As any connoisseur of music knows, the very best songs, the ones that live in the memory that can pierce the side with almost literal pain, that can invoke instant tears are the songs born of angst, heartbreak, loneliness, tragedy and the deepest, bleakest depths of human emotion. Yes, there are people who can write happy go lucky pop tunes for fame obsessed ephemeral wannabes to get their 15 minutes, but these are soulless automatons driven by greed, profit and vanity. Who cares about hearing if someone is hap-hap-happy, falling in love with his or her baby, going out on the town clubbing or loving the dancing? Great for a quick heroin-like fix but ultimately vacuous empty meaningless bollocks.
Similarly, any writer knows that the best inspiration for any piece of prose on any subject is when they’re suffering, and that I imagine is just how the vast majority of Chelsea fans feels today. Yes, we all now someone who wears permanent blue tinted glasses who constantly wants to tell you to be positive, but if you’re anything like me you really just want to shove something where the sun don’t shine, preferably something spiky and then ask if they still feel positive.
So, instead of the usual calm rational, planned article, let’s get down and dirty and wallow in the filthy murk of bitter emotion shall we?
Of all the teams I dislike, Liverpool are right up there at the very top. Over the years I’ve pointed my hatred gun at different clubs, some long-term, some short-term. Spurs have always been a club I’ve disliked, Arsenal as well especially during those interminable years of them dishing out regular beatings to us. Manchester United have had their share of my vitriol as well, but my admiration in equal measures. On lesser scales I’ve hated QPR during the early 70’s when everyone around me seemed to be jumping on that Marsh/Bowles bandwagon (it wasn’t easy being a Chelsea fan in Hayes, believe me). My love of Chelsea started in 1970 before the FA Cup Final against Dirty Leeds, a team I have hated for years down to Revie’s anti-football, vile fans and their constant rattling on about being a ‘big club’. But we haven’t had to worry about Leeds for a while, so instead we had the ready-made replacements of Liverpool come along. Now I never really had anything against Liverpool until Heysel came along, when a darker side to their support was put on show. Then of course came the tragedy of Hillsborough, which turned out to be a catalyst for improvements in English football. Despite this I could never reconcile that with the stuff I saw from their fans at Heysel, and to this day I’m mystified why that tragedy has been swept under a carpet in comparison to the awful Hillsborough event.
Then along came Rafa and the interminably dull battles we had in the Champions League. I could just about stomach Rafa’s increasing insanity but the constant stupidity of the fans calling us plastic, Chavski (ho ho how original) and rubbishing a history that whilst not so glorious in terms of winning as theirs, was just as valid to every Chelsea supporter. Their bile was borne of jealousy… their club in decline watching helplessly as Manchester United carried out the Fergie promise of knocking them off their perch, and then watching our club under its changed fortunes actually have the temerity to break the stranglehold that United and Arsenal had on the league. Ultimately it’s a very Red (as in Russian) attitude based on the politics of envy, an irony really when you hear the stick they give us for having a Russian owner.
Because of this rational (yes perfectly rational) hatred I have of Liverpool based entirely on what I’m sure is a minority of pig ignorant fans, but even more ignorant thick ex-players (yes John Aldridge I mean you) I wind myself into knots before any game with them. I can’t sleep, eat or think straight the day before and in the lead up to the game so desperate am I for us to beat them. And yes, I agree, maybe a psychiatrist might be a good idea. So, the utterly apathetic, passionless, incompetent, spiritless, witless drivel of a display we put out on Sunday feels like a personal slur against me. After the expectation fed by recent results I genuinely felt we’d be up for this game like no other.
What we got was a performance that would have shamed a Sunday morning pub team after their annual Christmas party the night before. Drogba was so poor I could have cried. Anelka tried to find spaces to play him in because Torres was firmly locked down by at least three Liverpool players whenever he looked to be near the ball. That should have made space for Didier but he was in lumping great oaf mode so all he did was one good defensive header and then show us how on a bad day he can’t pass, tackle, shoot or control a ball. Lampard was dreadful, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen such a piss-poor display from him. He seemed detached from the game and his passing was terrible as was his ball control. Bosingwa is starting to look like the worst £17m ever spent. He can’t cross, opting as he does for the low ball straight to the opposition’s feet. Even Gronkjaer got the odd one in. During the first half we could have had a picnic down by the West/Matthew Harding stands area of the pitch and still Bosingwa wouldn’t have found us. Gaping great spaces everywhere. Cech was at fault for the goal, and his spat with Ivanovic shows patently that he’s no Schmeichel when it comes to keeping his defence informed and bossing his area. Essien is a shadow of the player we bought. Is this just a winter thing or has his power, passing and ball control also just disappeared? Obi started badly with a yellow card, which rattled him; but at least he did gradually get back into the game, albeit with the Sword of Damocles waiting to drop at the next mis-timed tackle.
Ashley Cole ran a lot, Torres as one might expect was simply crowded out of the game, and Anelka looked for openings but must have been frustrated at the lack of movement from the remaining forward he could service. JT was his usual self but seemed to lose influence after the goal. One has to ask if he’s lost the fear factor in geeing up the others on the pitch. Kalou and Malouda came on and contributed precisely nothing to a performance that was shameful. Our one true bright spot was David Luiz, who came on with his hair, started bossing others around and was possibly one of the few in blue who looked comfortable with the ball. He just oozed class. We also badly missed the running of Ramires yesterday, a young lad putting Essien to shame in my view. As a comparison, look at the hateful Dirk Kuyt. Technically a bit limited, a niggling irritant in the mould of Bellamy… but boy does he put in a shift for Liverpool for every second of the game. Our players should watch the video paying attention to Kuyt, and they should be downright ashamed by comparing their attitude to his.
And finally to Carlo Ancelotti. I want to support him. I’ve said before that we don’t really need the managerial roundabout starting again. But, tactically he is starting to look inept. One can almost predict the substitutions he’s going to make, almost down to the exact minute he’ll make them. He seems as bad as Wenger when it comes to that Plan B. Jose, as I’ve oft said had plans going all the way to Z. I’m publicly also questioning why he seems to think he can do the job alone, with no number two to speak of. Clement might be good, but he ain’t no Clarke, Phelan, Kidd, Jordan, Platt, Rice or similar. And Emenalo isn’t even another Tony Glover as far as I can see in terms of football experience. Is it just me who’s worried by this? Is he that stubborn, or that weak? Surely the club would get as much of a lift as it did with Torres/Luiz, if it signed up Zola, or Di Matteo to act as Carlo’s number two? Someone to act as his foil, to offer alternative thoughts… someone to be his wingman!
The league has gone now to all but the utterly deluded. The games against United will almost certainly be dead rubbers. Does anyone think we can beat Manchester City if we can’t even draw with what is still a comparatively poor Liverpool side? Even Spurs must fancy their chances when they come to our part of town. Carlo and Roman need to get a grip on the current malaise to prevent more pathetic displays like Sunday’s where we only had one shot on target. I hate losing, but worse than that I hate losing in such a spineless, gutless, passionless and apathetic manner as shown on Sunday.
Sort it out Chels!