Chelsea 1-1 Birmingham City – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, Where Are You Now?

(title borrowed from The Low Anthem)

The introduction

Here at Chelsea FC Blog, with our ear ever pressed to the bedroom wall, the better to hear what the lusting youth of the zeitgeist may be getting up to with our rumbustious neighbour of fate, we have been poking around in those nether regions where our sense of the rational gives way to ridiculously inexplicable emotion, with a survey of fans’ particular rituals and superstitions. Our enquiry into whether statistics, strategy, diet, preparation can really be countered by wearing a pair of 15 year old “lucky blue pants” has mirrored the clash of science and religion that has erupted in the courts, media and legislature of this land.

It has been a week where the rational confronted the religious as Richard Dawkins, having claimed that a large number of those who see themselves to be Christians cannot name the first book in the Bible, was challenged on Radio 4 to name the full title of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” (it’s “by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” if you want to know) and stumbled to the evident glee of his questioner. At a time when there are claims that “militant” secularism is on the ascendant this could be a triumph for the forces of religion you might say, even though one book is viewed as the immutable text on which a whole belief system is predicated, whereas the other is one step on a path of scientific enquiry. Important yes, but hardly the same to Evolutionists as “The Book of Genesis” is to Creationists.

And what pray, I hear you ask, has this got to do with a visit from Birmingham City? Well it is often forgotten that our second city made a great contribution to this country’s emerging role as a place of rational thought and enquiry back in the late 18th century. Take the Birmingham-based Lunar Society, where major figures from the worlds of science, engineering, manufacturing and philosophy met to exchange ideas and collaborate. Men, (for such it generally was in those times), like Josiah Wedgwood, James Watt, Matthew Boulton and Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles, who himself was pursuing theories of evolution through his work in natural science. Such was the reputation of this loose collaboration, that great minds of the age such as Benjamin Franklin corresponded and visited the group.

Thus, Birmingham City presented the next stage in our enquiry into the rational and irrational in our behaviour; the testing ground for our theories of evolution, revolution, transition, adaptation and obsolescence, as they affect our beloved team.

They hit town at the end of a week that saw leaks, statements and rumours coalesce to convince most Chelsea fans that all is far from well in Dingly Dell. You will have your own view of whether it is poor management, player power gone mad, inevitable tension in a transitional period, a lack of squad depth or sub-atomic particles of all four.

For myself, I’ve been trying to take a rational view. I’ve read The Plains of Almeria on why we need to go with the diamond, I’ve read the analysis in Zonal Marking and I’ve seen any amount of liberties taken with statistics that would have made the members of the Lunar Society look askance at such abuse of scientific method.

But as I made my way to Stamford Bridge by an entirely new route, rail-based it has to be said, (the efficacy of which is now in question but not a definitive failure, since not much changed but we didn’t actually lose), I was trading on blind faith and the endless optimism of the common fan.

The game

Sky covered themselves in glory by getting the team wrong such that having taken refreshment in the East Stand I got to my seat believing Bosingwa to be playing right-back only for the teams to be announced with Ivanovic at right-back. That set the tone for a fairly error filled afternoon.

The team saw Cahill playing alongside Luiz, with Bertrand at left-back. Mikel, Meireles and Ramires were a midfield three with Torres flanked by Mata and Sturridge. Out on the Plains they must have felt that a diamond was very far away.

The first half was more of the Everton game. Little movement, incisiveness or cohesion. Chelsea had plenty of possession but it will be no surprise that they did little with it. Birmingham were disciplined, closed the space, cut the passing lanes and forced Chelsea to play in front of them. The ponderous build up that has bedevilled our team for some time made Birmingham’s job all the easier. For themselves they seemed content to limit their forays up-field but looked competent when they did, without posing any real threat.

Their goalkeeper Doyle had two noticeable foibles, one was to take an unfeasibly long time to take goal kicks, which suggested that Birmingham had come for the draw and the other was to be a yard outside the area when kicking out of the hand. For some reason officialdom saw no need to question either practice.

Their goal when it came was their first real shot on target, and how many times have we said that this season. A decent low corner reduced the entire defence to the same athleticism as a bunch of weebles, the best you could say being, that while they wobbled a lot they didn’t fall down. But neither did they clear the ball properly, so that it fell nicely to Murphy to hammer home from the left side of the box (as Chelsea would look at it).

All was not lost, however, because a briefly energised team went straight up the other end and Ramires was tripped to give Atkinson a simple decision in pointing to the spot. Up stepped Mata, across went Doyle, off the post went the ball and into my hands went my head, where, were it not for the fact that it contains my eyes and having offered to write this report, I needed them, there it would have stayed.

The rest of the first half saw Birmingham maintaining their cohesion, minimising mistakes, while Chelsea went back into their shell. Confidence seemed very low, silly errors born perhaps of over-thinking what should be natural at this stage of a season, hesitancy and appearing one beat behind the play were the hallmarks of the remaining minutes.

The second half started with the introduction of Drogba for the hapless Torres who looked constantly mystified as to what those around him are attempting with the ball. I’m not going to apportion blame but that’s the way it seems and he can’t impose himself on a game.

Drogba did nothing spectacular himself and indeed his limbs were a split second behind his thought but perhaps that was to be expected. However his presence looked to have encouraged a slightly more direct and decisive tempo and by withdrawing Mikel, just before the hour for Kalou, with Mata moving in behind Drogba, Chelsea acquired a shape in which they all seemed more comfortable. With Mata pulling the strings, Birmingham were more stretched, there was space and time and Ivanovic took full advantage to whip in a great ball that Sturridge headed home with some aplomb in the 63rd minute. It was the one really decent moment in an otherwise frustrating game. Briefly it looked as though Chelsea would go on and win as they maintained a better tempo, (we’re talking degrees here) and Birmingham showed their first real signs of panic.

But it wasn’t too long before the levels started to drop and Ramires looked to be running out of gas and was making a few too many errors. It seemed reasonable to assume that with Lampard ready on the touchline around the 80 minute mark, he be introduced to replace the Brazilian. Some perhaps thought Meireles who had been decent for stretches but prone to odd errors, might be the one to go as he was playing on the left side where SFL would normally sit.

But no, it was Mata. Derision and disbelief were general. Now, I had wondered whether Ramires and Meireles were a sufficient midfield should there be a pushback from Birmingham. But to be honest it wasn’t like the Mancs game where a defensive substitution at 3-0 or 3-1 might have been the thing. Birmingham had offered little that an improving Luiz and somewhat patchy Cahill had not coped with. The game was there to be won.

Needless to say the change didn’t work and the soufflé collapsed. Indeed, a series of ridiculous errors almost gifted Birmingham a winner and Chelsea lost their stranglehold for the last five minutes or so. The psychology of the change was wrong and seemed to unsettle the team. That’s not on Frank Lampard himself. It was more that they had found a shape and rhythm which, while hardly setting the world alight, had offered an improvement.

The ratings

With regard to rating the players, I’ll restrict myself to a few observations and look at the individuals in the context of a team that we accept is struggling.

  • Cech – His distribution, particularly towards the end of the game was questionable at times.
  • Ivanovic – God loves a trier and Branners doesn’t shirk. Great cross for the equaliser.
  • Cahill – Looked less composed than against United. Seemed to lose concentration at times. His ball control was worrying on occasions.
  • Luiz – A shaky start but grew into the game and while I always think he teeters on the edge of disaster, he was sound defensively as the game went on. Alone among his peers he can beat two or three players and retain the ball.
  • Bertrand – Steady enough, but it’s pointless these youngsters playing if no-one passes to them when they are in good positions (Luiz was particularly guilty I thought).
  • Meireles – I thought he looked more comfortable on the left-hand side and was better than in the previous few games. Not sure I’ll have too many passengers on that particular bus.
  • Mikel – It’s been a while and he looked a little rusty. Given Birmingham’s setup there wasn’t a lot of call for his role, but that’s not his fault.
  • Ramires – Flashes of his usual form but he needs some games I think to get back to where he was.
  • Mata – Came to life when in behind Drogba for the second half.
  • Sturridge – Got the goal but is still in a frustrating patch. Has to work on his defence. But then again is he really a wide player?
  • Torres – See my comments above. The whole situation makes me sad. Unfortunately a group hug won’t be enough.
  • The Elephants – Drogba and Kalou contributed to the best spell of the game. Kalou was possibly less error prone than anyone else, which is strange.
  • SFL – Too little time to really get into the game, though he did waste a good free kick opportunity late on.
  • AVB – Still in a job.
  • The crowd – 36,870 – How big are they planning the new home?

The good, the bad and the ugly

  • The good – Like the magician’s rabbit, the important thing is to be in the hat.
  • And I like Chris Houghton. Whether or not a top line manager (and he was ill served at Newcastle), he is certainly good at Championship level.
  • The bad – We have to go to Naples in this form.
  • The ugly – The FA Cup-shaped mascot that was going around the ground before the game. Is nothing sacred? Is there no threshold for the crass and the tasteless?

Final thoughts

The inestimable Peter Watts once offered up this quote from B. S. Johnson’s 1964 novel Albert Angelo, which keeps coming back to me and no more so than at times like this:

Chelsea’s play is intensely aggravating, by turns appallingly bad and supremely skilful. They always play like this. Chelsea supporters are men of a special cast of mind, and widely cosmopolitan: all they have in common is this need to become emotionally involved with a team who can play as well as any and worse than any. Whoever manages the team, whoever plays in the team, the tradition is the same, is perpetuated.

I often quote it and urge you all to take some comfort as you contemplate the days ahead.

Will Chelsea evolve? Will they adapt? Will they be fit enough to survive?

In the words of Low Anthem, “Oh My God, Charlie Darwin”.

The press reports

The Sunday Telegraph, Duncan White: “When a manager is subject to the kind of pressure Andre Villas-Boas is under, every detail of behaviour is scrutinised for omens and portents. Whether it is the body language of his players, his reaction to questions from the press or his deportment on the touchline, it is all forensically examined. Ultimately, though, these are just symptoms: it is results that are the illness. And this was not a healthy one.”

The Observer, Jamie Jackson: “Not yet mortally wounded, Andre Villas-Boas limps on with his disjointed and disgruntled band of Chelsea players to Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday night. That test in a last-16, first-leg Champions League encounter follows this dire FA Cup showing against Birmingham. The chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” from the wags in the travelling crowd found a barbed echo from the Chelsea fans, who informed their beleaguered manager he should depart now for the good of their team, and then booed when Juan Mata, who had had a penalty saved, was the player Frank Lampard replaced late on.”

The Independent on Sunday, Steve Tongue: “With John Terry and Ashley Cole injured – both are doubtful for the Napoli game – Villas-Boas also kept Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba in reserve, hoping the younger “new Chelsea” replacements would have enough about them to see off a team sixth in the League below. Not so. Birmingham, unbeaten in 14 games under the impressive Chris Hughton, threatened at set pieces, defended with discipline and were well worth the replay that will have St Andrew’s shaking in just over a fortnight’s time.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “It needed a second-half Daniel Sturridge goal to keep Chelsea in the FA Cup after a set-piece put Birmingham in the lead. The Championship side went ahead midway through a first-half in which the home team did not impress although Juan Mata had a penalty saved. Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou returned to club action during the match but it was Sturridge’s 11th goal of the season that squared the score, a header after a well-worked move. Chelsea were dominant by then and continued to be for the rest of the game although chances to win the match were limited and there was a late scare as the visitors wasted a chance to inflict a giantkilling.”

The goals

20′ Murphy 0-1
62′ Sturridge 1-1

The Podding Shed

The Podding Shed #3: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

There are 107 comments

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  1. Harry

    to press AVB has RA’s backing! What I do not understand is, why and what for?
    Chelsea Abysmal performances indicate that AVB has no clue about team
    motivation and building a winning formation. To be fair to AVB, he might in the
    next five years become a great football coach and an outstanding manager;
     However Chelsea is not a place for some one like AVB to start learning a trade. It is about time RA
    to let AVB try his luck somewhere else.

  2. Austin Solari

    Whilst it is extremely rare to me to question one of our
    intrepid reporters, I do feel that maybe the good Doctor was sitting at the top
    of the East stand? I was in row L of the family enclosure and found myself
    quite close to the action.

    Looking at the player ratings, I found myself in agreement
    with the Doctor on only one player. There must surely be a time when you give
    up on a player and I think that time is now. Poor old Fernando just looked
    plain out of sorts! A complete waste of time him even being on the pitch. As
    the Dad sat next to me and I was discussing at half time, the style of play
    Torres was used to at LiverPoo has not really been played here for the last 5
    or 6 years. We both wondered what might have been if, in fact WE had bought
    Monsieur Carroll from Toon Town instead (something I don’t ever recall being
    discussed on here). As long as I can remember, CFC has always had big strong
    centre forwards, not little will of the wisp chappies. Tis a shame as I really
    wanted Fernando to achieve here but enough is enough.

    I was quite impressed with the defence and except for their
    goal, I don’t think they were ever under pressure and I definitely liked Cahill
    and Luiz together (is that sacrilege??) Cahill seemed to take the natural
    leaders role and well, Luiz is Luiz.

    The introduction of FL mattered not a jot as he hardly saw
    the ball …………. similar to Drogs really. Apart from one amusing ( to me
    anyway) dying swan impression that earned a free kick about 30 yards out, most
    balls played up to him were far too long and another wasted substitution. I was
    shocked when I saw the No21 go on the fourth officials board!!  I had forgotten Kalou was still with us, it
    has been so long since he has been seen.

    Ramires?? I thought he was a candidate for MotM alongside Branners
    actually??  He got in a lot of good
    challenges and seemed to be more hard working than some. As for Luiz not
    passing to Bertrand, I definitely saw Luiz waving his arm at Ryan on more than
    one occasion to get into a better position whilst looking to pass to him.
    Sorry, but I am a big Luiz fan and hope he stays for a long while. There always
    seems to be something exciting about to happen when he has the ball.

    The goal itself was top drawer!!!  A superb run and cross and the header looked
    sublime from my position. Just why the hell can we only produce one touch of
    magic like that in a game when two years ago, it was the norm?? Sturridge is
    the future and AVB keeps banging on about the future …….. well, give the
    boy his opportunity then!! He keeps banging on he wants to play through the
    middle so let him! Put Kalou on the right in his place (Kalou actually looked
    like a player yesterday)


    The one thing that distressed me yesterday was that I,
    personally, never missed our spine ………. JT, Lamps and Drogs. Three great
    servants to this club but does this mean their time is closer than we thought??

    Sorry for such a long post by one such as I ……… mine
    are normally two or three liners LOL  I’ll
    shuffle off back into my hole now.

  3. psmith

    very clever post Austin and far more entertaining than the match. look forward to your visit to fortress st andrews.
    BCFC supporter for nearly 70 years (almost darwinian) and you think you’ve had it rough.

  4. Fiftee

    Good report BB, thanks for that.

    I’ve not let myself see anything more than the goals that ITV showed last night before the Arsenal game. I just can’t do it to myself.

    Defensively, what has gone wrong so quickly? From impenetrable to incapable in the space of a season it seems. Odd. Very odd.

    I so want Torres to work out. It won’t – it’s been too long. But wasn’t yesterday the prime game to give Lukaku a start? Fearless youth vs wavering has been? It’s great we’re signing these brilliant kids from across Europe, but I’d AVB doesn’t want them – who will? If we (by some miracle) turn a corner and keep him as manager for a few years, they’ll go out on loan somewhere and never play. You can tell that by his reaction to signing Kev The Brown. Question is, if he has this three-year plan, and we’re not signing who he wants in transfer windows – exactly what the fuck is his masterplan?

    For what it’s worth, I really hope we keep him and he has a huge clear-out in the summer. But we’ve got to finish forth and, at the moment, I can’t see it. Confidence is rock bottom. Talk of yet more dressing room unrest this morning with DD taking an impromptu team-talk in the tunnel before te second half. Will it ever end?

    Credit to Brum though. Playing well in the Championship, unbeaten at home for months. The replay will be horrible. I really like Hughton. Treated awfully by Newcastle, losing 17 players at the end of last season and look what he’s done. A true class act.

    So, on to Naples. *Shudder*

  5. radicalevan

    I think Torres was at fault for their goal, quit marking his man near the spot. So not only is his not scoring goals for us, he is costing us with his laziness as well. 

    I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had that ManU miss not happened, if he had scored instead of posting the miss of the season.

    Related to the lack of spine comment, I can see us selling Terry/Lampard this season. Cahill slots in nicely next to Luiz (better than Terry has?) and we haven’t missed much without Lampard. Drogba, though he is a shadow of what he was, is better than Torres. It would be nice to have the old Drogba tutor the new Drogba in the ways of the force.

  6. Birmingham City

    An excellent blog well written and funny.

    As a Birmingham fan who travelled down yesterday, I had an cracking day. What is clear is that you have an excellent team, but I have to say that Sturridge absolutely stood out. His movement, control and desire seemed better than everyone else on the pitch. As for Torres, I ended up feeling sorry him by the end of the first half, he looked lost and peripheral. Surely putting him in the first team is making the whole thing worse. The elephant in the room is that his confidence is completely shot, send him on a good holiday and then out on loan when you can (though hopefully not to Birmingham!).

  7. Tcblues

    After reading this and being at the game i think you just have to admit that chelsea just aren’t the team they were and need to waste even more money just to be in contention with the rest let alone be better than.As for the game i think you looked inept for most of it any were it not for the fact we had no real forwards and had to use youth team players to field a subs bench then you would have been beaten by a team of freebies and loan players.

  8. Nightswatch84

    I wasn’t at the game yesterday, I agreed to watch the game in a pub in the Borough for the first time in a few seasons and soon regretted it.  Although there was a good majority of Chelsea fans in there, there was also a goof proportion of members of the public witnessing my exasperation.

    I enjoyed your report, as usual, but again i am surprised that the rod has been spared in the case of a certain Mr Meireles.  I cannot understand why he so often has to flick the ball up in the air (and over his head), invariably to the purpose of giving the ball away.  He also attempted to lift the ball into the space behind the centre-backs at least a dozen times without once pulling it off, then witnessed Luiz pull off that exact ball to Sturridge at his first attempt.  I have seen no evidence that he moves the ball with higher tempo or greater accuracy than Lamps and he is definitely too powder-puff girl in the challenge to justify his tattoos.  In my opinion he has been our worst performing midfielder since Jokanovic, he didn’t come from Porto, he came from playing one season at Liverpool, so there should be no need for a prolonged settling in as he has played these sides (Birmingham included) before.  I also find it strange that AVB plays a midfielder he was happy to sell for £10 million at the start of his Porto appointment.  PLEASE DROP HIM BEFORE WE ARE IN MID TABLE!!!

  9. Blueboydave

    Seemed entirely appropriate that the camera providing the big screen pictures in the stadium malfunctioned  leaving us with a blank screen for much of the first half, which seemed more inviting than what was on view on the pitch.

    Sad too to see significant swathes of empty seats in the corners and back of the East Upper and corner of the MH Lower. Don’t ever remember the punters voting with their feet like that since reduced prices were introduced for domestic cup ties.

    So, grim day all round – and it was pissing down as I trudged towards the tube station afterwards in a deadly slow queue.

    Still it’s all relative and rays of delight soon appeared. A quick skip through some of ESPN’s “AVB Under Pressure”-obsessed coverage showed Ray Stubbs and Co. getting soaked as they insisted in sticking with their pitch side coverage, while even dear old Kev got fed up with Stubbs’ harping on and started defending AVB in the end.

    Then later settled down to watch a truly half-empty Stadium of Light despite reduced prices for Sunderland against a Gooners side doing their famous February crumble with added comedy defending.

    Ah, the solace of Schadenfreude!

  10. MW75

    As a Birmingham fan, I have to say that this is a really good blog.  The only things I’d complain about at the game is the local paranoia in the local pubs that wouldn’t let us in (you’ll be welcome in our pubs in Brum for the return), and the lack of atmosphere.  There was a “Chelsea” chant in stoppage time for the free kick, but apart from that the Chelsea crowd seemed like tourists watching their first game.  Maybe because it was a cup game and there’d be less season ticket holders there?

    • GrocerJack

      Vey much the case I think. There is a different crowd for the CL games as well which often makes the atmosphere more like a dinner party. I’m afraid that is the way of modern football, although to be fair the early kick offs rarely help any team. 

  11. Cunningplan

    Is the season over yet? I need to recharge my batteries.

    I would also like to add, that’s it’s good to see opposition fans posting sensible non tribal comments, rather than the usual crap we generally seem to attract. Well done guys, I’m sure we’ll welcome you back on here after the replay, win or lose.

  12. Ryan

    I might be totally wrong and AVB may be a complete waste of space (I highly doubt this) but even if he is I’m more than happy to see RA backing him. If you’re of the opinion that CFC were wrong to sack Mourinho/Ancelotti you should be pleased that we aren’t pulling the trigger on AVB yet. We have to learn from the mistakes of the past. It seems far too simplistic to me to just blame AVB. I watched his (former) Porto team give City a thoroughly good game in the week. Their performance in the first half was better than anything I ve seen at SB this season. Look at their (potential) compliance with FFP compared with ours (and City’s) and you start to see why perhaps Roman is backing AVB over the players, some of whom are showing themselves to be either highly unprofessional or very mediocre and in some cases totally unable to adapt to a different system. If those player’s think they’re going to cause AVB to be looking for other employment next season I think they’re mistaken and it’s far more likely that they’ll be the ones looking for a new club.

    I (and many others) questioned AVB’s selection at CB last week. His apparent “dropping” of Gary Cahill was reported to have been a motivating factor in the players questioning of his team selection. When you become aware that Gary Cahill was actually ill all week before the game and only trained once it should become clear that some parts of the media are desperate to create a shit storm at Chelsea, whether there is one or not. If that means being thoroughly disingenuous then they will be.

    I was critical of AVB’s reluctance to move in the January transfer window. In actual fact it appears that several attempts were made to sign players (Hazard for example). But CFC were not prepared to pay over the odds. This is not a managerial decision. It’s a financial decision by the club. If AVB has another year and four or five more first team signings and is still unable to show the talent he displayed at Academica and Porto then fair enough. He’ll have had a chance and a huge learning experience at a big European club and I expect he’ll go on to have a great career as a manager without us. And the same newspapers that are stirring everything up now will be laughing at us again.

    Roman Abramovich might be many things but he has never struck me as a weak man. If it’s true that he and he alone appointed AVB I don’t think that he will be swayed in his opinions by players, supporters or the media. You don’t go from childrens home to billionaire by letting people tell you what to do. The implication is also that maybe he was advised to appoint other managers and perhaps felt when things weren’t going well that maybe that was a factor in the decisions to sack certain managers.

    All teams will go through tough times. Unfortunately our toughest of times has coincided with Spurs and City’s best season’s for some while. If we can come through this year and turn things around without sacking another manager it will bode very well for the future of CFC.

      • Ryan

        Ta. Im not sure everyone will see it that way. I’m not saying AVB is Fergie. I’m just saying you don’t go from managing Porto very successfully to managing us incredibly badly for no reason.

        Dunno if you caught the Porto vs City game but it was pretty clear that the idea that AVB was managing a second rate team last year is total bollocks. James Rodriguez, Hulk, Moutinho, Perreira and probably Fernando were better than most of the players in our squad. Their pressing, energy and willingness/ability to move the ball quickly put us to shame and gave a glimpse of why RA appointed AVB and what AVB is trying to achieve. Of course some of the players don’t like it. It doesn’t suit their style of play. AVBs biggest problem, in my opinion,is a squad totally unsuited and unable to play the style of football that the owner expects. It’s important not to forget that. The owner, that has spent £1billion on CFC, wants to watch us play attractive, exciting, high energy football. If that means employing a manager that some overpaid, underperforming players aren’t keen on that’s fine. I’d sooner see the back of the likes of Malouda (or whoever you think is synonymous with the Slow Football Movement) than a manager with more potential than most others in the game. Players will always have their own interests at heart. The manager has taken on the job of achieving the owners objectives.

        The press were always going to be all over AVB, they were asking if he is too young before he’d even taken a training session. It’s important to remember though that the media don’t have CFC’s best interests at heart. They just know that negative reports about CFC sell newspapers because we are unpopular with other clubs supporters and they love reading about Chelsea turmoil. They also know that whatever they print will seem reasonable based on our history of sacking managers and player power.

        • Agh57

          I stil have concerns but am undecided. The art of a truly decent manager is to empathise with your players and manage them accordingly. That’s what the true greats like Clough and Shankly used to do apparently and even Fergie still does to a certain extent.Calibrated carrot a nd stick if you like. AVB doesn’t seem to be doing this and playing the authoriative card (as he seems to be doing) won’t get him anywhere in this day and age. This is my biggest concern to be honest. If he gets the players on board there’s a chance the tactics may come. If he does’t it doesn’t matter if he is the best tactician in the world.

    • PeteW

      I have been told by a very good source that AVB is very, very good at managing up – ie, telling Roman exactly what he wants to hear, which puts him in the same category as Ron Gourlay, Bobby Campbell, Bruce Buck and the other hangers-on and parasites that have done more damage to Roman’s Chelsea than any player (except Shevchenko). 

      He is very, very bad at managing down – ie, doing his actual job and getting the players to believe in him and his methods and want to play for him.  The fact he has been exposed as being tactically naive on a number of occasions surely doesn’t help their opinion of him. 

      The fact the entire squad – not just the, yawn, ‘old guard’ – have been playing so badly for so wrong surely shows there are serious issues with his style of management? Looking at the team that played on Saturday, this clearly isn’t as simple as  ‘player power’ (itself a stupid and unhelpful phrase), it’s about good versus bad management, pure and simple.

      Do we really want to throw loads of money at a man who has comprehensively failed to impose his vision and views on a previously very successful, professional and motivated squad that has already had around £100m lavished on it in the past 12 months?  

      I just don’t understand that view. 

      What on earth has he done at Chelsea so far to make you believe he has the ability? 

      • Ryan

        Ok. Could you please tell me what the next move is for Chelsea then?

        I can’t accept the view that AVB doesn’t know what he is doing because he is failing to pick Jacob Mellis and Billy Clifford. Whilst they’re talented lads they aren’t yet capable of producing consistent performances for the reserves. Nevermind in the PL. In a way I wish AVB would do exactly what some seem to want and pick all these youth/reserve team players and give Torres a go as a winger or whatever and when that proves to be a spectacular failure perhaps we won’t have to keep hearing about it.

        Did anyone see Josh McEachran play for Swansea the other week? He showed glimpses of his unquestionable talent but looked completely lost when Swansea were defending and got hooked just after the hour. I’m not slagging him off. I’m just making the point that he probably just isn’t ready yet. If he isn’t ready do we really think Clifford or Mellis are? The answer to all our problems isn’t lurking in the reserves.

        While I hear plenty of anti-AVB rhetoric/speculation I’m yet to see a sensible alternative or solution offered. Every time that question is asked there is deafening silence here.

        • PeteW

          Where have I said AVB isn’t picking enough kids? I’ve never said anything resembling that at all, quite the opposite in fact!

          My line is that he is not getting anywhere near the best out of a very good squad that is at his disposal and we are making no signs of progress. on the contrary, we are playing the worst football I’ve seen for years, and the squad, new and old, aren’t playing for him. Giving him more cash and the right to dismantle a previously successful squad based on an admittedly admirable talent for arse-licking seems like the height of lunacy. 

          Solutions? Well, this is exactly what I was saying last year when people were calling for the head of Carlo Ancelotti. I didn’t any decent alternatives then and I don’t now (although I would take Benitez and Capello over this clown), but the difference is last year we were lucky enough to already have a very good manager and this year we have AVB. 

          But that is a problem of Roman’s own making and one he has to sort out. It doesn’t mean I can’t point out that AVB is failing by any measure you wish to choose and doesn’t have the track record for us to have any faith he can turn it round.

          • radicalevan

            I guess I differ in that I don’t think we have a very good squad. I think we certainly did, 10 years ago. 5 years ago it was still pretty good. 2 years ago I had doubts, but we won the league. Nevermind that it was against the weakest United team in years. Now we can hardly get the whole squad out on the pitch but for injuries. 

          • Ryan

            Well yeah. We have an older squad that is in decline and a young manager who isn’t infallible. I suspect that their trajectories are different though and I’d prefer to back AVB to be in a better position in 5 years time than the majority of our squad. Obviously some would disagree and maintain that the squad is sufficient to provide success given the right manager.

          • PeteW

            This is 
            obviously a key point. My view is we finished second last season and the squad has since been strengthened a great deal by the addition of Mata. I don’t think it’s an amazing squad, but it’s easily as good as Spurs and 
            on a par with United. it’s far better than Arsenal, Liverpool 
            or Newcastle. 

            But I don’t expect a title challenge or miracle, I just expect signs that things are changing or improving, which they aren’t. 

        • ravenous1

          Meireles has played every game (barring Man Utd and Man City) in a manner that he couldnt be arsed to break into a sweat. He groans and moans after every failed chipped pass, every shot in Row Z and every rubbish corner but that’s all he does in the game. Not to mention his average qualities in other areas. Basically, he has been utter shite and its there for everyone to see.
          The argument is simple – Pick a homegrown kid. I ‘d say pick Clifford (its between him/piazon/mellis for the attacking midfielder spot). For starters, they might work their socks off to prove themselves. Evidently, Piazon has better technical qualities but I think Clifford would give more for the cause. He could very well not make a straight pass initially but what he’ll do is.. dust himself up and do that again proper until the time he lays it on a platter to Torres. Whether he scores or not is for another day but Meireles, from what I have noticed, would rather be a passenger in every single game apart from the occasional big match. The young lads can be given a earful, they’ll listen, they’ll improve. Meireles will gladly flip the bird if you question him. Worse that can happen is we lose a game or two exclusively because of the kid but it wont be for a lack of trying or being passionless and if we do manage to get the best out of a kid – so be it.
          Now, i am pro young guys from the reserves because I’ve seen the likes of Marc Albrighton,  Kerim Frei etc play aganst our boys. They were average! The reserve games are mistakes galore almost always.
          Point is Albrighton, Frei et al have had chances in the big time, at-least did OK initially despite being all heart and no tricks.

        • ravenous1

          Meireles has played every game (barring Man Utd and Man City) in a manner that he couldnt be arsed to break into a sweat. He groans and moans after every failed chipped pass, every shot in Row Z and every rubbish corner but that’s all he does in the game. Not to mention his average qualities in other areas. Basically, he has been utter shite and its there for everyone to see.
          The argument is simple – Pick a homegrown kid. I ‘d say pick Clifford (its between him/piazon/mellis for the attacking midfielder spot). For starters, they might work their socks off to prove themselves. Evidently, Piazon has better technical qualities but I think Clifford would give more for the cause. He could very well not make a straight pass initially but what he’ll do is.. dust himself up and do that again proper until the time he lays it on a platter to Torres. Whether he scores or not is for another day but Meireles, from what I have noticed, would rather be a passenger in every single game apart from the occasional big match. The young lads can be given a earful, they’ll listen, they’ll improve. Meireles will gladly flip the bird if you question him. Worse that can happen is we lose a game or two exclusively because of the kid but it wont be for a lack of trying or being passionless and if we do manage to get the best out of a kid – so be it.
          Now, i am pro young guys from the reserves because I’ve seen the likes of Marc Albrighton,  Kerim Frei etc play aganst our boys. They were average! The reserve games are mistakes galore almost always.
          Point is Albrighton, Frei et al have had chances in the big time, at-least did OK initially despite being all heart and no tricks.

  13. bluebayou

    Thanks for the comments all and particularly those Birmingham fans who passed through. Almost unheard of to get sensible posts from the opposition (Donkey Ears being one of the few that spring to mind). I still hope we win the replay but wish you luck in getting back up. And treat Houghton well. (A bit rich coming from us and the way we treat managers but …….)

  14. JONTY 1

    It’s ironical that the player who got the biggest cheer from the crowd when he was warming up alongside the East lower yesterday -Super Frankie Lampard-is  the player who has been doing most to undermine (publicly at least) AVB over the past few months since he no longer became a regular fixture in the team.There lies the problem for AVB..

  15. Ryan

    SAF has a huge advantage over most manager’s in that he can ram the carrot up a player’s arse and then beat him to death with the stick without any repercussions from players, directors, supporters or media because everyone knows there is no chance of him being sacked. No United player would dare question his authority. Not because he is always right but because they know he is bigger than any player at the club (he said as much himself). As such it would be them who would be shown the door. If we can’t back AVB now what message does that send to this group of players and the next? If the manager asks you to do something which doesn’t suit you then feel free to become totally demotivated and question his ability to do his job. If AVB is going to fail he has to be allowed to fail properly. Not on the whim of some players who think they would be better served by a different system, tactics, manager or whatever. If they can’t or won’t adapt they have to know that they must move on, not disrupt the club. If that is indeed the problem. I prefer to think that most players are trying their best (it’s in their interests afterall) but they are just not capable. It’s probably extremely frustrating for them and where there is frustration there is usually blame. Footballers are pretty self-confident chaps and will apportion blame to themselves last of all I would imagine. You don’t become a good footballer by doubting your own abilities. You’d pack it in before you achieved anything.

  16. WorkingClassPost

    Not sure that our patient requires a second opinion, but, I for one, wholeheartedly agree with our esteemed doctor’s report.

    We were poor, better, then poor again.

    Although DD’s arrival seemed positive, he wasn’t ultimately any more effective than FT, and it was Kalou’s introduction that really showed me what could have been. He might have been given some fancy 4-3-2-1 instruction, but we soon fell into a simple sort of 4-2-4 which suited our Boys from Brazil, and Ivan too.

    Suddenly their five man midfield were forced to defend, and the empty spaces were quickly exploited by us. And yes, Ramires for Lamps was the call, but with Napoli a few days away, it’s the manager’s decision, and we all know where the priority must be.

    Which brings us to the interesting bit.

    Can those not fully behind the AVB project work out that he, us (the supporters), and CFC, should have many more swipes at old Big Ears, but some of them may find that this really is closing time at the Last Chance Saloon?

    Call it ‘Bury the Hatchet’ or STFU, either way, Naples won’t be easy, so let’s finally get this season’s show on the road.

  17. Ryan

    Another decision that I thought was unfairly criticized was Mata’s substitution. He can’t play 90 minutes of every game. Booing AVB as though he doesn’t realise tha JM has quickly become (probably) our most relied upon player is mad. It’s a bit like the Oxlade-Chamberlain situation at Arsenal. Sure he has been one of their best players but that’s all the more reason to try to protect him a bit and not completely burn the lad out.

    • bluebayou

      Booing isn’t a great help I agree, but yesterday’s frustration surely grew out of the recognition that with the previous substitutions Mata was in a position where he was having a real influence on the game. A cup game that was there to be won for 10 minutes more effort from a key player.

      Granted we don’t have access to info on Mata’s physical condition but he looked to be blowing a lot less than Ramires who was just coming back from injury.

      • Ryan

        Yeah you might be right about yesterday but it isn’t the first time Mata has been subbed and it has been unpopular. Also Lamps is as adept as anyone at nicking a goal when required. Rami is coming back from an injury but he is widely regarded as the fittest player in the team. As you say though it’s tough to speculate on any player’s physical wellbeing.

        I forgot to mention BB, excellent report as ever and once again I’m looking forward to The Podding Shed more than the actual football.

        • Nick

          Yes, a splendid report BB. Have read it several times today.

          The Podding Shed #3 is in the can. I’m twiddling the knobs and getting everything ready for broadcasting and what have you. Will be up in about an hour. If you enjoy The Podding Shed and listen via iTunes, you can do us a favour by leaving a review.

  18. limetreebower

    Splendid report BB. And congratulations to the BCFC fans, collectively the sanest/most interesting visitors I can remember. (And they may be pleased to know that the worst ever, collectively, were the AVFC lot — remember them from a couple of years back?)

    Didn’t see game, trying not to think about it, etc etc. Fourth still seems possible but we’ll have to start thinking seriously about what will happen if we miss it. A pity, as it rather takes the shine of our few months of gleefully mocking the Manchester club for playing in that crap second-string comp… sorry, that ancient and prestigious and worthwhile competition, the European Cup.

  19. buddha9

    The question of whether to sack AVB is not an easy one. There’s good opinions on both sides and either decision  has a down side.

    I just feel that while team clearly needs a rejuvenation — while  we need a clean out and a new team needs to be developed, i wonder if AVB is really the man to do it –all he seems to offer currently is stubborness.

    Its also important to remember that he was mourinho’s scout not his assistant manager — he’s actually even less experienced than he looks at a man managing a team — his back room staff are equally inexperienced and he picked them — his subs are terrible and it appears he’s trapped in some plan he has in his head not in trying to get the best from the team he has in front of him –somethign which is surely the first job of any good manager. Someone more experienced in man management would have taken the older players with them. The way he’s treated lampard has just been childish.
    I can’t blame the players or RA either.
    The players esp our great spine  has carrried us to enormous glory despite year on year, stupid board room decisions — they’ve put up with Grant, scolari — they’ve had some real stinking coaches pushed on them —  they’ve proved how much they love the club over and over again — they probably know as much about coaching as AVB does and they’ve never failed to respond to a good coach — There seems to be an easy assumption among chelsea fans that they are all self interested egoists — i don’t see it  — i think they genuinely want to win things – people lump Terry in with the older players when he’s been our best defender for the last 2 years — lamps is still the seocnd best goal scorer and even Drogba has had decent games.
    A real manager more expereinced in man management would have got somethign more out of these ploayers not cut the off and start some phony civil war with them.
    As for RA he’s between a rock and a hard place — his business model demands he turn a medium sized club into an european powerhouse and the only way he can do that and keep below spending rules is for the club to be winning or there abouts every year — one year out of the 4 and his plan is done for — means that we’re alwasy on a tight rope much more so than Surs or Arsenal or even Liverpool — LFC get the same amount of publicty whether they’re first of sixth we can’t even get air time when we’re fourth — if we were sixth we’d get less publicity than Villa– its crucial to RA’s plans that we stay high profile

    AVB made a pact with RA at the beginning of the season — he would overhaul the squad while maintaining them in europe and the top 4  — the bottom line is it hasn’t happened and doesn’t look too likely either frankly.

     Is he getting the best out of the team?   For me the answers  no & he has to go before the floor falls in

    • Ryan

      Ok. So take that to it’s logical conclusion. Assume we’re all agreed AVB has to go. What then? Which top-level manager do we bring in next? And how long do we give him to turn us into Barcelona? 10 games, 20, a whole season? What if say Fabio Capello (for example) can’t turn Torres into RVP and Meireles into Iniesta? I suspect I know what would happen. He’d tighten up the defence and the midfield and start to grind out some results. He would be sacked too for failing to provide what RA wants. What then? Who then? We would’ve made no significant progress and the players that the system has been adapted for will be well and truly past it. Maybe RA will lose interest. Perhaps he will see the CPO’s unwillingness to allow him to truly own the club that he has done so much for as a lack of gratitude and a bar to progress. Never forget that had RA not bought CFC we would have been insolvent.

      I’m not necessarily blaming the players. I’m just saying that in football things don’t go the way you want every year. They just don’t. For example Barcelona. 10 points adrift of RM. Solution. Sack Guardiola. He’s become complacent after Barca’s success and is quite unable to motivate his team. That’s what CFC would do.

      You can’t keep sacking the manager over and over again. You might as well just not bother having a manager. Just sit a different supporter in the dugout every week, pay them £50,000 and let them be the scapegoat for that weeks performance. The players would be glad to be free of all those useless, incompetent managers holding them back. The managers who won trophies and had success with other groups of players. Nobody seems to want to say that some of these players just aren’t as good as they think they are or aren’t as good as they once were. If we get a new manager they almost certainly won’t turn this squad back into a team capable of winning the CL or the PL just like that. The problems are deeper rooted than just the way AVB takes training or man manages Frank Lampard despite certain press agendas.

      I’d really like to hear some ideas on what the next move is when some supporters, pundits, journalists get what they want. Who is going to manage us and what will they bring that will solve all of our problems?

      • GrocerJack

        Points I made in the podding shed. Following on from Sam Wallace this morning who said he admired AVB for being his own man. If you get sacked for being true to yourself and your ideas there’s some honour in that. Players should play for the club and for us, if they can’t or won’t then what the fuck is their point?

        As you say, who else would come in and make the difference? 

        Player power is the ultimate tail wagging the dog culture. 

        • Ryan

          I honestly don’t think he will be sacked. I think Abramovich is actually going to do the right thing this time. He is smart enough to know that the situation is different now to when he relieved big Phil of his duties. The power that the players have has dwindled with their ability. RA knows that just giving his senior players the manager they want will not solve the problems anymore because they are a huge part of that problem. Time was that it didn’t matter a toss who the manager was because the squad was good enough to look after itself (Avram being the clearest example). That time has passed for these players.

          On the suggested 4-4-2 formation Fat Nakago you need only watch Spurs second-half performance against us at WHL to see why so many managers don’t play this way anymore. You can lose control of the midfield far too easily. It can be made to work but only if you have a striker that can drop off into midfield, tackle, pass, work the channels and still have the drive to get back into the box when needed (Rooney is the perfect example of this). Its more flexible 4-4-2/4-5-1.

          I think playing Torres on the right of a diamond wouldn’t work. He isn’t a midfielder. He can’t tackle or defend and he doesn’t have the engine to get up and down for 90 minutes. That would truly be a square peg in a round hole. If Torres was a midfielder somebody would have noticed before now. Mata more central makes sense but not at the point of a diamond. Sure I see him as a trequartista but just having him, Rami, Fernando and Romeu would not work. Ramires is not a winger. Yeah he is quick and runs at people but he can’t cross the ball. His game is all about driving through the middle. Anyway my point was Fat Nakago it’s easy to come up with radical solutions to all our problems on paper but less so to make it work in practice. If AVB played the formation/players you’ve suggested I think we would probably perform pretty badly AND everyone would think that he has completely lost the plot and come down like a ton of bricks on his tactical naivety. I agree we need width. But it isn’t upto the manager to decide how the club spend. He identified January targets (Willian, Moura, Hazard, Jovetic etc) but it either wasn’t feasible or financially viable to bring them in at that stage.

          Regarding the DOF role this person wouldn’t be responsible for bringing talent into the club for AVB to coach that is Emenalo’s job as technical director. The DOF is more of a conduit from owner/board/directors to manager. He sets the agenda. I think RA has already set his agenda pretty clearly. I have to say I would’ve liked to see an experienced person appointed alongside AVB either as assistant or in the role you’re talking about. Steve Clarke would’ve been my first-choice as assistant manager. I think somebody who knows the PL inside out and that AVB respects would have been ideal. Guus has gone to Anzi for at least a year now anyway and AVB said he would not be prepared to be told how to do his job by a figure like that anyway. I’m pretty sure he has said that he would resign if such a situation were forced on him. So don’t hold your breath on that one.

          Haven’t listened to The Podding Shed yet but I will do later today. Thanks in advance for all your efforts lads. Much appreciated as always.

        • PeteW

          ‘Players should play for the club and for us, if they can’t or won’t then what the fuck is their point?’
          Managers should get the players playing for the club and for us, if they can’t or won’t then what the fuck is their point? 

      • Fuzzy Dunlop III

        I’m pretty certain Barcelona would seriously consider sacking Guardiola if he couldn’t get them into the top 4.  Just as I’m pretty certain if Man Utd didn’t finish in the top 4 there would be a clamoring for Fergie to step down.  Chelsea should never have sacked Carlo but once they had, why didn’t they go for Martin O’Neil?

  20. Fat Nakago

    I’ve been ranting about for awhile now. Attacking the way we have,
    if you could even call it an attack, is futile no matter who is at
    striker. It matters naught if it’s Drogba or Torres since there is no
    attack from the wings. We have no wingers, that’s ((one of)) the problem(s). There is no width
    to our attack so all the opponents have to do is jam the middle…double
    and triple team Torres/Drogba. We’re like a basketball team that should
    be playing more of swing offense but have no one who can drive the lane
    or hit the 3 point shot (sorry for the bit of basketball metaphor, but
    it’s the truth).

    Chelsea would be better served if Torres was a provider….a winger if you will. I think that would be a
    good thing. AVB should move him to some sort of hybrid midfield/winger
    position since he didn’t see fit to bring any wingers in during January. They
    spent 50 mill on him, might as well get their money’s worth.

    Of course,
    unless they also play Mata on the wing….nope put Ramires on the other
    wing…Mata in the middle…with Romeu out back….Sturridge and Drogba at
    striker. Hrrrrr. *flail* It’s still like putting square pegs in round
    holes. AVB’s change of philosophy or whatever it is be damned. I really have no idea what AVB’s philosophy IS anymore.

    Actually, DOING is honest philosophy. Maybe Chelsea should try THAT next Tues in Napoli. Just DO.

    One thing that Chelsea and AVB very DEFINITELY needs is a Director of Football…a person
    who would have the same function as a General Manager in the NFL here in the states. The Green Bay
    Packers have GM Ted Thompson who evaluates and brings in talent for Mike
    McCarthy and his staff to coach and win with (they went 15-2 this past
    season but picked the wrong game to play like shite in—the playoff loss
    to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Ginats). That’s what
    Chelsea really needs if they are going to rebuild and be the successful
    team we want them to be. They need a Ted Thompson. Whether that would be
    Gus Hiddink or someone else, it’s a position the club and the coaching
    staff needs.

    Here’s what we need to do:

    DO! Just do, don’t even think twice, let alone once.

    Start this lineup. A 4-4-2 diamond.

    Ivan Cahill Terry Luiz
    Torres Ramires
    Sturridge Drogba

    It doesn’t matter if that diamond is really a cubic zirconia and not a real diamond. It
    will have to DO. And the team will have to DO. Because, as I said, DOING

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  21. ravenous1

    Superb report, Blue Bayou! Really enjoyed reading it.

    As far as Meireles goes, I think AVB must’ve made some sort of a pact with him, prior to him signing that he loves him and will never drop him even if he stank the whole place out.
    There could be no other reason why Meireles, despite his woeful form for the best part of the entire season gets to start matches ahead of SFL, Piazon, heck even Jacob Mellis or Billy Clifford!

  22. Ryan

    That part wasn’t directed at you PW. Apologies if it read that way.

    Personally I’d take AVB over Rafa and Capello. Both have recent spectacular failures on their “track record”. Rafa wasn’t exactly inspiring the players who won the CL for Jose was he? And Fabio’s man management isn’t exactly beyond reproach considering the consensus regarding his tenure as England manager. We could quite easily appoint either and be having the same discussion about them 20 games in. I’m just not convinced by some track-record bit. AVB has already won more trophies in his career than Harry Redknapp. So what does that say about their track records. Popular opinion would have you believe that ‘Arry is a managerial master and AVB is a know nothing. But AVB’s achievements last year eclipsed what Harry has achieved over a lifetime.

    Anyway I respect your opinions and agree that for whatever reasons the performance this year has been unacceptable. I just don’t really see how sacking another manager will help particularly. Especially when nobody is able to provide a decent solution. Why not tough it out and see if we come out the other side. If we don’t, then fine. We gave AVB enough of a chance and he couldn’t take it. Maybe the solution will present itself in the meantime.

    • PeteW

      No fear, I think Rafa is rubbish and have doubts over Fabio, but such is my concern for what havoc AVB could continue to cause  if he carries 
      on the way he is going. Hell, 
      on Saturday I was reminiscing fondly over Avram Grant.

      ‘But AVB’s achievements last year eclipsed what Harry has achieved over a lifetime. ‘

      not sure I agree with this, securing two top four finishes withj Spurs given the huge financial disparities of the premier league is every bit as impressive as winning the league in Portugal with a team who have dominated it for a decade. I don’t think either is a managerial genius, but I certainly know which one is currently doing their job better.

      • Ryan

        What about winning a European trophy? At the age of 34? In your second full season as a manager. ‘Arry was still working out which way round the chalk and blackboard worked at that age. Apparently he still hasn’t got it fully sussed. I would say one thing against AVB however. No one likes a smart-arse, especially not footballers. Especially when things are not going to plan. Jose has always got away with being an arrogant fucker by providing (more or less) instant success. They didn’t like him in Italy but he won the treble at Inter and then left them to see what they’re missing. Harry Redknapp is a brilliant man manager because he can speak to players on a level. You can see when he is taking training and just chatting to the players that they genuinely like him. There is real friendship there. Modric wasn’t loyal to Spurs or Levy in the summer when he agreed to come back and do his best, even though Levy allegedly reneged on his agreement with him. He was loyal to Harry and the faith he showed in him. I still remember that we had the chance to sign Modric before he went to Spurs and didn’t for whatever reason.

        • Der_Kaiser

          All true.  Never really bought the line that ‘Arry doesn’t do tactics – think he’s a far smarter tactician than he’s given credit for and purposely plays up to the image of supposed tactical dunce.  Clearly a great motivator, though.

          • Ryan

            Yeah the blackboard crack was aimed more at his literacy skills than his tactics but Van der Vaart has said that Redknapp doesn’t mither the team with great long analyses of tactics etc. which he said he found thoroughly unhelpful at Madrid.

            Harry is pretty shrewd though and understands that players don’t need to be tacticians. They just have to be given their jobs to do and given the opportunity to maximize their talents. In horse racing the jockey doesn’t bother explaining his view of the race to the horse because the bugger wouldn’t understand anyway. He just puts him in the best possible positions to do what he can, when he can. Similar with (some) footballers I would imagine.

        • PeteW

          The Europa League? it’s impressive to a certain extent but it’s hardly the best barometer, I couldn’t tell you who won it the year before last, for instance. In fact, the only winning managers I could name are Mourinho and AVB, for 
          obvious reasons, so no idea how good you need to be to win it.

          It’s a disgrace, what UEFA have done to  that thing.

  23. Der_Kaiser

    A few thoughts.

    The whole situation is baffling me – I can usually offer an opinion one way or another, whether it be right or wrong, but what is happening is beyond my comprehension.  AVB has not handled certain aspects of his job at all well, but the situation he has inherited is far from ideal.  Yes, the squad is strong, but it lacks balance in certain positions which would appear to be stopping him from implementing whatever his plan might be.  Sensible option would seem to be playing your strongest side and tactically adapt it to their strengths, which is where he is struggling.  

    The ‘old guard’ issue is strange – I don’t buy the ‘player power’ stuff that gets regurgitated and it is unquestionably the manager’s job to inspire and motivate them.  That said, I don’t know whether there is a decline in the mentality and physical ‘will’ that helped us to the double; they obviously found last season tough but Carlo eventually pulled them round, but AVB’s change in style is clearly not agreeing with some.  Is another season pushing for the top just a bridge too far (so to speak) for some?

    Reminds me a bit of the ’99 side that went so close to winning the title before Claudio turned up; some of the older players had a little left in the tank after what must have been a physically and mentally draining season, others less so.  Claudio was pretty ruthless in changing the squad, but he was characterised as a bit of an amiable buffoon with a funny accent by the press who concentrated on that as opposed to any upheaval behind the scenes.

    I do wonder whether AVB’s supposed rift with Frank is more of a focus for the media because in general they like Frank and aren’t keen on AVB; the relationship between Claudio and Wisey was obviously far more strained, but the manager ultimately more likeable than the player to the press pack.

    The ‘leaks’ from within concern me – too much is made of them, but irrespective of whether the manager is liked or not, the constant mutterings from within the camp when times are tough have hindered the man in charge too often in recent years, and I’m pleased that the manager seems to be tackling it.  As we mention in the podcast (plug, plug), whether his ‘Roman backs my project and that’s all that matters’ stance will ultimately prove to be his downfall is anyone’s guess.

    I also wonder how much the JT case has had an affect on morale.  I can’t be an ideal situation and you do wonder whether there are doubts within the camp about his protestations of innocence – that’s got to be fairly corrosive whichever way you look at it.

    AVB’s manner doesn’t help him – we’ve been fairly lucky in having quite likeable and/or charismatic managers in the last decade and a half (I didn’t like Grant one bit but even his manner with the media was better); AVB is neither and it really shows.  He’s too prickly, talks in management speak football style and clearly doesn’t welcome criticism.  You need a pretty thick skin to manage the goldfish bowl that is Chelsea, and he is clearly too easily wound up.  Not a good mindset – our current position makes any game against United almost an irrelevance, but I’d hate to see what would happen if there was anything riding on a fixture with them – Fergie would eat him alive and make Rafa look calm and composed by comparison.

    In short, for me he’s growing up in public and not having an easy time of it.  The main problem is I just don’t see what the options are if he goes; all the Guardiola / JM wishes are somewhat fanciful to say the least.  You then move on to someone less experienced who will need time to adjust – they might wring a little more from the older players, but the issue of replacing the core of the team isn’t going to go away.

    Other concerns – Torres.  Did see a comment on a Guardian article about AVB yesterday on Nando’s woes; the poster basically suggested that while they’d usually laugh heartily at the misfortune of a £50m Chelsea striker being so bloody woeful, their recent reading of the Robert Enke biog made them think twice about doing so.

    Thought it rather overdramatic at first, but the guy is now looking so lost and by his own admission, unable to shift the block to get him scoring surely it has to be time for him to sit down with a qualified professional and talk about where his head is at.

    One way and another, where AVB finds himself is a fairly messy situation, some of which he has contributed to himself through inexperience and manner, but some he has inherited.  The choice is clear – Roman either sticks with the bloke and backs him to rebuild the team or he boots him out and shifts the problems onto someone else.  The season he had in Portugal suggests there is at least something about the guy – whether his methods just don’t travel well or that he’s simply taken on the task 3-5 years too early, only time will tell.

    • PeteW

      Well-balanced argument, I think Jonny. I’ve obviously set my stall against AVB but I do want to make clear that I begin every game hoping that’s he done the trick and we’re going to start performing – I have no desire to see the team play like this and want to be proved wrong, but am convinced I am right. I am also still very angry that we allowed this situation develop by the diabolical mistakes made at senior level in 2010 (which, I admit, I didn’t recognise at the time).

      I’ve also considered the Ranieri/Wise thing, but don’t see Lampard in the same category. he’s far more intelligent and professional and the fact he is so clearly unhappy (and I think this goes beyond his personal situation) gives me real concern. Some fans are accusing him of selfishness and an obsession with sticking around to break Tambling’s record but that just does not ring true. 

      I doubt the leaks come directly  from  a player – and given the fact the entire squad is unhappy, they could come from numerous sources aware of the mood in the camp. 

      • Der_Kaiser

        Cheers.  I’ve likened it to a ‘perfect storm’ before and the more time goes on, the more convinced I am of that.  Too many short-term decisions, too many managers undermined and booted out unceremoniously, an erratic approach to transfer policy and youth development has left us where we are and getting out of it is not going to be pretty.

        The man left to try and pull it altogether looks to be inexperienced and struggling to impose himself on the club, but I’m not certain who else would do a better job (OK, there are managers that would, but they’ve either a) been here already b) wouldn’t go near us or are c) Rafa).

        I’m hopeful that the least we’ll get in the next season or so a gradual renewal of certain areas of the squad, to stay in contention for the top 4 and maybe the odd cup run.  Sort of a Claudio-era change, hopefully followed by a manager who will turn them into winners.  History repeating itself, in other words…

        Would be very Chelsea for it all to go completely tits in spectacular fashion, though.

  24. bluebayou


    You resemble John the Baptist, clothed in animal skins, overgrowing with hair and beard, wandering the desert, living off wild locusts urging who ever will listen that we should ignore false gods ’cause the new Messiah will soon be amongst us.

    Some of us will come down to the “Jordan” for Baptism, others will doubt, more will mock.

    You’ll probably lose your head at some point but can rest in the knowledge that when the Messiah is amongst us we’ll all recognise your truth and proclaim him loudly.

    Then of course we’ll hit a bad patch and crucify the poor sap.

  25. Blueboydave

    Another good podcast, chaps.

    Mark’s comment about the “movement” of the stewards in front of the MH stand  reminds me that on the few occasions in recent years when some idiot decides to go for his 15 seconds of fame by running on the pitch one of the stewards has shown an impressive turn of pace in apprehending them that would put all of our leaden squad to shame.

    Sign this man up immediately.

    Was all the to-and froing caused, perhaps, by some of the punters behind the goal threatening to advance on the irritating son-of-Neville-Southall performing his slow motion goalkicks?

  26. WorkingClassPost

    Good to see that we’re continuing the old ‘get rid of manager/player/ball-boy/groundsman/whoever’ routine which usually precedes a big match – there’s hope for us yet.

    I’m holding fire at this time because we do seem able to lift our game for these big ones.

  27. Cunningplan

    No doubting we do tend to lift our game for the big ones.
    I don’t think Napoli are anything special, the basis from the media and pundits with regard their credentials is that they beat Citeh 2-1 at home in the group stage. Didn’t we beat Citeh by the same scoreline a few of months back?

    Besides we all know that this competition requires huge slices of luck, as well as skill, we currently don’t have the skill, but surely we’re due a change of luck.  We also know that you don’t have to win any of the games to get to the final, just the right sequence of draws will do us fine, and we seem to be expert at that currently.

    I’m not saying we’re going to win it, but cast your minds back to recent history, 2005 to be exact. The eventual winners finished 5th in the league 37 points behind the champions that year, and bragged they were the best team in Europe.

    If it’s good enough for the self proclaimed most knowlegable fans in football, it will be good enough for me if we manage it.

    • Benjami

      Napoli aren’t anything special but the problem is if they go for it and lose it doesn’t matter to them. They have done great getting out of their group and anything more is a bonus.

      For us we are expected to win and not to lose.

      Unless AVB can light a fire under the players (which I haven’t seen for a bit) we are in danger of getting stage fright and just whimpering out of the Champs league 🙁

  28. George

    Thoroughly enjoyable read. Most entertaining of all the reports I’ve read. And I have read a lot. The reason I have read a lot is that I’m a Birmingham fan, and 1-1 at Chelsea represents a good result for us. I pretty much agree with your analysis (watched on Tele France 4 who thoughtfully screened 5 of the FA Cup ties). Chelsea don’t appear to be the team they could be given the talent available, but I just don’t trust you to play badly in the replay. We’ll see. If I could put in  a word for Birmingham. We were away to a great Premiership side and missing our two first choice strikers. We relied on organisation more than creativity, its true, but in that situation it was our best bet.

    Anyway, really just wanted to congratulate you on the article. Good luck in the Napoli game

    • bluebayou

      Thanks George. Appreciated. And yes perhaps a bit too peroccupied with navel gazing as one of the official “clubs in crisis” to have acknowledeged that you weren’t at full strength. It would certainly have been interesting to see whether the presence of Zigic and King would have allowed you to be a bit more adventurous. But we were at home and it was on us to take the initiative. So apart from a slight irritation at Doyle insisting on having a 3 course meal every time he should have been taking a goal kick, there was nothing wrong with your approach. Then again if we’re 1-0 up at yours with 85 minutes to go I’ll be looking at Cech to the same. ‘Tis the natural hypocrisy of the fan.

  29. bluebayou

    I’m making another comment because the one above was my six hundred and sixty you know what comment and given the recent stuff about superstition you’ll understand my wish to knock the clock on one. Hope being decent to a Birmingham fan helps offset that number. But shit now I’m on six hundred and you know the one after which is worse apparently. Stand by

  30. bluebayou

    Right this should get me over the hump. Happy Mardi Gras for tomorrow. Or Pancake Day. Or Shrove Tuseday. Strange that Chelsea should spend Pancake Day in the birthplace of the pizza.

    Their both thin,
    Their both round 
    They’re cheap and nutritious foodstuffs
    La La La La La La La La La

      • bluebayou

        The wonderful thin pizza from Il Baccio in Stoke Newington is actually easier to cut than the rubbery nonsense I’ve been known to confect for my hapless children of a Saturday morning when they’ve asked for pancakes, but I take your point.

  31. Fiftee


    I do think the kids should have had a chance by now and I dont think we’d be any worse off for having tried them.

    Bosingwa (this seasons recipient of Fiftee-sponsored vitriol) is a clown. A fucking big clown. A defensive Walcott, he can run lots, and do it quickly, but can’t do a thing with the ball. Except give it away. Our mono-browed Portugese Man of Poor could not have performed any worse. Chalobah may not be a huge improvement right now, but he’d be no worse. And at least we’d be accepting of his mistakes as someone on a learning curve. Bosingwa is just an embarrassment.

    Lukaku scores for the reserves. Torres doesn’t for the first-team. Why not swap them? No goals from Lukaku in the first team leaves us exactly where we are. Maybe Fernando needs that drop down. Lukaku was told last week the strikers role against Brum was him or Torres. Dint even make the squad in the end as Drogba appeared as if by magic.

    Im not sure (like most) how to interpret what’s going on. I keep hearing about 3 year projects, yet have seen nothing to indicate what that means. AVB has had a transfer window and a half and doesn’t appear to have bought anyone HE actually wants. We’re stockpiling Europes talented kids and loaning them out as they’re not part of his plan (whose plan they are part of is another mystery) yet he’s showing us nothing new. We’re blundering on with the same tired faces and same tired tactics. If Lamps or Torres or A N Other aren’t part of the plans, don’t pick them for posterity. Pick an alternative. Yeah, they might be youth players but fuck me, every other club does it. Most other clubs have one or two that get in the first team straight from the youths. We dont.

    We’ve got a plan. Only we’re not telling anyone what it is. For 3 years.

    • Cunningplan

      I can certainly agree with the thinking behind playing the kids instead of some of the under performing seniors. The flip side to that is, and Arsenal are a prime example, any confidence the youngsters may have will eventually be eroded out of them with loses. Arsenal have no leadership when things get tough, and we’ve seen that over the past few years, I think it was Mark that pointed it out in the podcast, that he fears we’re turning into Arsenal.

      Didn’t JM point out the importance of a first trophy (Carling Cup) to instill a winning mentality for the group? I’d rather be a Chelsea fan than an Arsenal fan at the moment, because unless they pull off a herculian performance at the Emirates next week, then we can safely say another season without anything.

      So we’re back to my favourite word, perspective, perhaps old age has made me more patient and mellow with regards all things Chelsea. Or perhaps I’m just resigned to the fact, that as a football club, we just love letting off both barrels in the direction of our feet.

    • Ryan

      My major concern was Jacob Mellis or Billy Clifford coming into the midfield. I just don’t think they’re ready or are the answer to our problems.

      Nat Chalobah is the outstanding performer in the reserves/youth in my opinion and I wouldn’t have a problem with him moving into the first team squad. Lukaku’s fitness has held him back. In the Fulham game he was fucked after an hour. He was also one of the heaviest players in the league when he arrived (maybe Chris Samba is heavier?). His ability is not in question.

      Frankly I d be happy to have a go myself instead of Bosingwa, so agreed there.

      I do think though that whatever anyone says if we started, say, Jacob Mellis in midfield in a PL game it wouldn’t be helpful for him or us. I don’t think he’d cope very well or deal with the intensity. Also these young players are far more likely to suffer injuries as their growth plates are still open. I’d refer you to my point about McEachran. He is our outstanding talent but its not that easy to just walk into first-team football, as he is finding out at Swansea.

      Part of my point was also that if AVB started picking reserve/youth team players over the regs and we/they performed very poorly, got injured or whatever then he would carry the can. It’s easy to be brave on here and say “Meireles is shit, just pick Billy Clifford instead” but in reality how many managers who are under pressure and need to win games drop seasoned internationals for youth team players? If Mellis or Clifford or any of the youth/reserve players were tearing the arse out of our regular midfielders in training they would be starting to get in the squad at least (Piazon for example).

      The bigger picture is that plenty of our youth team players go out on loan to weaker sides with a view to getting in their first team and don’t make the grade. So I’m not sure it’s as simple as saying we don’t give them a chance. How many products of our academy that supposedly didn’t get a chance have left us and gone to another top side and become world-class players? Name them? (Borini is doing quite well). I just don’t go along with the view that we’re letting major talents slip-through the net by not letting them play in the first team before they are ready.

    • Cunningplan

      I’m shocked, surely it can’t be true, not that consumate professional Mr. Giggs, and an honourable family man as well.

    • WorkingClassPost

      This Ryan Giggs stuff is beyond my comprehension.

      Mr fucking Giggs!

      What is going on?

      He’s a liar and a damned fraud who used an insinuation that this woman had been ‘trying to blackmail him’ as a pretence to gain a press injunction. but “in December 2011, Mr Giggs accepted that she had not been blackmailing him.” Yet he still expects the injunction to stand?

      I thought that ‘Mr Giggs’ was a footballer, not a poxy banker – one law for them, another for us.

      And when did you hear JT referred to as ‘Mr Terry’, when his supposed dalliances were subject to media scrutiny? One law for Chelsea and one for Manu.

      And talking bankers, not sure who’s been following this whole Banker-Fraud/Greece/Merkozy stuff, but the shit-storm that’s building up will make AVB’s time with us resemble a proverbial walk in the park.

      Anyway, undaunted and replete with Pasta, Pancakes and Pinot, I’m off to find a hostelry with a not slightly moody version of Sky that will hopefully be showing the game.

      Napoli, btw, are a seriously tough proposition, and anything that we get will be well earned.

      My two pence, now where’re my shoes?

  32. Blueboydave

    And in an afternoon of shocks I think the Grauniad’s Fiver column has actually printed a story almost defending AVB against the media shitstorm he’s being subjected too, though it leavens it with the obligatory dig at JT and a broken link to that Gazetta story mentioned below.

    There again, perhaps I just got lost in the layers of irony…..

  33. Ryan

    Also, before I head off to work. I saw highlights of KDB’s Genk winning 2-1. He scored one (good run and finish on his left foot) and supplied the cross for the other (good ball, cutting back in on his right foot). He was the outstanding player in the game but even to my untrained eye the match was more like something you see on The Football League Show rather than MoTD, so I m not surprised that AVB and Emanelo don’t necessarily see him as immediate first team material.

    I don’t have a problem with buying up young talent. If they’re good enough they’ll get in the team. It’s certainly better than spending tens of millions on established players only to find their best days are behind them. It fits with our new sustainable, FFP friendly philosophy which will become more and more important as time goes on.

  34. Fiftee

    As bad as he’s been this season, Ashley Cole with his left leg amputated is still preferable to Bosingwa at LB. if Ashley is not fit, you can’t put him on the bench. It’s simple, or so you’d think.

    No Essien or Lamps (not a huge surprise with Lamps I guess) either. FFS Malouda instead of Essien.

    I know the games not started as we could be surprised. If he pulls it off then fair play, it’s a master-stroke.

    But to me, it looks like utter lunacy. What a ridiculous selection.

  35. Benjami

    Bos played well at left back a few weeks ago as I recall. Better than I have seen him at right back all season 😛

    I am happy with the side, the only change I would have made is Essien instead of  Meireles. However Essien has just came back from a serious injury so, there is some logic there.

    Mikel lacks the pace and passing ability for this game, so we have no choice but Meireles.

    No choice but Malouda, Mata has to play central, that means Lamps can’t play, no-one else is available who can play on the left.

    The side picks itself.

    Makes me wish we still had Ballack playing for us, that was such a mistake ;/

    Already annoyed about all this “inspired” AVB selection from Sky. Looks pretty normal to me

  36. Shy gok

    bloody Mireles! Ramires is fit but doesnt have enough games to be ready at his best..idiotic AVB and his Hulk act..irritating,,lets see whats in store..gutted with the second goal 🙁

  37. Benjami

    Yes, I wouldn’t mind a bit more power and defensive control in our midfield. We are looking good though, AVB has done well with the half time team talk.

    Here  is hoping we get the goal our current play deserves and don’t concede another silly goal.

  38. Benjami

    Great subs, AVB! He has picked the right team for me with the options he had tonight.

    If the game ends like this we easily have the ability to turn them over at SB. Would prefer another goal though to make it 3-2. They are defensively almost as bad as us 😛

    • Blue_MikeL

      The only problem I have is that we never look like scoring, we completely dominate the game, but just can’t get in to right places!!! Doesn’t matter who is is on the pitch no matter in what formation or combination we don’t create chances!!! Napoli creates them one after another. 

      • Benjami

        Well I think this team finishing now should pretty much be our first team till JT is back.

        Gary Neville is right there, who cares that we don’t create chances we have conceded 3 goals tonight that has to be our number 1 priority to fix now.

        Essien must start the next game in place of Meireles who was culpable for the first goal.

  39. Blue_MikeL

    To tell you the truth I am really confused with what I see from to game. It is all looks one big tragedy, it stopped to be comedy long time ago went into tragedy and now threatens to return again to comedy stage.

  40. Dylbo Baggins

    I think Sturridge can be a big, big star for Chelsea- the sort of player that leads us back up the table…

    But, right now, he is in danger of turning into Joe Cole. 

    We know you have good skills and fast feet- stop fking about with the ball and get it into the box. You don’t need to take on 4 defenders and run in close to goal every single fking time. 

    It’s just all so predictable.

  41. JONTY 1

    Meireles and Ramires both had shockers.Meireles at fault for first goal and he and Ramires gave the ball away repeatedly.Ivanovich was also very poor both going forward and in defence and on todays showing is not the answer to our right back problem.Drogba displayed further evidence that his best days are well behind him and I really do think it is time we gave Sturridge a go down the middle for a few games at least.Although we had a lot of possession in the second half I never felt we would score again.and this lack of goals will continue to cost us dear all the while we are leaking goals at the other end.Worrying times indeed  

  42. True Blue

    Thought cahill was a bit crap tonight as well … Worrying.

    It’s probably for the best we got out of the champs league now and focus on the league then get to the semis and lose at the expense of 4th place in the league.

    Same goes for the FA cup. I cannot stress enough how hard it is not qualify for the champs league one season and then get it the next. You can’t attract big players and you lose revenue. Just look at liverpool … Their stuck buying Adams and Carroll while selling (what the time was their star player) torres.

  43. Gleb

    Disclaimer: I’m a staunch AVB supporter.

    However, the worst part of current “form”, to me, is that it wasn’t necessarily a bad performance today, it wasn’t all about defensive errors and whatnot. We didn’t play well, mind you, but there’s really no one to blame and no one to single out (as a stand-out performer). The problem now seems to be that this is our level. Plain and simple. This is the Chelsea FC of today. This is the norm. From the way we played to the way the players carried themselves after the match it seems that they’re not… disappointed (as they were after that famous Ovrebo debacle), they’re just… upset that their former might has waned.

    You know what I mean? And that’s a huge catastrophe, much worse than today’s result or not getting into the Champions League. We’re not winners anymore. Now it isn’t about a bad day or a good day, it’s about us playing this way on a permanent basis that corresponds to our collective ability. I might be right, I might be wrong, but it’s heart-breaking nonetheless. To realize that what we’re currently going through isn’t a “blip” or a “crisis”, it’s a fundamental drop. This is how we play now. Today my fears got another confirmation. No one seemed to care all that much not because they’re lazy bastards but because they probably realize that it’s all over. That we’ve hit the ceiling. Sure, we might produce miracles, just like any other team, or we might have a REALLY bad day, but most of the time we’ll be like this: so-so. Like your average Bayer, Valencia or Arsenal. No one expects Arsenal to win anything anymore (for a looong time). If they do manage to produce a quality result (like that over-hyped Barcelona game), fair play to them. But most of the time they’re somewhere close, something playing dazzling football but never quite there. That’s what we’re turning into.

    Now the question is: is it solely AVB’s fault or not? As his fan, I may be biased, but I honestly don’t know… He’s a great manager, he knows his stuff really well and you don’t need to be a fucking screaming maniac to manage a top club with highly-paid professionals. AVB is definitely NOT helping, but my biggest fear is that whoever we get in return would, at most, kind of “hide” our many failings, not rectify them. Sure, someone like Capello might set up our defense to not be as leaky, but are we ever going to reach the top again? Not necessarily even in terms of trophies, because we never won the damn UCL but everyone around knew that we’re a huge force to be reckoned with, Avram or not Avram. Now it seems no matter who we get to replace AVB, it’ll never quite go away. We might start getting better results, but you do realize it isn’t all about the results. It’s about the atmosphere, the mentality, it’s about confidence, it’s about the way you play (and I don’t strictly mean that tiki-taka bullshit). It’s about being someone, like them shrinks say. Now we’re just someone’s shadow, and I can’t blame it all on AVB. Can you?

    As for that “stolen” snapshot, I think it’s fake. There couldn’t have been so many changes in the line-up within the next 6 hours, like they say. Maybe it’s AVB’s, but from before, like a draft (cause the opponent’s formation matches that of Napoli). But I definitely like that snapshot thing more than what we get in the end. Is AVB just scared to fully and properly implement his thoughts? Cause that paper has much of what a lot of fans have been asking for (for example, Studge as CF).

  44. Fiftee

    *Pulls up a chair. Takes a seat. Waits for someone to defend Luiz (notes irony of using ‘defend’ and ‘Luiz’ without adding ‘cannot’ or ‘unable to’)*

    Not entirely awful I suppose. Only a fantasist / certified delusional mental type would have expected a clean sheet. The lack of anything approaching defensive communication and cohesion is massively concerning.

    Mereiles being average seems to have passed me by recently, but what actually is the point in him?

    Little of note up front. Drogs in and out of the action.

    The whole things sadly predictable and uninspiring. As Gleb excellently highlights, this is us now. There seems to be an acceptance from the players. None of them seemed particularly upset. Yes, the tie’s only half over but that Napoli front 3 didn’t have to work that hard for goals. Served up on a plate by Captain Charity again. Imagine having Cavani and / or Lavezzi next season…..

  45. Guest

    À la The Podding Shed:
    Good: David Luiz (despite his poor clearance for their 3rd goal, however costly it may be) consistently broke their attacks and consistently ignored sideways pass for a forward one. 
    Bad: Sturridge’s inability to choose correctly between a pass and a dribble. 
    Ugly: Our inability to attack – lack of movement, lack of 1-2s, lack of forward pass.

  46. WorkingClassPost

    Are we becoming truly delusional? Napoli are a top Euro side just now – sort of Italian Rottenham.

    3-2 would’ve been great, 4-1 a disaster, 3-1 is tough, but not impossible.

    What’s more shite, is that 4th spot is still our most challenging target, and AVB has taken the media bait and feels he needs to respond whenever they talk shit, which is all the time.

     A bit of advice to CFC:- Perhaps we shouldn’t sack AVB just yet, though that time might not be far away, but please do kick the shit out of whoever got rid of Ray Wilkins.

  47. 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?

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