Some things can be measured absolutely where as others can only be measured relatively or subjectively.
A pint glass containing half a pint of beer is filled to 50% of its capacity. But is it half full or half empty? It’s a subjective judgement depending on your state of mind.
There are those (you know who you are, you know who you are…) who have considered this season to be half empty, desperate for it to end and put it behind us and start afresh, following the resurrection of the chosen Special One.
Personally I view Season 2012/13 as pretty close to the pint marker. Having followed Chelsea for the best part of 50 years I’ve seen plenty of ups and downs with more lean years than years of plenty. Therefore my subjective measurement is based on expectation levels set between 1963 and now.
On a cold day some folk think it’s evidence we’re entering another ice age. But I remember 1963. On a hot day folk get panicky about global warming. But I remember 1976. So instead of getting hysterical, like a Daily Mail headline writer, one or two losses don’t make me inclined to search www.nostradam.us for references to mad Rafa, the devil incarnate.
Looking at the season through my blue-tinted spectacles the glass filling achievements are:
- Played in Monaco for the European Super Cup – only one other team in Europe can say that.
- Played in Japan for the World Club Cup – only three other teams in the world can say that.
- Reached the semis of the Capital One Cup. Where were the likes of Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool who should be desperately seeking any kind of silverware and need it far more than us?
- Reached the semis of the FA Cup. Man City on their day are a top side. We lost. Surely we’ve played at new Wembley more times than England.
- Played in the Champions League.
- Third in the Premier League. For some clubs this is their raison d’être, with Arsenal desperate to complete cell B12 of their Excel spreadsheet titled “Champions League revenues (opportunity to fleece the fans before we sell our best players)”.
- Won the Europa League. Yes I know it’s not the Champions League. We’ve got so used to eating at the high table with Roman and sharing his Kobe beef that we’re all feeling a bit miffed to find a basic sirloin stuck on our plates. I’m delighted with any cut of meat. Our neighbours wouldn’t recognise meat even if it spun wildly out of control from its rotating skewer and hit them on their heads.
- We have some amazing talent and they are still way off their prime, with years of active service left. Mata and Hazard in particular and hopefully Oscar and Luiz. The skills and interplay displayed by our three amigos is a joy to watch and as good as anything I’ve witnessed.
- Frank Lampard becoming all-time top scorer. Some would argue whether he’s our greatest ever player but surely he’s our greatest ever midfielder? And the fulfilment of his greatness came in 2013, an extra squirt from the pump to raise the liquid level nearer the pint marker. His seminal moments just keep coming and coming.
- It’s about winning real trophies. In a previous life I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and for the last 16 years have run my own business. I’m theoretically and practically aware of the need for predictable recurring revenue. At Chelsea I’m a fan and it’s not my role to worry about the revenue streams. I want to win every game and I dismay at managers and fans who are willing to sacrifice cup games to protect future revenue streams.
As I arrived at my seat I found a free gift. The club’s generosity knows no bounds with two presents in one week following my free flag in Amsterdam. Today’s gift was a piece of thin card folded seventeen times to form a fan, which when held tight at one end with a rubber band creates a sound-making device. I used to fold paper when I was younger, once in half and then once again into quarters. The advantages of this simpler form of origami were twofold.
It was a carnival atmosphere and the game extremely open and played in good spirits. We took a first half lead after Howard’s poor save pushed the ball at Mata’s feet. Everton equalised soon after.
In the second half Torres scored his second in a week to give us the win. Has he left his resurgence too late and will he be out the door before next season?
Final score of 2-1 means we’re straight into the Champions League. This score kept Arsenal in fourth (and hopefully they’ll fall at the pre-qualifier next August) and the shit from the Lane left in fifth so I guess the Gareth Bale auction has already started.
As is customary the players performed a lap of honour. Paulo Ferreira was out first carrying the Europa League trophy. His contract has expired so this was his goodbye and the fans gave him warm applause. No such luck for Rafa who didn’t dare venture out onto the pitch which I think is a real shame. He’s done his best for us and despite getting abuse from thousands has acted professionally and with charm throughout. I’d have been happy to clap and thank him for his efforts.
I view Season 2012/13 as a very good season. Not the greatest season, Premier League wins and Champions League wins must stand above as our greatest, but good nonetheless.
The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “There was a banner unfurled from the upper tier of the Shed end that read, simply: “Thank you, Rafa Benítez. Job done”. The majority of the Chelsea support in this arena would have been loth to agree publicly, but this awkward marriage of convenience has at least ended with an element of satisfaction. Victory courtesy of Fernando Torres’s late winner ensured the reigning European and Europa League champions end a difficult and draining season in third. It is time for interim and manager to go their separate ways.”
The Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Wilson: “It has taken fully 49 games but finally, with a trophy in the cabinet and a place in the Champions League secure, there was appreciation at Stamford Bridge for Rafael Benitez. It came in the form of a small sign. ‘Thank-you Rafa. We forgive you. Good luck.’ Seven words but enough nevertheless to reinforce the fact that Benitez, who did not come out for the post-match lap of honour, will depart with respect, if not affection, from the Chelsea supporters.”
The Independent, Glenn Moore: “The departing Paulo Ferreira was first out to a standing ovation – he carried the Europa League trophy. Next was John Terry, in full kit even though he had not played. Frank Lampard followed, then everyone else: the players, all their children, back-room staff, physios, media officers, kit men, et cetera. Still one man remained absent: the interim manager.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Third place in the Barclays Premier League was safely secured by goals from our two top scorers for the season, Chelsea Player of the Year Juan Mata finding the net early in the first half with Fernando Torres scoring the winner with a sharp finish with quarter of an hour left to play.”