Chelsea 1-1 Everton (Everton win 4-3 on penalties) – Newspaper Reaction, Goal Videos, Match Report, Player Ratings

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Newspaper reports

The Observer, Jamie Jackson: “[A]fter this penalty shoot-out defeat in their FA Cup fourth-round replay – following the 1-1 stalemate over 120 minutes – Carlo Ancelotti faces the prospect of taking his Chelsea project from claiming the Double in his debut year in English football to a trophyless second season and the possibility of competing only in the Europa League in 2011-12.”

Sunday Telegraph, Duncan White: “This is supposed to be Chelsea’s favourite competition. They had not lost in the FA Cup since March 2008 and won it three times in the last four seasons. This was supposed to be the release valve on the pressure that has built up at the club in a frustrating second season for Carlo Ancelotti. This game was supposed to be won but, in a dramatic denouement to a fiercely contested game, Everton prevailed.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “The long reign as FA Cup holders is over after a late turnaround in extra-time was followed by yet more shoot-out pain for the Blues.”

The goals

104′ Lampard 1-0
119′ Baines 1-1
Penalty shoot-out 3-4

The preamble

It’s been a while since I did a match report and even today I write this having watched the game several hours after it’s finished, because I was playing golf. Now normally I would always schedule this around a game, but my disillusionment of late has meant that just for today I would ignore the rules and bash the living daylights out of a small white ball. As it turned out the result was not dissimilar to the match – an honourable draw. No bastard bloody penalties mind.

No Luiz nor Torres today with Nando being cup-tied and the Curly One being ineligible because of our pussyfooting about when sealing the deal. Three days earlier and he’d have been in. Well done Gourlay, great negotiating there.

So, we saw Ivan back in defence and faithful old carthorse Paulo Ferreira at right-back. Oh joy. Anelka was on the bench, Kalou for whatever obscure lunatic reason being given the nod. And also on the bench was the mythical creature known as Yuri Zhirkhov… yes he does actually exist folks.

The match

Oh dear. Do I have to?

To describe the first half as dismal is an affront to the word dismal. Luckily I have a better word and that word is dire (shite was a strong contender here). Everton did what Everton do well. They were dogged and hungry into the tackle, and despite the swathes of Moyes naysayers, the man had his team set up like most others with a game plan to thwart our marauding full-backs. Not that Ferreira does much marauding these days, no he is more of a stroller now. Come to think of it, so are quite a few others. I watched part of the half at six times the normal playback speed, and yep, we started to look a bit closer to our old pacy selves then. A thriller the first half was not. We had a couple of half chances but Tim Howard, like many before him was wearing his pants outside his tights and a cape.

So, we have at last achieved consistency, but sadly it’s consistently dire more than anything. Teams we would have rolled through last season now look at us and mock us. They sneer and spit. They know the Chelsea House of Cards is crumbling. Everton may be limited, but they looked like Brazil at times compared to us.

Second half, and Carlo whipped off Mikel, a tad unfortunately in my view. Mikel Obi seemed to be having a decent game. On came Paul Essien, or whatever his name is. You know, the impostor parading himself as The Real Michael Essien. To be fair to him, this did seem to liven us up during the second half and we did pass better. Albeit exclusively through the middle. Why does Carlo not see the need for wingers? It must be an Italian thing, and when I think about it, the Book of Great Italian Wingers is even smaller than the Book of Great Scottish Goalkeepers. It’s not really part of their game is it? Of course the other thing is we must have a new kit deal whereby we have replaced our former rather popular line of shooting boots with a new range seeming designed for putting. Yes, our ability to unswervingly fail to beat the first man when putting in a cross is now legendary. It must be an art. Anyway, looking at the TV it seems the game was far more open second half, with the lion’s share of chances going our way, but as is our wont, nothing going in. Frank had some good chances but failed to convert and Ivan was unlucky to find Super Tim in the way of one effort.

Drogba and Kalou were pretty much hopeless again.

And I bet a few hearts were in mouths when Fellaini scored on the stroke of full time. It was disallowed, but that’s how teams play us these days. They know we can be mugged. Time up, 0-0 and the second half a big improvement on the first but still we looked ponderous, and still we looked lazy and lacking bite. Ramires, Ivan and Frank were the only real highlights; JT doesn’t look comfortable with everything and seems to find himself playing as an attacking centre-back more and more. Ashley Cole seems to be having a crisis, maybe he has the new People’s Princess Cheryl and an alleged reunion playing on his mind. That or he’s just shit at the moment. Malouda has regressed to the lazy layabout we saw during his first season.

And so to the tension and drama of extra time. We looked the stronger side and although I can’t retrospectively comment I suspect the ‘live’ watchers probably felt we could still do this. And on the stroke of the 13th minute of the first half of extra time, a piece of magic from Anelka (who subbed the anonymous Malouda) saw him nip delightfully between two Everton players, put in a perfect flighted ball for Drogba to chest down to Lamps to rifle in. Cue much celebration, including the delightful Christine Bleakley and Frank Lampard Senior. Surely now we were home and hosed?

The old Chelsea would have been. The ruthless Mourinho crushing machine would have strangled the life from the second half of extra time and we’d be looking to a day out in Reading. Yes I miss The Special One, even more in the light of the crumbling, stumbling displays of recent times. I look back with fondness at our ruthless power game that crushed nearly everything in its path.

Nowadays, we get a goal up and then we fall apart. Before it would have sealed a win or been a springboard to crank up a gear. Nowadays it’s a white flag being waved from a blue trench. A silly last minute free kick conceded and up steps the increasingly impressive Leighton Baines to curl one in, in a way we haven’t done for months. Baines will surely end up at United or Arsenal in the summer. Penalties then, and in a kind twist of fate, the scheduled recording on the V+ box ended on the final whistle. So I haven’t watched them, and nor will I now. Anelka has taken some stick for his apparent unorthodox run up, but without him we’d never have got the goal, and there’s every likelihood the mugging would have taken place.

It doesn’t matter that I won’t describe the penalties. The cruel fact is we’re out of probably the best chance of silverware this season. Yes, the Champions League is still there but be realistic, a team that can’t beat the likes of Birmingham, Newcastle, Fulham, that got its arse kicked by Arsenal and capitulated to a shockingly poor Liverpool team at home is never going to get past Real Madrid, Barcelona or come to think of it Spurs. Yeah hurts that doesn’t it? Get used to it. It’s where we live now.

The good

  • Ramires. Kuyt-like work rate.
  • Frank Lampard coming back to life.
  • Ivanovic. Puts in a good shift all the time.
  • Leighton Baines. Off to bigger and better in the summer I suspect.
  • Everton. Credit where it’s due, they like others had us worked out and stuck to it. Their combined effort put ours to shame.

The bad

  • Drogba and Kalou.
  • Florent Malouda. Utter rubbish of late.

The ugly

  • The whole damn display.

Player ratings – subjective and very probably illogical and unreasonable

  • Cech – 7/10. No problems to report here.
  • Ferreira – 5/10. Would make a good dog walker these days.
  • Terry – 7/10. Looks confused.
  • Ivanovic – 7.5/10. One of the few constant things we can rely on.
  • Cole – 5/10. Disturbingly out of form.
  • Obi – 6/10. Unluckily subbed.
  • Lampard – 8/10. Tried to carry the team almost single-handedly at times.
  • Malouda – 2/10. Awful. Slow and way off beam in every aspect.
  • Kalou – 5/10. The blind alley king.
  • Drogba – 4/10. Didier who? A nobody again today apart from the chest down for Frank.
  • Ramires – 7.5/10. One of the very few bright things we have.
  • Essien (sub) – 5/10. A huge worry.
  • Anelka (sub) – 6/10. Why we kept him back until extra time is yet another example of Ancelotti’s intransigence and confusion.
  • Zhirkhov (sub) – Err… who he? Not on long enough to get rated.
  • Manager rating – 2/10. The walls are closing in.
  • Overall team performance – 4/10. Dire, dismal, slow, lazy, passionless, spineless, gutless, demotivated, demoralized, confused.

Man of the Match

Leighton Baines overall. But Lamps for us.

Final thoughts

So, yet another trophy chance slips away. Now we face a battle for fourth place or else it’s Europa League. Famous European nights against the likes of Aris Salonika, Tromso, Stavanger and Anderlecht beckon. Whoopy-fucking-do. If we win the Champions League I’m pretty sure the right to defend that was rescinded the minute Liverpool’s wishes were granted in 2005. But that’s pie in the sky anyway. We won’t win that on this form. In fact I don’t see us beating Copenhagen at the moment. Yes things are that bleak. Spurs will play fearless football when they visit, and Manchester City and United will relish meeting us on this form. Be under no illusions folks, this run in will be hard, and frankly I think fourth is a big ask now. How the mighty are fallen huh?

That’ll do for now. Nothing to say about Carlo that I haven’t already said, but the man who failed to refresh AC Milan, leaving a team of crocks will probably not get the chance to rebuild here. All he needed was a decent number two and things might have been so different.

Keep the Rather Limp and Listless Blue Flag Flying High!

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There are 54 comments

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  1. Gleb

    Why is everyone here making fun of Zhirkov? I agree, he’s getting injured way too often, but he’s had some really, really good performances. And not few of them, actually. Too lazy to dig up some of the match reports over here, but most of you rated him highly when he was playing regularly. He might be made of glass or just unlucky, but he surely doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment here. At least he always gives his all on the pitch, unlike our “non-mythical” stars.

    • Anonymous

      Really? From time to time he’s played OK, but he’s been nowhere near the playmaker many of were led to believe. Its not his fault he was injured, but the club has barely mentioned him or why he was missing. And it’s true – he came on for 8 minutes and therefore wasn’t on long enough to be rated. Which considering my post match mood probably did him a favour.

  2. Robertbenson

    Your finished ! normal service will be resumed with the fucking arse & manure taking control again. You should have done so much more with all that Russian dosh thrown at you COYS Europa for the chavs the times they r a changin

  3. Gleb

    Playmaker?! He’s never been one… Never. He was a classic winger, a long long time ago in Russia, but then our dear Guus turned him into a left-back. But never a playmaker. Just someone how can beat his man, put in a cross, score some goals etc.
    Trust me, I’m not trying to be patriotic and whatnot over this, and to be honest, I couldn’t care less if he’s Russian or not, but I do honestly think you’re being harsh on the lad. Not his fault he got injured in a pointless friendly against Belgium. And not his fault his absence wasn’t clarified by the mighty Chelsea press machine. But he’s a decent player at the very least. A very talented one. He’ll need a lot of time to get back to his best after all those injuries, but I want everyone to at least give him a proper chance. He always does his best, he’s smart, his technique eclipses that of some of our Everton-demolishing-Title-defending stars. If he’s given a proper chance to finally settle and get some regular football, I’m sure you’ll understand that Zhirkov, at the very least, isn’t our worst player. But again, not saying he’ll be a star, of course not, but a talented intelligent hard-working utility squad player is always needed, don’t you think?

  4. Ososdeoro

    Really, Paulo is no star either, but all we ask of him is few or no mistakes, and he complied. And with all the complaining about no wing play he’s sadly the only one providing it.

    Other than Frank’s goal, which was quite nice, and his effort, which was good, he just didn’t play very well. An “8” is just nuts. It’s probably been so long since we’ve seen starry performances I think the standard must be declining.

  5. Dylbo Baggins

    The biggest concern for me (and I wasn’t there- I’m only going by replays) was the reaction of Droggles when Lampard ‘stole’ his chest down and scored. Drogba looked angry until he realised that Lamps had scored. Something is not right there and i think it’s time to show Drogba the door while we can still get a bit of cash for him.

  6. Anonymous

    Frank 8/10 and our man of the match?

    All I can conclude Tony is one of the following

    a) You recored the wrong match
    b) You recorded the right match but played back the wrong match
    c) You had one too many at the golf club (hope you won by the way and brought some cheer to the Chelsea community)
    d) Your kids flicked channels to ‘Escape to Victory’ without you noticing and you thought Sylvester was Frank

    As I sat shivering in the cold with the light drizzle blowing in my face, even though I sit 16 rows back, I kept asking myself the same question. Is Frank Lampard finished? I’ve always admired how Frank could receive a ball, whilst marked by two openents, yet always managed to control it, turn and pass to a teammate. Yesterday Frank had the ball taken from him on almost every occasion and he struggled to keep up with play. If Carlo had any balls he’d have taken Frank and Mikel off after 20 minutes.

    During the game my wife texted “your tickets have arrived”. Oh joy, £57.50 per seat to watch more of this against Copenhagen. There is no other discretionary spend where you keep paying for this rubbish. One bad meal at a restaurant and I’ll never revisit. In a way if we’re not going to qualify for the Champions League I’d rather finish 8th and not pay for the ignominy and cost of the Europa League which is a glorified Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

    Although I shouldn’t I can’t help laughing at the irony of Torres who may not be playing Champions League next season.

    • Jon

      I too find it hilarious that Torres moved to London in order to win more silverware.

      It’s looking more realistic after each game we play that the Pool or Spurs will take 4th spot. Oh well, the ride was great while it lasted and now we can go back to being a regular club with expectations of a good run in the carling cup. At least all our plastic fans will leave us and move to City!!

  7. Anonymous

    Have to agree with some of the other comments, TG, that perhaps the 6x speed made Lamps look good, but live at The Bridge it seemed like his worst performance of the season until, inevitably, he finally scored.

    Also think some of the doom and gloom in many comments particularly at the end of the last blog is a bit overdone. Yes, we still looked ponderous and uninventive, but at least we were creating attempts on target that with a bit more luck 1 or 2 of at least might have gone in. This team were scoring for fun in the opening few weeks of the season and who’s to say our luck won’t turn again soon.

    It’s a wildly optimistic thought, I know, but could this be the equivalent moment to losing to Inter last season? It felt like the final nail in the coffin of an up and down season at the time but by relieving fixture congestion actually vastly boosted our chances of The Double we achieved.

    I’m not saying we will win anything, but this squad can’t cope with games every 3 or 4 days for weeks on end and now we’ll get rests and not pile up re-arranged league games on FA Cup weekends.

    Final thought on the blundering running of the club, following on from Carlo not being made aware of Luiz’s ineligibilty till after his pre-game press conference, has to be Malouda not remembering to take his sodding wedding ring off before kick-off and then leaving us with 10 men for over 2 minutes while he and lackeys struggled to get the thing off his finger!

  8. Der_Kaiser

    Ivan may generally be reliable, but he gave away a pretty pointless free kick which basically cost us the match. Howard and a general lack of composure in front of goal also. From what I saw we were at least capable of passing to each other for the most part and creating a few chances; Moyes the master tactician struck fairly lucky in the end as we’re shit at penalty shootouts.

    But hey, let’s fire Carlo and get someone else in – doesn’t matter who it is, Moyes, Villas Boas, Guardiola, me, or Uncle Tom fucking Cobbley; they’ll get two seasons, possibly some cash and when we lose more than 3 games, the fans will start bitching and the trapdoor under them will start creaking. Yes, repeating the same process and expecting different results is indeed madness.

    At this rate, the best we can hope for is the occasional Carling Cup run under Sven. And I think it’s about all that we deserve right now.

  9. Cunningplan

    For all the venting on here, which is understandable, I also think that some of it is over the top. We weren’t that bad yesterday, and as BBD said we created a few good chances, and if wasn’t for Howard looking like a world class keeper, that would have been a comfortable victory. Apart from the first half where Everton worked hard, kept the ball, and closed us down, what clear cut goal chances did they produce?
    Hell,they didn’t produce any chances from open play, Cech didn’t have to make a save in the 120 mins of football, unlike Horward, and they weren’t even a threat form the few corners they had.

    The utter frustration I have is yet again we give a way a needless foul in a dangerous area, and it was a great free kick from Baines, credit to the lad. But I knew, along with the players observing their body language, that it was a winning goal and not an equaliser. Because we all know the words, winning a penalty shooutout, and Chelsea, is a term that shouldn’t be in the same sentence.

    Now we have Utd a week on Tuesday and that will be their third game in less than seven days, which hopefully will give us the slight edge. So lets not write off our season yet, Spurs and City are also prone to inconsistencies, and it’s still in our hands to finish above them if we win our games, unlike Utd and Arse where we have to rely on favours.

  10. Ringo

    When you see what Moyes gets out of a very ordinary squad of players ,year after year with next to no budget ,tell me he wouldn’t do a better job with us ,or get more out of our lot?

    Thanks for the double Carlo ,if indeed it was down to you ,but I don’t trust you with our future.

  11. Anonymous

    I’ll stick with my views thanks. After all I can only write about what I saw.

    Good to see some of you have Carloitis, you know the ailment that says everything is fine, we’re playing better, rub of the green, roll of the dice, black cats, no ladders etc. He’s been saying as much for over 3 months now.

    All we need now is a ‘We wuz robbed’ moment and life is complete.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think we’re saying everything is fine, when clearly it’s not.

      Rather that a knee-jerk let’s sack the manager every time we slip from an unbroken runs of victories isn’t much of a long term solution.

      @limetreebower – afraid you’ll be disappointed, Kakuta came on as sub for us in 3rd round v Ipswich.

  12. Anonymous

    That wasn’t three months, it was … “this moment.”

    For complicated reasons I’ve been given a ticket for Fulham this afternoon. Just on my way now, hoping Kakuta will get a run-out.

  13. FanSinceTheSixties

    This Carloitis thing is a good point.

    If he’d been more realistic when things were worse (and they have been getting better), then we might have more confidence in what’s happening now.

    I was very disappointed at the result.

    The manner and predictability of it was the worst thing, but we could easily have had half a dozen goals, and most encouraging for me was that we kept going after some crazy misses rather than getting all fatalistic like ‘It’s just not our day’ as we would’ve done a short while ago. That said, with a couple of minutes to go we did seem to accept that we wouldn’t hold on, and their equaliser was surely no surprise to anyone.

    Got to add that this was always gonna be a difficult game, with CL on Tuesday which is our main chance of redeeming this season. [For once, the FA Cup wouldn’t rescue us, even if we’d won it].

    Anyway, I’m not giving up yet.

    The squad’s strong and Gleb’s assertion that Zhirkov is really a winger gives us an alternative when Flo’s having some of his bad moments.

    It’s pointless going on about number 2’s, selections, substitutions or yoof, but for me the real problems are off the pitch.

    Regardless of anything else, though, if we can’t get ourselves up for CL games then even Europa league may be beyond us this term.

    So I wish the team well and have already arranged for the family to be doing something else while I venture down to the local hostelry on Tuesday evening.

  14. Ringo

    My knees might be fucked ,but they’re not jerking.

    I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.
    I want Carlo gone in the summer!

    Aah ,Sunday afternoons at the Cottage watching the rugby league.Those were the days.

  15. Ososdeoro

    Yes, Moyes swapped an offensive player for a defensive one late in the match at 0-0. He’s very lucky it worked.

  16. Anonymous

    We seem to continually mention visiting keepers all looking like the best in the World when they invariably shut out the Chelsea front lIne, match after match.

    Is it not the case we’re just not that prolific? That the front line isn’t as good as we’ve given them credit for? None of us has ever said we’d trust the Drogs in a one-on-one. Nico is consistently inconsistent. Flo is showing his true form. Kalou is just the luckiest guy alive to be trusted with a place in a professional football outfit.

    Just my two-penneth. Need to add something and I’m bored to the back teeth of going on about my usual grievances (Kalou is shit; Carlo has no plan B; Kalou is utter shit; when will the youth ever get a chance; my 7 year old is better than Kalou; the removal of Butch Wilkins killed us).

  17. Gleb

    Just wanted to point out to everyone who supports Carlo and says we can’t keep on sacking managers after “a couple of defeats” that there’s a big difference here between just a defeat, or even two, or three, of four; and the general atmosphere of utter cluelessness, hopelessness, ignorance and a-total-fucking-mess-ness that has swallowed Chelsea and has been keeping our beloved club in its undoubtedly stinky mouth for, what, half a year now? That’s always the point, at least in my opinion, when fans start sharpening the proverbial axe. We all understand the difference between an unlucky defeat and something going extremely wrong. Again, I’d like to stress that this is exactly the case where a sacking or at least a drastic change of something somewhere is justified. Good managers are always in control of their squad and at least try to be in control of everything. The team, in turn, usually bounces right back from an “unlucky” defeat. The team avoid crises like the plague. The team is still intact, ready to find, calm, collected, commanding and composed. Even if it’s three defeats in a row, you can always see when the team is doing well and just going through a blip, or when the team is utterly and completely fucked. How can you not see this? Wenger managed to give away a 4 goal lead, which was aweful. But his Arsenal bounced right back. Whereas we have consistently been shit for a long long time now. I’m not calling for Carlo to be sacked, simply because there’s no one else, but it is his fault, or even if it isn’t – unfortunately for him, the whole situation has exposed all of his many weaknesses. The King is naked.

    P.S. Apologies for the inevitable typos.

    • Anonymous

      Your “half a year” has glossed over the fact that until the attempt to shoehorn Torres into the line-up disrupted things again we’d just won 3 league games on the trot including 2 away from home [aggregate score F 10 – A 2] and cuffed Ipswich 7-0 in the FA Cup.

      Seemed like we were getting back on track to me, but proves how fragile morale is and how easy it is to slide back into the mire.

      Still, if you read the right bits of today’s papers you’ll believe Roma are about to make Carlo an offer he can’t refuse and get the Carlo-haters what they want.

      Perhaps Emenalo can step up again and show us how brilliant he really is 😉

  18. John

    I think the report and some of the comments are a bit ott. All in all a dismal, day and we were very poor but, though I don’t begrudge them the win, ironically if we’d won it in normal time they couldn’t have blamed bad luck as we had much the better of the second half and could have had 3 or 4. Frank was as bad as I’ve seen him, Drogba had a pretty good second half and Ramires was about the only bright spot (having now seen the Howard challenge and booking on the tele, it’s still not clear to me that it was a definite dive). I think we should stick with Ancelotti for a while longer but if you look at body language and performances there’s something badly wrong with team spirit and particularly our “big” players – Terry, Lampard, Drogba. I suspect we won’t pull out of this until one/all of them and/or whatever’s wrong with the management of all this gets sorted.

  19. MoxNix

    Hi, long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Can’t disagree that we are deep in the shit, but my question is, what the hell was Anelka thinking with that penalty kick? To call it half-hearted and clueless would be giving it too much credit. I was screaming at the teevee before he even kicked the ball. Was he in a sulk for not starting the game?

  20. Gleb

    We’ll all feel even worse when Jose gets the ManU or the Liverpool or the Man City job, while we’re left with Carlo. But, I say it yet again, there’s no one better available at the moment except all the young talented managers (our best option, and actually the best thing that can happen to the club now) who Roman doesn’t even know of because they’ve yet to win a title.

  21. bluebayou

    A really devastating result. For the manner of it, if not for what it means.

    The god of football once again laced up his best kicking boots, swung hard and delivered us a sharp one in the unmentionables.

    We really needed that win. Any sort of win. Winning the FA Cup 3 years on the trot was always going to be a tall order, after all its over 100 years since Blackburn last achieved such a feat. We went out on penalties to a Premier League outfit so to those perusing the record books in years to come that will not seem too bad a way to loosen our grip on the beloved pot.

    But those bald facts hide a world of pain and frustration.

    These are my impressions, which I’m conscious seem to differ from a lot of others.

    It was by no means a great performance, indeed it probably just scraped into the vaguely satisfactory bracket. But it was enough to have seen off a limited Everton effort characterised by a determination to frustrate attacking threat by fair means or otherwise. There were a huge 32 fouls called on them yesterday. In the first half several very questionable challenges went unpunished by a card, particularly the assault from behind on Mikel’s achilles. So for a team already struggling for rhythm, Dowd’s determination not to put a stop to this until the second half of the game meant an already patchy first half performance was further inhibited.

    Despite the apparent lack of confidence and form we did stick at it. It seemed that when Drogba limped off in the first half we were to be treated to an afternoon of histrionics. But he was hurt and took time to run it off. Within five minutes he made several strong runs added to getting back to defend aggressively. Yes he was a shadow of last season but he was putting in the effort. Trying to find that spark. And I thought that was true of the whole team.

    Defensively we looked increasingly comfortable as the game went on. I though that Ferreira and Cole, combined with the midfield did a decent job of containing Baines and Coleman after a few early scares. Everton normally work us over out wide and rain in the crosses. But that only happened occasionally during the game. Yes it did mean less width going forward but it shut down Everton’s main attacking options, while we still created chances.

    If Ivanovic had been a little calmer, he gave up the free kick out wide that led to the disallowed goal and then the Baines equaliser, Everton would have mustered very little threat. It is the one concerning aspect of his game, because he was very good yesterday.

    Ramires was once again the energy player in the midfield, where Lampard and Essien are still a long way from their best and Malouda is slumping. That said they conjured enough to win the game. Yes the forwards were limited but again they didn’t give up and Anelka made a difference when he came on to force the goal. But the lack of numbers getting in the box is a facet of our game that continues to mystify me. Why don’t we commit when we have the ball coming into the box, particularly where we’ve gotten behind the defence.

    Those last agonising minutes were torture. Everton were just throwing in the Hail Marys and all we had to do was keep calm and hold possession. But repeatedly as we ran the ball out of defence we elected to go long rather than hold the ball so as to minimise Everton’s opportunities for the long ball. It just needed a little calm and discipline.

    The penalties? Anleka scored a good one earlier this season and at least got it on target but what was Ashley doing?

    With confidence and form so shaky, I found myself in knots while watching the whole game. Passes going astray, chances missed all conspiring to leave me a complete basket case. But we got the goal and it looked as though we’d won the day. I wonder how the fragility in the team will be affected by this defeat?

    Why are this team where they are? Yes the injuries, the loss of form are part of it. But the core of this team have shown a lot of mental strength over recent seasons. We’re not hearing any suggestion that Carlo has lost the dressing room. Indeed the reactions in some games suggest the opposite. Last season we thought they’d blown the title chase on several occasions only for them to bounce back. So to my mind it’s not a case of laziness or lack of commitment. If they were complacent earlier in the season there’s little room for that now.

    Earlier today I was reading something unconnected to football that chimed with our situation (courtesy of the Globe and Mail).

    “Sutter (the General Manager – not the coach) maintained that the team he’d assembled was a pretty decent collection of talent. He couldn’t quite figure out why it didn’t all come together.
    Sutter was omnipresent and his brooding demeanour coloured morale at every level of the organization. When he was finally removed, it was as though a fog had lifted. As someone in the team’s front office suggested, instead of the eyes-forward, head-down gloom that permeated the organization, all at once, everyone exhaled. Everyone relaxed. Everyone just started doing their jobs.
    Weirdly, the talent and chemistry that Sutter figured was there all along, finally bubbled to the surface. That it took his ouster to emerge fully is one of those delicious ironies that make professional sports so wildly unpredictable.”

    We seem to have gone the opposite way. We had the talent, it was all working and a fog seems to have settled on the staff. The Wilkins incident seems to point to a change in atmosphere caused by something in the background. Whether or not you believe that Wilkins himself was a key component of the set up, I think at a key level morale was undermined. Day to day everyone still wants to get the job done but it’s no longer coming together. Ancelotti does not seem to have an answer and indeed seems to have been affected himself.

    But they have to put Saturday behind them and plough on. The season doesn’t stop.

    One last thought relating to the discussion about being a fan:

    “But there was a reason my parents only took me to the rodeo once a year. It turns out that sports fandom is more fragile and demanding than people at the top tend to assume. Culture is not easily replaced by intensity. And a man can only stay on the back of a bull for so long.” *

    I certainly felt like I’d been trown off a bull on Saturday.

    *[Norman Einstein’s Sports & Rocket Science Monthly – The Men With No Name: On the Nature & Limits Of Bull Riding by Graydon Gordian]
    http://normaneinsteins.com/21/menwithnoname/

  22. DayTripper

    I am going to align myself with the Anti-Ancelotti band. He took over a team in good shape: most of the players were still at or near their peak; they’d had an excellent end to the 2008/2009 campaign, in which they finished the strongest team in the premiership, were very unjustly knocked out of the Champions League in the SF, and won the FA Cup. The next season was as much a steering job as anything else, which in fairness he did very well. But it is one thing to be able to do that, and quite another to arrest a serious decline in the manner that Hiddink did to rescue our 2008/2009. You didn’t need a Nobel prize in cellular ageing to be aware that all of these 30+ players could not continue to deliver week in week out, and that a certain amount of planning had to be done to prepare for that. Lampard especially worries me as the team, as it is currently set up, depends so heavily on him and his injury clearly was very serious. Abramovic now has been persuaded to spend some money but it is a knee jerk reaction, and while the same old stale tactics are being employed – taking off Mikel and putting Essien into the holding role, bringing on Kalou etc – I don’t see much change for the rest of the season.

    Ancelotti says he will not quit. I read that to mean not ‘I don’t give up when the going gets tough’, but ‘if I wait till I’m sacked, I get a wacking great payoff’. I think there is no love lost between him and RA, and that the sacking of Wilkins threw that into sharp relief. I don’t see things getting better but we will know more after the next few games (Champions League and Man Utd)

  23. Jon

    I’m surprised with the pro CA comments as well as the comments stating we didn’t play that badly. 1st half was all Everton and all though we got back into the game in the 2nd half, we struggled to create real opportunities.

    However having calmed down and digested the match I have come to the following conclusions:

    1) Anelka Spot Kick: Although I screamed at him at the time, this is how he takes penalties. They are a lottery and if it had gone in we would have thought he exuded confidence and technique.

    2) Squad: The squad is ageing and I am not sure if this is CA’s fault. We need to be investing in youth for the last several seasons, not this knee-jerk ectoplasm of 70mill in Jan, which was for only 2 players!

    3) We can’t sack CA now, the primary goal must be 4th spot. However he must go in the summer.

    Tactics, player shitness is all speculative. Something is rotten in the state of Chelsea and only those on the inside know the real reason. All we can do as fans is continue supporting the team and pray that Spurs and the Pool start losing some games. To be honest I would be happy to go out to Copenhagen if it means we have a better chance of CL football next season.

    This term is a complete right off, transition season whatever you want to call it. It didn’t start that way, we were awesome in the 1st couple of months but it all fell apart. We need to learn from this, update our squad so there are competition for places and a good blend of youth vs experience.

    If I was RA, I would bring Jose back. I think he has calmed down a little bit in terms of antagonising the whole world and really most vitriol is aimed at RA for stealing the WC to Russia.

    This is the worst run of results ever under RA and we all know Jose would have chopped and changed players and tactics to stop this prolonged rot. The players love him, the fans adore him and he return would be such a morale lifter that next season we would surely win the league even without a big investment in the squad. Teams would fear us again and yes we would grind out results again, but we would win games.

  24. Der_Kaiser

    A question worth pondering; if something is indeed rotten behind the scenes at Chelsea as most of us believe to be the case, irrespective of whether one is pro or anti Carlo, then maybe that’s where we should start?

    It happened in Ranieri’s last season. And Mourinho’s. Underhand briefings to the press, behind the scenes manouvering by all and sundry, sackings and/or appointments made above the head of the manager (or first team coach as is probably a more appropriate title) and so forth.

    Hey, we all know the drill by now. And the rumours about who is being targeted as Carlo’s replacement have already started.

    In the past, the finger of blame has been pointed at Kenyon, at Arnesen and obviously Grant or whoever else was the hate figure at the time. But the very simple fact is that there is one constant in all of this.

    And it doesn’t take a genius to work out who it is.

    If Carlo gets kicked out in the summer, it will be pretty clear that the running of the football side of the club will have virtually nothing to do with who is appointed as manager or first team coach. Pick the players you’re given in conjunction with the staff you get whether you want them or not and get on with it.

    Win and we’ll all be happy. Lose and you’ll be out on your arse inside of 2 years. With a big wedge of cash for your troubles. Cash that might have been invested in, you know, talent.

    At least when Kenyon was here, there was someone who understood the workings of a football club near the top of the organisation. Now we have the rather underwhelming Gourlay plus Roman and his retinue. Not good, in my humble opinion.

    We’ve got away with the hirings and firings over the last few years because we have (or at least had) an exceptional group of players either at or approaching their peak.

    Now we have a number of key payers from the last 5 years approaching the end of their careers, albeit with some promising talent in or on the fringes of the first team squad and the apparent will to spend money again. How long this lasts is anyone’s guess.

    Surely not a good thing if you’re trying to build something long lasting?

    But really – whether you’re for or against Carlo – if the owner doesn’t back a manager who he pursued like a horny teenager for 2 years as the right man, who delivered the double in his first season with some exceptional football, who he indulged to the tune of £75m in January, what exactly does the future hold for the club and anyone crazy enough to take up the managerial hot seat?

    To lose Mourinho, maybe Ancelotti and – to an extent – Hiddink in the space of 4 years; doesn’t that smack of biblical, suicidal stupidity? Doesn’t anyone feel that questions should be asked of those pulling the strings?

    I have increasingly mixed feelings about the Roman era. Some magnificent times – success and silverware of the like I never thought I’d see at the Bridge, great players and great managers. But nagging away at the back of my mind is the feeling that we could have had more – more titles, maybe the big European pot – who knows? – had there been a little more stability.

    It would all be very Chelsea for things to fall apart over the next few years. Mercenaries like Scolari and Sven happy to take the £6m a year and the inevitable pay-off when the trapdoor opens. Players like Josh and Bruma fucking off because they want to succeed in their careers.

    Unduly pessimistic? Bipolar? Well, maybe there are some things in the DNA of a football club and those who support it that simply can’t be erased.

    • Anonymous

      Think you’ve hit the proverbial whatsit on the head here, though I’m not sure Roman was indulging anyone but himself with his abrupt spending spree in January.

      Perhaps it’s just time he appointed himself manager officially and got it out of his system once and for all.

    • Anonymous

      Hear, hear….oh fuck it, thrice hear and a rousing chorus of Hip Hip Hoorah and For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.

      One of the most succinctly bipolar comments I’ve seen Lord Kaiser, and one that every single point hits home. Despite what people think, I’m not a Carlo hater or specifically anti-Carlo. i think he looks lost, isolated and marginalised. I think he’s as demotivated and demoralised as the players and what we’re seeing is this infection of negativity spread through the club. We’re like the proverbial bloke who knows he’s about to get dumped and yet sticks his ‘La la I can’t hear you’ hat on and smiles cheerfully whilst kidding himself that things will get better.

      As I said, I’ve merely reached a point where, like most football fans, although I like the guy, I am wondering if he’s the right man to rebuild, or whether he’s hit his Shevchenko moment as a coach. If he is sacked, and I’m not entirely convinced he will be be – why lash out £70m + and then sack him?, then I wouldn’t be particularly sorry. That doesn’t make me a hater, but yes I admit it dumps me into the fickle fan category. Plus the logical side of me say there’s really no-one who can take over. Guardiola will never leave Barca unless pushed, Villas Boas is promising but no Jose. Moyes and Hughes would not be popular. Van Basten and Rijkaard seem to have very low profiles these days. I’d love Jose back, but am a big advocate of the ‘never go back’ rule. It’s the same with girlfriends, you remember the good times and only when you’re reunited do the old niggles and the very issues that caused the break up return, usually with even more acrimonious results. .

      A better solution would be to get Guus Hiddink in to replace Arnesen, allowing Guus to choose the scouts. Then appoint a number 2 with whom Carlo wants to work, preferably with a view to them eventually taking the reigns (succession planning). Obvious names are Zola or Di Matteo, or maybe even Maldini. Then despatch Lollichon and employ someone like Seaman or Schmeichel to coach the keepers. Above all get rid of Emenalo who is nothing but the equivalent of the Political Officer stationed on Soviet subs. A cohesive and united back room team supporting Carlo and his bench, helping progress the youngsters and producing a conveyor belt system which brings in the new, and despatches the old. Simple.

      We are wearing a bravado mask hiding genuine fear. Lost confidence…yes. Lost desire…yes. Lost passion…yes. Lost ability….no. These players may be in decline but for most of the 30 plus lads this should be a slow process made up for by experience and football intelligence. Ballack was old and slow, but he knew where to be. As Desailly slowed down, he used his intelligence and experience to mask the shortfall of pace. I’m not convinced I see that from JT, Drogba or Lamps. But they’re still good. Drogba may be having his Mickey Owen/Thierry Henry moment, but the others should be able to adapt to their slowing pace. Malouda looks like a man in need of a hug from Guus.

      In summary, I DON’T HATE CARLO. He’s been painted into a corner, but he’s also holding a brush.

      If we don’t beat Copenhagen, and we capitulate vs United next week, then it’s hard to see anything but an itchy Russian finger curling around that trigger.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Danke, old bean. I’m very grateful to our benefactor, but I’m really starting to wish he’d sell up and go fuck around with a Formula 1 team instead.

        One way or another, the ship needs to be stabilised and it needs to happen soon or we are going to find ourselves in deep shite, for my money.

        Meanwhile, in a rather timely manner, this from the Guardian today:

        While the manager’s long-term future at Stamford Bridge remains the focus, Hamburg have confirmed Frank Arnesen will become their director of football in the summer when, as planned, he leaves Chelsea at the end of his contract. The Premier League club’s chief scout Lee Congerton is to accompany the Dane to the Bundesliga club as technical director. Hans Gillhaus is leaving to join the Dutch team Feyenoord as its technical director and the French scout Guy Hillion is to become the sporting director at Nantes. Chelsea is to implement a radical overhaul of its scouting department.

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/feb/20/carlo-ancelotti-chelsea-copenhagen-champions-league

    • bluebayou

      Pretty good summary JD. What irks me is that if my age-addled memory is not completely away with the fairies, rumours about Carlos’ tenure were circulating last season. For let’s not forget that for a lot of the time the league was no certainty, the FA Cup is never enough and losing to an Inter Milan side who turned over beloved Barca and won the thing was a major humiliation (we were told).

      Now, some of these rumours were of the flavour that Carlo only wanted to do 2 years and was off to pastures new. Why this should be was never made clear. But his stock was reasonably high and it was pitched as his choice. Now his stock is low, he’s going to be sacked or walk in the summer to avoid humiliation.

      Even in a manager’s first year in charge, departure and replacement was bubbling away in the background.

      Now any sensible person would dismiss that as so much old cobblers. But because of what has transpired on numerous occasions in the past it gets harder and harder to ignore this stuff: as any straw in the wind might give us warning of the next organisational debacle.

      Did he or someone decide soon into his tenure that he always going after 2 years? Is that at the heart of all this? Seems hard to credit given RA’s pursuit of him as you say JD.

      A feeding frenzy has started and we can while away the rest of the season in ever more fevered speculation. Good oh! That’s what we like best.

      My question is whether all those who feel that Ancelotti should go now or in the summer always doubted his credentials or is it what we’ve seen unfold this year?

      Given that Jose, Carlo, Gus have all arrived and had immediate impact but not been here long enough to take on a team rebuild, which candidate is best suited to that role?

      At the risk of being burned as a heretic, let’s look at it another way. Jose didn’t win the league in his third term. The football was certainly less dynamic and at the start of the third season the team was looking stale. None of these factors were reasons to sack him and I for one wanted to see him continue and solve the challenge.

      But he was sacked. And having arrived at Inter, maintaining their dominance in Serie A and making them Champions of Europe he moved on again. So if he came back could he turn it around straight away? His record suggests he could. Would he stay for 4 or 5 years to ensure that continuity and stability we all crave? I doubt it. And if he wanted to that would surely mean ceding some level of power and influence over football matters to him as coach, which seems to be anathema at Chelsea these days.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Mourinho is certainly an ‘impact’ man and probably wants more control than Chelsea (or indeed most clubs these days) were/are prepared to give him. The only blot on his managerial copybook is likely to be Real. If he was given some time to arrest Barcelona’s dominance I’m sure he’d win pots for them, but whether he has the patience – or whether they have the patience with him – is another matter entirely. I just don’t see him managing United; maybe City, if Mancini doesn’t delivery this / next season and they need that extra 5% to turn good into great that he tends to deliver.

        Guus was too old in the grand scheme – he was obviously helping Roman out but didn’t want the grief in the long term (and who can blame him?).

        Is Carlo the right man? Lord only knows. But this merry-go-round has to stop somewhere and irrespective of the possible candidates out there to replace him, for the reasons previously stated I don’t actually think it matters whether it’s you, me or anyone else that steps up right now.

        That said, deliver Roman the one pot he really craves and you might well be able to hang around for a little longer than most.

        • bluebayou

          Having reviewed the available medical literature on the advisibility and success of penile transplants, I tend to the view that it’s better to piss with the cock you’ve got………..

          Unless of course it’s got more holes than a garden sprinkler and is about to drop off

  25. Cunningplan

    “I’m surprised with the pro CA comments as well as the comments stating we didn’t play that badly. 1st half was all Everton and all though we got back into the game in the 2nd half, we struggled to create real opportunities.”

    Your view of the game is slightly different to mine then Jon, Everton worked hard and closed us down and kept the ball, did Cech make a save at all? Without going over old ground again, Howard pulled off some great saves and kept them in it, so we did create some good chances, but didn’t take them, which has been a familiar story in the past few months.

    As far as the Carlo debate goes, I’m not anti or pro, but I think he deserves the chance to try and turn it round, and some of us dare I say are sounding like petulant Liverpool fans whos team are not were they should be.

    The season isn’t over yet, lets judge things when it is.

  26. Anonymous

    Hmm….some very well made and rational arguments stating that getting rid of Roman’s favourite manager in the world just months after winning the Double would be a little strange to say the least.

    But when have Chelsea ever been logical? So let’s forget that argument and think like Roman.

    Yep, I’ve backed Carlo when 3 months of defeats and someting like 7 wins in 21 matches should have got him the sack in any other season. I even admitted my own mistake of not updating the squad by rewarding him with Europe’s best young defender and Fernando fucking Torres. So, I’ve been pretty kind on my part. And even though I kind of love the man, defeat to Copenhagen and one more defeat in the league will leave me no other choice. Being 5 points off 4th with a defeat is simply unacceptable. Our financial model to break even AND crucially to free up money to replace the old guard this summer is reliant on CL revenue and if 4th was scary enough being 5th means Carlo would have to be fired.

    I know that only part of it is his fault (lack of man management, tactical swtiches and frankly abysmal substitutions as well as the baffling sidelining of Josh) as the old guard’s attitude has been disgusting at times but they can be punished in the summer. For now, a change and the shock of a sacking looks like the only thing which can get us back in to the top 4 and if that means a few months of Mark Hughes before a Villas Boas, Jose or Van Gaal come in, then so be it but things at the moment are pretty embarrassing and defeat tomorrow may be the end.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Sacking any manager at this stage of the season in the hope that it will produce the desired result – be it avoiding relegation or grabbing 4th place – is one hell of a gamble. Surely even the madman with the money knows that?

      And who is going to step in for 4 months with the knowledge that they might not be taking charge next season? Is Keegan available?

      • Anonymous

        I have this vague memory of ‘wor Kev “promising” to join us, I think as a player while he was with Hamburg, if he ever decided to return to England – probably days before he agreed to sign for Southampton.

        Cometh the hour…. time to deliver on that 😉

  27. bluebayou

    It’s a sobering thought that we fall into that category of clubs who have a “Messiah” (JM for us). Liverpool (KD) and Newcastle (Keggy) spring immediately to mind.

    Spurs, Arsenal, United and City don’t, as far as I can ascertain. What about the others?

    If we start to call out for our Messiah does this mean we were (or think we were) a big club, with lots of history unable to accept we are no longer in amongst the big boys and slipping into decline?

    And if we use someone else’s Messiah? I dread to think…..


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