Roman, for the time being at least, seems to have done roamin’. He came back from his self-imposed exile / business commitments / massive sulk to see his boys make the last eight of the FA Cup in reasonable style. Or maybe to meet Delia and swap salted cod recipes, I’m not sure which. Did anyone sing him a song?
Frankly, he should stay away more often; seventeen goals scored and six clean sheets on the bounce in his absence. He probably wondered who the bloke in the funny hat between the sticks was. Might be that £50 million player Jose mentioned last month – a bargain, given recent performances I’d say.
Someone down at the Bridge clearly thought the Boss’s absence was down to a bout of homesickness and has turned the pitch into a replica of a ploughed field in Siberia. Very thoughtful of them, but it rather looks as though Craig Bellamy has been playing golf on it right now.
The trenches down in SW6 have already claimed a couple of victims this season; our own Ashley Cole and David Marshall, the Norwich keeper who lasted just over ten minutes on Saturday before disappearing down a pothole. One wonders whether there is some sort of critter lurking beneath the pitch waging a guerrilla war with the groundstaff, a la ‘Caddyshack’.
By the time we return to the Bridge next month thankfully the mud and divots will be gone, replaced by a swathe of England’s green and pleasant for the umpteenth time in the last five years. Much is made of our wage bill; personally I’d like to know how much we’re shelling out on turf and topsoil these days.
But we should have left it until after the United game, in my humble opinion. It might not alter the destination of the Premiership title by means of unfair advantage, but watching Ronaldo end up on his arse after trying to pirouette his way over an eighteen inch divot might raise a nationwide smile for a few moments.
A busy week awaits us; a nice trip to Porto and a fizzy cup final meeting in some godforsaken place several hours down the M4 with a team from about six miles away. I flew over Wembley last week. It looked fine to me. The pitch was green, the seats were in place – what more do you need?
The hacks must be drooling after a lull in the Chelsea related maelstrom of a few weeks back; if Jose can’t create some sort of red-top riot out of a meeting with his former club and a cup final against Arsene and Arsenal, he’s definitely lost his touch. After the fictitious guff about Sheva the snitch, the tabloids should at least have the odd genuine Mourinho outburst to play with come this time next week.
We’ve really planned ahead for a busy couple of months; internal scrapping and injuries (generally) out of the way, no superfluous additions to the fixture list. United and Arsenal both added an extra game to their already crowded seasons this weekend; a half-strength United side failed to overcome a half-strength Reading side and Blackburn dared not to play the beautiful game down at the Emirates, rotten spoilsports that they are.
This annoyed Cesc Fabregas, who engaged Mark Hughes in a frank and philosophical discussion about conflicting football styles and their mutual former employer, Barcelona. (I’d love to have seen this occur a few years ago with Sparky in his boots, rather than suited on the touchline. You can almost hear the crunching of bones now.)
Arsene Wenger prepared for the week ahead by saying that, “If you’re dealing with someone who’s only wearing his underpants, if you take them off he’s naked. You’re better off giving him some trousers.” Well, it’s not the sort of logic that I’m prepared to argue with anyway.
Elsewhere, Liverpool indulged themselves in some team bonding ahead of their trip to Barcelona, presumably something introduced by the new American management regime. In a surprising departure for a football team, it involved drinking and fighting after a night on the karaoke machine. Those crazy Yanks – what will they think of next?
Barcelona themselves seem to be imploding at a rate of knots, with the ever-lovable Samuel Eto’o falling out with most of his team mates and Frank Rijkaard. Imagine an argument between those two – there’d be more phlegm on the walls than was flung at the Sex Pistols during their entire career. Couldn’t happen to a nicer couple.
So while others draw and bicker, having been through waters even bumpier than the Stamford Bridge pitch, down in West London the ship seems to have steadied. Roman has come home, the goals are flowing, the sheets are clean and barring the odd dislocated shoulder, all is right with the world.
Where are the tales of civil war, boardroom in-fighting, power struggles, replacement managers waiting in the wings and aggrieved star players telling tales to the owner? Where are the battling draws with lower league sides and the last minute winners in epic 3-2 clashes with mid-table teams? Boring, boring Chelsea…