Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea (3-1 on agg.) – The Bathwater Edition

Newspaper reports

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “Manchester United have been as relentless over the course of the years as they were in the three hours of this Champions League quarter-final. It is Chelsea, winners of the Double last season, who allowed themselves to grind to a halt following that glory.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Manchester United’s glorious obsession with the Champions League proved far stronger than Chelsea’s. Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Ji-sung Park, Michael Carrick and company were simply far hungrier than their visitors, whose interest in the season’s grand prizes ended in embarrassing circumstances with the listless Fernando Torres hauled off and Ramires sent off.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “The Champions League is over for another year for Abramovich and Chelsea and this time it has not ended in recrimination and tantrum with the match officials, just the weary acceptance that they are a long way off the pace. Chelsea lost Ramires to a harsh second yellow card in the 69th minute but by then the game had already slipped away from them.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “A goal conceded shortly before half-time and a second from the home side soon after substitute Didier Drogba had scored to pull the second leg level ended Chelsea’s Champions League campaign for this season. The Blues largely matched Manchester United on the night but the psychology blows dealt by strikes from Javier Hernandez and Ji-Sung Park, plus playing much of the second half with 10 men following a red card shown to Ramires, were too much to overcome.”

The goals

43′ Hernandez 1-0
77′ Drogba 1-1
77′ Park 2-1

The review

Baby or BathwaterWhat do we chuck out?

Coming into tonight, we had to have our coping strategies in place, because this competition has left us more battered than a bad day on the cobbles in the Paris-Roubaix.

Oh cobblers!Bike Crash

And we no doubt thought the suffering couldn’t be any worse. But as Torquemada could tell you over a quiet pint, for the Inquisitor with a bit of imagination, there’s no end of ways to torture. (I assume having watched the last two parts of Waking the Dead, Tony, you can concur in this.)

We all knew it came down to scoring at least two and conceding one less. The lack of intensity exhibited on the blog seemed to suggest a sense of resignation. Or perhaps for the seasoned Champions League watcher a feeling that “it’s no point getting excited ’cause it’ll all end in tears”.

And to that end it’s worth pausing to clear up a small “philosophical” point here.

OptimismWhen people talk about the glass being half full or empty they mean this…

But a true realist, some say pessimist, knows that the glass does not rest on a level surface but is always teetering on the brink of tipping over. This removes any hope of filling it any fuller than it is.

RealismAnd to make matters worse tonight, the demon carpenter of Govan is sawing away at the table leg.

But in a strange way I can’t quite identify, it is every bit as gutting as it has been in the past. Just with a heavy, deadening blanket of torpor thrown on top.

My intention was to write a stream of consciousness, “as it happened” kind of report. I have the notes to hand. But why bother? You all know how it went down. I can’t summon the willpower to go through the detail.

Roughly 45 seconds of deep and abiding pleasure as Drogba made it 1-1.

That’s yer lot.

Over 120 minutes it perhaps all boiled down to Ramires, his presence, his absence. What he got, a red, what he didn’t get, a penalty.

Well there were maybe two other factors.

One was Drogba and his ability to own Evra at key moments.

The other was our inability to get the ball on target when we had the chance. We had the chances, but the accuracy wasn’t there. With United, they made the most of their limited chances. And limited they were, it should be said. But when they had to respond, they did.

Should Drogba have started? I dunno. But when he got isolated on Evra, there were chances, as at the Bridge.

At the other end, Anelka switched off when he should have screened the through ball to Giggs. They scored. Small margins are everything in a tight game.

But we got back to 1-1 and conceded less than a minute later. There was Park, on their left, where Ramires might well have been.

Yes. It was that sort of a night.

And no doubt we’ll be told how it was never in doubt and United were strolling. But I think it was tighter than that. The victors and their slavering lackeys in the press get to write history. I choose not to read it or concur.

We laboured at times but I thought it was a better effort than at the Bridge. There were periods where we were on top. We certainly seemed to cope more readily in midfield and reduce the threat. But while the zip was there in patches, too often we were slow and passes went astray.

As for much of the season, we seemed five to 10 percent below top form. Not awful, but not convincing. The Drogba goal when down to 10 men was reminiscent of those recent Chelsea sides that would never lie down. The goal conceded moments later typical of a season where we’ve come up short too often.

I don’t feel like trashing Carlo or the team. I just feel that in some ways, like Inter last year, we had the chances, we didn’t take them and we were weak at critical moments. United are no Inter and we should have done better.

But it’s not a vintage year. We just have to pony up and move on.

No doubt many will have their views on what should happen now. Everything from a little facial tuck where the lines have got a little deep around an ageing face, to complete evisceration of the corpse.

For me it breaks down like this.

Who will overcome long term injury to go again next year? Lampard, Essien, Alex, Zhirkov, Bosingwa, Benayoun?

Can they refind their form? Malouda, Cole, Drogba?

Let’s hope they keep on trucking: Ramires, Ivanovic, Terry.

Not sure, but I think they’re okay: Anelka, Kalou.

God only knows: Torres.

The future: Luiz, Josh, van Aanholt, maybe Bertrand, Brouma.

If at Bolton why not here? Sturridge.

Carlo – why would he have to go? We have to show patience and a willingness to see it through. His early success bought him time, surely to God.

And forgive me if I do not laud our less than noble opponents and their graceless, whining manager. Can’t stand ’em. Never have, never will, but that’s my private hell, in which to quietly dwell. Used to have some admiration for Fungus, but lately he’s descended into a sad parody.

I thought I’d feel worse but to be honest I’m still pleased to have seen a Double. I’m getting old and lack the hunger for the internecine warfare that will doubtless erupt.

And talking of brother turning on brother, today (the 12th) is the anniversary of the start of the American Civil War.

But it’s also David Cassidy’s birthday.

And so with some tough choices to be made as the rebuilding will continue, do we tear ourselves apart or take a leaf from the pages of The Partridge Family?

“Cause breaking up is hard to do”.

But get it right and we’ll be looking back and thinking, “Didn’t we have some kind of a Summer”.

I’m done.

Keep the faith.

There are 76 comments

Add yours
  1. NorthernVA

    We got a saying stateside that is used in our professional football which really fits the last few months at Chelsea, “Dance with the one that brought you.” 105 minutes for the Drogs, not enough. United fans celebrated that fact…

  2. Moffat

    i don’t mind the elimination, just seeing a talent as Obi kept out of the team
    by useless scumbag like Frank is piss.

  3. Cunningplan

    Great read BB, and on the money with your thoughts for the game. I know some people will vent, and look for blame in individuals, but last night was just indicative of our season, indifferent and inconsistent.

    I think i’ll take my leave from here until the start of the new season, because I just don’t want to read what’s coming (and no offence to the venters) is venters a word? but like penalty shootouts I just don’t have the stomach for it.

  4. Antonio Diez

    “I thought I’d feel worse but to be honest I’m still pleased to have seen a Double. I’m getting old and lack the hunger for the internecine warfare that will doubtless erupt.”

    Pure gold BB. God bless you

  5. Anonymous

    Damn fine stuff BB. Damn fine.

    I hadn’t watched the final Waking the Dead but don’t worry, I’m a spoiler fan.

    I did rant last night mainly via Twitter and have calmed down a bit. However we have to face the facts that this season has been as disastrous as Scolari’s , arguably worse. I recently posted why I don’t fancy Ancelotti, why I’ve never taken or warmed to him, but it’s Italian football and coaches in general really. Italians aren’t known for flair or attacking football, it’s just not in their culture – yes they’ve had success but their brand of football is as dead as Charlie Hughes long ball philosophy. One has to look at the demise of the national team and the Serie A clubs standing to witness that decline. Look at Capello’s England and tell me you’ve been genuinely thrilled since our first game in South Africa. Look at Mancini and the dross being served up to the uber-rich of Manchester City. Wherever you look idiot power brokers revere the Italian philosophy of caution, narrow play, defence first , cynical fouls and diving. Italian football is and for the large part has always been a crock of shite. Ancelotti for me is weak, meek and has little respect from the players. He was holed badly by the Ray Wilkins debacle and his lack of fight back then, no doubt that meekness was transmitted to the dressing room. The appointment of mannequin Emenalo was the last straw for many players I think.

    But yes, seeing a double was more than I could have hoped for, and NOT winning the CL puts us in the same group of big English teams as Arsenal, Spurs, Citeh, Leeds, Everton, Newcastle who’ve competed and never won. No real shame there. More have failed than succeeded and besides it’s a hideous competition loaded with corrupt governance, incompetent refs and blatant favouritism. Until we win it I will always think that. One upside for our defeat is I’ll get my evenings back now as I couldn’t give a shit who goes on to win.

    If he’s left in place and changes nothing this summer then what? Do this squad as a unit deserve another shot? For me we have to be brutal and eviscerate the corpse. Kakuta, Studge, Borini, PVA and Josh need to form the new spine (PVA as a winger not LB) and we need a decent right winger and creative midfielder. Lamps needs to be prepared for the Giggs/Scoles type of twilight career and be prepared to make less starts. JT needs to start transitioning his role to Luiz as well as the captaincy over the next 2-3 years. I think question marks need to be put over Malouda and Zhirkhov, Bosingwa should be sold. We should consider Essien after 6 months of next season. If he doesn’t buck up then make him available in January 2012 for sale. Kusczak should be considered as deputy for Cech. I’d also look at Sanchez and Albrighton for drafting in. And then CA should push for a new right hand man. Emenalo is a joke and Clement is out of his depth.

    But what if he stays and does nothing? No-one out, no-one in? I look forward to what the ‘In Carlo we trust’ brigade say then.

    And can anyone seriously tell me that we’ve moved forward this season?

    The fall is the more painful because it’s been so sudden and visible and CA has to take some of the blame, along with players and Gourlay/Buck/Abramovich.

    • Anonymous

      Couldn’t agree more.

      It really is sad that it had to end this way because the 103 goals of the first season and the Double really did win me over. But getting exposed in such a humiliating way by Jose and Alex in the Champions League sealed his fate for Roman. Whatever we think about the Champions League, Roman wants it and two failures has shown him that Carlo just isn’t that guy (and before anyone brings up his Milan background, Roman doesn’t really care about living in the past for me. He sees two pitiful exits and concludes that Carlo just doesn’t seem able to make us click in this competition).

      Even after a night to sleep on it I am still baffled as to what Carlo was thinking on that touchline. Alex was loving it in his padded seat as he could see every move Carlo was going to make from a mile away. Three like for like subs really is pathetic, especially when you need to score two goals. I’m not calling for a triple sub, panic stations, move at half time but Torres for Didier, Anelka for Kalou and Alex for Paulo! What exactly changed? Did he not notice that we were losing? Even before the sending off he didn’t change the shape of the side and I’m pretty sure that if we had kept 11 men, Carlo would have been happy carrying on with our 4-5-1 for a dignified exit. But for Chelsea, that really isn’t good enough. We want to see some ideas and risks and some indication that he was fighting to keep us in the competition.

      And I agree that if he stays then little will change. He’s happy keeping the old guard (anyone remember the mess he left behind at Milan after he left?) and seems blinded to throwing in the kids. Keeping Josh since January for a 10 minute sub appearance at Blackpool really doesn’t make sense and who cares if he’s young or a bit raw? We need to move on from the old guard and find a way to integrate these young players. I’m not calling for a cull and a starting XI with 5 or 6 youth products but Josh’s artistry and passing would be a boost to this plodding, tired and dull side at the moment.

      The football looks stale, the players look bored and the club looks tired so why not take a risk and change something? It’s because he’s too cautious and unwilling to take that many risks. Calling a yes man is harsh but his unwillingness to confront people is also a weak point. He should never have accepted that moron Emenalo as his assistant and when he was asked on Friday why he didn’t play mind games or criticise referees to “get the biggest possible advantage for your club” he just answered “I don’t like to.” He’s by no means a bad manager and is one of Europe’s best but I don’t know if he’s too nice, too stuck in his ways or too bland but sometimes, his laissez faire attitude seems to hurt us. Perhaps we are a club who need a siege mentality and some conflict to get these players going as no-one can tell me that we’ve moved forward or progressed in any way this season.

      And I don’t care if people shout at me for suggesting names to replace him but Carlo won’t be here next season and if you look around Europe then there are a select bunch of candidates that we could choose from. You all know who they are and I think most of us know that whether we agree with it or not, Carlo’s going to be leaving us.

      It was nice while it lasted.

  6. Anonymous

    Well put as ever, BB, and a fine companion to the equally ever-excellent Giles Smith’s take today for those still not cured of CL mania.

    The fatalistic resignation was so high it was hard to even get upset at the minimal amount of comment on Sky about the first goal actually given being offside, even when they drew their white line across the screen [or perhaps it was my astigmatism that made Hernandez look ahead of the last defender] and , hey you can’t expect to get 2 offside goals chalked off correctly at Old Trafford, surely?

    Have no real stomach for the recriminations and Carlo-out brigade that will ensue, but let’s remember he managed the side that scored 103 EPL goals last season, and began this season with 6 straight wins in all competitions, scoring 25 goals.

    How typically Italian was that?

    • Anonymous

      Sorry, but he’s reverted to type. We’ve been sussed simple as. You can’t argue this is better than Scolari’s season, nor have we moved forward in any way.

  7. PeteW

    Firstly, lovely piece by BB, and a really nice tone.

    I think you are largely correct – over two legs, United were better but it was a matter of margins. Both sides had maybe four decent chances over 180 minutes and they took three of theirs while we were denied a penalty and were guilty of some poor finishing. They certainly never dominated at any point any more than we did, and it was a lot closer than the papers will record. Of course, the fact it all seemed so inevitable will colour our memory, but this was much closer than the Inter defeat and remained inthe balance until the ludicrous Park goal.

    Think also that he was right to start with Torres, and right to sub him as he had been given yet another chance, this time in a formation that was supposed to suit him, and he failed to take it, or even turn up. I hope people are starting to accept that Torres’s faults, problems and difficulties are almost entirely of his own making and should not be blamed on anybody else.

    To which I will add one further point: Drogba was godlike and has a few seasons in him yet. We are so lucky to have him.

    The notion that Carlo is defensive can easily be dispelled by looking at last year’s record-breaking Double-winning statistics. It simply doesn’t stand up.

    Now to sound the ‘common sense’ Klaxon.

    This has not been a vintage season BUT we are third, reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and beat Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal at home in a season in which we are clearly in a form of delayed transition. This is not a failure – it’s not as good as we’ve had for seven years, but on balance it really ain’t all that bad.

    The sort of wholesale clear-out some are demanding would probably put us in around tenth place next season. I’m not kidding. These players may not have been at their best this year, but to sell half-a-dozen internationals at one go is utter insanity.I would only look at selling Malouda and Boswinga and bring in three or four players of the calibre of Luiz and Ramires in replacement. You have to take these things slowly, sensibly, without panicking.

    As for the manager, it would be a disgrace and an embarrassment if he was fired after his achievements last season. If he walks to Roma or wherever so be it, but to sack him while also trying to rebuild the team after a morale-sapping campaign is recipe for the sort of serious crisis that would really get the knicker-wetter going some. But he does need a good right-hand man.

    • Anonymous

      I’m getting a bit sick of being slagged off for honest opinion. I don’t much like Carlo. I dont rate Italian style football. End of. It may be irrational but just because he delivered a great season last year I’m supposed to fall into some sort of unquestioning evangelical devotion and faith to the man? Maybe I was spoilt by the arrogance, brusqueness, bravery and independence of Jose. Good, the man deserves a fucking statue for how he turned our club into what it is, and yes it was him and him alone that changed the culture (admittedly backed by Roman and his advocate of Kenyon – who looks rather good in comparison to Gourlay – the Andrew Ridgley of the management team). Everything that has been successful in our club owes that debt of gratitude to Jose. And what did he get for that sweeping change of culture? Yep, the sack but a trigger happy owner star struck by tippy-tappy football and history in one specific competition (a largely corrupt and overblown/over-hyped one at that) . I’m pretty sure RA knows he fucked up big-time there. I really hope Real go on and win the thing this year. Boy would that send our hierarchy a big message.

      I’m not a knicker wetter. I don’t want the Wizard of Oz in charge (re last nights debate on twitter). I do want sustained development, faith in youngsters (the earlier comment about Kakuta was utter arse-gravy of the highest order), clever buys built on potential and not just reputation (Albrighton, Sanchez, Brunt and Rodwell maybe) and an independent manager who is prepared to challenge the board and show a clear strategy for our playing future. I want Gourlay to concentrate on marketing and the new ground and keep his fat face out of footballing affairs. Better still he could leave and get someone decent in. Peter Kenyon looks rather good compared to Gourlay. I want Roman to be the Godfather over all of this, benevolent and benign with little injections of cash when needed. I want a new respected Sporing Director/Director of Football.

      Oh and on that Kakuta comment – had he been at Arsenal or United he would have been persevered with not dumped after one or two mediocre games and no doubt we’d be looking on thinking why the fuck can’t we pull players like that out of the bag. If mediocrity and lack of effort were the criteria for being shipped out then why the fuck are Malouda or Bosingwa even allowed in the ground? Oh,thats right, they’re ‘senior’ players. So they can stamp their feet and get their way. It’s man management by numbers and it’s appeasement bollocks.

      So, I’ll repeat. If Carlo goes then I WON’T be sorry except for the fact that its more change and disruption. If he stays the HE needs to embrace new thinking, he needs to be brave, to be a leader, to break some rules and maxims and he needs a FUCKING DECENT right hand man, not Clement and certainly not the zombie Emenalo. He needs to stop trying to do it all alone and he needs to start gambling a bit more and taking chances. And yes, he needs to be less nice. Nice guys rarely win, and when they do, they rarely stay there.

      So, as with Lord Kaiser, I just want this piss awful season over and done with. get it out of the way, stop the players from spouting utter tripe and patronizing the fans in the press and media. Secure 3rd place and then start the rebuild.

      • fuzzydunlop

        Maybe the reason Malouda hasn’t been shipped out is because he has proven he can do it for Chelsea unlike Kakuta. If Frank had taken the chance Malouda created yesterday it could all have been different.

  8. Anonymous

    From where I was standing I was impressed first half since I thought we took the game to utd. Overall my only disappointments were the Torres experiment and Anelka who seems incapable of collecting the ball and running forward, but instead insists on turning 360 degrees and slowing our attack. He got booed off when he was substituted, not for his performance but because he couldn’t even get off the pitch quickly but ambled to the touchline and wasted valuable time.

    Anyone want to buy 100 loyalty points?

  9. Donkey's Ears

    It was indeed much closer than the press are now implying and I was never that relaxed until Park scored. It was a game of margins and the big moments went our way. I thought Ramires was unlucky but that said if you’d asked me to predict who might be sent off for Chelsea I would have chosen him without hesitation.

    I was astounded to see Torres start, Drogba always scores against us and gives us a hard time. He can bully our full backs into submission and creates that space for Lampard and Malouda. There was huge relief amongst the fans around me when it was confirmed he was on the bench.

    I thought you had done very well in the first half and one moment of laziness from Anelka ruined it all. I’m not sure what he was doing there tbh – surely that was Malouda’s responsibility?

    For me it looks like there is plenty to build on but it won’t matter if you keep changing your manager and changing your strategy. Why spend £50m on a player who has been out of form for 18 months and that not many clubs could afford or would want? It was obviously going to affect the team, become an unwelcome distraction, and was completely unnecessary.

    You need wide players as I see it and perhaps more depth at the back. A team of your quality shouldn’t be dependent on playing Boswingwa in a game like that when you are nearly at full strength.

    There is not much between the squads as things stand but United are better at using average players like O’Shea and seem less easily distracted by events off and on the pitch. Is that Ancelotti’s fault or Romans?

  10. Anonymous

    “I think you are largely correct – over two legs, United were better but it was a matter of margins.” I have to agree with Pete here, but the issue for me is that had we got a bit of luck (penalty in 1st leg, no sending off here), had we beaten Utd, can anyone see us beating Barcelona in a million years? A couple of years ago we went toe-to-toe with the best side in the world for 180 minutes and held our own. It was only in the 186th minute, or whenever it was, that they finally edged it. This side is, to my mind, incapable of reaching those heady heights again.

    Lampard has been poor since his return. Essien is out of form. Malouda has been in form so rarely since he signed it’s frankly ludicrous he is still here. And Anelka, while good, is simply not good enough to be in the best team in the world. Yes he can beat players but he also insists on slowing down pretty much every counter attack or break we have. Promote a few youngsters, including Studge and Josh, ship out a few seniors, including Bosingwa, Malouda and Anelka, and bring in a new manager. Why the new manager? Because when we are playing shit the current one doesn’t change it around. Fucking simple.

    Possible squad for next year:
    Defence – PVA, Cole, Terry, Alex, Ivan, Luiz, Ferreira
    Midfield – Kakuta, Zhirkov, Ess, Josh, Ramires, Lamps, Obi, Benayoun
    Forwards – Torres, Kalou, Drogba, Studge

    There are two players there for every position, though we could do with another player for the right side. A decent manager should be able to get them to win something.

  11. Anonymous

    One other thought……..

    I really fancied Susan Dey when she was in The Partridge Family, and even more in her LA Law days.

    Yes, I am a shallow man.

    *prises himself away from Google images*

  12. Der_Kaiser

    A result that we all knew was coming. All things considered, this season could have been a lot worse; plenty of injuries and a number of key players clearly running on empty after a fairly epic double season followed quickly by a World Cup; I don’t think anyone could have predicted the meltdown that took place. Also interesting to read – and I’m assuming this is correct – that the Wigan game last weekend was the first time this season Carlo had a fully fit squad to choose from. All that needs to be done now is to secure third and then plan for next season and the longer term.

    The club has much to consider over the course of the summer. Those advocating a clear out of half a dozen players or more should think on; we heard the same about getting rid of the likes of Ballack and Deco last season (one esteemed blogger I seem to recall suggested that we ‘clear out the shit’, which gives some idea of the ‘this toy isn’t good enough – I want a new one’ mentality that pervades). This season, we’ve heard the same voices berate Carlo and the club for letting them go due to the experience we’ve lost. In short – you can’t have it both ways.

    No, we haven’t moved forward – double winning teams with half a dozen key players in their thirties often don’t, but it’s not reason to ship everyone out, manager included, and start again. I’d say we’re looking at 3-4 departures at the very most, Sturridge and one, maybe two others moving up from the youth team and possibly 2-3 signings. That might be entirely wrong, of course.

    Then there is Carlo – appreciate that it’s all getting rather emotive after what was effectively a season ending defeat, but some clarity might be in order. Cautious, defensive managers don’t win doubles in the style that we did last season – end of. Some of the assertions about his personality are being written as though the individuals in question have lunched regularly with the man for some years and know his innermost thoughts – let’s not pass speculation and opinion off as fact, shall we? The guy has his faults, but the players have to carry the can for a lot of our failings this season too.

    I’m sure there are names out there who would be perfect replacements for the inevitable 2-3 years they’d get before Roman has a paddy that he hasn’t got a Champions League yet, but really – it’s time to ask what we’ve become if we’re kicking out a (double winning) manager (the 6th in what, 7 years) after one average season?

  13. Nick Benfield

    I seem to have stumbled on a cure for excruciating wisdom tooth pain: Smirnoff by the bottle, ibuprofen by the packet, and the emotional turmoil of watching yet another Champions League campaign come to an end. At some point last night I’m pretty sure I entered an alternate reality. Anyway, I’m in much less physical pain today (bar a mild hangover) for the first time since last Friday, though emotionally I feel wrung out.

    I’m very much in the getting-rid-of-Carlo-is-madness camp. Give the man at least another season before writing him off as another Avram or Big Phil, neither of whom seem capable of ever delivering a double. I very much agree with JD – the players must take quite a lot of the blame for this season’s failings.

    As for Carlo’s apparent cautious and defensive Italian management style, I just don’t see it, though I do agree that the rigidity and predictability of his substitutions are somewhat frustrating and, as in last night’s game, baffling. In this regard I think we were spoiled by Jose and his occasionally daring change-everything-after-20-minutes approach, though I can guarantee very few fans agreed with him at the time when he substituted Joe Cole after 20 minutes in one match, and there was often a lot of gnashing of teeth – including from me – when we ended matches with JT or Robert Huth or both as hoof-the-ball target men. Every manager has their way of doing things and fans will always think they know better… but seriously, Carlo, be braver for god’s sake!

    As well as making a few changes to player personnel this summer, the club should go all out to get Carlo a bloody good right-hand man/number two. The hangers-on he’s been lumbered with at the moment seem to be about as much use as a couple of training cones.

    Clive – Stick around – now that the pressure’s off things might and should calm down a bit. I’ve been feeling more and more zen as the day’s worn on knowing that we can all relax a bit now that the season’s effectively over. Let’s try to enjoy the remaining matches of the season… you never know, Carlo might give Josh et al a chance. Then again…

  14. Anonymous

    The problem we have in that a top 4 place is far from confirmed is we can’t just give a few of the youngsters 90 minutes in any of the league games. Until that top 4 place is secure – and it’ll be a while – we’re faced with watching Torres blunder about the pitch and half his team-mates continue to play like shitter versions of themselves.

    You season ticket holders deserve medals. There’s not a lot Chelsea-wise to keep me enthused this season. Just wish the damn thing were over, the players were resting up and the preposterousness of the summer transfer window were in full swing.

    • Nick Benfield

      Famous last words, but I just don’t see us struggling to stay in the top four. If the players relax and pull their fingers out and their socks up and buck up their ideas and several other idioms, then we could even finish above the Gooners. Four points to make up over seven matches – not beyond us. And it is Arsenal…

  15. Ganesh

    The issue is the same as last year and we haven’t learned from our defeat to Inter last term. As usual we were very slow in the built-up and had little offering in terms of crossing. We just don’t know how to use the width. I was really looking for some bold changes in the line-up, but again seeing the old legs with no space what so ever, we didn’t had any chance of win at OT.

    I would have preferred putting Kalou against Evra initially to provide more pace and also have Ashley in the right wing and put zhirkov as the left-back. May sound weird but Ashley was very good yesterday going forward and I think, it might have surprised the ManU and that would have provided us with some impetus going forward. We can’t just always through the center with atleast 5-6 red-shirts behind. We have to use effective counter-attacking football through the wings if its hard to break down teams and Carlo hasn’t learned that for the last 2 yrs. You have to manufacture somethings if you don’t have the resources. Try and see if it works out.

    Also i feel the bashing of Torres is un-called for. He can’t play like Drogba by holding the ball when you just launch long ball towards him and sometimes I do feel that Drogba doesn’t want to pass the ball (or) play on his own when he can pass it to Torres.

    Next season:-
    I would flog Drogba, Anelka & Malouda and buy atleast one play maker(Sneider) and a pure winger like Sanchez who can provide the supply line for Torres and co.We can get Lakuku as the long-term replacement for Didi. As much as I love Drogba, clearly he seems to have a negative impact on the team when things doesn’t go well for him.

    May be carlo needs to go and we need a better tactician.. hope we can bring back Jose.

    Now we need to focus on the league and have to win all our remaining games and see where we end up.

    I think, we really need atleast couple of play makers in the team for next season, otherwise there is not way we can justify buying

  16. Anonymous

    Applause to Dr Bayou for catching the exact tone required, i.e. slightly weary determination to keep some kind of perspective.

    I just hope the rest of the season proves to be enjoyable, and not a knuckle-gnawing gladiatorial spectacle in which our relatively limited ambition (don’t finish 5th) battles against our creeping mediocrity (anyone else seeing a home draw with Brum coming up?)

    The ideal scenario is that the end of the protracted CL car crash lets everyone relax a bit and we regain the basic fluency that was so obvious at the start of the season.

    On the other hand, I think it might be useful if everyone from Abramovich down got the idea that the team needs some rebuilding, and especially *revitalising*: a bit of youth, intensity and speed. It would be appalling if next season turned out to be yet another “last chance” for the fag-end of José’s team to get its CL win. So perhaps a fourth-place finish would concentrate the minds a bit.

    Add me to the camp in favour of retaining Carlo. The difference between him and Scolari is that Scolari lost the dressing room, by all accounts. Carlo’s problem is perhaps the opposite? — maybe he and the players are just a bit too comfortable. But he’s proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he can create and drive a winning team. Don’t forget how unlikely the title looked after we drew away at Blackburn last season, and the games that had to be won for us to come out on top.

    The tough decision I think needs taking is not over the firing of the manager. It’s the admission that the players we’ve relied on need to be challenged by a new generation. The Sturridges and Kalous and McEachrans and Kakutas need to be thought of not as “those kids who you bring on when the game doesn’t matter or when the old guys aren’t doing well” but as the *core* of the squad, the Chelsea of the next four years.

    No doubt the reaction will be — “Kalou????”

    But what do we do instead? Go out and spend £60m on Pato?

    You have to think that even Abramovich — whose whole adult existence has presumably revolved around the idea that he can have absolutely any single thing he wants, just by throwing sufficiently large wads of dosh at it — might be getting the idea that the big vanity purchases haven’t actually helped the team all that much. (He was at the FA Yoof Cup semi-final, incidentally.)

    All season long the mood on the blog — and in the stadium, in so far as one feels one can interpret these things — has been anticipation: we’re waiting to see the new Chelsea appear. Young Josh has probably heard the loudest cheers of anyone when their name’s announced.

    Even players who’ve been as genuinely great for Chelsea as Cashley, Drogs, JT and Frank ought now to be thought of as squad options rather than automatic starters. They can’t go on for ever. I can see why the club thought they might be able to this season, but surely no one can imagine that the same will apply in August.

    As for those who’ve had their moments — Malouda, Anelka, Zhirkov, Bosingwa: all of them good players with gusts up to excellent, but if it’s time to refresh the team, they have to go. Otherwise the next generation will decide — justifiably — that they’ll simply never be allowed their chance, and they’ll leave.


    Branners Luiz JT/Alex Cashley/Pat Van A

    Ramires Obi/Essien Josh

    Kalou/Kakuta Torres Studge

    They might not do any better in one season, but they unarguably will over four seasons. (And who knows who else might come good in that time — Mancienne? Billy Clifford? Bertrand?)

    And I don’t mean this post in a “Kick Them All Out Because I’m Angry” sort of way. I’d genuinely look forward to seeing the above team play, and to be honest I’m excited about the next couple of seasons.

    We would never have beaten Barca or Real anyway.

  17. Gleb

    “And I don’t care if people shout at me for suggesting names to replace him but Carlo won’t be here next season and if you look around Europe then there are a select bunch of candidates that we could choose from.”

    One less candidate, Habs. Villas Boas off to the ‘Poo. We’ve managed to fucking lose the one guy who at least remotely resembles Jose, in terms of style, I mean.

  18. PeteW

    Apologies, Tony, if you felt my comments were immoderate. No offence intended.

    But I really worry about your and Habs approach here. You appear to want:
    a) a team as resilient as Mourinho’s but more attractive than Ancelotti’s ‘negative’ record-scoring double winners.
    b) a team that wins at least one of the CL, league and FA Cup every season.
    c) a team that plays amazing but solid football and wins trophies while exercising a complicated transition between old and young players.
    d) a manager who stands up to the man who owns the club (even though the last man who did this got the sack).

    Essentially, you want a manager ‘to take a few chances’ but you aren’t impressed by a manager who wins the double in his first season. These two attitudes are almost irreconcilable, or at least the demand for trophies from fans and chairman makes it much harder for the manager to take any chances at all. And when he does take a chance – drop Drogba, sub Torres, play Anelka in the hole – he’s castigated if it doesn’t come off. You want a manager who makes good signings but are keen to discard one whose signings of Ramires and Luis are easily the best the club has made for several years.

    And if Carlo brings in the kids next season and we are sixth or lower – what then? How will you react? How will Roman?

    Ah, Roman. Standing up to Roman – that simply isn’t how things work at Chelsea and we have to accept that. What’s the point in standing up to Roman, getting starved of funds and the boot? Carlo is no Jose, but he’s also no Avram. (And comparisons with Scolari are hugely unfair, unless i fell asleep and missed the season where Big Phil won the double.) This is a political job and it’s disingenuous to pretend it isn’t.

    Essentially, this is a difficult period for the club, Carlo hasn’t got everything right, but he’s done a lot better than some people give credit for given the lack of investment before January. This is our worst season in seven years; it’s not all that different from what appears to be Arsenal’s best in five years. That’s perspective.

    Of course, if you do get your way and Carlo leaves, you do realise who we’ll end up with, don’t you? Be careful what you wish for….,r:20,s:41&biw=1259&bih=571

    • Anonymous

      Right I had a great answer here and before I could finish typing the bloody browser crashed and I lost the whole edit. So, this time I’m using the safety of Pages and good old copy/paste. But I’m well annoyed.

      Morning Pete had to endure a very long 2 days in Stoke so couldn’t get a a response back to you quickly. First and foremost, no offence taken, just forgive the emotional response. I do understand it’s all about debate. I do wonder if people just selectively read the responses and then respond. I approach any article with a critical eye and often use authors advocacy to see through/interpret awkward points, or those points that are just a bit clumsily made. Maybe I need to clarify my own points better. Damn the OU for making life awkward!

      So in response to your points……..

      a.)Yes, but with a small difference. replace the phrase ‘Ancelotti’s ‘negative’ record-scoring double winners’ with that of ‘Ancelotti’s under-performing, apathetic, easily sussed, demotivated, clique-ridden plodders’. I’d take last seasons performances with 3rd place any day, better that than the fudge we’ve been served thus far. As someone else said, we’ve been watching this dross since November and barely anything has changed bar the flowering of Ramires and the discovery of Luiz.

      b.) No. I fully expected and prepared myself for a no-trophy season after the Double. I willingly accepted this mentally under the pretext of the rebuild, whereby we saw 5 alleged top line players leave the club (Deco and Joe Cole can barely be placed in this category after last season for me) and Carlo’s promise to use the kids, displayed by squad promotions for PvA, Josh, Kakuta and Studge. I genuinely believe we’d have been where we are now but with those kids having gained strength and confidence to be regular competitors for starts.

      c.) Yes, absolutely yes. Doesn’t seem to much of an issue for Manchester United or Barca does it? Beckham, Scholes, Giggs etc were kids weren’t they? I seem to recall they did rather well alongside some experienced heads. Take Wayne Rooney – prised from Everton as a teenager by Fergie, pretty much on the basis of a wonder goal against Arsenal. I don’t recall any debate about whether he was old enough for them or England. I t was assumed he was good enough and that was that. I believe Josh is as good if not better than Rooney in his ability to hold the ball and his range of passing and eye for the intelligent ball, as well as his calm unsullied demeanor. And yet we seem to be preparing him for a loan. Now for some of you that might be the norm for player development, but look at our history on that and you’ll see it’s a pre-cursor for a sale. Thats what worries me. Look at Studge – his only ‘crime’ according to the rumours in the club was to be suffering high levels of ebullient self-confidence which I see as an attribute in top level sportsmen. Kakuta, as someone pointed out was player of the tournament last season in an under-19s event. Would Wenger be loaning him out or putting him into FA Youth Cup games? PvA has all the attributes to be another Robben but made of mahogany rather than glass……so we loan him to Sven when we’re crying out for width instead of the Italian favourite of narrow football. And lastly Borini, hammering goals for fun in the reserves, has shown some independence, was publicly lauded by Carlo only to be come one The Disappeared. There are coaches who can do what Fergie has done. I thought carlo was one of them but his subservience has shown me otherwise.

      d.) Yes. Any business that is successful today needs its innovators. This means challenging the norm, and challenging those above you. There are ways and means of doing this and I suspect Jose couldn’t drop the ‘enfant terrible’ persona when he tried and this just looked to Roman like arrogant disobedience. But Carlo didn’t show any dissidence over his alleged ‘friend’ Ray Wilkins, a man much respected throughout the squad. He may well have challenged that decision and lost, but surely any decent independent and innovative person would have sought assurances over choosing his back room team, especially his right hand man?

      e.) I’ll treat this as your pseudo-point, a bit like Chester Thompson being the unofficial 4 th member of Genesis. ‘And if Carlo brings in the kids next season and we are sixth or lower – what then? How will you react? How will Roman?’ – I can only reflect that with ‘And if Carlo keeps this squad for next season and we are sixth or lower – what then? How will you react? How will Roman?. It’s a moot point – either way we’d all be unhappy but I believe these kids are good enough but no coach is brave enough to include them. I still believe we have a culture of ‘player seniority’ which means at the first sign of falling out of favour with the coach we get the obligatory agent ‘spin’ in the news of dressing room unrest, Player X looking to move on etc etc.

      And lastly , the comparison to Scolari FOR THIS SEASON is fully justified. History is history and yes it should buy you time but this season has been a season of transitional nothingness. We have promise in Ramires and Luiz and Torres, we have 2 potentially excellent strikers loaned out and maybe not coming back. We’ve seen the decline of frank Lampard with questions over whether or not he’ll ever reach his normal excellent standard again. Essien has been a disastrous loafer. Drogba occasionally blowing hot but mainly cold. A note for NorthernVA here….he’s 33 …just how long can he remain at the top of his game and be our first choice. Offer him a pay as you play contract or shake his hand, thank him and let him move on. Perfectly reasonable and dignified options. Malouda has jumped the shark to mix my analogies. Anelka may well have one more season at best before he has to admit the trurh. JT is wearing out. Bosingwa just isn’t very good.

      It’s a lively and interesting debate, but lets get this unequivocally clear. I don’t like Ancelotti as a coach. Despite last season I just don’t like him or his brand of football for this season. Nice, dignified man but not for me thanks. Having said that I’m NOT advocating his enforced departure. I’ll accept the personal discomfort of another season for stability combined with visible progress. He deserves at least one more season providing we finish 3rd. If he changes nothing this summer then I’ll be gobsmacked and intrigued as to how he thinks we’re going to compete next season using this style of dull ponderous, rather stereotypically Italian football. If he changes things and starts the evolution then maybe he can win me over. If however, as I suspect he does go, either enforced or through some contrived mutual consent spin into his dream Roma job, then I hope we’re brave enough to go down an innovative route. I would be genuinely excited by GH as DoF, with MvB as first team coach. I’d love Jose back but the doors are locked in both directions there.

      And finally, Rafa? I’m not sure if that would be ironically tragic, or tragically ironic. or just tragic.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Morning TG

        Some interesting points which I’m sure Pete will pick up on at some point, but for me c) goes to the heart of it; we can look at individual cases all we like, but the simple fact is Fergie isn’t going to get the boot after one mediocre season so he can afford to take the risks with youngsters. For every Rooney there has been a Djemba-Djemba and a Fortune; one season of the kind of mid 00’s lull Fergie experienced here and half the world would be (well, is) screaming for the manager’s head and speculating as to which sucker – sorry, manager – is going to take the Bridge hotseat next.

        Which brings us nicely back to my key point about all of this – as long as Roman carries on hiring and firing every 2-3 years, we will never see the kind of sensible transition Pete mentioned that we all want.

        • Anonymous

          Your last sentence gets us to the nub of the problem: Roman provides the money and can hire and fire at will.

          He shows no signs so far of developing any patience and will dump any manager who fails to meet his definition of success.

          Therefore, no manager can afford to take the risk of giving the youngsters a chance – confirmed again at Carlo’s early press conference today. When asked if he’d give Josh a chance in the remaining EPL games this season, he replied no, that we need “experience and strong personality” at this moment to ensure we qualify for next year’s CL.

  19. PeteW

    One more thing: Josh will be going on loan next season. I’d put very good money on it.

    So factor him out your dream teams for a while longer…

  20. Anonymous

    “Build your team round proven internationals not useless teenage prima donnas” —

    … can’t resist pointing out that Kakuta was player of the tournament at the European U-19 championship, representing his country …

    But then Shevchenko and Torres are proven internationals too. Oh and Malouda played in a World Cup final and captains his country. Back to the useless teenagers, please.

    Pete — tempted to take that bet about Josh. (If he was going on loan, wouldn’t he have gone this season?) What shall we say? Five free I Told You Sos to the winner? (seems to be standard blogging currency)

  21. Harry

    Honestly, if Ancelotti gets the sack which is looking inevitable at the moment, there are only two people out there that I’d rather see over him in the job. And those two are Mourinho and Hiddink. I mean, if we cannot find an adequate replacement, it is futile to sack Carlo.

  22. Polo

    I mean, the thing is, results and performances like this have become acceptable under Carlo. If something like this had happened 2 or 3 seasons ago, we’d all have been furious. I mean, which one of us can say this wasn’t coming? We’ve been playing like this since November. It’s not like this is a one off thing like Inter last season or previous seasons. We shouldn’t be suprised really. We were foolish to think that this bunch of players could actually muster up a trip to Wembley to contest a Champions League final.

    Ancelotti has been tactically exposed in the Champions League. Our record in the knockout rounds speaks for itself. 5 games, only 4 goals scored, 4 losses and only win. Add to that fact that we haven’t scored in any of our home games makes it even worse. You really wonder how he did it with Milan. Because you can see no evidence of a twice Champions League winner as a manager in the way we’ve played in the knockout rounds the past two seasons.

    But enough of bashing Ancelotti. It doesn’t help that everything and everyone around him is in disarray. He has a bunch of overpaid divas as players around him who do nothing but mope and produce ineffective performances on the pitch. No passion, no commitment. The players are a disgrace. Seriously, it’s just bemusing. I mean, I could go on and on. We’re so one dimensional on a football pitch. It’s so easy to defend against us nowadays. Just press us a little bit and we’ll give the opposition the ball. The build up play is so lethargic. People just press us in midfield and that’s the reason why the forwards never seem to be getting enough purchase of the ball. Nobody is making runs, nobody can cross. Even when someone crosses, there’s no one in the box. We can’t even do the basics here. Look at United. That has to be the worst Man Utd team I can think of for a long time and still they’re in with a shout of winning the treble. It’s incredible. That’s what passion and team spirit will get you. Our dressing room is in disarray. Too many players stropping around, sulking. Enough is enough. The discipline has just evaporated. You really wonder whether Carlo has lost the dressing room or something. We’ll never know. Maybe in his next autobiography or something. But I’d buy it just to find out what’s happened this season.

    So this is how an Arsenal fan feels every April. No pun intended. I guess all we have now is to try to finish second or something. As much as I think we need stability and all and I actually like Carlo, its’ unlikely Roman will keep him. It’s not like Roman’s covered himself in glory this season either. The sacking of Butch has been a shadow hanging over us this whole season. And the whole Torres saga. Let’s not even go there. A major rebuild is needed in the summer. Some players really need to be shipped off. I think we all know who they are. We need playmakers, wingers. Just some fresh blood. Some enthusiasm from players who actually want to win things. It’s going to be a huge summer ahead.

  23. Dylbo Baggins

    Just wondering how people see the last 7 games panning out in terms of top 5 placings. Out of ourselves, Citeh and Spuds i think the only team that will have deserved their place in the top 4 is, i hate to say it, spuds. 4 of their last 7 games are against the teams currently in the top 6 (minus themselves and Man U). They have a really big opportunity to shape the final placings. I’m actually looking forward to seeing the run in, despite all the doom and gloom on this blog.

    Personally I think the final placings will be Man U, Arse, Chelsea and City (who have a relatively tame run in).

    The other thing i wanted to ask is the great ‘to score or not to score’ question and how this will impact on our run in (not really interested in how it will impact Torres). If Torres, somehow, doesn’t score this season (for us) can we still finish top 4?

    • Der_Kaiser

      Pretty much nailed on that he’ll be on loan next season.

      Given how barking this club can be at times, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Rafa could be one of Roman’s targets if Carlo goes given that he got the best out of Torres.


  24. PeteW

    Don’t see who else is available to be honest… He’s managed big clubs, worked in England, won the CL, knows Torres, tactically smart – all the stuff Roman wants in a manager.

    Still, anybody better than Ancelotti, eh?

    • Anonymous

      Can I assume from my swift glance down the list of Fleet Street’s efforts on the Beeb’s website gossip column, which don’t seem to run past the usual TSO/ Hiddink with a smattering of van Basten/ Rijkard, that even they are running out of alternative managers to punt for us and that maybe, just maybe, this might tell Roman something?

  25. Gleb

    According to The Telegraph, Roman wants Guus, but the latters claims that he wants to honor his contract with Turkey (which is a load of bollocks, if you ask me). Not sure… The best man is Villas Boas and now that several major clubs are after him, he can’t possibly escape Roman’s attention. In my previous post, which seems to have gone unnoticed, I said that Villas Boas is off to Liverpool, but the man himself denied it, so there still might be a chance. It’s only a pre-contract after all. He’s our best bet, it’s obvious. All the makings of Jose in him.

    About Guus – I’m not sure. He did really well for us, obviously, but then it was a stop-gap, temporary measure from the beginning, so the nature of the endeavour is different this time. He was massive in his 5 or something months for us, but who knows how he’ll manage in the long run. Plus, he’s getting older and said himself that club management might be a bit too much for him at this stage.

  26. PeteW

    Hiddink has said he doesn’t want a club job.

    Villa Boas apparently isn’t sure he is suited to English football and doesn’t want to be seen as just the Mini Mourinho.

    Mourinho will be at Real next season. But I think he wants the Man Utd job long term.

    Rijkaard, Van Basten and Klinsmann are not good enough.

    Van Gaal has just come back on the market. Suppose we could give him a go for six months or so.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Like Van Gaal, but he bombed at Bayern. Knocking on a bit now, too.

      Martin Allen seems happy to drop whatever he’s doing to take on a new role. Got to be worth Ron G. putting a call in…

      • Der_Kaiser

        I think we’re measuring our break-even target date in light years these days, aren’t we? I believe Professor Brian Cox is on hand to explain it to any journos enquiring when we’ll be out of our financial black hole…

  27. Biggs

    keep carlo ffs! he won us a double in his first season. how many titles did sir alex win in his first two seasons????

  28. Anonymous

    Lets not forget money doesn’t guarantee success – just look at City this season. Spent more than us yet we’re better.

    Lets not moan too much about Roman interfering. It’s his interfering that got us up to this level.

    I’m off to the Emirates tonight for the filming of an episode of Antiques Roadshow. Apparently it’s Arsene’s plan B to get silverware back in the stadium.

  29. bluebayou

    Afternoon All.

    Thanks all for your kind comments on me report. Hopefully it was a little healing balm on the wound.

    Just checked with the chaps on the International Space Station and the news is that the world is still turning.

    But in Chelseatown time is standing still. While the rest of the world gets on with the business of playing football, we’re all back to what we do best – compiling long wish lists of managers and players. What else can we do? For the season ‘is all over now baby blue”.

    Except it ‘aint. There’s games to be played and enjoyed for their own sake, ‘cause we all love football. There’s a derby against the Spuds, and one last chance to give the Mancs a twatting in their own back yard.

    Meanwhile, back at stately Cobham Manor, all is confusion at the heart of our enterprise.

    I’m in the “carefully pour out the bath water because not only is baby precious but all them ducks, floaty toys, natural sponges ‘n shit also cost a lot of money when you add it up.”

    Tony and others make some decent arguments for change if you accept the basic premise that Carlo’s bolt is shot and he isn’t up to it. I don’t for the moment, many of those reasons being outlined by PeteW and others.

    Now, there are a couple of things about all this that bug me.

    Even in the first year of his tenure there were rumours that CA would not see out his contract. Perhaps it wasn’t clear on whose side this initial dissatisfaction rested, but it astonished me none the less. Yes, it may only have been idle tittle-tattle but the fact he’d not even done a season made me uneasy.

    Now November 2010 was when it all really kicked off with the poor results and Wilkin’s sacking. And in amongst all that, Arnesen, who’d been promoted on Ancelotti’s arrival and whose job it was to work with him indicated that he would not be renewing his contract.

    So since November we’ve had no proper right hand man, a sporting director marking time and a belief that Carlo would be sacked or jump ship to Roma or a mutually agreeable combination of the two.

    If he does go, Chelsea then have no sporting director, no coach and a critical rebuilding to continue with.

    If we assume that any new manager/coach would want some hand in shaping a new team he would need to be on board fairly early. He would also want to know whom he has to work with in terms of those who have an input on first team matters, e.g. a director of football.

    Throw into this the usual decisions about what players we want to keep and general contract business, which in any sensible universe the coach needs to at least offer an opinion on, and we can see that timing is all-important. (The irony of letting Ballack go to save money on an extra year while paying off CA at the other end of this season is not lost on anyone I’m sure.)

    If Carlo stays, the sporting director issue still has to be resolved as does the coaching staff issues. Now, should their resolution involve appointments that patently don’t fit with CA, irrespective of what company line he parrots, then we face another season of speculation as his contract runs down. On the other hand if he signs a contract extension then we surely have to believe the club want to keep him, because there must come a point where we stop paying off part contracts.

    And unless the club make it clear through their actions that Ancelloti is for the longer term, then what would any new signings do other than earn Zahavi and his mates another big wedge of Roman’s money. Because they wont be a logical fit in a properly thought out plan, will they?

    And so to the question of yoof.

    JM fell out with Frankie boy because he felt that the young players available weren’t up to snuff, or so we were led to believe.

    Carlo was expected to blend in some young players this season. And as we went down to the bare bones, it seemed he had no choice. And yet in the end they nearly all ended up on the train to Loansville.

    See a pattern there?

    Everyone is looking at Josh but the Sturridge intrigues me. He came from City with glowing prospects. He showed a bit but didn’t set the world alight, got limited minutes and headed off to Bolton to average damn near a goal a game, while all our strikers misfire.

    What happened? Was he overwhelmed by being at Chelsea? Did the “smaller” world of Bolton mean less pressure? Did the players like Davis, Elmander and co. just treat him as an equal and trust him.? Is the coaching better there? Do they play to his strengths? Bolton are no mean outfit and he’s gone in there to play with some well established names.

    There’s an opportunity here to stop the drift, get a plan together and see it through. Do we want to play young players? If we do, fine do it. If not shut down the Academy and save the money. Do our bit for footie in the community, run a couple of low level youth teams but stop pretending.

    I will go on record as saying I have little confidence that these major issues will be resolved long term. We may muddle through, win a bit more through the power of raw cash, but the ship will never be steady. Not that it ever was under Captain Birdseye either.

    So far we’ve tried

    The mercurial wunderkind with a mind of his own – gone but not forgotten

    The bosses’ mate – or so he thought

    The World Cup Winner – gone

    The Dutchman – well there was a hole in the dyke and someone had block it

    The Politician – looking shaky and as it’s getting close to Easter, it must be time to cart another Messiah up Calvary and nail him to the wood.

    Where will it all end.? The money wont run out unless Roman decides to bail. But shelling out serious wonga all the time isn’t a long-term solution, or is it? I suppose we have been pretty successful. But in a chew ‘em up and spit ‘em out kind of a way. If we spend money this summer can we cover some of it by sales? Who have we got that could command a fee? And Platini and his financial rules loom closer.

    But who gives a shit? Just bring in the next bus load of South American prospects for something approaching the Gross National Product of a small African nation and lets win this Champions league thing.

    I see that in the Twitterverse there is a deal of unhappiness with Giles Smith. His piece is seen as too bitter. Time they stopped doing sense of humour by-passes on the NHS methinks.

    • Anonymous

      My word, to quote Uncle Ray, you are on a roll, Sir, with another fine chunk of common sense.

      As for the Twitterverse, why should we pay any attention to the views of those who think life can be encapsulated in 140 characters?

      @Der Kaiser – here is [almost] Brian Cox wrestling with compiling appropriate images to describe just how big our deficit is:

  30. bluebayou

    Oh and I forgot to mention that another departure and arrival will mean at least one poem if not two. And no-one seriously wants that, do they?

  31. bluebayou

    I’ve downloaded the 26 page Ticketing Policy Document from the Official Website.

    Aside from the actual monetary increases, the following interesting information can be gleaned.

    There is no official ticketing policy for the Europa League for 2011/2012.

    There is an official ticketing policy for the UEFA Champions League 2011/2012 for both Group and Knockout Stages

    There is therefore no official contemplation of failure to qualify for the senior tournament – or we’re just not going through with the indignity of it all if we do end up in the dunces class.

    Now for supporters of other clubs here is the interesting news (cue chart type background music and mid atlantic DJ type voice)

    Well well pop-pickers going up one place from the A Category to the new AA Category games (up from £55 to £59 for MHU if you’re a member, £60-£64 if you ‘aint ) are:

    Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Man United, the Spuds. (they pay an increase from £52/£56 to £56/59 for the privilege)

    Considered too sh*te to justify scalping the poor punter any more wedge and staying in the A Category, The Spammers (so no increase for them or us – but what happens if they go down? The box office will be down a Cat A game!)

    Methinks they know that and hence this cunning plan:

    Plucked from the deadmen of the B Category to breathe the fragrant air of A status are the Villa, Michael Jackson FC and The Toffeemen (see what happens when you cause us grief ). So that’s 3 more games at the higher A rate for us and the vistors pay £52/56 up from £47/£50 because we’ve considered them worthy.

    The other 11 teams remain in the B Category and therefore well within the purchasing power of someone earning only 4 times the national average monthly salary, on a weekly basis.

    And to top it all off the administration fee has stayed at £1.50

    Deep joy all round I think you’ll agree.

  32. Anonymous

    Interesting as always to see how these stories are mysteriously organised into a kind of magical consensus which then becomes “the truth”.

    I watched the Spuds last night to cheer myself up, and there was not a sliver of deviation at any stage from the overall narrative, to wit: “the end of a glorious European adventure … unforgettable nights at White Hart Lane … credit to the competition … team knows only one way to play …”

    As opposed to: English team gets slaughtered 5-0 on aggregate and loses at home to an outfit that barely bothered to engage second gear.

    Similarly the Manc story is all about trebles and whichever year it was all over again, as opposed to a recognition that they’ll win the league by being the best of a rather mediocre bunch, may not win the FA Cup and (please God) surely won’t win the CL.

    And somehow the story of us losing two games by a single goal to ManU is — “Ancelotti Out”. Of course, “Ancelotti Out” was also the story back in the early winter when our season disintegrated.

    Personally I find myself strangely fatalistic about the whole business. What does it really matter who the manager is when they’ll be gone in a couple of years? The only way to change that situation is to stick with someone, and that policy just doesn’t feel likely.

    Joshwise — what am I missing? if the idea was that he was good enough for the first team squad this year, why is it so certain that he won’t be good enough for it next year? Will our first team squad be that much better? Or is the assumption that he’ll do a Studge next year (i.e. be the player who’s too good to sit on the bench all the time but not senior enough to be better than third choice)?

  33. Ososdeoro

    Mr. bluebayou, I frankly have to entirely agree with “The Breakdown.” I’d throw in a Brazilian or two in “the future” category, given how enamored they are with them….and who wouldn’t be when you’ve got Alex, Luiz and Ramires?

    Speed is a huge issue on this team. Even during the Community Shield one could see that our fastest player, Kalou, was easily handled by the backup ManU defender Rafael (or his equally evil twin, whatever). And the reason it’s an issue is that Ancelotti prefers ATTACKING football rather than classic Italian football. It’s a scheme that doesn’t fit the team. Lampard unfortunately doesn’t have the requisite speed anymore, Malouda and Anelka slow things down, and Drogba isn’t quick with the ball either.

    I look at Blackpool play Arsenal, or even Bolton playing Stoke, and I don’t really see a much slower game going on.

    And then there’s the manager situation. Carlo should only stay if he has not had control over who has been playing this year, and in fact is granted that control for the upcoming season — AND is replaced by someone who has that control. General TSO knows what’s up at Chelsea, claiming he’d love to come back if only he were given complete control of things. It’s clear CA hasn’t been given complete rein. If no one will be, then what’s the point in getting rid of him?

    Names out there? I like Pulis, but probably not for Chelsea since he wouldn’t be given free rein and that would kill him. Mourinho I guess, because that would mean less interference from above.

  34. NorthernVA

    The :”Carlo Out Brigade” seem to be the same folks who want to remove our best attacking player as well come seasons end. Both would be foolish and based not on rhyme or reason.

    Ok so Carlo was done in tactically by Jose: False complete myth. We lost 2-1 at the San Siro last year. In a game which we pretty much dominated even disregarding the fact we had MALOUDA playing at left back due to injuries to Ash and Yuri. After the much maligned Kalou equalized with a decent bit of play, Inter in short order hit back with a shot which Petr blocked which fell right back at the feet opf Cambiasso which he proceeded to drill into the back of the net. Tactics?

    At home our midfield was somewhat bossed. We needed a goal so out went Ballack in Joe Cole. If you needed that little extra in the final third which we did I didn’t see that as a fatal error not sure many at the time saw it as anything other than a positive switch. Give some credit to a great ball played by Sneijder (should have won World Player of the Year) and a clinical finish by Eto’o (As good a striker this side of Drogba you will find) with none other than ROSS TURNBULL in goal. We were a knackered squad at the point in the season. No need to hark on the Samuel tackle on Kalou in Milan, or the armbar on Bran, or Samuel’s rugby tackle on Drogba. Completely inconvenient truths which keep the Jose cock slapped Carlo meme going. Portuguesse tactics own Italian tactics…facepalm.

    How did Carlo leave Milan in a state of ruin by the way? Gattuso, Nesta, Seedorf, Pato? Was he the one who brought in Fat Ronaldo and Ronaldinho or was that the owner? Two guesses your first five don’t count.So a year after Carlo leaving they pick up Ibra and Robinho lead Serie A and lose to the Spuds…facepalm. He and Galliani as well as Maldini wanted to refresh the squad I seem to remember our Drogba”s dental appointment in Paris which ended in a dinner date in Milan with Mr. Maldini which Uncle Fester by chance happened to stop by on. Give Jose tactical credit for this when the bid did come in from Milan they were promptly told to fuck off and the Drogs was sent to the reserves. I think he went on to win the golden boot for us that year as well as hitting both goals in the Carling Cup Final and the match winner in the FA cup final against United. That was some great play between Mikel, Lamps, and Drogs which ended up with Rio in a heap.

    Carlo doesn’t go shopping for the groceries he is just asked to make a four course meal out of it. Most top clubs are run this way. Chelsea, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter, Bayern, Juventus, Ajax, Real…these are oligarchies not democratic instituitons. If you rock the boat and fail it’s your head on the chopping block. Van Gaal exposing the fruits of his loins to his team as an up close and personal show of his stength to drop anyone because he had the “balls” became a noose around his neck once the results stopped coming in. It was now fed to the media as a sign of his reckless cavalier attidude. Sound familiar…nice guy who who never gets too high or low….apathetic, weak, no stones, a six million pound per year walking

    If Torres was Carlo’s signing he plays more than 45 minutes on Tuesday. The captain goes down with ship. His downfall and maybe undoing is not leaving him on the bench from the get go. That is what really hurts the most. The one man who put us in this competition last season through his goal, assist, (which he leads this year that malaria infested selfish bastard) rugged determination was left on the bench for 45 minutes in a win or go home game. Our matchwinner was left on the bench and as he always does came close to pulling it out for us with one moment of brillance few could have pulled off. Actually no one on our roster could have pulled off including our recording signing who apparently according to many is going to need roughly 3-6 other major signings to justify his price tag or get him that goal which will lead to the most orgasmic collection of goals the human eye can take without those unseemly collection of follicles on your palm. One step closer to financial fairplay. On the bright side six yard tap ins for everyone! facepalm…

  35. WorkingClassPost

    Nicely put BB.

    Had a ‘meeting’ which continued til closing time last night and forgot all about that game.

    Don’t really want to talk about it, but in the words of Capt. Beefheart, I’m gonna do it anyway.

    The look of disbelief on DD’s face when we conceded, just after he’d given us the match, said it all. And who didn’t think that we would go on to take it even with 10 men?

    From glory boys to guileless twits in just a few dopey seconds.

    My only comment on Carlo is that things need to change and if he stays then he needs a proper assistant, but I doubt that he wants to delegate, so that may not happen.

    Can we recover and win all our remaining games and see what that brings?

    Can I find a hairy dog in this vicinity?

    Questions, questions.

  36. Nick Benfield

    A couple of tweets from people watching/at Carlo’s pre-WBA press conference:

    Will the young players get a chance to play [for the remainder of the season]?

    paultwentworth: CA: “Now I think is a very strong moment for us, we need to have players with experience and personality.”

    paultwentworth: CA: “Josh is a fantastic player, he has been with us all season. We have to give him more chances next season.”

    Alex and Ramires injured.

  37. Anonymous

    “Others argue that Torres is simply suffering a crisis of confidence that will be remedied as soon as he scores his first goal for the Blues, or that Chelsea themselves need to adapt their system to suit their record signing.”

    Which one is true, to your opinion: problem of confidence, or we don’t know how to use him?

  38. Anonymous

    Can’t blame the Chelsea setup for Torres’s form since he’d been more or less equally dopey both in the first half of this season and indeed during the World Cup last summer. So either he’s in a prolonged slump for whatever reason, or we’ve done a Sheva Mk 2 and bought a superstar at the precise moment when they started to be pretty ordinary.

    Lots of sense in Tony’s long post. It’s hard to argue in particular with two points: first, that Carlo is very amenable to trimming his sails as Abramovich requires (he must have done the same with Berlusconi, an authentic loon, so it’s presumably part of his nature), and that this is potentially problematic if football decisions are being imposed by non-football people; and second, that the promise made last summer concerning six kids being regularly involved in the first-team squad has come to almost nothing.

    On the first point: one can argue this both ways. The opposite would be (of course) José. But if we replaced Carlo with another coach who was willing to rub Abramovich up the wrong way, then said coach would, obviously, be gone in a year or two. So, does the benefit of managerial continuity outweigh the negative of a coach who won’t/can’t stand up for himself in football matters?

    On the second point: perhaps it’s a factor here that for two months we looked like we were going to run away with the league. (I know it takes an effort to remember that, but at one stage it was looking embarrassingly easy.) So — there was reason to think that last year’s team was set fair to do the same again. And by the time it was obvious they couldn’t, Carlo had backed himself into a corner, plus Torres and Luiz had arrived. But still, no argument that the supposed graduation of the top academy kids hasn’t been handled at all well.

    But then the vanity purchase of Torres obviously indicates that when push comes to shove Abramovich would rather keep throwing money at a poor season rather than take a deep breath and risk evolution from within. So, maybe not much Carlo can do about that either?

    • Der_Kaiser

      The overriding point that one keeps coming back to – the elephant in the room and all that – is that the ultimate problem and barrier to long term progress is Roman himself. Might sound daft to say that given the background of the last 5-6 years or so, but I have a nasty feeling that we’ll be looking back in a decade or so wondering where it all went wrong as Josh picks up his 3rd Champions League medal with United.

      • Anonymous

        The thing is that you feel he’s *almost* sane, don’t you? I mean, there was all that talk about stopping the galacticó purchases, focusing on the academy, buying into the Platini-o-matic financial fair play business, generally keeping a lowish profile …

        Then January came along and he couldn’t stop himself from doing something silly. But now he has two direct personal experiences of failing to solve a Chelsea problem by flinging money at it. Will he get the point this time?

        I think he might, I really do. But perhaps that’s annual summer optimism kicking in a couple of months early.

  39. Anonymous

    Got my season ticket renewal today – up to £900 from £810.

    Will the players give an extra 10% ?

    • Anonymous

      Perhaps, just when they keep the ball on the ground?

      The West Upper is “only” going up 3.3% [ to £1,250 from £1,210] – maybe we do need Marcus du Sautoy to explain the new pricing policy?

  40. Anonymous

    The money machine rolls on.

    £880 for the season ticket this year and yet another round of new shirts at all levels. Although I do like the hoops.

    “It’s 2011 pal, my names Gene Hunt and its dinner time. We’re wearing hoops’

  41. Ososdeoro

    OK, but if Jose comes back it will be because Roman has agreed to his terms. That should be good for at least an extra couple of years.

  42. Nick Benfield

    For what it’s worth, seven years ago yesterday I published the first post on Chelsea FC Blog. You’ll have to take my word for it though, because for technical reasons I didn’t import the first year of posts when I moved the blog from OleOle last September (they still exist in a MySQL database dump on my HD). The post was a defence of Claudio written by a friend of mine and related to the “Save Claudio Campaign” that was running at the time.

    Time flies.

    Save Carlo! 🙂 You have to smile.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Torres is currently firmly in the “so unlucky he’d fall in a sack of tits and come out sucking his thumb” category. Quite when he’ll get out of it is anyone’s guess.

  43. Anonymous

    Last on MOTD again. We’ve upset someone.

    Borini’s got 4 in 5 for Swansea. Has to be worth a final punt, surely?

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