The Bipolar Express: Dr Know (Nothing)

The world is an odd place. There I am working every day beavering away quietly and suddenly the Egyptian people decide they’ve had enough of their President after 30 years (take your time why don’t you) and my job is suddenly geared towards the mysterious and morally dubious world of Business Continuity. Hence no real comment for a while. Time and all that.

I once espoused a theory on this fine blog that in reality, no-one really knows anything about football. Not the players, not the coaches and most certainly not the fans. Yes, we know bits and pieces and like a Doctor we may know roughly how the mechanics of the whole game works, but then just like Doctors we probably focus on certain areas – we sort of specialize. Players specialize in playing, coaches in coaching, physios in sponges and sprays, fans on arguing tactics and everything else and fat blazer-wearing, port-drinking, ruddy-faced golf club captains specialize in making everyone’s lives miserable by messing around with the rules and issuing ridiculous diktats about what players, coaches and owners can or can’t do. C’est la vie.

My last tirade was to CFCnet where I was asking our Beloved Leader, Roman Abramovich, to walk away from the wallet based on my own ludicrous notion that 1) we didn’t need anybody, 2) we were starting a new path of academy production, and 3) Roman was probably tied up with a World Cup bid and trying to persuade Russian builders to stop taking sharp intakes of breath, rubbing their chins and saying ‘Gonna cost you is that, Guv’.

I suspect many like me were also of the view that even if points 1 and 2 weren’t accurate then at least 3 seemed highly likely if our Beloved Leader wasn’t going to be persuaded into taking a cup of Count Polonium Tea, a rare and unpopular version of our very own Earl Grey.

To cap all of this, our ‘bad moment’ (© Carlo Ancelotti) seemed to be finally over with wins over the perennial potential banana skins of Blackburn and Bolton. All but three players were back from injury, with Alex and Benayoun seemingly getting closer and Zhirkhov presumably off doing National Service or working undercover on a secret mission for Putin… I mean does anybody know what the hell has happened to Zhirkhov? A calf injury was the last I read. Did one fall on his head or something? Anyway, the point was that we had youth in the squad, we were back to winning ways and the injury hoodoo was seemingly fading away. So, I sat back in my armchair, poured me a decent beer, lit up a nice fat Cuban, smug in the notion that there I was, Mr Smartarse, gloating on how during the January window I had been proven right all along and the Beloved Leader wouldn’t be shelling out a wedge of rubles on any ageing superstars ready for the knacker’s yard (Shevchenko anyone?) or piss-poor mid table team players (Del Horno anyone?). I must admit to a small panic attack when it looked like we might be in for the journeyman Steven Pienaar, but £3m doesn’t really count these days as outlay, especially when Yaya Toure allegedly earns that in three months for being a slightly higher than average capability midfielder who can’t live with our Frankie. The forehead was a little sweat-lined over Luiz, but that also seemed to disappear with the news that Benfica were suffering from the same disease as Liverpool, Advanced Delusional Big Club Syndrome. Go on, it’s real… look it up! Other notable sufferers are Wolves, Newcastle and Dirty Leeds.

Of course that moment passed when Sir Grabbit Redknapp decided Pienaar was just the player to boost Spuds in their chase for glory this season. He’d buy my gran if I dug her up, put some boots on her and said she was a decent sweeper.

So, imagine the shredding nerves I’ve suffered over the last week when it became apparent we might be making a move on Fernando Torres of all people. Liverpool’s very own jewel in their tin-foil crown. One of only two players who would walk into ours, or United’s side… come to think of it even Arsenal’s side – the other is Pepe Reina for my money. Surely this audacious bid was mere horseplay designed to rattle the high pitched whining Scousers’ cages before their trip to Stamford Bridge this weekend? And oh… how they whined in Liverpool, a cacophonous mixture of ‘Cam down, cam down, it’ll never ‘appen’ and derisive laughter and unintelligible babbling into radio phone-ins where the only decipherable words to the human ear were ‘history… class… Chavski… Big Club… great European nights at Anfield and King Kelly (sic)’. Such was the pitch of the communal whining one must imagine that the injury rate amongst blind people shot up on Merseyside last week as their dogs all went crazy under the weight of several thousand dog-whistle sound-a-likes screeching.

But it was true, and of all the things, young Fernando’s head was turned. A chance to play for the Champions, a team still going places, a team promising the riches of Champions League football immediately, and a chance to see how the other half lives in our great capital city. As I sat there on Monday night, wiping the sweat from my brow, tearing up my thesis entitled ‘What I Know About Football by Tony Glover aged 49 and a half’, the warmth of the cigar glow, the kick of the Rioja (well what else could it be?) warmed the cockles of my heart. My ego was no more bruised than it always is when I predict anything football related only to see it turn out the complete opposite. At 23:00 hours we had spent close to £75m on Torres and Luiz, our youngsters were loaned out to prepare them for the future with regular first team football and the stunned football world hated us again. Arsene Wenger no doubt shed a small tear and shrugged a gallic shoulder after spending big on a DVD and some wine for the evening.

Our Beloved Leader had come back, laden with loose change and he had looked down upon us and he had seen we were worried, and he smiled, held our collective hands, soothed our furrowed brows and whispered into our ears through the medium of Sky Sports News:

‘Don’t worry my children, just remember, the future’s bright, the future’s Blue.’

There are 59 comments

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  1. Der_Kaiser

    This is of course true. It’s one of the best things about the game that everything you think you know may be turned upon its head at any given moment. Just work on the basis that everything you know is wrong and you won’t go far, well, wrong.

    There are many amateur pundits, hacks (hell, plenty of professional ones too) and bloggers who would do well to read this article. Frequently.

  2. Anonymous

    Indeed, as that well-known writer on matters Hollywood, William Goldman once similarly penned of that other branch of the entertainment business : “Nobody knows anything” has been proved an entirely apt description of many areas of life.

    I too wrote entries on here predicting we would buy nobody in the January window and while our new purchases certainly stir the excitement levels and ratchet up the process of renewal of the squad it does rather leave our supposed focus on our youth policy looking pretty sick.

    As i wrote on the last entry on the previous blog – ironically the new edition of the Chelsea Magazine has just plopped into my snail mail letterbox with a “Homegrown Talent” cover splash for a c. 10-page article on our Academy headlined “Building for the Future”. Yeh, right.

  3. PeteW

    I have spent the last couple of months explaining patiently to friends about Chelse’s new sensible strategy of book-balancing and judicious-transfers, of their faith in youth and comfort in merely finishing in the top four. Winning isn’t everything and Roman is content with the status quo, I insisted.

    What a load of old bollocks that turned out to be.

    ‘What about the Financial Fair Play laws, Pete?’ the same friends asked after the dust had settled on Roman’s mammoth wallet-opening orgy on Tuesday.

    ‘Fuck it in the ear,’ I responded, ‘Living like monks is BORING.’

  4. Der_Kaiser

    I don’t think that this week’s cash splurge has put back the whole youth thing a great deal; striker is one area we’re not terribly well catered for at youngster level with no obvious candidate coming through, Sturridge aside, but with two / three thirty somethings ahead of him it’s not really the biggest slap in the chops. Maybe pushes Bruma back down the list a little, but it does seem to have in mind the fact that JT won’t go on forever. Alex has been frequently linked with a move to Italy – maybe that’s on the cards?

    This will of course all go completely tits when the ‘everything you know is wrong’ maxim is wheeled out in the summer and Roman blows another 100m and we flog all the promising kids off…

    Be interesting to see who departs, though. If (and it’s a big if at present) Jose stays at Real, it would be hard to refuse Drogs a move there if they made a decent offer.

  5. Cunningplan

    Certainly don’t think buying two players (and as far as Torres goes a player reaching his best years hopefully), will have much bearing on the young ‘uns. Considering our other two main strikers are into their 30’s we needed someone with a proven track record to help Sturridge move up a level if he stays.

    The blog title is so spot on…..

    Predicitions for Sunday? I think we might well see a red card for a Pool player, lets hope so, along with us thrashing them.

  6. Ososdeoro

    I think the current direction of the club is brilliant. Chelsea can play big money for a couple more years without any real consequences, build up the brand (because with the small stadium kit sales will be more important), and meanwhile all the youngsters, who aren’t all quite ready yet except for Josh, have gone off to play top level football for other clubs that don’t have a prayer of catching up. Personally, I prefer to see Studge scoring the winning goal for Bolton or Blackburn (honest to gawd as an American it’s hard to keep those two teams straight) or wherever the hell he went, than sitting on our bench (except when it’s clear that he’d do a better job than a lazy Anelka, a whiffing Kalou or a diseased Drogba). But those excepetions are all a thing of the past, aren’t they?

  7. John

    A great piece thanks. The diary in Saturday’s Grauniad, by an anonymous premiership player, seems to confirm that we all know nothing, especially the ex-pro pundits.

  8. Anonymous

    Well, I’ll be the Eeyore then.

    I read Vicomte Tony De Glover’s piece on cfcnet and thought it was, as they say in football, “spot on.” (And possibly “different class” as well — when did that one enter the big book of footballing cliché, incidentally? was it the same time football lost its working-class bedrock and “quite literally” became “different class”?)

    Now that my head’s more or less finished spinning after Monday’s, er, events, I still have a feeling Tony’s advice to Roman was right. I can’t help thinking that the songsheet got ripped up in a moment of crazed billionaire consumer frenzy, and the whole plan for academy investment and financial sanity has simply been set aside — which suggests that it wasn’t ever all that thought-out in the first place.

    I agree that as things stand the cause of youth development hasn’t been set back all that much (though I’d give a guilder or two for Jeff Bruma’s thoughts). Luiz is clearly a good signing, 23 and with every chance of being the new Riccy. And our weaknesses at centre-forward were never going to be solved by Studge alone.

    But, but, but. The giveaway for me is the way JT has been talking about the new “buzz” around the team, and the fact that the players looked like they’d woken up on Tuesday evening.

    I can’t help thinking that the team has just given a very clear demonstration that they only respond to financial doping. They sleepwalked through the winter, apparently assuming that the Youth Policy effectively meant giving up on the season; now that ridiculous money is pouring in again, they’re all sudden all bushy-tailed and perky again.

    I reckon we’ll see the same pattern again next time Carlo (or whoever) tries to give the kids a chance. A few iffy results, panic, mad spending splurge (coupled with unbelievable patronising bullshit about becoming “cash positive”).

    I think in the longer term this is not a good sign.

    In the short term, though, it ought to be a lot of fun.

    • John

      The newest and most horrible cliche is surely “in the ascendancy”, which ticks all the boxes (see what I did there? And see what I did there in saying “see what I did there”?) in being posh bollocks adapted for use in popular culture and bad grammar at the same time.

  9. Cunningplan

    Going totally off topic, has anyone noticed that our replay against Everton in the cup has sneaked under the radar into a Saturday game?
    Also we have a nice little rest before we face Utd on the 1st March, as our game against Birmingham on the 26th Feb is postponed.

    PS Utd are away to Wigan on the 26th Feb

    • John

      I think I saw somewhere that if we beat Everton we might have to play Reading on 1st March, causing a further postponement of the United game.

    • Anonymous

      Tch, tch, have you been skipping other bloggers’ entries again, Clive – I mentioned this on Feb 1st, right after one of your entries as I’d stumbled on a link to Reading’s website revealing this.

      That “rest” on the day of the Birmingham game may be the last we get for some time as the fixtures start to pile-up. As John says, either the Man U game will have to shift again or we’ll struggle to fit in Reading before 6th round day [since we’re not going to lose to Everton, we all assume].

      • Cunningplan

        Yes I did read it but like most things I read these days don’t register half the time, accept my apologies I always enjoy reading your posts 😉

        • Anonymous

          Don’t worry, I’m a martyr to a disengaged brain too – why did I log onto my computer this morning, again?

          Oh yes, I just tried twice to log on to the club ticket sales website to buy my season ticket seat for the Everton game only to be met by minutes of the Virtual Waiting Room before I gave up till later.

          I can’t figure out why it would be so busy: The ‘Poo game is long since sold out apart from the eye-wateringly priced hospitality packages and most season ticket holders don’t seem to come to early round FA Cup games.

          They do realise Torres is cup-tied and won’t be playing, don’t they?

  10. PeteW

    Interesting post from Limetreeblower about the effect the signings have had on the players, but I;m not entirely sure I agree with the diagnosis.

    The problem over the past few seasons isn’t that we’ve not spend loads of money, it’s that we haven’t brought in enough first-team players of any value. The team has, in truth, barely changed since Anelka and Ivanovic were signed and certain positions (mainly the forwards) have no real competition. Now it’s had a good shake up, people’s positions are under threat (a point repeatedly made by Tony) and that’s clearly a good thing. When everybody is fit, some players aren’t even going to be assured of a place on the bench.

    I’ve said myself loads of times that a squad grows stale and needs freshening – that’s partly what these signings have done and it’s what we probably should have done a while ago.

    Wenger and Ferguson usually bring in at least two and sometimes three genuine first team players every summer. They also know when to let players go. That’s not something we’ve done particularly well.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Very true. I do think the managerial merry-go-round since Jose (and Roman’s brief commitment to austerity) has probably made life in the transfer market more difficult too. Hopefully a bit of stability (i.e. hanging on to Carlo) will improve things – the new arrivals might indicate that it already has.

      Plenty in the press about a summer cull – much of it probably overdone but I can certainly see a couple of big names going.

    • Anonymous

      Yes. What’s interesting about the season up to now is precisely this lack of competition for places, isn’t it? — i.e. despite the self-proclaimed inclusion of six youth team players, one of them (Matic) was discarded before the season began and the other five weren’t selected even when the senior players ahead of them appeared to be playing very badly.

      Not that I’m saying that was the wrong thing to do. It’s a big ask, and if they’re not ready, they’re not ready. But then you can’t base your strategy around players if you know they’re not going to play.

      My worries are more to do with the future. I don’t have the sense that the frankly extraordinary sum spent on Torres is part of a coherent strategy. If he was three years younger then okay, you’re buying the best young striker in the world, a complete player. I’d love it if he turns out to be that player for us, but at this stage it’s more kick and hope than planning for the future. And £50m for kick and hope? It wouldn’t matter if Abramovich was allowed to waste as much of his money as he wanted to, but you do definitely get the sense that the wind is blowing in the direction of UEFA-imposed financial restraint. (Why else invest so much money in the academy?)

      If Kakuta, Pat Van A, Studge and Chalobah are still Chelsea players in two years then I’ll admit my fears were unfounded. But say we finish third this year and win bugger all (eminently likely). Will there be another round of overspending on 28-year-olds? Seems likely. Will the players we’ve paid to nurture decide their future lies at clubs who’ll play them every week? They’d be stupid not to.

  11. PeteW

    Would have thought definitely one of DD or Anelka, maybe both Boswinga and Paolo if we can sign a new right-back, although what that means for Ivan and Alex is anybody’s guess. Maybe Zhirkov as well. We can’t let too many go without bringing some in, though.

  12. Ososdeoro

    So, it appears our captain would like the fans to give special agent Joe Cole a warm welcome on Sunday. Seeing as he’s performed his duties, I say to you: why not?

    • Ringo

      I would hope Joe gets the great reception he deserves.
      It would show the watching worrld the difference in class between our supporters and the scousers.
      Especially when you consider the bile and filth that I’m sure will be directed at Torres.

  13. Todtong

    I hope Benayoun comes back later this month. With Benayoun, we can have someone to play on the right flank.

    Getting Torres now gives Chelsea one advantage before the summer: time to make an assessment of how to buy for the future and what formation(s) are best to use with Torres and the other pieces.

  14. Cunningplan

    I have to say I haven’t enjoyed a Soccer Saturday on Sky as much as I have this afternoon, especially the game at Newcastle.
    Could well be the start of Arsenal’s title challenge coming to an end, shocking capitulation on their part!

  15. Cunningplan

    Could this be the near perfect footballing weekend, well done Wolves!
    Just us to finish the job tomorrow, and the beers are on me.

  16. Anonymous

    L-O-V-E-L-Y stuff.

    Not sure what I’m looking forward to most – Arsene describing throwing away a four-nil lead for the first time in Premiership history, or History-making-unbeaten-Man-Utd ummm, getting beaten. By the team at the bottom. Who beat us and lead to us taking a load of grief.

    For sure, there’s more than enough of a chance we’ll chuff it all up tomorrow but, as it stands, there’s a tiny glimmer of hope.

  17. Anonymous

    Interesting week end so far last placed Wolves win first placed Man USA, Arsenal draws after leading 4:0 . Hmmm is there still hope for us?

  18. Ringo

    and speaking of Joey’s.
    Love the Jones quote.
    Still remember his dayboo at Carlisle ,he was so fired up he got sent-off.
    One of my most prized possesions is a photo of me and him .arm around each other ,sitting in the bar at Aberystwythe after a pre-season freindly way back when.

  19. Benjami

    Well life is hilarious 🙂

    These things happen sometimes. Liverpool came to kill the game by playing 5-4-1, and to score a poor goal on the break. Which was what happened. Both Liverpool’s chances were created by Chelsea mistakes, they will still be lucky to qualify for Europe. Hell, Sunderland beat us 3-0 at the Bridge, so they should finish above Liverpool 😛

    Teams have figured us out, they flood the spaces out wide and it limits us completely. Torres struggled but at moments showed he can give us those flashes of brilliance that can open up the poorer sides who just try to lock the game out ;x

    Anyone else thought David Luiz looked fucking amazing :DDD?

  20. Anonymous

    As bad as the refereeing was, take nothing away from how truly awful we were anyway.

    Credit to the dippers, but fuck me we were awful. Carlo should have had the bottle to start with Drogs or Torres on the bench, starting both meant they coped and the dross we had on the bench would cause no issues.

    Anelka’s proved he can do the number 10 role against sides of a certain quality, I.e shit ones.

    The only consolation I can take from it is we ended the game with surely what must be our back four. Luiz looked comfortable on the ball. Bye bye Bosingwa you useless cnut.

    • Anonymous

      Best description I’ve seen yet.

      If you can’t pass a fucking football or be bothered to break into a run (do you hear that Didier, that means moving faster than a snail) or play at anything above a glacial tempo, then you deserve to lose.

      I’ll save my true feelings for when the report is up but Didier, Bosingwa, Essien and Mikel need to be dropped. Awful and embarrassing by the end. The defeat had nothing to do with Torres.

      • Anonymous

        I think we’re being hard on Mikel – he was dodgy for 20 mins, the booking rattled him but he did improve. lamps however was dire and yes, the other you mention were shit.

        Agree about Kuyt…I don’t like him but boy does he work for that team for the entire game. Real worker.

        Luiz looked superb. loved his confidence, he stopped a decent shot with his first touch. Also like his Ballack like bossiness pointing to where he wanted others to go!

  21. Cunningplan

    I certainly feel the Torres circus was more of a hinderance than benefit to the match.
    Not one of the lads played well today, although Luiz’s cameo looked very promising.

  22. Anonymous

    I do agree with those who think that Luiz looked really promising! I believe he will shine! Did you notice that Ferreira was translating for him instructions of Carlo? Looks like his English is not his strong side.

  23. Austin Solari

    Luiz looked very comfortable on the ball and was demanding as he pushed forward.
    As Fiftee said …………… that surely has to be our starting back four now.

  24. Anonymous

    Carlo has to take the blame for that. Why start with three midfielders who are off form, can’t pass and just slow the game. The only midfielder we have with energy and pace is Ramires and he was nowhere to be seen. And the three upfront hadn’t worked it out in training so it wasn’t ready to go into a live situation. I agree with Fiftee, with the arrival of Luis hopefully Boswinga will never darken our door again.

  25. Anonymous

    What did we pay for Chris Sutton? £10 million?

    Sheva? Was it £32m?

    Nando £50m.

    So this summer presumably we’ll be in with £80m for Ronaldinho.

    50ee has it right, we were unbelievably shite. Can’t blame the system as it worked on Tuesday. Ageing squad can’t get going after a midweek game, and the new boy didn’t exactly … well …

    ‘Poo were dreadful too but they did the right thing, stopped us passing (that Kuyt guy can’t do anything with the ball at all but fair do’s, he’s still sprinting to cut off passes from the centre-backs to the defensive midfielder in the 90th minute), and waited for us to fuck up.

    Luiz looks fantastic.

    I’m not too depressed. I felt like I saw it coming, and I still think we’ll probably squeeze into 4th which is certainly the best we can hope for. It might be good to get knocked out by Copenhagen and Everton though.

  26. Jon

    Carlo took a a gamble … changed formation to fit on nando and we played badly. If we had started with the usual formation/ team we probably would have got the draw/ win.

    Not too bothered as I don’t expect us to win anything this season and we will need 1/3 of a season to figure out what our best 11 is/ what our best formation is. 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 etc.

    If nando had come off the bench instead of kalou could have been a different game. But seriously … it’s all looming good for the chelsea for the 2011/12 season. Luiz will be class .. Ramires will be class as well and we should push for the league/ CL. This is a transition season hence why carlo is still with us and not been fired already. Suck it up … give the mancs the league and move on. Just qualify for europe and next year will be our best season ever … I see a treble in our future

  27. Anonymous

    ltb makes a good point about Kuyt.

    He’s not the greatest technically – and would probably admit it – but by God does he put a shift in and chase down the opposition. And thats every minute of the game, even into injury time.

    We chuck on Malouda and Kalou as subs and they lost it straight away and make absolutely fuck all attempt to win it back. Shameful.

  28. Anonymous

    Shite, Cech at fault for goal. Lampard dreadful – pub player. Bosingwa can fuck off now with Kalou. Drogba needs to be dropped full stop. Ramires sorely missed.

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