Spartak Moscow 0-2 Chelsea – Newspaper Reaction, Goal Videos, Match Report, Player Ratings… and Wayne Rooney

Newspaper reports

The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “Memories of Moscow have haunted Chelsea’s recent history, though this will have served as an exorcism of sorts. A comfortable victory has maintained the London club’s serene progress through Group F. The pursuit of this trophy, denied them so cruelly here in 2008, will surely now be prolonged into the new year and the knockout phase, where sterner tests than this await.”

Daily Telegraph, John Ley: “Not until John Terry finally lifts the Champions League trophy will Chelsea totally banish the demons they still carry from the shoot out defeat to Manchester United here, in 2008, but much of that disappointment disappeared into the cold Moscow night as Carlo Ancelotti’s team dominated to record their third win out of three in Group F and move to within sight of the knockout stages.”

The Independent, Shaun Walker: “The day before the match, Chelsea wheeled out Russian Yuri Zhirkov instead of their captain, John Terry, to sit alongside manager Carlo Ancelotti at their press conference. The message was that the club wanted to focus on Zhirkov’s return to Moscow – he spent five years at Spartak’s bitter rivals CSKA – and not Terry’s return to the scene of his heartbreaking penalty miss.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “Yury Zhirkov’s first Chelsea goal and Nicolas Anelka’s 50th put the Blues on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stage of this season’s Champions League.”

The goals

24′ Zhirkov 0-1
43′ Anelka 0-2

The preamble

“Once a Blue, always a Blue” (Wayne Rooney, 2002).

Well that’s handy for us then.

With scandals at Chelsea being a little thin on the ground of late, I thought it would be nice to look into the SHOCKING and DRAMATIC events, as Sky Sports News put it, up North over the past few days. With everything running so smoothly at Chelsea HQ, it’s dangerous or perhaps suicidal to revel at the sight of our rivals drowning in mountains of American debt but when you’ve got two stories as big as Liverpool’s imminent relegation (trust me, it’s going to happen) and Rooney jumping from a sinking ship, it would be remiss of me not to mention them.

When Roy Hodgson was appointed in the summer, I was one of the few to question why so many were raving about this extremely nice yet extremely average manager. His record suggests that he can organise a small side pretty well but when you look for any clues as to why he would excel at a “top” club like Liverpool were, I’m afraid that we’d all come away disappointed.

He’s certainly not a fraud who has weaselled his way into a big job through luck and connections but watching his clueless display on the touchline at Goodison Park on the weekend, there is certainly a whiff of the Avram about this bloke. Yes, Rafa left a squad full of dross and yes, Liverpool are skint but after proclaiming that he is the man “with a track record demonstrating that I can take the existing players, get much better performances out of them and buy constructively to build for a better future,” he only has himself to blame for the plight he now finds himself in.

His inherited players have regressed and his signings, without exception, have flopped. Paul Konchesky’s only use is to highlight the folly of appointing a mid-table manager for one of English football’s biggest jobs and as for Joe Cole, well, his performances have been so abysmal that he’s starting to rival Winston Bogarde as the worst Bosman signing in Premiership history.

The lack of any spirit, shape or style is also due to Woy’s lack of tactical acumen. He appears too scared or stupid to make a substitution before the 70th minute and when he does, he has no idea how to change the side’s formation or game plan. It’s not his fault that he’s not good enough to manage a supposed title-challenging side but if he doesn’t win his next two matches, his time will surely be up. And just to make him feel a little bit better about things, the Times today said that Chelsea are interested in nicking Fernando Torres in January. He would be available for the knockout stages of the Champions League and after being told a pack of lies about how new owners and a new manager would return Liverpool to trophy winning ways, he would surely jump at the chance of pulling on the Chelsea shirt.

But Liverpool’s demise is nothing compared to the events at Old Trafford since the weekend. When the story first broke, Manchester United dismissed it as “tabloid gossip” but after one of the most extraordinary press conferences I’ve ever seen from Fergie, it’s clear that Wayne Rooney is the only thing the football world will be talking about for the next few days. It really is incredible that one of the world’s best and most famous players has told the most distinguished and successful manager of recent times that he doesn’t want to play for Manchester United anymore. And if any of you have seen today’s press conference or his interview on MUTV, the news looks to have nearly broken Fergie. For the first time in a long while, he looks frail, sad and dumbfounded as to what to do next.

The real bombshell delivered by Ferguson though wasn’t the confirmation that the striker wanted to leave, but that he announced his intention to leave in the summer on August 14. It rules out the possibility that his refusal to sign a new contract was a result of a rift with his manager and instead points to worries that a debt-saddled United will soon be unable to compete after another summer of inactivity in the transfer market despite the obvious shortcomings in their ageing squad. In short, Wayne now feels that Manchester City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid offer a better chance of winning trophies than United do and if that doesn’t make Fergie feel like retiring then the news that if he doesn’t accept £30-40m for him in January then Wayne will be free to buy out his contract for £5m next summer should. Despite him being out of form could Chelsea really reject the chance to sign one of the most talented players in the world?

This really could be the end of Fergie’s empire. It never rains but it pours right?

Anyway, the teams

Starting XI: Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Essien, Mikel, Zhirkov, Kalou, Anelka, Malouda.

Subs: Turnbull, Van Aanholt, Bruma, Kakuta, McEachran, Clifford, Mellis.

After all the talk of a Chelsea injury crisis, the side Carlo put out looked rather strong. The bench however didn’t, apart from Josh that is, who deserves a starting place soon. Yuri got a much deserved start after his impressive showing against Villa but Ashley and Essien were deprived of a rest with a desperate lack of alternatives.

The match

The match started pretty brightly as both sides settled well and zipped the ball around quickly on top of the impressively grassy plastic pitch, if you know what I mean. JT looked comfortable at the back despite his dodgy back and the daily nightmares about that penalty miss and Nico was moving around on his own up front in typically clever and classy fashion. Roman certainly looked pleased to be back in Moscow whilst covered in a ludicrously large, beige rug.

There were chances at both ends as Kombarov blazed over from the edge of the box after a strangely subdued Ashley Cole knocked the ball towards him, then Welliton brought a sharp save from Pete at his near post and then Kalou volleyed over after some clever combination play between Anelka and Zhirkov. It was an open start which luckily resulted in us getting the first goal despite some Spartak pressure. And what a goal it was too. A loose Spartak header dropped to Zhirkov on the edge of the area and after skipping past a desperate challenge, he slammed a sensational first-time shot into the top corner of the net. It was a stunning strike which resulted in every other Chelsea player running over to Yuri and congratulating him. He’s had a load of injuries and very few chances since his £18m move but when he’s fit and ready to play, he’s one of the best squad players in Europe. (Hmmm, looking back that’s hardly the best compliment I could give Yuri but he’s not quite ready for a regular starting role with Ashley, Frank and Flo monopolising the left wing.)

The game turned on that opening goal as the ground fell silent and we flooded forward looking for that second. A terrible back-pass gave Nico an easy chance to make it two but his abysmal second touch messed up that opportunity. And when you add up that one-on-one miss, the Arsenal miss when he rounded Fabianski and another wrong decision in the second half when Kalou gave him the perfect chance to fire home with only the keeper to beat, there are a few signs that Nicolas is losing his near untouchable ability to convert one-on-one opportunities.

Except, scrap that as only a minute later he latched onto a perfect Essien through-ball to cut inside a Spartak challenge and roll the ball into the far corner of the net. It was a brilliant finish and the least we deserved from what was the perfect first-half, away performance in the Champions League.

The second half though was even more impressive but in an entirely different way. It wasn’t the usual second-half regression we saw against Zilina, Blackpool and West Ham but instead a confident and rather arrogant display of strength as we sat back and asked Spartak to throw all they could at us, safe in the knowledge that they had no chance of breaching our blue wall.

First, Kombarov tested Cech then a deflected McGeady effort drew a great save from Pete before our keeper reacted well to keep out Welliton and then Makeev. We were hardly getting out of our half but the defending on show from Mikel, JT, Ivanovic and Petr was just as impressive as our attacking in the first-half.

Carlo’s 100th Champions League game was going rather smoothly and despite Essien missing a great chance after some sterling work from Kalou the match ended comfortably for us. Josh, Kakuta and Van Aanholt all got a run out with McEachran squeezing in yet another perfect Cruyff turn/pirouette before the final whistle. And that was about it.

The good

  • Zhirkov – He had a rather quiet second half but his first half was one of the most impressive I’ve seen from him in a while. The stunning goal aside, he looked like the perfect foil for Malouda and Ashley on that left side as he covered back when Ash sprang forward and provided width when Malouda drifted inside. He deserves more starts and with Ash hobbling about for the last twenty minutes, I think he’ll probably start at left-back against Wolves.
  • Mikel, JT, Ivanovic – Our “back-three” were imperious tonight. Mikel is growing into the modern day Vieira as he continues to dominate games from the centre of the park, Ivanovic is still the best partner for JT in my mind and is quickly growing into one of Europe’s best defenders whilst JT looked unbeatable. If we can keep these three fit then a Champions League and Premiership double looks possible.
  • Cech – One of his best performances since the Reading injury? He looked comfortable at every set-piece, his shot-stopping was again exemplary and his distribution was Reina-esque. Brilliant.
  • Josh McEachran – Didn’t get enough of the ball but when he did his quality, vision and class shines through. I just hope Carlo is brave enough to start him soon.
  • Transfer stories – So who would you go for? A Champions League eligible Torres who is desperate to leave Liverpool or Wayne Rooney? We’d have to rival City for Rooney but who could stop us with Didier and Rooney up front?

The bad

  • Ashley – Looked tired and injured by the end. Has said that his ankle injuries make him feel like a forty year-old when he wakes up and after tonight, it’s clear that he needs a rest.
  • Malouda – Not so much bad as a little too quiet for my liking. He hasn’t been at his sparkling best of late and the early season goals have started to dry up. A little worry for the future?

Player ratings

Yeah, I know some of you hate it and yes, it is entirely subjective and biased and unreasonable and blah blah blah but I don’t care.

(But it’s late so I’ll keep it short.)

  • Cech – 9/10 – Unbeatable.
  • Paulo – 7/10 – Solid.
  • Ivanovic – 8/10 – Rock-solid.
  • JT – 9/10 – Superb.
  • Ashley – 6/10 – Subdued.
  • Mikel – 9/10 – Classy.
  • Essien – 6/10 – Exhausted.
  • Zhirkov – 8/10 – Impressive.
  • Kalou – 7/10 – Enthusiastic.
  • Anelka – 9/10 – Elegant.
  • Malouda – 6/10 – Quiet.
  • Carlo – 8/10 – He sent out his strongest possible side to all but guarantee top spot in the group and despite the odd sign of injury (Ashley) and tiredness (Essien, Malouda) it was definitely the right call. We’ve got Wolves at the Bridge on the weekend so those with knocks should get a rest and in the end Carlo’s tactics led to a near perfect Champions League performance.

Man of the Match

Nico, Mikel and Pete were all great but JT was simply superb. Hopefully tonight will help rid him of the penalty nightmare.

The conclusion

So how about that then?

No, not our routine yet highly impressive away showing but Wayne Rooney’s bombshell? Unlike the Stam, Keane, Tevez and Ronaldo exits this one just feels a little bit different. It feels like the end of an era and as I said earlier, potentially, the end of Fergie’s empire. United’s squad is the worst since the Djemba Djemba years and the timing of Rooney’s exit could not be any worse for Fergie. He’s out of form and looks overweight which makes last season’s £70m valuation looks like a cruel joke for those Utd fans hoping that Rooney’s transfer fee can transform this ageing side. He’s now said he doesn’t want to play for the club anymore but dumping him in the reserves will only reduce his asking price to below the £40m mark. Being cup-tied lessens any January transfer fee yet further but rejecting any offer leaves you open to the Webster ruling next summer and a maximum compensation figure of £5m. It’s a nightmare scenario for any manager and with Carlo confirming our interest if he’s available, it looks like a straight fight between Chelsea and City for one of the most incredible transfers in Premiership history.

So, I ask again; Wayne or Fernando? Who would you take in January?

Nighty night.

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There are 89 comments

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  1. chelseatony

    Yeah, pretty much bang on for me Habs. Mikel Obi was utterly magnificent tonight and JT was imperious, a great performance from both, plus Pete looked back to his best.

    I'd take Rooney over Torres, simply because he has a bit of Gazza about him, flawed, troubled, but a genius on his day, plus he's English which keeps our ethos of the English spine looking a bit more realistic. Torres, whilst lethal, is too lightweight for the PL game in my view, and whoever gets him will always have to live with injuries, much like we did with Robben. Some players are just made of glass sadly.

  2. Marco_Chelsea

    Thanks for the early report, Habs. Always nice to read a match report first thing in the morning after the match!

    I remember watching a video of Zhirkov scoring a very similar goal for CSKA Moscow after his transfer was announced and drooling over the prospect of his doing the same for us. Well, it's taken him 15 months to do it but what a fantastic strike. He looked very good in the left-sided midfield role too.

    For me, Cech would have to be MOTM. I counted no less that 8 first-class saves. Must be so demoralising for the opposition to work their socks off to get through our defence, only to find the big man collecting the ball, ready to set up the next counter-attack.

    Take slight issue on your extensive coverage of Liverpool/Man Utd matters in a Chelsea blog. So far as Rooney goes, I can't see him ever coming to SB. Abramovich won't pay out £30 million for a player with 6 months left on his contract. And he is reported to want £200,000 a week (which he would get if he left on a Bosman, effectively pocketing the 'transfer fee' himself).

  3. I am Kaiser Jonny

    Morning all,

    Like what you've done to the place, Nick… few scatter cushions and a yukka plant or two (or whatever the cyber equivalents are) would round it off nicely.

    Impressed with last night, given the circumstances – couple of lovely goals, Cech and the backline on good form, kids getting a run out and so on. All good.

    Rooney – pros; great player, Premiership proven, theoretically approaching his peak. Cons – fee / wages, head in a right mess, media circus around him and his off-pitch activities becoming a little Beckham-esque, query over long-term fitness (not exactly built like a natural athlete, likes his grub and the ciggies, slogging away in a physically demanding league for some years now – how all this will affect him in 3 years is open to question).

    Suspect that if United do offload it'll be about cash and little else. Question over the Webster ruling – can see any club with a high profile player looking at this way out of a deal taking it to court; a few clubs have already said they would challenge it if the need arose. Think Mallorca were considering it with Gutierez (or whatever his name is).

    Torres – Spain or Italy for you, young man…

    Shall have to register for this intense debate thing at some point. Technofear…

  4. Blueboydave

    Good summary of last night with not much left to add.

    I'm just glad that 2 comfortable wins in a row suggest we've finally rediscovered the knack of getting good away CL results again after a long miserable spell.

    Frankly, I wouldn't want either Torres or Rooney.

    Agree with above [or below, possibly] that Torres can't hack the EPL's physical demands and I've always thought Rooney is a timebomb too easily pushed into exploding. What's going on in his head now God knows, but combined with his loss of form and increasing worries he could become a Michael Owen-like injury-prone early burn-out I'd consider him a risk not worth taking.

    Anyway I'd expect ManU to try very hard to hold out and insist he go abroad rather than to an EPL rival.

  5. bluebayou

    As I didn't see the game and it wasn't covered on any radio station I could find, I appreciate the in depth review of the game, Habs.

    I did wonder whether the decision to bench Essien was to to protect his knees given that artificial surfaces have in the past been hard on joints. Then again maybe it was just his turn to rest.

    Your observation on Ashley Cole is worrying. If his ankles are really giving him that much trouble you wonder what sort of load he can carry in the next couple of seasons?

  6. bluebayou

    With respect to Rooney and United, what struck me is that it all seems beyond repair and yet there are a stack of games between now and January. What do they expect from Rooney in the interim?

    The commercial subtleties in these things often escape me and I wonder if Rooney really wants to buyout in the summer? Would it be challenged?

    I don't think Chelsea are in the running for him. I doubt he wants to be in London. (When he was a lad with Everton, before a game he went into a Kings Road estate agent wearing a tracksuit. If I remember rightly the staff took one look at him and a companion, noted their general demeanour and called for Plod.)

    With our new found parsimony, would they pay the wages? Would that trigger clauses in Lampard's and Terry's contracts?

    Last time we bought a combative ex-Man United forward it turned out rather well, so on a footballing basis, I'm sure Carlo would be happy to work with him.

  7. bluebayou

    As for Torres. Difficult to know really. Once your head is right injury problems can be addressed. We have the staff to get him conditioned. But we have no Spanish influence at the club. Traditionally the Spanish and Italians don't mix that well so I'm not sure he'll want to come either. Ranieri had worked in Spain, Ancelotti hasn't. Sometimes these thigs matter. You feel he moved to Liverpool partly because of Benitez.

  8. bluebayou

    Nick, this is not a whinge. It still forces you to split up comments but doesn’t give you what the limit is. Probably just part of the Twitter age where all thought and communication has to be compressed. Good for speed and storage, bad for those who are tempted to dwell on matters and pore over a subject. (That’s code for witless dribbling).

    I see Arseblog have moved. Where we lead……..etc.

    Looking at Ole (for ol times sake) your valedictory post “Psst Chelsea FC Blog has moved” is top of the Popular list on their Homepage. Would they recognise irony or just think it's what joins two parts of a wooden leg?

    • Nick Benfield

      Hmm… I will look into integrating WordPress's built-in commenting system then, BB. I'm not happy with the way IntenseDebate functions anyway. It'll probably take me a few days to make any changes.

      Re: OleOle. I get the impression that no-one is at the controls.

  9. Clive

    Certainly a very professional performance last night, which will probably see us top the group and qualify with games to spare, with the plus of resting players for the remaining two games.

    As far as the Rooney soap opera goes, we would be foolish not to throw our hat into the ring, providing the price is sensible, along with his wage demands.

    I think this covers the recent footballing events at Manchester and Liverpool

  10. Nick Benfield

    Everyone: I’m about to install the Disqus comment system as a replacement to IntenseDebate. An annoyance all round but it’s better to get these things right now before everything settles into the old routine.


  11. Anonymous

    Right then. Disqus commenting system is installed and running. You might have to force refresh the page to pick up the changes to the stylesheet (hold down the SHIFT key and click on your browser’s refresh button).The major drawback of switching from IntenseDebate to Disqus is that you will have to sign up for a new Disqus account if you want the ability to edit your comments. If this isn’t important to you, you can just post as a Guest as before.Sorry for the inconvenience, but it’s better to iron out all the wrinkles now.BlueBayou – I tested comment posting length before installing – it let me add a whole post as a comment so you should be okay. Get scrawling.BlueBoyDave – Another drawback – sorting by Newest first doesn’t take into account replies. 🙁 Scrolling, scrolling… I’m working on a way around this.Right, is everyone happy or pissed off or a bit of both?Habs – Reread your report this morning. Quality stuff. Also: I’ve added your bio to the Who’s who page – – Dan Brown?! 😉

  12. Ringo

    Habs – You don’t sound like you’re enjoying what’s going on at Liverpool and Man U.

    I vote NO to Torres ,and HELL NO to Rooney.
    How can you be expected to cheer for someone you’ve despised for years.
    I’ve only just gotten over us signing Colin Lee from Tottenham.

    • Anonymous

      Funnily, Colin Lee from Spuds never bothered me that much, nor Ashley from The Gooners because he was clearly such a good player if a bit lacking in self-deprecating skills.Sparky from ManU was the one I couldn’t believe when I first heard the news and was reluctant to be convinced about till his contribution became undeniable.New account, time for a new avatar pic I thought, though doubt if you can see it properly.

      Minor comment on new layout, Nick – I tried to use “absolute date” option on the settings. It works on “old” comments upto when you said you were going to instal Disqus, but new ones are still showing as “xx minutes ago”. Don’t you love technology!

    • Anonymous

      Nah Clive. I chose your comment because it included a YouTube video. I was testing image and video attachment. If you include a link to an image or video in your comment, Disqus adds it as an attachment – click on the attachment to see the image/video. Clever. Seems to work too.

  13. Tony Glover

    I think I’ll stick to using my Twitter ID although it appears to be a football avatar…hey ho. Even I/’m a bit confused now! I do like the newest comment at the top mind….

  14. Anonymous

    Gave up as I couldn’t change the Twitter avatar, so now I have a disqus account as well, good job the iMac has keychain to remember all this for me!!!

    So back to using a picture of a particular hero of mine….well heroic failure…..

    • Nick Benfield

      Sorry for the inconvenience, Tony. I really should have tested both IntenseDebate and Disqus fully before choosing one. IntenseDebate was just too buggy to stick with. Disqus seems more mature – so far I haven’t come across any major bugs, just missing functionality (not including replies in Sort by Newest first seems like an oversight to me). Still, these systems are being updated constantly so expect improvements in the future.

    • Nick Benfield

      Tony – I just added you as an additonal comment moderator. You are now all-powerful. I think.

      Everyone else: Edit your Disqus profiles if you want to display “real” names etc. You can also connect your account to Twitter and Facebook which gives you the option to tweet/share comments you make here on your Twitter and/or Facebook accounts. All very clever.

      • Biggs

        i am checking the “reply” thingy, to see where it takes me…hope it’s ok with you.

        i see now. well that’s one not to convinient thing – replies…but, can you check if there is a “quote” feature, that would give us a nice linear view of the comments?

        • Nick Benfield

          Biggs – I just changed the comment layout view from Threaded to Flat as a test. As you can see, replies in Flat view are now at the top where you would expect them to be. You can click on the ‘in reply to [name]’ link in the comment header to see the original comment. I think I prefer it. How about everyone else?

          • Biggs

            yep, that looks great to me. well, done mister.
            (i am not a complete stranger to computers, so if you ever need any help, I will be glad to jump in.)

            oh, look, by the time it took us to set up a comment system – inter scored 3 against the spurts. L.O.L.

      • Anonymous

        Yep, thanks Nick, this is looking a much better proposition…in fact the whole thing feels vastly better than the Oleole version

  15. Biggs

    nick, that was fast. it took me some time to read the report, some comments and went to register at discuss – as soon as i got back – all is working. great.@ringo – actually, i couldn’t register as biggs there, but once you register you get to choose your “display name” under “my settings” – and voila, biggs is back. so go ahead and enjoy.i opened skynews this morning to see reactions to cl games, and all i saw was rooney this and that. yes, i think he would do great in chelsea under carlo, and no i think he shoud run away from england asap. he’s too young and to raw (a nice term for what i actually think) to be at chelsea.regarding the cons because of his wages – i’ll worry about it when i will be paying them. till then, roman you have my support to splurge on quality players.

    /just a quick check of the edit feature…/

  16. Anonymous

    I thought the game went well. Like the new digs so far… happy to be away from Ole Ole. I was tired of being solicited by friend requests from people I had never heard of.

    Torres or Rooney? I’d actually make a run at either, assuming the right price. If Rooney buys out his own contract this summer, I think we HAVE to take a run at him.

  17. Anonymous

    Loving the new setup… looks great and much prefer the new Disqus format.

    Nice to see the plucky Spurs take a battering this morning…Agent Carlo appeared to have things under control….Good of Inter to stop trying at half time.

  18. Gary

    Looks like my earlier comment got deleted somehow?

    Feedback on the new look:
    1. Header, main post body look great. Similar to earlier blog, but a bit cleaner.
    2. Comment section looks different today than y’day?
    2.a Comment section now starts at almost the first pixel on the left all the way to the right. Not easy on the eyes. May be my browser is still working on old stylesheet? Or you are still playing around?
    2.b Comment post box is bigger now (thanks), but looks weird when it stretches across full width.
    2.c Is there any option for threads in comments? That would be awesome.
    2.d Can default be oldest first? Not a big deal, but newest first is a bit non-confirming to rest of the internet (or it’s just me?)


    • Nick Benfield

      Hi Gary – Firstly, I switched comment systems from the buggy IntenseDebate to Disqus – several comments didn’t import correctly thus aren’t showing in the list though they are in the blog’s database.

      Try force-refreshing your browser to load the updated stylesheet…

      We tried threaded comments earlier. The problem we discovered was that they didn’t get included when using the Sort by drop-down list, so whenever a new reply was posted it involved a lot of scrolling and searching. By using the flat option, all comments are sorted by their age, be it oldest or newest first. As for replies, click on the ‘in reply to [name]’ link in the comment headers to follow the conversation. It works quite well.

      As for oldest/newest first, perhaps I should take a vote. Some prefer oldest first and the comment entry box at the bottom of the thread by default, while others prefer newest first and the comment entry box at the top. At least there is an option to choose, just use the drop-down list. Personally I’m with you, I like oldest first and the comment box at the bottom. 🙂

      • Gary

        Thanks Nick. Yep, a Ctrl+F5 fixed the css problem.

        And as you said, “In reply to” works fine – I don’t see any need of threads anymore. No more of that stupid “@xys” stuff. Sorting is not a big deal. I can live with whatever we have so far!

        I think I am really happy with this overall – great work guys!

        (and let me know if you need any help – though I don’t do developement on web/html/webserver anymore, I can still be of some use if any).


        • Nick Benfield

          I just noticed that the Sort by drop-down list remembers your setting if you prefer to sort by oldest first. But then the comment entry box is still at the top… Oh well.

          Thanks for the offers of help, but I think I’ve got it covered. That said, I’m still awake at gone 2:30 a.m. tweaking things… Time for bed I think.

          • Anonymous

            I’ve got sort by oldest first Nick, but the comment box is at the bottom of the page with me, and always was.

  19. Anonymous

    I’m enjoying the Wayne crisis.

    In days gone by, specifically Jose’s time, we’d have a PR crisis approximately weekly. Now everything is as it should be, quiet and serene, with the team performing on the pitch. The only thing I worry about in press conferences now is whether Carlo’s eyebrow will go so high that it could actually drop over to the back of his head.

  20. Anonymous

    My you’ve been a busy boy again, Nick, while I was watching the Spuds getting stuffed and getting some kip you seem to have ironed out pretty much all the problems.I like the flat look, and having the the “replied to” post as a pop-up is great and something I’ve never seen on any forum before.I’ve now reverted to oldest first order [but good to have the choice for those who prefer newest first] and, like Clive, the post box is at the bottom too.Well done, Sir!

    • Nick Benfield

      Yep, in my sleep-derived state at 2:30 this morning I decided to revert to the ‘traditional’ comment thread – oldest first, comment entry box at the bottom. Retired to bed mumbling the words, Why mess with the web’s traditions. The Disqus system remembers your setting anyway. Phew. What’s this I hear about Wayne Roony?

      • Anonymous

        Glad you did that Nick. The tendency is to just read/reply to the last few comments otherwise – it’s just too counter intuitive reading from the bottom up.Now to see where this reply appears.

  21. Anonymous

    Hi Nick. I’ve got an NEC screen that can be rotated 90 degrees into portrait mode. When I do this I’d prefer the comment box not to rotate so it’s still on the bottom. Is this possible? Also is it possible to sort the comments by sensible ones at the top and rubbish ones at the bottom, except when I’m viewing via my mobile device where I’d like them sorted by geo location.


  22. Kian

    Love the new (old) layout. Thanks for all the hard work…one point I successfully campaigned for on the old blog…can we have numbered posts so it’s easy to pick up from where you left off?

  23. True Blue

    Although Zhirkov had a fine strike – we should swap him plus cash for Bale. He’s English, younger and better. Plus he looks like an ape.

    Thought Gael was not good – lost the ball many times and seems lightweight. Was glad to see Kalou start ahead of him for the moscow game.

  24. bluebayou

    And now for another in Dr Bayou’s occasional series for the anally retentive – It’s all in the Typeface

    Looking at the comments about how the site looks, Nick, you’re obviously a man who knows his Sans Serif from his Condensed or something like that because it really does matter…….to some people anyway.

    Me, I Iove to look at typefaces without really having the technical knowledge. They can be a thing of beauty.

    The classic Chelsea FC typeface is so neat and clean and its important the club stay with it. Of course I can’t find a picture of it now but you know the one I mean.

    • Nick Benfield

      I do like my fonts, BlueBayou, but like you it’s all about the look and feel – my technical knowledge is limited. As someone who uses and develops on a Mac, it’s always a disappointment to me just how crappy fonts look in Windows browsers. Tip for anyone using Windows: try viewing this site in Safari for Windows, I’m sure you’ll see a big improvement. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for this, Nick.

        Don’t see a huge difference between Firefox and Safari on this blog, but a number of other websites I use look a whole lot better so I’ll give it a try.

        I still remember the blessed day I abandoned Internet Explorer for Firefox and sites started loading at a decent speed again 😉

        • Nick Benfield

          I use both Safari and Firefox on my Mac – Firefox still edges Safari speed-wise but both are great.

          Safari’s Reader functionality is probably failing to pull in comments because they aren’t hosted on, and they’re JavaScript based too (the Tweet button fails to display also, which is JS-based). Clicking on the comments link in Reader takes you to the comments thread on the normal page.

  25. bluebayou

    Gareth Bale is Welsh. May not be important to you or me, but I believe it matters greatly to the Welsh FA.

  26. Anonymous

    It looks like some of us have had to change our profile names, so perhaps we should quickly introduce ourselves to the group again. Hello I’m ChelseaClive previously known as Clive, and I’m a alcoholic.. oops wrong group!

  27. Anonymous

    I have joined the party!
    I have nothing else to say at the moment other than yes to Rooney and LOL to Spurs.

  28. Anonymous

    Slightly disgruntled that my entire name is on display, but what can you do?

    This means I have to be careful what I say as a WELL KNOWN AND RESPECTED NATIONAL JOURNALIST.

  29. Anonymous

    So the edit button works too.

    That’s gonna take the edge off getting it right first time and what will we do witout all thos funny litle typo?

    • Nick Benfield

      Are replies working/showing on your iPhone, JD? I can’t get the drop-down boxes to do anything on my 3GS – plus avatars only display in landscape mode. The mobile version of Disqus is beyond my control so there’s little I can do to fix any bugs.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Hi Nick,

        I can see my own replies, but no others appear when you click on the ‘show x replies’ option. Avatars look OK to me though – I’m on a 3GS too.

        Looks really good though – such an improvement on OleOle.

        Can do the Wolves report if no-one else is down to?



  30. Anonymous

    Commenting seems to generate more commenting than football. Should we rename this blog ?

    • Nick Benfield

      City boys talking country, BBD – neither has a clue. As a country boy at heart, I know my cows and fields and take it from me, all cows look better than Wayne Rooney. That said, I think we should buy him. I’m drifting into Benitez territory here, aren’t I?

  31. ososdeoro

    Okay, I think in the Bale for Zhirkov trade Spurs will require, in addition to the medical examination, a haircut for Yuri worth more than $5. That should kill the whole thing.

    And as one of the few criticizing JT for his play much of the last year I have to agree — absolutely outstanding play vs. Moscow (and not bad the previous few games either).

  32. bluebayou

    Listening on i-player to last night’s Radcliffe and Maconie I’ve just been made aware that I missed the fact that at ten past eight in the evening it was 20.10 20.10.2010. How did I not notice that was coming up?I have to make a note not to miss eleven minutes past nine in the evening on the twenty-first of november next year.

    • Biggs

      err…that would be eleven minutes past eight, on november 20th next year, unless i am just being a johnny foreigner unfamiliar with the traditional dry wit from your little island 😉

  33. bluebayou

    Good man Biggs for pointing that out. I’d have to live another hundred years or so for 21.11 21.11 2111. That might be a bit of stretch

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