Napoli 3-1 Chelsea – AVB Couldn’t Light a Bonfire in a Volcano

The bay of Naples nestles beneath Mount Vesuvius, a volcano which hasn’t been truly explosive since burying Pompeii in AD 79. Likewise Chelsea’s explosive days are behind us and our fans are wondering whether AVB is currently stoking up the fire and we’re about to erupt into form or instead pouring water on the remaining embers and turning the players into petrified statues.


Pundits making a big deal of Ashley not playing and implying it’s an insurrection involving the senior players but isn’t the simple truth that Ashley’s had an injury, he’s not fully fit and it’s a heavy pitch. Personally I think right-back is Bosingwa’s least comfortable position so I’m happy to see him at left-back.

As the teams walked onto the pitch the size of the mascots made me question my belief that Italian food, with olive oil and natural ingredients, is healthy eating. I might revert to Kentucky Fried.

The first half

Early collision between Drogba and Campagnaro which left Campagnaro with a large serving of Napolitana sauce down the side of his head. Campagnaro played on looking more like Ena Sharples with a hair net.

Early relief, Bosingwa’s pulled his hamstring. Maybe there is a God?

This game is surprisingly open.

15 minutes gone and less sideways passing at the back. That could be because we haven’t got the ball.

20 minutes gone and we’re doing better than Arsenal.

25 minutes gone, we’re not great but playing better than in recent weeks. Starting to question whether I should be feeling more optimistic.

26 minutes GOAL for Mata. Defensive error and the ball fell nicely for Mata to stroke home from six yards. AVB is a tactical genius and motivator of men.

Not easy to pass on this pitch. Stevenage laid on a better surface.

Drogba’s fairly clumsy but he is trying to lead from the front and be a talisman.

Relieved that the referee isn’t being suckered by the cheating Italians.

We’re flying the flag better than British Airways.

35 minutes and Luiz came close with a header from a corner kick.

38 minutes and Naples have equalised. AVB is a tactical prat and couldn’t light a bonfire in a volcano.

We’re winning on away goals.

40 minutes and a great move from Ramires but he blasts it over the bar. Both defences look suspect and I forecast more goals.

Ramires is showing poor control and giving the ball away in dangerous areas.

46 minutes, crap defending and we’re behind 2-1. Just when the pundits were panicking that they’d have to re-think their half time criticism of Chelsea they can now revert to script A.

The second half

At least we’re attacking which is unusual compared to recent weeks but this game is so open I’m starting to feel sick.

53 minutes and Ramires makes a great Chopper-style tackle.

54 minutes Naples miss a simple one on one.

I’m sure neutrals are enjoying this but I’m feeling our performance is professionally negligent considering the amount of space we’re leaving.

60 minutes and I’m quite enjoying Gary Neville’s co-commentary. Is that wrong of me? He’s said a couple of times that we’re better than them and if we “play properly” we can win this easily. It sounds so simple doesn’t it, “play properly”.

64 minutes GOAL 3-1 to Naples and Luiz shows his true colours and gives the ball away in the box. We’re now in a head to head fight with Arsenal for bringing the most shame on England.

69 minutes and Essien and Lampard on for Meireles and Malouda. Let’s see what the old guard can do.

80 minutes and we’re carved open again but a lifesaving goal line clearance from Ashley. That would have ended it.

92 minutes and a decent strike from Frank. Life in the old dog yet.

The full time summary

At 1-0 I thought there were signs of Vesuvius re-igniting but I was mistaken. It was just some tourists having a barbecue on the slopes. The game was open, crazy stuff with both teams running from end to end. It was schoolboy football but for us it’s understandable because we’ve got a schoolboy managing the team. What was Napoli’s excuse?

On the one hand a 1-3 deficit isn’t insurmountable. All we need to do is score twice and not concede and obey Gary Neville and play properly. Do I think we can score twice? Do I think we won’t concede?

I’ve declared myself to be in the ‘let’s keep AVB camp’ but I’m starting to think being the Greek Minister of Finance is a more defensible position.

No doubt AVB will declare “we’re still in three competitions”.

The press reports

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “As Andre Villas-Boas will know, for all managers, there is a very fine line between tactical genius and a reckless failure and last night was one of those occasions when he will have known from the moment he submitted his team-sheet to the Uefa official that it could go either way. Leaving Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien out of the team in a game that could well define Chelsea’s season will be regarded by some as the equivalent of handing in an 11-line suicide note. But it can also be seen as the moment that he asserted his authority over the old regime of Chelsea and told them that, however great the need, he will not simply slip back into the old ways as he tries to forge a new future.”

The Guardian, Daniel Taylor: “These are the moments when Andre Villas-Boas, for all his outward confidence, could be forgiven for wondering how much longer a man with Roman Abramovich’s lack of tolerance is prepared to stand by him when the evidence of Chelsea’s deterioration is so overwhelming. His team were not as dishevelled as Arsenal had been against Milan at San Siro last week but, at times, they were not far off.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Andre Villas-Boas’ beloved project went up in smoke in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius on Tuesday night. The Chelsea manager’s belief in players like Raul Meireles proved calamitously costly, leaving an ordinary defence exposed time and again to the counter-attacking verve of Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “A spirited display could not prevent the game turning on its head following Juan Mata’s opener in Italy, yet we remain very much in this Champions League tie.”

The goals

27′ Mata 0-1
38′ Lavezzi 1-1
45′ Cavani 2-1
65′ Lavezzi 3-1

There are 91 comments

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  1. Lakes41

    Well said. Besides Meireles who looked like a headless chicken on the first goal and who did not close down the cross leading directly to the second….I wondered if anyone else noticed the team is again filled with members who would rather shoot shoot shoot then make the extra pass…second half examples ..sturridge begging for the ball at the right corner of box…  once mata actually ran into a chelsea player in the box! and still got off a weak shot… and ramires hogs a corner cross that Drogba could have buried.  Isn’t this happening game after game…everyone thinks only about shooting for themselves..Possibly why our front of the spear strikers HAVE NOT SCORED GOALS this year.. Anelka,Drogba, Torres.

  2. Benjami

    Interesting game, thought we played OK.

    My fear is that because of the implications of the game and what it represents to the club the players were more motivated than normal and they forgot that AVB was the manager and concentrated on the game.

    Defended shockingly at times, Meireles with a terrible faux pas for the first goal, poor marking for the 2nd, and a bad decision for the 3rd when a clearance was the better option.

    Napoli still deserved 2/3 goals for the chances they made.

    Will we beat them at SB? I don’t see them not scoring against us, unless we play Essien and Romeu (can he play in Champs League) as the defensive two.

    I think the reason AVB played Ramires and Meireles was to try and counter the pace of their counter attack, but I would rather see us control the game through power and domination in the middle of the park. Lets impose our game on them in a proactive fashion rather than play reactively.

    Do I see us scoring the 2 goals required let alone outscoring them? With our attack and midfield producing so few goals as it stands, no chance!

    Lampard must start as we need his goals right now, but then we lose Mata out to the wing and our spark of creativity is seemingly lost ;/

    Nice 4-0 win at the weekend hopefully and all forgotten *gulp*!

  3. True Blue

    We are totally toothless upfront. Lacking any cutting edge in the final third. 

    Midfield is sloppy and prone to costly errors that result in goals for the opposition. 

    Defense is not in tune with one another, confused positioning when looking to hold the line and failing to mark opposition players making runs into our penalty area. 

    I am still for keeping AVB though. I have said before that none of us should expect any silverware this season. The only objective is 4th place. Give AVB 3 seasons to build his team with players he wants and tactics he prefers. 

    I firmly believe that the man that won the league in Porto and the Europe League has some semblance of tactical nous, team management and player potential scouting. He inherited a old squad with no pace and super ego’s. Big Phil and CA lost the dressing room so I am not judging AVB by the fact he has as well. 

    Give him time. Disband your silverware expectations for this season. Focus only on retaining 4th place (I would throw the FA Cup to focus on the league). It is the only objective that matters for 2012. 

    Without CL football next season … AVB won’t be able to bring in the players he wants plus Chelsea will be under pressure regarding the fair play financial rules.    

  4. bluebayou

     I very rarely get seriously exercised enough to really go after someome. But given what one assumes would be reasonable scouting reports how did we go into that game with Ramires, Mereiles and Malouda as a midfield and expect a different result?  

    On what planet are the management playing football?

    I don’t give two shits whether we go out or have an unforgettable night at the Bridge.

    I don’t care that we lost.

    I don’t have a deep seated grudge against any player or memebr of the management staff.

    But that team selection was just completely f***ing stupid. And given that the back four, Mata And Sturridge picked themselves it didn’t give a lot of room to get it wrong.

    I lost faith tonight, not because of the result, but because the basic faults are not being addressed.

    I watched the game with two Spurs fans but good blokes none the less, who know more about football than I do. They kept referring to the game at the Lane and how decent we were that night. I kept having to tell them that it in no way represented the season.

    They could not believe how open the game was. They were entertained. But that wasn’t the point of the exercise was it?

    • ZOneAndOnly

      Spot on bb
      Our midfield trio was the biggest mystery to me last night

      Looking at the side:

      We were lucky that JB had to drop out – he misplaced a numver of passes – though no blame attached re Ashley in that I suspect he was held back as AVB was unsure he would last the full 90

      PC/BI were OK

      DL was pretty good (apart from the goal) – I don’t get the hysterical criticism

      GC not as solid as previous games but it was his 1st CL game

      Ram had a lot of misplaced passes probably due to lack of match practice post-injury

      Meireles was pretty much a waste of space – either Essien or SFL or Romeu would have been better

      Malouda – indifferent at best – again eitehr Essien or SFL or Romeu would have been better

      Mata – not at his best but better than anyone elese for us

      Sturridge – not as good as he should be and nowhere near as good as he thinks he is.  Needs a good talking to from AVB and maybe a chance at the central slot – but should be a starter

      Drogba – I’m in the Torres camp but I can understand why AVB started with him instead.  Surely he should have come on as a sub (though the Cole substitution may have stoppped that, but AVB only ran out of subs because he started with Meireles and Malouda)

      Talking of AVB – yesterday felt like his worst game.  I worry that he may be in over his head – the bullsh*t management speak doesn’t help – but the major failing at CFC has been RA’s trigger happy approach to managers and with that in mind – surely we can’t get rid of another manager, especially as the lack of team succession planning caused by managers getting sacked before they can plan ahead has got us to where we are today.  For the record, TSO should never have gone, AG should never have come, FS was a mistake but not one I blame the management team for, GH was a god and a man of principle so hge was never going to stay, and I became fed up with CA last year though I believe it was wrong to get rid of him.  As for AVB, I have more faith in him than all but TSO and GH, but he is a gamble… Having said that Chris is correct in saying that AVB can’t be innocent of res[ponsibility in all of this.

      In other words we’ve got ourselves in a very Chelsea sort of mess.  Perhaps I was foolish in thinking that a change of owner could change our collective DNA

  5. Chris

    I don’t believe in changing managers every year, but this cannot just be down to the players. The squad did not get this bad this fast just by the natural process of aging. Everything is gone, and most especially confidence. AVB asks Chelsea and us to back his vision, or his project, for the club. What exactly is that vision beyond transitioning from an aging squad? I’d like to know what it is he is asking us to keep the faith for because frankly, the quality of this squad — even now, with all the problems that we know of — should be getting much better results than this. We are playing relegation-quality football at the moment. I can’t see how the manager is innocent of responsibility.

    • True Blue

      Well in my opinion our tactics weren’t bad, we had possession and we not overrun.

      We lost because of individual errors. Therefore personally I blame the quality of the players. Upfront we have a 34 year old with no pace and lost touch. Midfielders lacking creativity (except mata) and error prone. No decent RB , error prone CB in Luis and a 32 year old LB whose trademark driving runs are clearly behind him.

      I believe the decline began under CA when we blew a 13 point lead at the top of league last season. The only quality to be injected into the squad was mata and he can’t be expected to win us every game all of the time.

      • Chris

        If you play ten games, you lose or tie to inferior teams most of the time, and each time you can identify a handful of errors that appeared to cost you the game, you don’t focus on the individual errors but the system within which those errors keep occurring. I’ve followed the comments on this blog over the course of the season, and each game we identify yet another player as crap and responsible for the loss (Malouda, Ashley, Drogba, Studge, Meireles, Lampard, Luis, Bosingwa…). Sure, they could all be crap. Or maybe good players are coming to play like crap for this manager.

        If you blame the all these players you are left with Branners, Ramires and Mata, and that’s it. Oh, and all those young players that we seem to believe could suddenly become world class if just given the chance. Maybe. What do I know? I’m just a fan. But in the absence of any evidence, it sounds like faith-based managing to me. The simple truth is that there is no game, against any team, that we can genuinely expect to win at the moment, and our squad is objectively not bad enough to explain that.

  6. NorthernVA

    That loud clink that you heard at the final whistle actually emanated from Paris and Shanghai. I’m too pissed off for rational thought so I’m calling it a night.

  7. Fat Nakago

    There is not much I can add or say at this moment that I, and most all the rest of you, have not already said ad infinitum for the past 2 weeks or 2 years. And since I disdain cliches the way that Ayanami Rei in EVANGELION disdains meat, I will not even say that today’s tilt with Napoli is simply ((bitter chocolate)) frosting on the ((menthol-eucalyptus creme)) cake.

    Instead, I think I will simply stay up all night DRINKING and listening to the BEE GEES on 33 1/3 rpm 12″ vinyl.

    “Incidentally there should some changes made
    You’ve got to work if you should have to save
    An apple is a fool but lemons never do forget
    You’ve got to play it cool before they come and throw the net….”

  8. Musumba

    “I might be totally wrong and AVB may be a complete waste of
    space (I highly doubt this)”…. “A voice of reason”…. “It is not only that some
    players don’t like his style, they are trying to sabotage his efforts as

    The word “insanity” comes more often to my mind
    when I read about the defense team statements, watch  carefully as we get
    dumped and get stuck with a mediocre manager who can’t even get the simplest substitutions,
    tactics and team selection.

  9. PeteW

    It’s clearly insane to pick two non specialist-holding midfielders against one of the best counter-attacking team in Europe, but so inept is every single player in the squad right now, I hardly think it matters.

    Stick Lampard and Essien in there, and we’d get beat by a similar score. Maybe Mikel and Essien would have conspired to keep things at a 1-0 defeat. But we’re not creating chances and we’re not keeping clean sheets, it’s a shitstorm out there. The squad have been broken. If anybody thinks shipping out Lampard and Malouda is going to stop this, they are living on the moon. 

    Chris puts it very well indeed: ‘The simple truth is that there is no game, against any team, that we can genuinely expect to win at the moment, and our squad is objectively not bad enough to explain that.’This is a version of what I’ve been saying for AGES. And this is also why I am reluctant to criticise any player right now, even the terrible trio of Mereiles, Bosingwa and Luiz. The whole lot of them are playing at around 50%-60% of their potential so to accuse one or other of not being up to scratch doesn’t get really close to the heart of the problem. 

    The press says Cole had a stand-up row with AVB after AVB invited criticism. AVB responded by sticking him on the bench and lying about his fitness. This is civil war, nobody come out of it looking well but it’s come about because of the man-management failures I’ve been talking about since the start. It’s basic psychology – treat people with respect, hard but fair, if you want them to treat you with respect. The boss has the final say, but if he wants to make serious changes he needs to take his team with him or he will fail  – why is this so controversial and hard to understand? To me, it’s elementary.

    If we get rid of AVB now, we go through, If we stick with him, we’ll finish 6th or 7th. Who do we replace him with? Fuck it: Frank Lampard could do a better job standing on his head.

    • GrocerJack

      Not aimed specifically at you Pete…….

      It’ll be Rafa. and if AVB goes then I for one would accept Rafa.After all, he has the experience. He kept Liverpool in the top 4.He won a Champions league final against the odds.He won the FA Cup for them And the UEFA Super up.And for all those shouting for AVBs head saying you want experience etc, then here you are. You can’t say he doesn’t fit the ‘experience’ criteria. And the fact he seems to have recognised what Torres had. I’ve even seen some lunacy about some complete no-mark called Bielsa. Go look at his record. Tell me he’s even fit for The Championship. 

      What we’re seeing is Coach Bingo whereby desperate hacks trying to shift print on headlines are making any sort of shit up, chucking it at the wall and seeing if it sticks. 

      And yes, I also think AVB got it a bit wrong last night by choosing Meireles over Ess/Lamps. The Bosingwa choice at LB seemed to be me to be more about Ashley coming back from injury and not being match fit (despite HIS protestations) and it being a shite old pitch. Bertrand might have been a better choice last night. But really…is he responsible for fuckwit players failing to do simple things like pass? Has he told them to fuck about and give the ball away?

      And some of the comments on Luiz and Ivan and Cahill on twitter defied belief. Yes, Ivan had a poor game by his usual very high standards, yes Luiz made one error of judgement (show me a defender who doesn’t) having been our BEST defender for a good series of games and yes Cahill wasn’t dominating (shame on him, it being his FIRST ever CL game and all that) but some seriously moronic and simplistic views being spouted last night and today.

      Not rushing players back from injury huh AVB? No wonder you’re failing mate. Give ’em a morphine jab and send ’em out there. That’ll keep ’em going through the show etc etc

      • Blueboydave

         Na-Na, Na-Na, I’m not listening!

        I’ll continue to believe this is all just Currant Bun/Sky-led media bollocks and that Roman has finally seen sense and put the managerial merry-go-round in long-term storage until the club website says otherwise.

        JD, not that I’m counting or anything, but I believe that’s now 3 games in a row you have not watched a single minute of, despite 2 of them being live on TV. Why aren’t you suffering with the rest of us? Trust you’re going to man up and be at the Bridge on Saturday for the joys of Bolton 😉

      • Matt D.

        Brother, you’re one of the grey eminences on this blog. I look to your posts with a lot of respect. But Rafa? Please tell me that was posted in anger.

        • Matt D.

          The Irish Mist having cleared from my eyes, I apologize for my quick-trigger post. Thanks from a lurker for another sensible post and to everyone (except myself) for such a high quality blog. I will see today whether I can download something for the iPhone to prevent me from lodging my virtual foot so solidly in my virtual mouth. Is there an app for that?

          • GrocerJack

            Hi Matt – not sure what a grey eminence is 🙂 But no problem , I’m happy for people to disagree or call my judgement into question as long as they’re not abusive. 

            My point was simple….to all the AVB naysayers saying he is out of his depth, inexperienced, aloof and piss poor at man management and tactics then I am merely pointing out that dear Rafa is experienced, very good at man management (barely any players speak against him), great with the fans (often used to drink in local pubs and chat to them), has a good track record in comparison to most (most have not won a CL or an FA Cup), and kept a declining Liverpool in the top 4 with no apparent racism issues. He is pretty universally loved on the red side of Merseyside. Yes, he created a lot of the hatred between our clubs, but Mourinho played a big part in that, as did Gronkjaer with his goal that put us into the CL instead of them. Rafa hits all the criteria that the AVB naysayers want. So I’d like to hear their arguments against him. Surely he’s everything that AVB isn’t? 

            Of course many would like him about as much as Howard Wilkinson, Arsene Wenger or Colin Wanker (Neil Warnock…its an anagram of his name for the uninitiated) but when you look around there’s really no-one else unless you want the curse of Capello and his brand of George Graham dour football. If we get Capello, that’ll be the nail in my season ticket coffin because no way do I want more Italian style football at the bridge. And Capello’s is the most hateful of all. South Africa with England should tell you all you need to know.

            So all in all, either AVB gets the faith and time to build the new CFC or we’re hunting around for a new Special One…who doesn’t exist. Or we go for a Rafa. Really there isn’t anyone else unless we gamble on Moyes, Martinez….or McCarthy (that’s a joke the last one by the way)

          • Dannybrod51

            Good points well made about Rafa. But can’t see owner going for him as anything other than a temporary replacement as won’t be seen as the man to build the new Barcelona in West London. And can’t see Fat Bennie going for a short-term Guus type contract. So there’s lots of reasons why it looks unlikely. Someone somewhere on some sports desk at some paper has put this story together. He’s out of work, wants a job in the Prem and he got the best years out of Torres. It’s a good story. 

            My guess is that Roman is as torn as everyone else and waiting until the last to make a decision on whether to stick or bust. Reckon Saturday – yet again – could be crucial. Welcome to the bi-polar club Mr Owner. 

            By the way, regarding Tuesday’s game. It was balls directed into the critical area behind our right back that did for us on two of the goals. Managers come and go. Tactics come and go. But our ‘soft spot’ remains. We always get done in the area. Amazing aint it.

          • GrocerJack

            Oh, and I’m working on some special patented anti-tweeting, anti-Facebook and anti blog update mittens for the iPhone.

            Go out, get drunk, put the mittens on. Hey presto no embarassing messages. 

  10. Blueboydave

    Well, I’m still firmly in the “we can’t sack another sodding manager” camp and as has been said on here many times, we’re just know-it-all fans rather than the professionals.

    I don’t care about the media shitstorm about Cole and Lamps only being on the bench, but like BB and some others, I continue to struggle with the rationale for our starting midfield: playing Mereiles and Ramires as two holding midfielders when they’ve demonstrated no talent for playing that role with the ponderous Malouda against a team with a reputation for attacking prowess at their home seems bizarre.

    If neither Essien nor Mikel is fit enough for 90 minutes yet, couldn’t they have played the match between them – or possible rescue Romeu from the obscurity he’s been banished to recently? I seem to recall he played the holding role superbly in the game v Valencia?

    To those saying AVB must be to blame for the rapid decline in our form I think, as Zola said last night, that confidence levels are clearly low . When that happens performances and results can fall off a cliff alarmingly – just look at the Gooners for several seasons in a row now.

  11. Der_Kaiser

    Didn’t see the game, but it sounds like there are individuals now in their worst form for some time and more importantly, the camp has pretty much descended into barely disguised open warfare between players and manager; whatever the rights and wrongs, that’s usually signal for the end of any manager’s reign.

    I imagine there will someone’s blood on the carpet by the end of the week.  Quite whose it will be is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t be amazed if Rafa were in charge by the second leg.

  12. Benjami

    I think we need to calm down with the allegations of a dispute between the players and the manager.

    Sky were loving that team sheet and going on and on about how this was  a crazy team selection. There are so many examples of why the media is an utter joke and should be ignored.

    Even the interview before the game Drogba made a mockery of the rumour that he gave a half-time team talk in the press over the weekend. Stop listening to it.

    I have seen Cole come onto the pitch and not look at the manager like that before, I do it when I am preparing to play tennis and someone is talking to me. It is about getting into the right frame of mind.

    I am not saying this breakdown could or couldn’t have happened, but speculating based on no evidence what so ever is silly. Players will always look disappointed at not playing, so would I as I would be desperate to have an impact on the game.

    He played Meireles and Ramires as they are better at covering the wings where the threat actually comes from rather than Essien and Mikel or both take up more of a 3 centre-backs role.

    The biggest concern for me was the gap between Cahill and Ivanovic, it got exposed a few times and Napoli profited from 1 goal but they could easily have had more.

    When you compare this with our defence a few years ago of Gallas, Carvalho, Terry, Ferreira you realise how pants it is these days.

    We have conceded so many goals in the past few weeks, it must stop, losing 3 away in Europe is suicide by anyone’s standards.

    Because of terrible short-termism 3/4 years ago we have a gap of age and quality (with potential or not). We have a team of “old” players who have won the league and performed to the highest standard in the Champions League (Drogba, Lamps, Essien, Cole, Terry, Cech) and a team of lesser quality right now who have no experience at this level (Meireles, Ramires, Torres (he isn’t showing any anyway), Sturridge, Cahill, Luiz ). Exceptions (Mata, Bos, Ivan, Malouda).

    In other words we have a discontinuity in the team, you could almost say we have two teams and unfortunately it is AVB who is feeling the brunt of our decison making 3/4 years ago.

    I hope Lampard and Terry come to realise this, and if they are sulking, they should look at the examples set by Scholes, Giggs, Neville (anyone else remember when Man Utd scored against Liverpool/City? and he ran out on to the pitch to celebrate and ended up pretending to be warming up, comedy gold). They need to grow some balls and show their true love of Chelsea by backing the manager and supporting us from the bench. Not just whine and stab AVB in the back.

    AVB is actually right, this is a three year problem, it won’t be fixed overnight, he left a very successful position aware of the consequences of joining us. I hope he gets the time to show us his true potential.

  13. Dannybrod51

    Oh Jeez! Not Rafa. 

    Talk about AVB’s shortcomings. If the owner and his board were accountable to anyone but themselves, they would have been sacked for incompetence several years ago. What a bunch of amateurs. It was evident from the start, but obvious when the in-fighting started during Jose’s third season. It has only got worse since. The two most successful managers in our history Jose and Carlo treated like shit. Short-termism and one failed ‘project’ after another. So now they want a team playing like Barcelona (originally it was supposed to be like the Real Madrid gallacticos). Based on homegrown, young talent. That took about ten years to develop at the Nou Camp and required a total culture of recruiting and training from a young age up through the system, with cohesion at all levels. We expect a 34-year old who’s won a second-tier league and the runners-up Cup to achieve it in a season or two. AVB, who in every match faces opposing managers and players with more tactical experience and simple learned-in-battle cunning, must wake up every morning and think: Christ, still here. Sometimes I want him removed so I don’t have to keep feeling embarrassed for him. He’s either got seriously big balls to front this out, or he suffers from deep-rooted Narcissism. Not the surface, preening, looking-in-the-mirror narcissism so common among minor celebs, but the type that only sees the world through his own ego. That explains why he believes his team choices are right and everyone else is wrong. All the player revolt stuff, all the backs-up superstar egos hurting, that’s not his doing – but his immaturity and lack of gravitas make it unmanageable. It’s a perfect storm we in the middle of and our equally Narcissistic owner with his clueless inner circle are surely as lost as we all are. Personally I don’t even feel like taking a side in the fight. You get older and accept it all. It was ever thus at Chelsea, the team that chose us. We can only watch the drama unfold, the football gods indifferent to our pain. 

    But Rafa? Surely not. Oh no. That would be too much…

  14. WorkingClassPost

    A guy at work spoke of his sons watching the match (none Chelsea supporters) and raving about how we were ‘all over them’ in the first half, and I do remember periods when I thought that my earlier concerns would be made to look foolish.

    So what happened?

    Goals not taken and silly ones conceded, yes, but there was a time when it looked as though they were tiring and we could walk away with a positive result, but in the end it was us who looked ragged and beaten. Very un-Chelsea.

    Did someone post here that we’ve abandoned our usual conditioning training in favour of tippy tap five aside routines?  

    If so, will somebody please tell young Mr. Boas that it didn’t work for big Phil, and it ain’t working now.

    • Ryan

      Yeah I think I pointed that out. It’s not inside info or anything. I think it was Alan Smith in the telegraph that flagged this up some time ago. Apparently AVB replaced the sports science department (GPS player tracking, movement telemetry etc.) which had been in place since Ranieri’s time I think (it’s often forgotten that he dragged us up to date with modern European football). I’m not sure what he replaced it with but I know that the players were (reportedly) surprised at the lack of running involved in their preseason schedule. The way we’ve played recently he might as well just give them 20 Bensons each and tell them to fuck off down the pub instead of training everyday.

      We aren’t even getting the basics right at the moment as Cahill has admitted. Not dealing with route one balls, giving the ball away left, right and centre etc. Anyway at least he should be feeling at home, Bolton are pretty much the one other team I can think of that are as bad as us at the minute.

      I listened to the game on the radio last night and the thing that stood out most to me was that when we had the ball the commentators sounded calm, almost disinterested. Everytime we gave the ball to Napoli though they were positively frenzied with excitement. I m not convinced this was anti-Chelsea bias because to be fair it did seem as though everytime they went forward they looked more likely to score and we looked more likely to let them.

      I’ve actually started wondering why RA hasn’t sacked AVB yet. I don’t mean I want him sacked (yet!) it’s just that he has given Roman plenty of chances to give him the bullet and is still in place. I’d love to know what is going through RA’s mind. I expect we’ll find out one way or another fairly soon.

      • WorkingClassPost

        Thanks for that Ryan.

        It may well explain why we can’t maintain any sort of menace on the pitch for more than 10 – 15 minutes during most games and even how we manage to improve for the bigger matches, when we presumably drive ourselves that bit harder, but that’s no substitute for natural fitness and enthusiasm.

        AVB must be aware of the problem which is why he keeps removing one our best players (Mata) at 80 minutes or so. Anyone got the stats on how many goals conceded/points dropped after JM left the field of play? 
        But even those stats wouldn’t show how hopeless we become, and the goals we might have scored ourselves, if he, and they, were able to play and pressurise right up to the final whistle.

  15. kikan

    I wasn’t surprised or disappointed by our display. Time for that has long gone. I have long started resting my hopes only on a top 4 finish. But the only time in the match that I really had my heart in my mouth was not when Cole cleared from the goal-line but when Mata seemed to be in excruciating pain from a tackle and seemed to be out for the season. I started contemplating us to be playing in mighty Europa League for the next season.

    I wonder what Mata might be thinking when he sees some of the players around him earning thrice as him. 

  16. Cunningplan

    A few observations/questions from last night’s game, in no particular order.

    1. 3-1 doesn’t require the accompanying theme tune of Mission Impossible in the second leg.
    2. Team selection was surprising, especially Meireles who’s been crap for months.
    3. Luiz was our best defender, but he makes one mistake and then he’s vilified.
    4. Our saviour up front, Mr Drogba, is doing no better than Mr. Torres in the goal dept.
    5. Malouda was he playing?
    6. AVB get your head out of your arse and sort this mess out.
    7. Ron Gourlay needs to be taken outside and shot in front of his family (Offcom said it’s ok) 😉
    8. Roberto, as assistant, what advice are you actually giving AVB?
    9. Adrian Newey and Christian Horner from Red Bull  would be my choice to take over, they know how to win.
    10. That’s enough bollocks from me, so thank you, and good night.

    PS And as Liverpool have been handing our apologies to Utd and everyone else with regard Suarezgate.
    Perhaps they should be made to apologise to Chelsea for selling us Torres and Meireles.

      • Musumba

        LMFAO ….Blue_”Mikel”……. For”sell” , or loaned out to Birmingham(Blues) !!!!  where is your unending support for AVB,am also watching  keenly as Grocerjack  continues to throw his weight on the Rafa express after ditching the AVB camp,David Luiz  needs to Layeth his hand on someones  head.

        • Blue_MikeL

          Just because I am not answering you doesn’t mean I stopped supporting AVB 🙂 The message you posted above full of controversies and precisely expresses your bipolar nature. From one side you are hailing Mancini for treating Tevez like a dog and from the other side you are blaming AVB for giving harsh treatment to Anelka, Lampard and Kalou.
          Look our players are not that stupid like Tevez, at least something, they do not openly refuse to play, but when they play they play like a pile of shite. Hence, they deserve any harsh treatment from AVB’s side. The problem is that Mancini had to deal with Tevez and AVB has to deal with clique. 
          .. oh and one more thing don’t forget that Mikel who you so much don’t like is the product of your beloved manager TSO. Like many other tortoise players we have (had) in our squad.  
          P.S. AVB has got balls acknowledge which player he bought and which has been bought by club. Something that none of the managers before him had balls to say.
          Hence, I blame CA for buying Torres and TSO for buying Sheva.
          Now go home, do your homework and then may be, just may be we can talk.

          • NorthernVA

            Taking shots at Ancelotti and Mourinho is a bit churlish especially while you hail the virtues of AVB. They actually collected trophies here prior to their severance package.

          • Blue_MikeL

            I completely agree that AVB hasn’t got yet collected anything apart from our tears. However, I am just trying to stress the point that AVB has got a big job, which is to clean up after CA and TSO.

  17. Musumba_antony

     AVBs failure to handle senior players is the root cause of all problems, he is the divisive factor in the dressing room and it all started with Anelka ,Alex, Lamps, Cole etc.the very senior players initially backed him but his continued erroneous displays in aspects of tact substitutions and training are getting them worried,  that is why they are being vocal and this should not be confused by some as being voices of treason.AVB should borrow a leaf from Jose and Ferguson on how to handle senior players  instead of trying too hard to divide the dressing room.He should also learn from Mancini/Tevez/Balotelli saga  on how to manage players
      By telling them that he only needs Abramovichs` backing is somewhat stupid and arrogant,at the very least Abramovich should also know he will not win anything with “kids”,its a blend of youth and experience.The same should apply to AVB.His open arrogance should not be misinterpreted for him being his own man. he needs harmony in the dressing room and he is doing very little to have it,winning that EUROPA cup got into his head and he thinks he is quite invincible
       Our position in the league speaks volumes, i would rather be stuck with someone who guarantees us a top 3 finish,but not an arrogant AVB being backed by some Russian oligarch who bought Shevchenko and Torres and Himself and sacked JOSE the team is bigger than the two individuals.if he fails to finish in a respectable position then AVB should just go.He had his time to rebuild and being an ex-scout he should have come more prepared

  18. kikan

    Our first team should be made to see the footage of our youth team’s triumph over Nottingham. Boy, what a comeback. We turned around a 3 goal deficit at half time to win 3-4. If only our first team were half as spirited as these young ones. And AVB should also take out a leaf from Adi Viveash coaching manual. Some inspired substitutions and a half time team talk, see us tear apart the opponents into bits. We are getting our Brendan Rodgers v2.0 again in our own system, but what shall we do? Sack AVB, pay him 10m. Get Fabio signed on a 20m contract.
    …. or am I getting too overwhelmed by a silly youf cup victory 🙂 Ah! let it be, its a long time since I have actually enjoyed something at Chelsea.            

  19. Fiftee

    Excitement and a never-say-die attitude from the youth team.

    Complacency and a never-look-like-being-arsed attitude from the first team.

    Hard to believe they’re both Chelsea teams. Real 6 pointer against Bolton on Saturday. If we can’t up our performance levels in the next 4 matches (they are games Chelsea of old would have strolled through) then there really is no hope and, more importantly, can’t be much future for AVB.

    The continual stories of dressing room dissent, unhappy players, unhappy owner, chats with currently-unemployed managers can’t all be smoke without fire can they? Will we really see the fat waiter as our manager before the seasons out?

  20. WorkingClassPost

    One of the problems with the manager’s role, is that he can’t exactly drop himself for a game or two, in the way that he can so that players get their wake-up call.

    But he’s the boss, so why not take himself off to Italy on a little Napoli scouting jaunt, hand Robbie the manager’s armband, and give everyone a break?

    If we play well, it’s his good call, if we don’t, then it could prove he’s not the problem.

    Either way he demonstrates confidence in his team and assistants.

  21. WorkingClassPost

    If you think AVB’s got trouble with the squad, can you seriously imagine our guys doing that training stint where Rafa had poo players running around with an imaginary ball?

    Half our lot won’t even chase a real ball.

  22. Cunningplan

    Rafa did split the red side of Merseyside, in his latter days. A lot of Liverpools football was dour, unimaginative and negative, an example of that was against us in the game that Lamps was sent off.
    And if I recall correctly, JD pointed out how negative he was in a comment or match report on the game, with regards he still kept two holding midfielders on the pitch for a further 20 mins after the sending off.

    As far as winning two trophies, yes he did, but it was more through luck, than inspired tactics, his team won two penalty shootouts in cup finals, he’s obviously good at those.
    And lets not forget, he didn’t last long at Inter, because he felt the need to totally change a treble winning side, no thank you to him coming to us, for the short, or long term.

    • PeteW

      I don’t rate Rafa that highly as a coach, but think he’d be a step up on what we have now. But I think in the end he brings too much baggage to the table and would almost certainly end up falling out with Roman and then falling out a window, with bags of money weighing him down.

      Liverpool fans almost universally adore him, even if they generally agree he had to go in the end – they blame that largely on the friction caused by the previous owners, in which Benitez was seen as instrumental in defending club and fan interest against the Yank moneymen. Most would have him back. They cannot comprehend why all other football fans think he’s so average.

      I don’t see it as a straight Rafa or AVB thing, though, there are other candidates on the market. Fabio is a proven winner – the fact he failed with England is irrelevant because everybody fails with England. I’ve also been told the old ‘Jose is househunting in London’ rumour…

      But what I would give right now to see some of Tony’s hated ‘Italian-style football’ that brought us the Double, some stunning victories and the Premier League goal-scoring record. I think we scored more in one game against Wigan than we have for the past three months! Italian-style or AVB-style: is it even a discussion worth having?

      • Der_Kaiser

        Have to say if we are replacing AVB, I hope we look a little further afield than Benitez.  Decent coach and a very smart tactician, no question, but his man management in some cases did actually leave a bit to be desired; see Alonso, Keane, Dudek.  Current situation suggests we really need someone with a better manner about him than Rafa.

        And I wouldn’t want the guy anywhere near transfer policy.

        Capello?  Why not?

      • Cunningplan

        I think personally he’s only a step up in experience. As far a Liverpool fans who cannot understand why most supporters think he’s average, these are the same fans who don’t rate JM.
        And JD pointed out as well, he should never be let loose with RA’s money in the transfer market with his track record of buys.
        I  certainly have no problem with any Italian style of football, and Mancini is bucking the stereotype of that at Citeh, is he not?

      • GrocerJack

        Or last seasons Italian football where CA reverted to type. Defensive. Dour. Dull. And Capello’s sides were the same. Sorry, Rafa or Capello, give me Rafa anytime mate. Capello fucked England big time because he couldn’t be arsed with the English culture, didn’t care for the country and even less so for the fans. Could barely be bothered top learn the language either. And he’s 65… people really think that’s a long term option?

        Like you say, I see his demise at Liverpool as being more down to a bunch of fuckwits struggling for power in the boardroom. And looking back I can see the Liverpool fans point of view, I’m unsure why he’s so reviled when compared to what King Kenny is doing to them and Hodgson did before him. 

        I’ve never been a fan of italian football, not even Uncle Claudio’s eclectic variation. Capello has never opnce produced a passionate England side or been involved in an exciting game. Just my view, but if he’s appointed I’ve another £900 to blow on golf or other less stressful pursuits. 

        • Der_Kaiser

          Capello seems to have been rather successful everywhere other than with the England team, which speaks volumes for me.  He works with the best, he gets results – he works with mediocrity…

          • GrocerJack

            Then he’s doomed with us then……

            Sorry fella just can’t stand his type of football. Makes Mourinho’s football look like the Harlem Globetrotters are in town. Too much Don Revie/George Graham/Howard Wilkinson for me. He’d be great at Leeds. 

          • GrocerJack

            I’m also rather more impressed by those who take the apparently mediocre and turn them into greats. Much like that Mourinho chap did with Porto and Inter. 

          • Der_Kaiser

            I’ll rephrase that – when he doesn’t work with English players, he gets results.

            He’s not actually that defensive – primarily got the reputation at Real for one season (when he won La Liga).

            7 titles in 16 years (9 had Italian club owners not been greasing officials’ palms) is not to be sniffed at.  

            Not the only choice, but had he not been tainted by England I suspect there would be something of a clamour for his services down SW6 way right now.

          • NorthernVA

            Just to follow up on your defense of Capello. Don’t forget that complete dismantling he put upon Cruyff’s Barcelona Dream Team in the Champions League final. 

            He was also intended to be Fergie’s successor when he initially flirted with retirement. For a country ridiculed for their negative tactics they do tend to export their coaches an alarming rate. Probably due to all of that international success.

  23. bluebayou

    Irrespective of whether AVB stays or goes, isn’t one of the great unknowns exactly who spends Roman’s money on players? The coach/manager certainly doesn’t appear to have control in this matter of late.

  24. True Blue

    Mikel claims that Anzhi made a bid for him and no Anzhi saying they never heard of him, let alone mad a bid. 

    I understand he wants to play more games, but you just called out for making up porkie pies. 


    • WorkingClassPost

      Sounds as if they’ve already given our PR bods the job of selling it to RA:

      “Battersea Power Station is as iconic as the Chrysler Building in New York or the Eiffel Tower, and familiar to people who may have never even been to London.”

      Are they sure?

      The stupid thing’s not even familiar to plenty of people living in Battersea!

  25. mark_25

    At the Hammersmith Apollo to see Omid Djalili and sitting near Bruce Buck. Please post any questions you’d like me to ask.

  26. limetreebower

    Thw whole new manager discussion seems a bit pointless. We were great under José; we were also crap under José. We were great under Carlo; we were also crap under Carlo. Which isn’t to say that the manager makes no difference; it’s to say that whoever comes in (or doesn’t), they’re eventually going to have a bad run — especially over the next couple of years, and extra especially if a cabal of club legends keep insisting on their right to pick the team and decide what happens in training.

    The key thing is what happens during the bad run. Assuming AVB gets canned, there’s absolutely zero chance that the next guy will not also get canned when things aren’t going well for him.

    This seems like the critical moment. Clearly AVB was brought in with the idea that he’d renew the team and be given a year or two. If he doesn’t get given a year or two, why would we think that any other manager will be, ever?

    I’m finding the whole thing so depressing that I’m thinking of taking a book to the game tomorrow.

    It reminds me slightly of the absurd guff about the England manager. A quarter final exit is about right for England, and has been for a while. Fourth or fifth is about right for the current Chelsea team.

  27. Fiftee

    Wow. According to AVB in the latest Guardian article, things could still get worse before they get better.

    Christ only knows what that means. Bogarde back for the Bolton match? Up front with Sutton?

    If he’s prepared for worse, I think I’d throw in the towel now. Can anything really be worse than what we’ve seen? The mind boggles…,

  28. limetreebower

    At half time AVB was uselss and had to go.

    At full time he’d done the right thing by reinstating Frank and not selecting Meireles and shows signs that maybe he can move the team in the right direction in the long term.

    See? Having an opinion about managers is easy.

    • NorthernVA

      Not quite LTB. He still is rather useless and his own worst enemy 😉 If Boss wouldn’t have pulled his hamstring I have a strong feeling he would have been deployed at right back today. Does anyone doubt that?

      I really thought Cahill and Luiz were superb today. It appears that starting 11 pretty much picks itself for here on out. Credit to the all of the players today. But I must say Didier Drogba, Michael Essien,  Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard are absolute bosses.
      I said a few weeks back that the irony in this whole season is that AVB was brought in to essentially phase out the so called “Old Guard.” However the way our season was going he was going to have to lean on them to save his job and our season. Their is too much pride and ability in that locker room for any other reply to the task at hand.

  29. WorkingClassPost

    Stop press.

    An insider has just given me the lowdown on AVB’s half-time team talk and it went something like this:

    “Roman’s in the ground, and if we don’t win I’m offski. So it’s your choice…Me or Benitez”

    Job done.

  30. Benjami

    Good result, first half was a bit wooaahaa

    I hope AVB learns to keep Bos and Meireles on the bench. I think they are both OKish players to have there as they do offer something which can change our dynamic and shape when necessary!

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