Juventus 3-0 Chelsea – The Old Lady Weren’t for Turinin’

Somewhere between talking to the trees in Paint Your Wagon (1969) and talking to a chair at the Republican Convention in 2012, Clint Eastwood made a film called Gran Torino, which my Italian translates as the Granny of Torino? And no, it isn’t another name for Juventus, that’s La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady). Not to be confused with the Belgian cycling classic “La Doyenne”, which is French and simply means the oldest in this context, but is feminine and can refer to a lady of advanced age.

What’s with this sport and old ladies schtick?

Anyway, Gran Torino is actually an iconic American car and a fairly average film despite, or perhaps because of, the presence of the Eastwood. Some would say his best acting days are behind him. Some would say that acting with an ape seriously undermined any claim to iconic status long ago, even if his Spaghetti work helped bury the “singing to trees” débâcle.

But truth to tell, both in front of and behind the camera Clint has produced some fine moments and he has been ever present through my life. I’ve watched those documentaries where he talks about jazz, blues ‘n’ stuff and been enthralled. I never adored Clint but I liked him, didn’t try too hard to distinguish the man from the mythic figures he often portrayed.

The thing is though, the talking to the chair bit, in an effort to support the oleaginous Mitt Romney, kind of marked a point where I finally let Clint go. I’ll still watch his good films, I appreciate what he’s done, but now I’m dealing with his art and not him.

It’s a grown up thing to do. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen. They’ve provided the soundtrack to my life. But somewhere along the line, I’ve had to face the fact that a person can’t carry all your hopes, dreams and expectations.

In the realms of sport, music, writing, film; throughout my life I have tended to enact this transference of what I want someone to be, rather than accept them as they are.

By pulling on a Chelsea shirt, a Canadien’s sweater, by just being Tom Boonen, the wearer guarantees a level of man love and all encompassing forgiveness that defies logic or explanation.

And I’ve no right to lay that burden on them (like they give a shit). They, like me are flawed. It is their work, their skills, music, writing that represents them, that speaks for them and should be treated separately from the person.

And the passing of time, too acts upon how I view someone and their work. So while the music or film, for instance remains frozen in the moment, my appreciation of it changes. And it changes with the acquisition of knowledge, of background, of context. Inevitably my view of the the person also changes because when looking back your field of vision is always adjusting. Reflective memory is both a boon and a curse.

I’ll never forget watching Neil Young sing “Helpless” in the film The Last Waltz for the first time back in the summer of ’78. It captures a moment, a whole bucket load of emotions, hopes and expectations that made up my 18 year-old self. The knowledge that Scorsese then spent a fortune editing out a rock of cocaine that was hanging from Neil’s nostril during the performance occludes my efforts to get back to the purity of that moment. A moment that probably wasn’t that pure really, because they rarely are, particularly when you’re in a darkened cinema with a young lady.

And so when I watch Robbie Di Matteo walking up the stairs in Munich to receive the European Cup, fresh from the delicious moment of victory, today has changed how I will experience it from now on. The sensation has moved from sweet to bittersweet. It will now take an effort to imagine that moment untouched by the events that were to follow. And for the same reason, I don’t want Didier to return. That instant, that penalty has to remain unsullied.

As for letting Chelsea go, well it has yet to happen. And I mean by that, Chelsea as the football team, the nebulous concept, which manages to tie up far too much of my time and emotion. I’m still all in for the team, for the football game itself.

But since the departure of Ancelotti, coming on top of the way Ranieri was treated, and the fractious September days at the end of Mourinho’s reign, I’ve been letting go of something.

And now this. Yes, business is business and this constant rotation of managers has not stemmed the flow of trophies, helped it somehow many would say. But I now just don’t feel as if I can be as attached to the personnel as I once was. I’m going to be caring a little less.

There’s a chair over there and someone’s been talking to it.

The Match Report

Chelsea lost 3-0 to Juventus in Turin. That is all.

The Valediction

Thank you Robbie for such wonderful memories as a player and manager. Like your playing career with us, it has all ended too soon. I wish you success and happiness.

The Welcome

Mr Benitez. You’ve said a few things about us in the past. But you’re here now and I hope you take your chance.

And Finally

Can’t remember the dates but I was at Old Trafford in the Cup when RDM was sent off and we all spent a good part of the second half whistling the Great Escape as Chelsea battled for a draw.

Press Reports

The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “Chelsea’s fate in this competition has been ripped from their hands and with it will surely go the European Cup. Roberto Di Matteo had demanded a show of strength but in the end his fading champions were merely overwhelmed, battered into submission by a dominant Juventus who can sense their own progress. The London club’s defence, not for the first time, seems in tatters.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Chelsea’s manager, Roberto Di Matteo, gambled and lost here, taught a painful lesson by hosts who were stronger, sharper and superior. These are chastening times for Chelsea, fighting against the fading of their Champions League light, facing the humiliation of becoming the first holders of the modern-format European Cup not to progress from the group stage. Di Matteo’s side now host Nordsjaellend on Dec 5 while Juventus travel to Shakhtar Donetsk. It is not all over, but it looks ominously like Thursday nights in the Europa League for Chelsea.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “It is only six months since Chelsea’s miracle of Munich, but in Turin, Roberto Di Matteo finally had to confront the inadequacies of a club whose luck has run out. The Chelsea manager made the only decision he could be expected to make when he dropped the dismal Fernando Torres for the first time this season but sadly for Di Matteo there was no-one else to replace the great sulking centre-forward. That is the problem when a club places all its faith in a very flawed striker whose confidence has been eroded to nothing and allow the one forward who might rescue the situation to leave.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “The Blues will now need to keep one eye firmly on the result in Donetsk when we take on Nordsjaelland in the final group game, having been well beaten in Italy. The manner of the first two Juventus goals may have been a little unfortunate, Petr Cech twice beaten by a deflection, once in each half, but after Eden Hazard had not taken an early chance when the game was scoreless, Chelsea never truly came close to scoring again.”


38′ Quagliarella 1-0
61′ Vidal 2-0
90+1′ Giovinco 3-0

There are 73 comments

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  1. bluebayou

    Apologies to all for the lack of “insightful” game analysis but I couldn’t write the report on the night and by the morning it was overtaken by events.
    This was always going to be a very tough group and so it has proved.
    2 players stood out for me. Mikel, particularly his driving through from midfield and Oscar.
    The killer phase was Azpi going off to be replaced by Moses, an understandable change, but I flinched when Ivanovic then let Asamoah drift inside him and was caught on the wrong side (again). Vidal then scored the second.
    I think the lack of a concerted pressing game to go with the more attacking style was the root of the troubles (the Torres issue aside). But I’m sure RDM understood that. As with AVB last year, once a team loses confidence for whatever reason, it is very hard to keep your game going.
    Benitez has to build that confidence quickly and heal what may be some tensions in the dressing room. The team has shown it has fight and spirit but that seemed to ebb away these last couple of games. But then perhaps they knew what was going on behind the scenes. For it seems possible that the moves for change were happening a while ago.

  2. Blueboydave

    Sigh, I know what you mean about reality breaking in and sullying your fantasised views about those you have hitherto admired.

    The obvious old one that springs to my mind was Kenny Everett agreeing to appear at one of Thatcher’s pre-election Nuremberg rallies and never seeming quite as funny again.

    Having slept on the nightmare events of yesterday I can’t say that I feel any better or more reconciled to it than I did last night when SSN confirmed the dismal news about Fat Rafa’s appointment.

    I’ve always been firmly against Chelsea supporters booing either our team or coaching staff and have never joined in on the few occasions it has happened when I’ve been at The Bridge. Have to say, however, I’m sorely tempted to break that habit on Sunday, assuming I can bring myself to actually attend.

    Thereafter, I can firmly declare that I will be formally protesting by boycotting the home game v Fulham next Wednesday. It should in no way be seen as undermining this principled decision that, by coincidence, I have a long-term commitment to be elsewhere that night and have been planning to miss the game since the fixture list was first published.

    On another forum yesterday I read someone argue that the ever-crazier hire-and-fire merry-go-round is a price worth paying for all the trophies we have won under Abramovich. I think for me it’s now far too high a price and armchair fandom beckons at least till the end of this season. 

  3. PeteW

    I am quite unsentimental about Robbie’s passing. He arrived as a failed West Brom manager and leaves as a European Cup winner with several million in his pocket and the chance to spend Christmas with his family rather than read increasingly unpleasant and hysterical headlines about his future. He is eminently more employable than he was a year ago. Given his credentials, it’s been an amazing six months for him and he has benefitted from it. I am also pleased that the execution was so swift. He deserved that at least. He will always be a Chelsea legend.

    So I loved Robbie but he was clearly a chap who got very lucky and rode that as far as it would go. In those terms, his departure was inevitable and I understand the reasoning behind it.

    I also understand on some levels the appointment of Benitez. The man has won the CL, which for some ridiculous reason seems to be held in higher regard than winning titles these days, and has worked with the busted flush Torres. He’s a good organiser and we lack organisation. He’s probably the best coach on the market who isn’t called Pep.

    So to the board, it makes sense.

    However, I don’t see that his record is so good that it overshadows the baggage he brings with him as an ex-LFC boss, who failed so badly at Inter and wasn’t even that impressive at Anfield (unless you are a Liverpool fan). I don’t like him as a person, he appears eminently untrustworthy, mentally weak, divides his teams and plays fairly turgid football. Indeed, he plays the sort of football that we are always being told Roman cannot stand. He spawned one CL final (as did Robbie) and lost another and, crucially, blew up like a Mancini with less money when the title was his in 2009. He also scraps with the board. 

    He arrives knowing that he is just keeping the seat warm for Pep and knowing he is despised by the supporters. His success at Liverpool came from the fact he was allowed to rotate and prioritise certain trophies – that isn’t allowed at Chelsea, the pressure is far higher. And after his crap last season at LFC and dismal failure at Inter, he probably can’t afford another failure. 

    It’s such a bad fit.  

  4. Vik Sohonie

    Benitez & Zenden it is then. 

    The only optimism I can draw from this is that a sacking and change of manager mid season has always led to something in recent years: 

    Avram, CL Final 
    Hiddink, FA Cup and what should’ve been another CL Final 
    Di Matteo, European Champions
    Poignantly, no interim manager has been able to win the league. 

  5. mark_25

    I agree with PeteW regarding being unsentimental about Robbie’s departure.

    Most of us are too sentimental about decision making, generally take too long to make a decision and then, once made, take too long to implement. That’s why none of us are as rich as Roman (speak up if you are and offer to pay the hosting fee for Nick).

    Robbie is just like any other business asset, a car or a toner cartridge.  If you want to change it just change it.  Don’t feel bad for Robbie.  Football is the modern day equivalent of gladiators but fortunately for the members of the managers union, a downward flick of the thumb from the emperor no longer results in decapitation but instead a monumental pay-off so you never have to work again.

    Robbie will always be a legend as a player and a manager but that doesn’t make it wrong to sack him. Torres scoring in Barcelona is one of the standout moments in my 50 years of watching but that doesn’t mean I’d mind if Roman sacked him, or better still recreated a scene from Gladiator.

    With regard to whether Rafa is the right man I’d prefer not to comment because my opinions on the last 8 managers have all been so horribly wrong it makes my opinion worthless.

  6. Der_Kaiser

    It seems pretty clear that Roman didn’t particularly want Robbie from day one but was scuppered by the minor inconvenience of the guy delivering a Champions League final victory.

    Robbie was going through a bad patch, unquestionably, but it seems like we’re seeking excuses to make us feel more comfortable about his departure.

    If reports are correct, Benitez was approached over a week ago.  In simple terms, this means Robbie was effectively a dead man walking for being stuffed over by Clattenburg and dropping points against Swansea.

    Robbie is about four years into his managerial career.  Four years into his senior managerial career, Benitez had been promoted, relegated and sacked twice.  In pure silverware terms, it took Robbie around 3 months to match Benitez’s record with Liverpool in 6 years (he didn’t spend about £200m plus on utter dreck doing it, either, but appreciate that’s a bit of a false stat).

    When Ancelotti went through a rough patch, we opined that he needed a decent number 2 to help him out.  Robbie had Eddie Newton; no disrespect to the guy, but maybe a more experienced deputy might have helped?  Yet again, instead of helping a manager out through a difficult patch and offering support, the club home in on it as a sign of weakness and nail him because of it.  I hope for Pep’s sake that when he arrives, he does so in perfect order and in a bulletproof frame of mind, otherwise he’s totally and utterly fucked.

    Robbie was asked to go into this campaign with 2 strikers, one of whom is without question close to being the biggest disaster in the history of the transfer market and, God forbid, now may get another 6 months with his former mentor to prove he isn’t the gutless, timid waste of blood and skin ever to pull a Chelsea shirt on that we all know he is.

    When Mourinho got the boot, aside of the fact he basically fell out with the man who signed his paycheque which is daft in any walk of life but suicidal at Chelsea, he had spent an early part of the season minus both Frank and Drogba (from memory); this was introduced as mitigation for our indifferent form on this very site. Yet somehow, Robbie contends with major departures and the biggest overhaul of the squad in years, injuries to experienced players and a lack of any frontman but it passes relatively unremarked.

    I can understand getting shot of a manager when there is a better option on the table, but Benitez?  Really? Aside of the numerous pitfalls previously pointed out, the man is openly despised by a sizeable section of our fanbase and is also bringing one of the most gutless players we’ve seen at the Bridge to be his number 2.

    I’m a fairly pragmatic type by nature and for the most part, I’ll stick to the ‘king is dead, long live the king’ maxim in respect of Chelsea managers in the knowledge that it’s best not to get too attached to them, but this is jumping the shark for my money.  Grant was an ass but did very little damage as there was a strong core of players who basically carried on as usual leaving him to flap around on the touchline, telling everyone that we really were playing better football than before (shame about losing the finals, though).

    The situation is different now.  We have a the core of a potentially excellent side with some genuinely world class prospects and we’re handing them to a man who apparently wanted Gareth Barry over Xabi Alonso.  I mean, I can’t wait for him to get his hands on Oscar, can you?

    There is a void of leadership and real character at the heart of the team at the moment; I sincerely hope that it is not filled by this utterly charmless man, his awful football and all of the paranoia and mental baggage that comes with him.  We’re consoled by the fact that Roman has made the right decisions in the past – I hope that he’s called it right this time too, because we have a whole world of different problems ahead of us if he hasn’t.

    • Blueboydave

      I’ve  noticed that RDM seemed always to be in consultation with Steve Holland, rather than Eddie Newton, during matches. Not a hugely experienced head either, but still an improvement on Emenalo, who Carlo had to put up with for half a season.

      For the conspiracy theorists among you, I see that Giles Smith’s regular Thursday column has failed to appear on the official website today. 

      Couldn’t be that he produced some observations on events of the last couple of days considered a bit too trenchant by the PR apparatchiks, could it?

  7. PeteW

    I think you are over-egging this Jonny. Nobody was complaining about an absence of character and leadership when we were tonking Arsenal and Spurs and going toe-to-toe with United without any of the big chaps we’ve always counted on. Yes, we are hampered by the Torres issue but actually we have a bloody great squad at hand here, and should be beating Swansea, West Brom and QPR, or at least performing better, more cohesively, than we did. North Londoners aside, we’ve been comprehensively beaten by every decent team we’ve faced and with the players we’ve got, that shouldn’t be happening. 

    This is interesting in the Indie – the suggestion that it wasn’t results as much as approach. Robbie’s substitutions weren’t as pro-active as they should have been.


    Now while obviously it is bonkers to anticipate that Robbie could change it all in a few months, it’s also clear that nobody at the top of the club ever had any faith that he would and I think they have good reason for thinking that. His demise was inevitable. Rafa may have been allowed to piss around making mistakes for his first four years but he wasn’t doing it at the European Champions. Nobody would have touched Robbie after West Brom, but they will now and he will get the chance to gain more experience and hopefully more time to develop his ideas. 

    Rafa is, despite his serious flaws and objectionable personality, a better coach than Di Matteo. Surely nobody would question that. That doesn’t make him the right man for this job, but it’s not as inexplicable a decision as Grant-Mourinho, whatever hindsight we choose to employ. 

    • Der_Kaiser

      Maybe so.  And perhaps they weren’t, but they’re generally characteristics that are required when the going gets tough as it is now.

      Just baffled as to why they bothered appointing him in the first place; if they hadn’t given him the job, the uproar wouldn’t have been any greater than what they’re dealing with now.  But it’s the usual ‘he’s the man to take Chelsea forward / oh no he isn’t, here’s a few million quid’ approach that we seem to have become conditioned to.  One day, it’s going to backfire. Seems odd that a few months ago we were lauding Robbie for some of the touches he bought to the role, yet now he’s somehow not fit for purpose and probably never was.  

      The Indie piece is intriguing – failure to forge a unique style in what, 4 months?  And we’ve replaced him with Mr. Anodyne Football.  I don’t like Rafa, but good luck to the bloke – he’s certainly going to need it.

  8. bluebayou


    If I was feeling irritated and irascible, which I’m not I might say something like this:

    The “Roman gets it right just look at the trophies” crow are in danger of getting as fat as Rafa with the amount of their own cake they are eating.

    If Roman didn’t want Robbie long-term and only left him in the wheelhouse to keep us from running aground and was completely wrong footed by RDM winning the CL then he didn’t call it right did he? And if he gambled on getting the transition bedded in ready for his latest “paramour” to take us to heaven then he fucked right up again didn’t he?

    On the other hand, if he knew that Robbie was the man to deliver the CL and take us forward then he got that wrong and couldn’t have wanted Robbie out in the summer could he?

    Sacking AVB after less than a season and putting in the man who delivered him the the trophy he craved was not a masterstroke was it? It was blind good fortune.

    A short term fix yielded more than he could have imagined, after the latest “love” he courted came up short. You know, that young Portuguese bloke he employed after fucking over the Italian Double Winner who he’d chased round Europe for a couple of years only to go sour on within 18 months.

    Let’s face it, if you drive a bubble car and hit a wall at 60mph you’re way beyond band-aid country. Do the same in a tank and you’re laughing. A combination of financial resources, several iterations of a team built around a solid core managed on occasion by great talents, none of whom Roman could abide for more than a couple of years have bred a period of marvelous success for which we are all truly grateful.

    Football without sentiment? These ludicrous fancies for particular players, with coaches then expected to incorporate them into a team irrespective of suitability and then the whole shebang expected to play “entertaining football” no matter what the circumstances is hard headed rationality by a ruthless business man? No he’s a ruthless sentimentalist whose huge resources insulate him from the multiplicity of errors into which his emotions inevitably take him.

    You can like this approach, loathe it or remain indifferent but we are observing emotion and sentiment running riot. His henchmen may be rational but Roman isn’t. Each single decision can be rationalised in the particular circumstances but viewed over the piece it all seems anything but.

    Run a mutimillion pound concern this way when you have a couple of billion to throw at it and you may well succeed. Run a small gaff making widgets with a tenner in the bank this way and you probably wont.

    But other than preferring to support a team managed and peopled by folks I’m inclined to like, as I said I’m past caring really.


    • PeteW

      Yes, lot of truth here, and yesterday I called Roman a ruthless romantic much like your formulation. Not saying he gets it right all the time (far from it), just that he acts quickly when he’s got it wrong – and he can afford to do so, so why not. 

      As I’ve said dozens of time, his big fuck up was Carlo and has been playing catch up ever since. 

      • bluebayou

        The Carlo business was the intriguing one that I never really thought was explained.

        btw In one of those strange co-incidences I was listening to a broadcast yesterday from Montreal about the NHL lockout. They were talking about owners and fell to discussing the Canadiens under Gillette. They had nothing but good things to say about how a Yank came to Quebec, got everyone on-side and did a lot of good things for the team while making money which they then contrasted with his Liverpool experience raising a chuckle or two.

        All this as Rafa, who I believe sided more with Hicks but don’t quote me, was inking his contract with Chelsea.

        Strange times.

  9. Blue_MikeL

    I am failing to connect the dots here 
    “Chelsea Football Club accepts the Football Association’s decision regarding Mark Clattenburg and welcomes the fact that the FA recognises the club and players were correct in reporting the matter.”
    The Football Association has cleared referee Mark Clattenburg of using “inappropriate language” towards Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi.

  10. Benjami

    I thought he did OK in the press conference to be fair to the guy, came across as easy going, stayed away from trouble, and determined to win every game. Exactly what the board wanted to hear ;/

    He is right about the support, we need to support the team and our players, who cares about Benitez.

    Two wonderful points have improved my mood; one, for once I am happy Michael Emenalo is there to stop him buying/selling anyone, and two, his contract is 100% till the end of the season 🙂

    Lets smash Man City on Sunday and be top of the league come xmas 😉

  11. Ramone

    RDM was unable to play Roman’s favourites and maintain a cohesive unit.  For too much of this season our  team was two unconnected parts; an exposed defence and a cavalier attack. When you can score one more than the oppo nobody cares.  When you can’t you get sacked. At least at Chelsea you do.

    A team must be compact and defend as a unit.  For too much of this season we have not done so.  With Torres and the three amigos about,  you can’t afford to lose the ball in the final third as you have at least four blokes ahead of the ball and are vulnerable to the counter.  Asking for trouble.Look at  the Super Cup explained by “Frank can’t hold” which although true wasn’t the only reason we got slaughtered,  and the second goal conceded v WBA where Morrison managed receive the ball in 3 acres of space between Mikel,  Romeu and our back four.  There are plenty more examples, and failure to sort this out – imho- ultimately did for Robbie.I don’t suppose a new coach to fall into the same trap and expect to see some bench time of one of Mata, Oscar, Hazard.  From three amigos to dynamic duo……………….

  12. WorkingClassPost

    As one of Robbie’s first supporters, it’s weird that to me this is just Business As Usual for CFC.

    It’s heartening that so many of us are hurt by his departure, but for me it’s the best thing that could’ve happened, coming so quickly and with most of the season still left. I’m also a bit surprised at how little exiting CL (as surely we must) means to me. Having won the thing, the next priority must be to regain PL title anyway.

    The record of being first holders to drop out at group stage won’t mean squat if we win CL and EL in back to back seasons, then why not CL again.

    PL title gives us max financial allocation in the following year too, I believe.

    Back to Robbie.

    He suffered the same 9 man curse that befell AVB and then went the same way.

    You need a really thick skin as a football manager, and if you start to change things, after losing with 9 or even 10 men, then you’re asking for trouble. JM would’ve cursed the ref, cursed his luck, and then just got on with it.

    Robbie seemed to think that he, or the team, had done something wrong, which we patently had not. 

    [And what’s all this shit about FA not charging Crap ‘n Turd, they said they could convict JT without any victim and without enough evidence to convince a court of law, yet they won’t charge one of their own even when the racially abused person makes a direct complaint.]

    Anyway, Robbie’s attempts to change what had started to look like the beginning of a wonderful team, just showed that he either didn’t get it, couldn’t see it, or didn’t believe in it. Whatever the case, his decisions then went from bad to worse, and I’m sad to say that he had to go.

    I also do not get this anti Torres stuff.

    Turin was a perfect example of what happens when he’s not on the pitch from the start.

    We lacked experience and maturity, so we left out one of our cleverest and most experienced players. You love to slag him for not scoring, but do you not now see that it really doesn’t matter who scores, it’s winning as a team that matters most, and I don’t give a shit about how much he cost, we can afford it, so be it.

    If he’d been on and played the ball for Mata to score, and then Hazard to do same, and we’d won 2-1 or something, there would’ve been another total slagfest here and elsewhere, so fuck us all. I’m looking forward to Thursday nights.

  13. SB Maid

    I’m not if someone noticed this but this was on the official website
    “Everybody has been talking about he was not doing well and I was the same because I was watching games and his attitude was really poor, and today it was the same as all the others.”And this was on soccernet”Everyone is talking about him not doing well at Chelsea, but when I was watching games, I always felt his attitude was very good. At training today, his attitude was good and together, we can win big things for this club.”Someone on the official must really hate Fernando.

    • Bocephus

      On Torres Rafa definitely said “everybody has been talking about him not doing well and I was the same….”  I’m not sure if he said his attitude was poor on the pitch, he may have said it, but he definitely said the first part.

      • SB Maid

        I’m sure Rafa said his attitude was “very good” (as reported on Soccernet), but seems like someone who writes for the official site didn’t really like Torres..

        I feel sorry for Luiz as both of his managers are sacked in one week. Must’ve felt turrible..

  14. Vik Sohonie

    Robbie sacked, Rafa appointed, Clattenburg cleared.

    When the Roman era is all said and done, the declassified documents are going to be treasure troves.

    In fact, could someone ask WikiLeaks to get on it?

    I give up trying to understand. If Benitez turns out to be a hiddink-esque master stroke I’ll just give up on understanding anything at all.

  15. Jmuballe

    Fantastic comments on here. I didn’t watch the Juventus game but was disappointed we lost;  a draw, i felt had been attainable.

    I was pretty shocked at the Roberto firing but got over it pretty quickly. Was not pleased with Benitez but on reflection think he’s a decent manager. The first time we defeated Liverpool in the champions league with a double header from Ivanovic meant a great deal to me because Benitez had then built a team that beat us regularly under Mourihno.

    I will wait and see results. We have a great team, for the future. We should be alright.

    The outrage at Roberto’s firing has gone overboard as was the case with Mourinho

  16. PeteW

    I’d like to expand on what I was saying about Carlo Ancelotti. 

    We’ve had three managers since, and none are anywhere near as good. With Carlo we had an excellent manager, he was loyal, tactically astute, popular, empathic, good man manager, good with press – most of the things you want from a coach. He wasn’t great with subs and didn’t have much luck in the CL, but that was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a good support structure (something the club seems reluctant to give our managers, worryingly). Given time and support, he would win us regular trophies, not upset too many apple carts, underperform at times but generally do us proud. He’d certainly have won the Cl eventually. We sacked him (after undermining him for half a season), and haven’t truly recovered. 

    The problem is that Roman doesn’t understand football. I don’t mean this in the way the press mean it – ‘he doesn’t understand you have to give crap managers more time to get crapper’ or ‘he doesn’t understand he had to tell us what he is thinking if he wants us to be nice about him’ – I simply mean he isn’t very good at understanding football. For example, if you’ve watched football for a while it should be fairly clear that Torres is bust. He doesn’t do anything. Roman can’t see that, though, so keeps believing managers who tell him they have the magic trick to make Torres score.Roman doesn’t understand football, so he’s still obsessed with Jose Mourinho. When Roman saw Carlo, instead of seeing the good stuff and the stuff that can be worked with, he only saw the stuff that wasn’t Mourinho. Now we all know JM is a one-off. The man said it himself when he first arrived. You only get a manager like that once in your life. But Roman thinks he will eventually get another Mourinho. That’s why he persevered with AVB, who learnt all the style of Mourinho but with none of the substance. And if he can’t get another Mourinho, he’ll get somebody who has beaten Mourinho. In those terms, Carlo was doomed the moment we lost to Inter because that proved that JM was better than CA. So Carlo bit the bullet and we’ve been playing catch-up ever since (last year’s CL victory was great, but it was fluke. It was a fluke we worked hard for and deserved, but it was fluke nonetheless. Worryingly, Rafa’s CL – the only really impressive thing on his CV – was also a fluke.)Roman has now gone for Rafa, almost certainly with the rationale that Rafa beat JM in the CL and is therefore better than JM. Again, he’s shown an ignorance of football, falling for the line that Rafa ‘out-thought’ Jose in the semis. That was always bullshit. Rafa defended deep, rode his luck and depended on home advantage against a knackered Chelsea team that was competing on four fronts while Liverpool were resting every weekend. It was a sensible policy, but it was hardly tactical genius. In the absence of another new Jose, Roman has gone for an anti-Jose. He’s going to be badly disappointed. Further to this, I think the reason he really wants Pep is that Pep is both the ‘new Jose’ AND the anti-Jose…

    • Blueboydave

      We’re all guessing really, but I suspect you are right here.

      Certainly, the regular shots we get of Roman squirming about in his exec box at The Bridge support the suggestion that he’s still just an enthusiastic football fan at heart and Chelsea is his plaything that he waxes and wanes over – hence, the abrupt turning on and off over the years of funding for new players and shoehorning into the team of his own fantasy players.

      Isn’t the real trouble that there appears to be no one senior at the club who knows anything about the playing/coaching side of top level football to advise him – Tenenbaum, Gourlay and Buck are from accountancy, marketing and the legal profession respectively I believe – leaving him prey to plausible bullshitters like Uncle Avram. 

      Hiddink does not seem to be involved any more, leaving only Michael Emenalo – a man with a mediocre playing career who reached the dizzy heights of coaching teenage girls in USA before being parachuted into the club on Uncle Avram’s advice.

      My heart sank when Rafa said at his press conference yesterday he had not yet spoken to Roman, but Emenalo had given him no instructions, but assured him that the club trust him to play the right way.

      So there we have it, another new manager arriving thinking he’ll be backed in whatever  he wants to do – and thinks the politics of the Chelsea board will be easy to deal with compared to Liverpool.

      Oh dear!

    • SB Maid

      Why are you so certain that Roman is so obsessed with JM? Or you could mistaken ‘JM’ for ‘success’?

      The reason he wants Pep is he wants ‘good’ football, assuming what majority of football fans around the world associate ‘short passing, tiki taka’ with ‘good’ football. I guess RA falls into this category too. If I were RA who invested millions to this club, I would want my club to be successful, but in a good way unlike defending with 10 man behind the ball, hoofing the ball up with every chance like the CL. Of course RDM couldn’t match fist for fist with Barcelona; they are obviously a better team than us and we would’ve been absolutely crushed if we play openly.

      This whole ‘Roman doesn’t understand football’ really has to stop. Why do people think he’s so ignorant? I think he simply just want ‘success’ (and not another ‘JM’)

      They way you described Rafa was just like describing RDM..

      • WorkingClassPost

        There’s some weird shit going on here for sure.

        Mind readers and motivational experts abound, but for my part, I’m just hoping that Rafa does the business and Torres wins the golden boot (provided he’s still with us after January, of course).

    • GrocerJack

      Couldn’t agree less about Carlo (as you know).

      Couldn’t agree more about the JM thing. That patently still haunts RA as one thing he did fuck up and can’t escape from or blame on anyone else.

      • PeterW

        Tony, you’re completely wrong on Carlo. He was treated shittily by the club – for which you seem to weirdly think he was at fault – and we still haven’t found anybody better, have we?

        Like AVB and Torres are a bad thing that some of us clocked earlier than others, Carlo was a good one. We’d have done far better in the long term to stick with him.

        And Rafa is a cunt.

  17. PeteW

    Sorry, for multiple posts, I’ve been trying to sort out the formatting – any chance an admin can do the honours?

  18. Cunningplan

    Pep will fail miserably when he comes, it’s all well and good when you have Xavi Iniesta and Messi in your team.
    Jose and Madrid showed them last season there is a different way to win, and with style.

    • GrocerJack

      I agree CP. I have an issue with why he wouldn’t come now. 6 months break not enough? Whose to say that a year will be? Or 18 months? How would a gap like that affect him?

      Then there’s the one club man aspect. Unproven outside of a system he mostly inherited from predecessors stretching back to Cruyff and Van Gaal who put it in place. How would he cope with the change of location? London is very different to Barcelona. Not least of all climate wise. How do we know his wife wouldn’t be homesick a la Mrs Crespo? Or that Pep himself might not settle? Then there’s the press. I acknowledge that Barca is a hotbed but our press are far more intrusive, far less forgiving, far more underhand and ultimately far more vicious

    • GrocerJack

      This comment system does not like the iPad! So Pep would fail in my view. He’d be much like Carlo, and as much as Peter thinks he was the best thing since honey came in squeezable pots, I think he was little more than an elevated Ranieiri. Tactically inept in his second season after trailblazing his first. But more than that was his cowardice over Wilkins. The man fell hugely in my opinion for bending over and taking several. Dignity in the face of utter humiliation maybe, but abject cowardice in my view and showing little in terms of principle. A nice guy, like Ranieri, decent, well behaved but not a ruthless winner. PSG are hardly setting the world alight despite very deep pockets. Didn’t deserve to be sacked like he was. Neither did RDM, at 4am on landing in England and being told to clear his desk at 5am. Roman may be a generous benefactor, bu he’s also a cruel man.

      I am no Rafa fan but he’s here. Booing him would be futile and counter-productive. The mob mentality from our fans on Twitter smacks of pitchforks and burning torches. All because of some MILDLY derogatory comments about Chelsea when he was coach at Liverpool. If not lynch mob, then it’s fucking kindergarten childishness……boo fucking hoo, nasty man did call me a name. Pathetic.

      Welcome Rafa. I hope you shove some of our fans childish criticisms and insults back down their throats. I suspect you won’t, but good luck in your tenure at Chelsea.

  19. Cunningplan

    This is the problem we have in this country with regard the type of football we play.

    The media stuck to the narrative that we played defensive efficient football under JM which is a load of bollocks really. I thought some of our football was pretty breathtaking at times, with the likes of Robben and Duff running at defenders.

    The pundits and media bang on about Utd and their attacking style, when we all know that a lot of the games they play old Taggart is cagey enough to do what’s needed in the majority of them just to win.
    How many times have Utd  won games 1-0 over the years, but we’re force fed with the spin of their free flowing attacking style when they win a game 3 or 4 nil which happens far less than people think.

    I find watching Barcelona quite dull at times as well, the endless passing like the Harlem Globetrotters just bores me to death. I’ve always said that winning games and pots is far more important to me, and I do miss the domination we had under Jose, each to his own I suppose.

    There’s nothing wrong with a team that mixes it up, direct, tiki taka, and long ball, a bit like the way Madrid are at the moment. If RA is  going to change our manager next summer then there’s only one man in my book that he should be going after, and it’s not Pep.

    I appreciate that some on this blog don’t want, or think it’s a good idea for a second coming, but I think it’s probably the only thing that will work.

    • WorkingClassPost

      Talkin bout Barca being dull at times, I finished late on Wednesday evening, and fancied watching a bit of footie on the way home so popped into my local who only had Arse on the box. Now, I would’ve stayed to watch ManCit but couldn’t bear the other crowd, so some things never change it seems.
      Boring, boring Arsenal.

  20. Dylbo Baggins

    If JM came back to the bridge he would make it bigger than Jesus coming back. 

    “I’m only signing if the Queen agrees to a week long carnivale celebration in my honour”

  21. Ganesh

    I think people have to grow up here.. football is a business now and manager change clubs and they are within the right to defend their club or the fans when they are in charge.
    I don’t see any difference between what Rafa said and the way Jose celebrated E’to’s goal against us in the champions league… For all the things JM says that he loves chelsea..this & that… If he joins either mancs club I am sure he will do that same thing…..

    As much as I didn’t like Rafa when he was at Liverpool.. mostly because he always had a way to beat us… I think we should get behind the guy and give him a chance… I don’t see anything else the club could have done as no one was available except Rafa (obviously without paying compensation) on a short contract… RDM was always going to be a failure and if we had stick to him and let this rot continue, I am sure the fans also would be calling for his head and it might be too late like it happend with AVB for our league position…

    If we are not going to be in Champions League next season, I don’t think we will be any position to attract managers let alone players…

  22. Cunningplan

    I certainly don’t think Rafa deserves to be booed by our fans, it will serve no purpose whatsoever. We’ve got him at least until the end of the season so I suppose we have to get on with it and get behind the team.
    I didn’t particularly want to see him at Chelsea, but in the grand scale of things he’s a far better appointment than Avram Grant ever was and deserves a chance, although personally I think he’ll be yet another disappointment on our managerial merry go round.

  23. Cunningplan

    Pete, we still haven’t found anyone better than Jose, but agree with regard Carlo being the best of our current lot since Jose.

  24. PeterW

    Carlo’s ‘tactically inept’ second season saw him asked to improve on a Double-winning season with a massively weakened squad. He failed of course, but still qualified easily for the CL and even put in something of a title challenge despite having our worst squad since 2002, further handicapped by Luiz, Torres and no assistant.

    He refused to walk mid-season for the good of the club. He was a decent, honourable and talented man so you accuse him of being weak? AVB was weak, Carlo was too good for us and our eternally ungrateful supporters.
    To compare him with Ranieri is ridiculous.

  25. PeterW

    Never mind, let’s all get behind Rafa, eh? I mean, he only described us all as plastic and passionless.

    Frankly, I think he might have been right.

    • GrocerJack

      I can’t believe my anti-Carlo stance puts me down as plastic/passionless Pete. You know my thoughts, and they have remained the same before during and since Carlo. I think any man might have thought about walking after there assistant gets sacked from above with no reference. He had the chance to try the youngsters but didnt. His tactical ineptness for me summed up by choosing Paolo at centre back in front of Bruma who’d not puta foot wrong to that point. Result? An embarrassing home defeat versus Sunderland.

      To accuse people like me of being plastic/passionless because we’re not willing to join the current anti-Rafa abuse based on weight/history/previous sayings is quite insulting, so that basis I assume you don’t mean us.

      • Peterw

        Bruma was a poor call, but not hardly counteracts winning the Double, especially as Bruma has since gone on to prove himself to be a bit shite.

        The blessed Jose also played Paolo at CB at least twice, and he didn’t win us the Double to balance out that sin.

        By all accounts, Carlo said he was leaving as soon as the Wilkins thing happened but agreed to hang on to the end of the season for the good of the club. A decent man.

    • GrocerJack

      He was managing Liverpool at the time so I have no issue with that. Other teams fans call us far worse. I’m sure lots of other coaches and club personnel have insulted us and the players and the club. Frankly I’d like to think most people can’t get that het up over it.

      One positive bit of news was FIFAs decision to block the Drogba return move. I really don’t want the final memory of that penalty and then him standing in front of the fans bowing whilst absorbing the adulation to be sullied thanks.

      • PeterW

        Literally cannot think of a single other manager who has attacked our supporters like that. They may praise their own, but they don’t abuse others.

        I have no respect for him, don’t rate him and look forward to the day he takes his fat arse out our club and back on the dole queue.

        • GrocerJack

          Who cares? I’ve been called all sorts in my time. Get a bit upset at the time but like most adults I move on, get over it and get over my own reaction.

          I know I’m in the minority for not having the same irrational hatred of Rafa that the mob seems to have. And for being a dissenter on that I’m rather proud of myself.

          Now back to the fine Rolling Stones night on BBC2……..

          • Cunningplan

            Never liked the Stones Tony, and I just see them as geriatrics prancing about on stage minus zimmer frames!

          • GrocerJack

            CP! Wash your mouth out! Get your good lady wife to arrange for a full check up now, preferably from the neck up 😉

          • Cunningplan

            Don’t give her any ideas Tony! she’s already looking forward to my one way trip to Switzerland, as many bloggers on this site are.

          • Nick

            Talk like that will get you banned from the blog, Clive. 😉 Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. are four of the greatest records ever released.

            As for the whole Rafa thing, I’m still in denial. Fingers in ears, nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear you.

            (I agree with pretty much everything PeteW’s said. Rafa’s a buffoon and I hope he’s given both barrels by the Bridge tomorrow. I wish I were going.)

          • Cunningplan

            I apologise Nick, financial compensation will be heading your way via PayPal soon.

            Stones are still crap though! 😉

          • PeterW

            My last comment, you accuse Carlo of bending over and taking one, while insisting we need to applaud a man who thinks we are passionless and plastics… Hmmmmm.

            The Stones are genius. I’m a Some Girls man.

  26. WorkingClassPost

    Carlo’s problems may not have been of his own making, but he couldn’t deal with them, and had no solution.

    I agree that he and Ray were the perfect double act for us, but when that partnership was destroyed (can’t think of a better description), he was left alone and either unwilling, or unable, to build another relationship.

    His record since must be taken into consideration.

    • PeterW

      He did deal with them. We put in a title challenge and qualified comfortably for the Champions League. This despite the club’s besy efforts to destroy us.

      No manager is going to win every season, but when you have one of the top eight in the world it makes sense to support them or you end up with other people’s cast-offs (hello Rafa). This

      • WorkingClassPost

        I don’t think it was the end result that did for Carlo, but the manner of it. 

        My recollection was that we were playing brilliantly and set for another title when he lost his father, then his assistant, and it’s no reflection on him that the season slipped away, but he had also lost the plot and seemed to lose the team too.

        Robbie appeared to do the same, and if a manager lets one unjustified result affect his judgement so much, then he can’t complain if his job goes to someone else. We’re not like other clubs: the media, opposing fans and whoever else you can think of, won’t give us the breathing space to recover when results start to slip so the pressure builds and everyone suffers.

        We’ve got an owner who can afford to deal with this, and he’s learned to act decisively and without delay, and so far it’s worked.

        Never liked Rafa myself, but that’s not because of anything he may have said (I make a rule to listen to, or care about, what others say about CFC), but Ireally  didn’t like the way he was so adept at shafting Jose. I’m now delighted to give him the chance to succeed or even to screw up, because I’m sure that you won’t be alone in giving him payback for those unpleasant defeats by Poo, if he does.

        • PeterW

          We also had a squad of about 18 after selling six players and bringing in 1, and so many injuries we had two 16-year-olds on the bench. So yes, results got a bit wobbly for a while.

  27. GrocerJack

    Completely different…..but I’m getting paranoid…….does anyone else have problems commenting via iPad?

  28. Cunningplan

    Regardless who the fuck is in charge, get behind the team.
    Rafa is a twat but at the moment he’s our twat, so lets live with it like we did with Avram who quite frankly was an even bigger twat, and we coped with it!

  29. Blue_MikeL

    I am not planning neither applaud, or slam Benitez just because he is Benitez. Let’s see what he does and then decide applaud or curse him. 
    There is one thing for sure at least for me. Somebody big time messes up our shopping lists ans this somebody is not the sharpest toll in the box. 
    I can’t explain why we buy old Sheva for 30 mils, post injury Torres for 50 mils, very young and unproven Lukaku for 20 mils. I see no reasonable explanation for it.        

    • Day Tripper

      Actually, you should try and watch a recording of Lukaku’s performance yesterday against Sunderland. He did more in the 20 minutes or so he was on the pitch than Torres has done all season: held the ball up and always managed to find a team-mate when laying it off; created a chance from nothing from a difficult angle; dribbled into the box and hammered a shot against the post; gave a superb angled pass as an assist for their last goal; slotted in a very cool penalty. I don’t think we can get him back soon enough

  30. B1ggs

    i am watching the game, and just can’t get used to see beneath-us on our bench…not sure whether to laugh or cry.
    but, as someone said earlier – he’s our manager now, so what’s the point of slandering him?
    the team still plays like a piece of turd, so he has some work to do. the first half today is awful.
    and – has anyone noticed – or am i being paranoid – the ref is slightly pulling for city. a few times i was sure we would get a free kick and he just waved play on. khm…

  31. Blue_MikeL

    It has been a while since I have seen us that defensively strong. Torres is finished package, done and dusted, this guy is not going to shine again finita la comedia 

  32. mark_25

    Point against City isn’t so bad.

    First time this season we haven’t looked horribly exposed against decent opposition.

    And to cap it all Rafa was serving Tapas in the West Lower after the game.

  33. bluebayou

    Dave Sexton has died. And so another connection to those halcyon days of the late 60’s and early 70’s has gone. He was part of the team (in the widest sense) that brought home the FA Cup and the CWC and for that he should never be forgotten. RIP.

    • GrocerJack

      My first CFC manager and the man who’s team pulled me in. Sad news but 82 is a good knock. RIP Dave Sexton

  34. Benjami

    Well we weren’t unlucky as we seem to have been in recent weeks, with balls bouncing to them or deflecting in and defence did look slightly improved.

    I don’t understand people worried that we will lose out on our attacking edge by getting more defensive, if Rafa keeps with OHM then more goals will come (tho not enough)

    However its laughable Rafa thinks we can win this season with the team in its current state, until we get a striker capable of 30+ goals we don’t stand a chance.

    We have currently only won 54% of our games so far this season (D 31% / L 15%), that is currently qualification for Champions League form, to win the league you need high 60s/low 70s.

    We need to convert those draws to wins as soon as possible in order to lock down a top 4 finish.

    Our next few games are actually pretty easy, I expect us to be on 38 points come Boxing day, anything below that is poor by the manager.

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