on the passing front; with JT not back to his usual self, I’d personally only have one of the two on the pitch at any given time.  For all Luiz’s faults, he can at least pass a football.

    Won’t be defending Rafa often, but the RB for RB change did have some vague logic to it; Dave is probably better going forward, so while it was (almost) too little, too late, I can just about understand it.  Ba should have been on before then, of course, but we simply can’t overplay the guy.

  6. peterw

    Didn’t see it, but sounds awful. Performances since first half of Arsenal game have been atrocious. Be strange if Rafa has suddenly ‘lost’ the players practically mid-game, so do wonder how much is down to simple exhaustion and general malaise at how badly it went wrong on Wednesday. We really need Mikel and Moses back – scarcely believable we are going to end January with the same squad numbers as we began it, especially given Romeu’s injury. Club must be pretty confident they can hang on to third/fourth (as we should) but I do worry about the fatigue element in CM and CF positions.

    Scarcely believable also we don’t consider any of our young players fvr this sort of fixture. Squad would only benefit from the likes vf Jack Cork being around, limited yes (like Bertrand) but loyal and determined and perfect for plugging the gaps in the roster.

    Have little faith in Benitez to do anything now but focus on CL places. At least RDM had a streak of romance and went full tilt for the cups… As for the summer, lords knows what that will bring but as long as it isn’t David Moyes I’ll be okay. 

  7. Der_Kaiser

    It’s the trick that Fergie has that so few others manage to pull off successfully – having some howegrowns along with the grafters like Park to slot in where you need them to perform a particular role.  Problem for us is that if the primary setup isn’t functioning well, the fringe players coming in – and most aren’t of sufficient quality – aren’t likely to help matters.

    It’s going to be a long slog until May.  Similar thing under Grant, really – a truly ghastly situation, but at least we were challenging for the big pots (Barnsley FA Cup debacle aside) right up until the end to keep things interesting.  The Europa League and the scrap for top 4 doesn’t exactly set the senses tingling.

  8. Blueboydave

    Forgot to say Lamps looked as knackered and out of sorts as you might expect from a 34 year-old playing his 5th start in 16 days, when our in-depth squad has only allowed him to be given a rest by being substituted once, 10 minutes from the end of 1 game.

    It’s probably a blessing we didn’t get the nailed-on penalty decision at the end as there must be some doubt if he could have summoned the energy to get the ball past the keeper 😉

  9. CELERY

    ….I’d much rather see a Shilton/Clemence rotation policy between Cech and Courtois next season. It’ll upset Cech, but the fact is we need a dominating and match ready second goalkeeper….

    Excellent idea I hadn’t thought of.

  10. Day Tripper

    I don’t think having 2 top goalkeepers in the same team works. The goalkeeper not only needs to build up an thorough understanding with the defense, but also has to gain an understanding of the dynamics of how it works, because as often as not, it is the keeper who has to marshall and organise that defense. That comes of playing with them week in, week out. Plenty of us will remember the Bosnich/De Goey/Cudicini farrago, some might even remember us buying Alex Stepney. What I’ve seen of Courtois playing for A Madrid I’ve been very impressed with, but, if we bought him as an eventual replacement for Cech, then I don’t see why Cech was offered a new contract, unless it is to stop him from running his contract down and then leaving for nothing (I have no idea how many years his previous contract had to run). Surely we can’t keep loaning Courtois out year after year

    • peterw

      We’ve landed ourselves a little problem here, given Cech is still so superb and Courtois has come on so well.
      It’s a nice problem, but a bit annoying given we have issues elsewhere on the pitch that need sorting out before goalkeeper. I don’t think there’s any way we can expect Courtois to come back and play second fiddle now – he’s been No 1 at a top club in a top league for two years, he can’t be expected to play League Cup games and hope for injuries. I also don’t think Cech needs any pressure from below given that he’s consistently been our best player for about four seasons and is still improving. So I’d guess we give Courtois a Premier League loan next and then worry about it next summer. We can’t keep on doing that indefinitely though – this is a very difficult transition to get right as Cech has potentially another five years at least in him. Either way, it looks like we have to let go of Cech too early or cash in on Courtois and regret it in five years. It’s win-win AND lose-lose…And we also need to replace Turnball and Hilario must be about 50, so a good no 2 – and possibly no 3 is also required (no idea if Blackman is any good, I think he’s meant to be okay). Weird situation. 

      • Blueboydave

        Indeed,  and who knew you could get down with the kids like that 😉

        However, I see one of the tabloids today has one of those highly speculative items on how they “understand” that serious questions are being asked by the club hierarchy about whether Rafa can actually keep us in a CL qualifying place for next season.This is probably just the fevered ravings of a journalist bored with making up transfer deadline bollocks  rumours, but it might be the first of the steady drip of stories to the press which has heralded the rapid demise of some of his predecessors  – step forward Steve Holland, anyone?

  11. mark_25

    Odd thing about Benitez is the amount of timber he’s carrying.  Considering he’s out on the training pitch several days per week you’d expect him to be a little slimmer around the waist than a bank manager.

  12. limetreebower

    I’ve seen Blackman play a few times for the yoof. He seems decent but still clearly a kid, and I suppose it’s the same problem as with any other reserve keeper: would he rather sit on our bench for a few years and play the odd cup game if he’s lucky, or would he rather go and be the starting keeper for a lower-division club?

    It would be interesting to bring Courtois to training camp one season with the explicit intention of letting him compete with Big Pete for the starting spot, as Big Pete was allowed to compete with Carlo (who’d just had a fantastic season for us, remember) when he came in.

    Does anyone else have this odd feeling that this whole season isn’t really happening? It might start to get a bit edgy if we drift down towards fifth, but at the moment there really doesn’t seem to be anything to occupy the attention. We’ll jog on through the cups until we get dumped out by Manchester clubs/Spanish clubs, win most of the games against the weaker teams without ever moving up the table, then it’s sod off Rafa and start the whole circus again.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Yes, saw him in one of the reserve games at the Bridge earlier this season – competent but it’s such a different level that comparisons are almost pointless.  Very tall, but I’ve seen more meat on a butcher’s pencil.*

      *Granted I’ve not closely examined any butchers’ pencils, but I think the point is clear.

      • peterw

        Re Courtois/Cech/Carlo the difference is simply that Cech is probably the best keeper in the world, whereas Carlo clearly wasn’t. Cech came straight in at No 1, and rightly so. For Courtois, it’s not that simple. 
        So I’m not sure what the benefit is of having competition in a position that is really all about stability.

    • peterw

      This season has always felt a bit pointless to me after the CL win. Made this comparison before but not sure how it went down with you oldies, but it’s like when you’ve completed a computer game but still feel the need to go out again and do all the sub-levels. 

      *tumbleweed*

  13. mark_25

    At least it’s encouraging we’re looking for a goalkeeper so the club seems aware of the squad weaknesses.

    Likewise it’ll provide comfort if it’s reported that Trevor Aylott refuses to come out of retirement, implying we’re looking for an improvement over Torres.

  14. Der_Kaiser

    Arf!

    According to those that follow such things, we currently have the following keepers on the books (in the squad, on loan, youth etc.)

    Cech
    Courtois
    Hilario
    Turnbull
    Blackman
    Walker 
    Delac

    Two excellent, two backups of not the highest quality and three youngsters; Walker apparently likely to leave this summer and Delac permanently on loan wherever.

    Apropos of completely nothing, really – don’t tend to follow these things much but 7 keepers (and in for an 8th) seemed quite surprising.  

    • Blueboydave

      A symptom of our general hoover them up and ship them out to various bits of Europe [and Colchester] policy?

      The latest effort by our transatlantic cousins to monitor this says we have 21 players out on loan currently, the vast majority of whom would seem to have  a less than zero chance of ever featuring in our first team squad given the prolonged, continuing spells they’ve been away.

      Why do we bother?

  15. Harry

    A very
    bad result at reading! Chelsea board should explain why the team performs so
    abysmally. Poor substitution by RB..

  16. Biggs

    This is NOT Rafa’s fault. Do we really need a Mourinho to make the team understand that you don’t loose 2 goals advantage in 87th minute?
    Disclaimer: I couldn’t care less about Benitez, he can be a manager or he can leave – but this is down to letargy in the defence…And who knows why he puts Torres in, I am not so sure it’s his decision.

    • Der_Kaiser

      The point is that every manager of the Abramovich era – well, and prior to that – has carried the can for poor results and ultimately paid with their jobs; Benitez should be no different as his record is arguably worse than pretty much all of his predecessors.

      But Roman has pretty much painted himself into a corner – sacking 2 managers in a season would be unhinged by even his standards, and even if Benitez went the pool from which we’d be choosing his replacement is frankly rather stagnant.

      All a bit of an unholy mess, really.

      • Blueboydave

        There again didn’t QPR get through 3 managers in each of 2008-9 and 2009-10 when those nutters from Formula 1 were in charge, as partly shown in that extraordinary BBC Panorama programme?

        I’ll never forget the sight of them sending handwritten notes down to the dug-out telling that week’s manager which substitutions to make during a game.

        Back in our funny farm, if we’re now reduced to bringing on Benayoun as a sub, is it too soon to suggest we might as well get some defensive midfield cover out of Malouda rather than paying him just to twiddle his thumbs till the end of the season?

        • Der_Kaiser

          True, I suppose we haven’t gone quite that bonkers.

          (I reluctantly add ‘yet’ to the end of that sentence).

          Malouda situation is baffling – I know he was hardly pulling up trees for much of last season, but a pair of experienced legs could make the world of difference from 70 odd minutes onwards in most games.

          • Ramone

            It is terrifying how far we have fallen.  I spent many seasons wishing never to see the  Kalouda boys again yet I find myself agreeing with you.  Florent would have been a more solid option than Yossi away at Reading (but not as solid as Yosser).   

        • Ramone

          I have watched the comical 2nd conceded goal at Reading a number of times.  Apart from the four blokes in the middle of the penalty area marking nobody, my favourite contributor is Benayoun who appears to have his legs cemented into the pitch right up to the point where the ball goes in the net – at which point he comes alive and throws his arms to the heavens in disgust. The season is disintegrating alarmingly.  I fear the worst and hope for the best. 

  17. peterw

    Genuinely think that signing a new central midfielder would make so much difference. People criticised Benitez’s subs last night but there wasn’t much he could do cos we literally have no options in CM. Throwing on a defender who is very ring-rusty for the last five mins is a big, big risk, which is why he didn’t try JT (who by all accounts was terrible v Brentford). Disappointed Nigeria qualified in the African thing, cos we really need Mikel and Moses (who will come back knackered anyway).

    It’s nerves, now, straightforward confidence. We’re in that results spiral caused by basic bad luck, exhaustion, panic and a less-then-inspiring coach who everybody knows will be gone in four months time.  

    It confirms though, that Benitez has never been taking us anywhere. His good results were also largely down to favourable conditions and confidence (Stoke scoring two own goals, Everton missing a hatful of chances).

    Be nice to see somebody in the media actually sit down and analyse his achievements as manager, because it’s fairly clear he’s just as poor as we all thought. I mean, the argument is that he is a genius because he won the CL with Traore. If that’s the case, how come he can’t beat Reading with Mata, oscar, and Lampard? The answer, of course, is because it was a fluke – but nobody in the press dare say that for upsetting the scousers. 

  18. mark_25

    The problem last night was we persisted in playing the ball down the channels but because we were playing at Waitrose we should have played down the aisles.

  19. peterw

    There’s this mad schizophrenia at Chelsea, isn’t there? on the one hand they play a waiting game with players like Courtois, Lukaku and De Bruyne, waiting for them to be ready – patient and actually quite smart. And they don’t appear to be panic-buying this January, confident that we can finish in the top four (ugh) and then start adding to our already quite radically altered squad in the summer… because, in all honesty, it takes a little patience to build a new style of team and just throwing in a new load of players all at once only works in compute games.

    But when they go and do something mad like sacking RDM for a couple of indifferent results or buying Torres when we didn’t really need him, so it just makes the impressive patient stuff look stupid and lazy rather than astute and thoughtful. 

    • Der_Kaiser

      As unpopular as it might be to suggest it, most of the softly softly patient stuff in terms of player development seems to come from Emenalo’s direction.

      The bonkers stuff, however – well, doesn’t take much working out who calls the shots there…

  20. limetreebower

    I’d love to think that the absence from the first team of young players with apparently tremendous potential (McEachran, Lukaku, Kakuta, van Aanholt etc.) is a result of the club’s wisdom and patience.

    But couldn’t one argue instead that it’s simply a result of bog-standard unadventurous selection? “Well, we’ve got Drogba and Torres so of course we’re not going to play Lukaku.” “Well, we’ve got Frank and Ramires and Obi so of course we’re not going to play Josh.” If Roman’s coughed up north of 20 million for a player, it’s hardly surprising that said player is regularly selected in front of a promising 20 year-old.

    Maybe they’re just buying up every interesting-looking young player they can find and just sort of hoping for the best. One or two might come through like Branners did (can’t remember who it was who got injured to create a vacancy at right back, must have been either Bosingwa or Ferreira or both?) and show enough to hang onto their place; the rest can go out on loan to Vitesse Arnhem for years and then get sold.

    To be fair, I think there’s evidence that the actual youth coaching and youth development at the club — the hands-on stuff done by Viveash etc — is pretty good.

  21. NorthernVA

    Two years ago today Chelsea Football Club made a catastrophic decision in the transfer market which we have yet to extricate ourselves from. We’ve only seemed to further bog ourselves in the muck…

    • mark_25

      Interesting debate.  Is Torres our worst signing EVER?

      Not only taking into account his contribution/cost index he’s also destroyed 3 managers.

      Shirt sales offer slight mitigation.

      • Blue_MikeL

        Yes, he is probably the worst thing ever, so far. We have another three years, if I am not wrong, to tolerate (suffer) from this disastrous decision. There is no way anybody is going to buy this pile of t-shirts with two non running legs. 
        YET AGAIN I REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHO IS THAT PERSON WHO MADE THIS DECISION TO BUY HIM!!!! EMENALO, ROMAN ?     

      • peterw

        It’s surely not even open for debate – in fact, I’d say he’s in the top five worst transfers in the history of football. Makes Shevchenko look positively decent. 

        • GrocerJack

          Sheva was knackers yard material but he never stopped trying, never gave any shite body language and left with head held relatively high. Torres is knackers yard ready, never tries, never runs into a decent position until passage of play has passed by and looks sulky all of the time. I wanted him to succeed and his signing thrilled me but in all honesty he’s joined the strikers graveyard with the likes of McClair, Birtles, Fleck and Sutton.

      • Day Tripper

         I think pound for pound there is no question he is our worst signing ever. On the subject of shirts, I’ve heard this argument before. Surely more or less the same number of shirts would have been sold regardless of whether Torres had been bought or not. In the main kids want a replica shirt of the team they support, and only after do they choose a player to put on the back

        • Der_Kaiser

          True – figures lurking around on the web if you can be bothered do support that; makes some difference if you sign a real ‘name’ player, but not as much as is generally assumed.

          I imagine that after about half a dozen games in a blue shirt the clamour for having ‘Torres’ on the back of the shirt probably started to dip a fair bit…

  22. mark_25

    Peter Odemwingie arrived at the Bridge at 10:53 but by that time it was too late plus there was a problem with the fax machine.

  23. Day Tripper

    The whole management of the squad is a shambles and I ask myself who is responsible for this. I did watch the vast majority of the Copa del Rey match, as I couldn’t face following the unravelling of our match with Reading and Michael Essien gave a very good account of himself at right back. Obviously he is no longer the player he was 5 years ago but if he is good enough for Mourinho’s Real Madrid, he can do a job for us, especially at a time when we need cover in exactly the positions he can play. And Lukaku, a player I have banged on about before, who has scored goals and generally put in some excellent shifts for WBA: couldn’t he be doing that for us? (well maybe not if Torres’ selection is mandatory). I agree with a previous comment that we have not recovered from that splurge of 2 years ago (as we didn’t for a while after the purchase of Shevchenko)

  24. limetreebower

    Actually I think the best thing for us to do this summer would be to scour all Europe for an ageing superstar with a massive reputation and pay 70 million for him. What could possibly go wrong?

    How about Pirlo?

  25. Vik Sohonie

    Terribly disillusioned with happenings this season.  Torres is most certainly our worst signing ever. 

  26. limetreebower

    Hilariously, 50 million for Torres is probably in fact a slightly less shit signing than 35 million for Carroll, which means that two of the most epically shit signings of recent times are first cousins, as it were. Torres was at least plausibly a hugely talented player when we paid for him, and wasn’t (still isn’t) beyond his theoretical prime. But Andy Carroll? 35 million for what is euphemistically known as a “classic English centre forward,” which means a talentless donkey with a big mean streak and a penchant for throwing his body around?

    The funny thing about poor old Nando is that this time last year (I’m thinking of a League Cup game against Leicester, perhaps that was earlier in the season actually) there was still a huge amount of goodwill pouring down towards him from the stands, despite him being no less throughly shit than he is now. And I don’t think he’s done anything personally to forfeit all that support — apart from one smallish moan after the CL final he’s kept quiet and mostly said the right platitudes. So it’s quite interesting to think about why the fans’ mood has changed.

    Partly of course it’s because we’ve all given up hoping that he’ll ever stop being shit, and just want to see the back of him. Partly it’s because in the absence of Drogs he was supposed to be The Man. But I suspect a lot of the fans’ hostility is related to general anger at the way the club’s going. I don’t think the anti-Torres mood was so entrenched before Robbie got canned.

    Actually there have been a bunch of good signings recently. Until his recent travails Cahill was looking like an excellent buy, and obviously Mata/Hazard/Oscar and Dave are all likely first-teamers for a good long time.

  27. Ramone

    After a fantastic few weeks holiday in the UK where I witnessed an 8-3 aggregate win over three games for the not so mighty Blues I am now unexpectedly on my way back.  I am London bound, in Hong Kong airport, awaiting the connecting flight,  listening to Asian lift music, with a ticket secured for Wigan to warm the cockles. Come on you Blues.  It’s a long way to come to watch a load of turgid sh*te. 

  28. Dylbo Baggins

    We’ve all spoken about how this has turned into a bit of a non season etc etc because we are (somewhat haphazardly) coasting to a top 4 finish- which is all that RA appears to want this season. Maybe we need to fall down to 5/6th and be at risk of not playing champions league before we drop Torres completely? 

    RA probably figures that as long as we are in the top 4 he should (and can) persevere with Torres in the hope of running him into some form and either a) getting some resale value for him or b) proving to others that he could turn around Torres form (RA appears to be stubborn like that).

    Good to see Azpilicueta getting a gig for the Spanish team 

  29. Mick

    Blue_MikeL I’m a Chelsea fan of 50 years standing and also half Geordie on my mothers side and I take great exception to a dickhead like you calling them c****! I’d rather have Torres in that team than a prick like you as a supporter!!!!!!!! 

  30. Benjami

    Another conceding late performance,  I am very much on the Rafa out bandwagon. Would rather see old Ray Wilkins come in and manage us right now and watch us pass the ball sideways for 90mins. At least we would draw games rather than lose them 😛

    I like Ramires as a footballer, and I would like to see him in our first team. But him and Lamps in the middle of the park don’t work. Our midfield lacks so much power compared to the one of a few years ago with Essien, Ballack, and Makelele in.

    Bertrand is also pretty ineffective out on the wing, if Hazard was fit we know he would play out there with Cole behind him, so it is not a question of increasing the defensive strength down that side.

    He should move Ramires into the RW and put Oscar out left. Then play Ferreira RB, and push either Cahill, Terry, or Ivan up to DM. Hell we should have bought Fellaini this transfer window 😛

    Still confident we will finish in the top 4, I don’t see Everton or Arsenal clearing 60/65 points this season, and from this 46 point position all we need to get to 68 points is:

    Win: Wigan (H), West Brom (H), South (A), West Ham (H), Sunderland (H), Swansea (H)

    Draw: Fulham (A), Tottenham (H), Aston Villa (A), Everton (H)

    Lose: Man City (A), Liverpool (A) (our record there sucks), Man Utd (A)

    Very achievable, essentially if Rafa messes this up he will never get a job in management of a top flight football team again. We have lost so many trophies this season when we should have at least 2 nailed on, utter shambles…


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