Chelsea 2-1 Everton – You’ve Never Had it So Good

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 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.

The Match

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.

Press Reports

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.”


7′ Mata 1-0
14′ Naismith 1-1
76′ Torres 2-1

There are 48 comments

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  1. Fat Nakago

    I’m not quite ready to give my wrap up take on the season just. I’m glad we won our final match. I’m glad we won the Europa League. I’m looking forward to our post-season match with City on Thursday night in St. Louis. My wife and I will be there and I’m excited to see Chelsea in person for the first time ever. ((kinda hard to see them live since we live in Wisconsin)).

    We’ve had a tough season, but somehow our resiliency both as a team and as fans has won through.


  2. Chris

    Valiant effort Mark. And assembled all in one list, the achievements don’t seem so bad. And yet,how many of us really feel this was a successful season? Let’s face it, the European Super Cup and World Club Cup entries are just a by-product of the Champions League victory last year, not the result of achievement this season. Seen in some historical perspective, it wasn’t a bad year. And as a fan since 1970, I suppose I should have some sympathy for the long view. But it makes no sense to me to use the same standard of evaluation in the current era. Like complimenting a middle aged man for using the potty. You can’t invest the amount the club now invests in players, or charge fans the amount they now charge, and then be happy that we have a mediocre season. It was marred — irredeemably for me — by the club’s hasty firing of RDM, something that just made us look foolish and cannot but harm our long term prospects of attracting world class managers, even if Jose arrives over the summer.

    And for me, focusing on the EPL and Champions League is not about revenue streams. It is about competing with the best in the world, being able to stand with the best in the world. And the Capitol One Cup or Europa Cup are not those levels of competition. Nice, for sure, but collecting second-rate trophies to put in the trophy case at Stamford Bridge is no substitute for demonstrating you can beat the best teams in the world.

  3. Blue_MikeL

    Torres, is he coming back? Is he getting his confidence back? Should we buy any striker or just bring back Lukaku? So many questions to be answered this summer.

  4. PeteW

    Good piece, and agreed it wasn’t a bad season. The problem is that Chelsea – through their habit of chucking manure around like a deranged gardener who doesn’t appreciate the value of time, water and sunshine – made it much more of a slog than it should have been. At the start of the year, with RDM in charge I’d have happily taken third – as we are, after all, the third best squad in the league – and one cup of any sort (well, FA ideally but Europa is more than good enough). I think he’d probably have achieved it, too.

    But the club went apeshit and said ‘this isn’t good enough!’, sacked RDM and brought in a very unpopular replacement who then served up the exact sort of season we should expect with our current squad, albeit with shittier football and lots of fan anger.

    What was the fucking point, really? To say RDM was failing and then tolerate some of Rafa’s brainless decisions? It was very bizarre and smacked, as it often does with Roman, of something personal.

    And we had the whole Clattenberg thing as well, which I still don’t really understand.

    But anyway, all is over and we move on. I’m sure things will be nice and peaceful next year with Jose Mourinho in charge. No controversies there.

  5. PeteW

    And what can we expect next season?

    Well, first of all, can anybody explain to me why we seem to be intent on keeping Kevin De Bruyne out on loan when he is clearly good enough for the premiership? What’s the logic? We need players, bring him over. Bring over Lukaku, sign a defensive midfielder and a striker – maybe find a centre back from somewhere – and we’re away. Does any other squad in Europe have three players as good as Lukaku, De Bruyne and Courtois on loan? It’s bonkers!

  6. Der_Kaiser

    Enjoyable article, Mark and good to see you yesterday.

    All ended well but I am particularly glad it has finally ended. Long, divisive season with some good high points and a fair number of pretty shitty low ones. The various stats bouncing around on my Twitter feed suggest that you couldn’t put much more than a fag paper between Benitez and Robbie – enough said, I feel.

    Looks like you know who will be back when he’s finally p*ssed Real Madrid off so much that they tell him to go forth and multiply, so fireworks are to be expected – let’s hope for some silverware to counterbalance 2-3 years of inevitable aggro, ‘won’t somebody think of the children?!’ outrage in the media, falling out with all and sundry and eventual messy implosion and departure.

    At least we know (roughly) what we’re getting ourselves into this time.

    Lukaku – talented lad, but let’s not bring him back if he’s going to spend most of the season watching Torres be an arse for 80 minutes week in, week out, shall we?

      • Der_Kaiser

        Oh, definitely. It’s whether he thinks he can step up from mid-table to title challenging / CL level or not, I suppose.

        Problem is, I think we (and Jose) are probably stuck with Torres for the time being.

      • Dylbo Baggins

        Possibly, but think of the super ego boost if Jose is the man to turn Torres into a world beater again. The temptation will just be too much for Jose, surely?

  7. Blueboydave

    Another splendidly apt choice of photo, Nick.

    In a season when sentiment and club loyalty have been sources of argument and division, who’d have thought that even Rafa would give in to the first in order to mark the second by giving Paulo a few minutes on the pitch near the end even though the result was far from safe – and possibly making his first ever substitution that the entire Chelsea crowd warmly agreed with?

    I can understand Sky plumping in advance for Wenger’s “battle for 4th place trophy” for their live coverage, as being more likely to produce twists and turns during the games. However, given that they both turned out to be dull, scuffling 1-0 wins was there any need for MOTD to buy into the same agenda and stick the “battle for 3rd place” down their running order as just an afterthought?

    At the risk of setting Mark off about his German porn channels again, my chatty new friends at Sky have been in touch today announcing that I am to be blessed with free live coverage on Chelsea TV of our 2 games v Man City this coming week .

    This season just won’t go away will it?

    • Cunningplan

      You obviously don’t have a good relationship with Sky Customer Service if they’re extending your season by yet another two games. I see the 69 games as the perfect way to climax for the end of the season.

      On saying that, my deck chair has been on the beach since January with regard our season, but it’s been great to win a pot yet again.

  8. WorkingClassPost

    Like the list Mark, and agree that the season finished on the up.

    Strange how we’re told what trophies are important or not. For my part, the most annoying part of this season, apart from dumping Robbie so hastily (and exiting CL so early), was losing the World Club thingy. It may not mean much here, I suspect that’s because it’s so seldom won by English clubs, but it means lots elsewhere, and in Brazil where we have probably overtaken Barca and Manu as the Euro team to support, there is a huge market for the merchandisers and promoters and we really missed an opportunity, for the bean counters to get counting.

    As a game we could and should have won, it kinda pointed the way to the rest of the season and I for one was really miffed that we failed to pick it up. So who’s to say what competitions are worth winning? It’s a bit like the guy who wins the lottery and then complains because it was ‘only’ one million on the week he won it, but was 10 mill the week before, anyway, third spot and a European trophy was a pretty good haul, all things considered.

    It’s also official? that Jose’s leaving RM. and Carlo’s favourite to replace him.

  9. GrocerJack

    Lovely piece Mark, which as you now know had me chuckling away in mid podcast. For me a trophy is a trophy, and in the dark days between 19070 and 1997 we would have happily taken any decent trophy that came our way. I don’t look at the Europa League any more as a poor mans second best trophy compared to the Champions League, but more like Prince Charles in comparison to The Queen, like The Stones compared to The Beatles, Like Ashes to Ashes compared to Life on Mars. It’s maybe not the pinnacle, but it’s still worth investing time in. As for the Everton game, well it was very enjoyable and I thought Everton did a damn fine job to come and make a game of it in light of the fact that results made no difference to their position and the Moyes send off had happened last week at Goodison. They bought a good number of fans along, and I loved the fact that they had the blue smoke bombs, menacing all the assembled crowd could enjoy the colour and burning smell. Thought Torres had a decent game and again Cahill showed he has everything required to be the new JT, if not Captain wise, then defender wise. Noticeable how Luioz is always directing things at the back with Cech and the defenders even though he’s ‘not’ the captain. Wasn’t JT a bit like that?

    Anyway, hopefully in a week or so I can conjure up an end of term report covering all the highs, lows, batshit insane and utterly bipolar aspects of yet another stress loaded but trophy rewarded season


  10. Dylbo Baggins

    I am a massive fan of Jose but I wonder if (other) clubs are starting to have second thoughts about employing his services/circus. There is talk of the importance of winning pots but at what cost? Every 3 years he has moved on and left clubs devastated. one step forward, several steps back.

    The whole situation is like risking your years of marriage/building up a team for one night (3 years) of absolute bliss with a smoking hot lusty. I know I’m a fool for thinking he will ever stay long term but maybe his past will make it harder to move to greener pastures and we may well get a longer tenure out of him?

    Bah, I don’t know. I just worry that, despite changing managers every third monday, we’ve built up quite a nice little squad that seem to get along on and off the pitch… Jose- the original double or nothing merchant!

    • Gleb

      A few weeks ago I wrote a comment somewhere around here about this “left clubs devastated” myth. I won’t repeat myself (and am, admittedly, too lazy to find the link), but really, please have another look at this. Real devastated? A team that, before Jose, couldn’t get past the first knockout round for ages and was waaaay behind Barcelona with no light at the end of the tunnel? And now what do we have: a stupid media-created Casillas “scandal” (with Diego Lopez playing really fucking well and it’s actually worth applauding Jose for having the balls to look past egos), a few prima-fucking-diving-cheating-donnas unhappy because they’re not treated like absolute superstars? Jose has been and will be ( + our very own Chelsea, of course ) the only man who can consistently challenge Barcelona, with Chelsea, Inter and Real. He left Chelsea how many years ago? Much of planet wasn’t even born yet, and we’ve managed to milk the exact same team he’d built up until this season, at least. Getting us them European and them domestic cups. Inter had no future beyond Jose, and he’s the last man to blame. He’s done wonders there, absolute wonders, with an aging, incoherent squad. The alternative was (with Rafa) and is (with Stramaccioni) clearly visible. So please, no offense, but leave the man alone. How much does he have to prove himself for this myth to go away? It’s not his fault his not a grey, lifeless, boring bastard that when he comes and when he leaves, there’s no difference. Maybe he’s just that important, that good and that strong, that teams have a hard team readjusting to a more mediocre manager. It’s not his fault, that’s for sure. He’s the only team-builder in the history of football who actually doesn’t need time to build anything (although he does need a lot of transfer money, I have to admit). If whoever follows are too bloody stupid to make use of what he’d built, it’s their problem.

      P.S. Again, no offense at all, just feel a bit sad sometimes that even around here, on this – Chelsea – blog, this opinion exists.

      • Dylbo Baggins

        Well, that’s me told then!

        I’m not doubting his success and how he builds a team but I guess what I was getting at was more the behind the scenes things. I believe that Laudrup was able to have success this season at Swansea, for example, because of the foundation that the Swansea board and, to an extent, Rodgers built. Laudrup used this a springboard.

        I know Chelsea is a misfit club but, manager aside, the club has been rebuilding towards a challenge for the title. Jose can and probably will achieve this but then he will take it all with him and Chelsea will be left exactly where we are now but with a less stable back of house. It’s just my opinion but the guy is a hurricane. Devastating effect (in terms of success and changes) and then he’s gone and you wonder what happened.

        I guess I just hope he gets the desire to build a dynasty. It’s not about proving himself in the short term because he has shown he can do that. Time for him to prove himself over a decade.

        • GrocerJack

          Left Porto for us, hardly a silly move considering respective size.ambition of clubs. Sacked by us. He didn’t instigate that departure, he just wanted things the way he wanted them. Leave Inter having delivered the coveted Champions League to go to Real madrid, possibly the worlds biggest football club. Sacked by real Madrid, no matter how Perez dresses it up. So 2 sackings and 2 voluntary departures for bigger clubs. It’s hardly a short termism ethos under his own volition is it? When he was with us he often spoke of being there 10 years and building that dynasty, so I’m with Gleb on this. The man is a perfectionist and his sackings have been down to an intransigence built on the desire to influence everything he can in order to be a winner. In business he’d be described as transformational.

          • Dylbo Baggins

            Yeah, some good points made there which I hadn’t considered, I guess. I thought he initiated the leaving of Real Madrid but I’ll happily stand corrected. Maybe I’m just being standoffish because i’m protecting myself lest he leave us/ be fired again…

            Hell of a manager.

          • mark_25

            I’m oscillating on Jose and generally hold the view of the opinion I heard last.

            I did enjoy the headline “Jose leaves Real with mutual contempt

          • PeteW

            I still can’t quite get my head round what went wrong with Madrid. There’s this rather bilious piece by Barca biographer Graham Hunter – a sign of what Jose has to look forward to from the English press next season, I fancy – but it smacks of dishonesty, only telling one side of the story with the ‘bullying journalists’ line suggesting Jose tweaked Hunter’s nose at some point and he’s out for revenge.


            But it clearly went tits up quite nastily and Jose is much like Dylbo describes, a hurricane. Nobody has quite explained how they went from title winners to flops over one season – and Hunter doesn’t even try – but I’d like to know exactly why he clashed with the senior players so badly. It hasn’t happened to him anywhere else.

            I love the man and think he is the best coach on the planet but I do worry about whether he’s the right man for us right now. But then again, it hardly matters, he’ll be gone in a couple of seasons at the most anyway.

          • Cunningplan

            Madrid are even more dysfunctional than we are as a club, the Spanish footballing press are probably worse than ours.

            Jose’s biggest mistake was to try and establish his authority over the untouchables there, and of course singling out Iker Casillas, who’s girlfriend is one of those journos was only going to end in tears.

            And just out of interest during Fergie’s 26 year reign (since 1996) we’ve had 13 managers, yet Madrid have had 18 and we’re constantly bashed for being a club that only views things in the short term.

            Even Barcelona and Bayern have had 10 managers, but hey, never let a bit of Chelsea bashing get in the way of some facts.

          • Dylbo Baggins

            Interestingly enough trying to ‘establish his authority over the untouchables’ was what cost AVB his job. He’s done a good job at Spuds despite them not making top 4. Highest ever total for spuds… Will be interesting to see Jose vs AVB next season.

          • PeteW

            AVB has admitted he learnt from his experience at Chelsea. He moved too fast too early. Actually think he could do an interesting job with our current set-up but he was very wrong to try and phase out Lampard and Drogba last year, as RDM showed.

            Daft of him try and replace them with inferior players and play a style unsuitable to the squad’s make-up. AVB has certainly done okay at Spurs, though take out Bale and there isn’t that much to get excited about.

          • GrocerJack

            I think Jose is the right man for us now. The turmoil throughout the club over the last few years will start to undermine any morale, including those at the top and as much as the board and RA like to view it as a business, there is far more to it than that. All business people know the importance of ‘brand’ and therefore want to avoid anything that damages the ‘brand’ and will deploy anything that enhances the brand. An older, more mature Jose fits that bill. I think the boost from top levels to bottom levels and fans within Chelsea will see positive impacts all around (JT excepted maybe due to their fallout). Plus, RA and the board are business people who can spot revenue opportunities a mile away, and Jose Mourinho is box office. He’s the bad boy with the golden touch. I’d wager he would fill SB just for a pre-season presser re-introducing him as the manager. If it isn’t Jose, then we’re in deep shit option wise. Pellegrini is Ranieri V2.0 ( TM Der_Kaiser) – and whilst not the worst choice I don’t think the CV in terms of trophies matches what RA wants. I know it shouldn’t be about past achievements but about that the potential is, but that’s not how RA or the board think. Klopp isn’t going anywhere (reiterated in todays Grauniad peice) and Mancini is just too dour, football and personality wise for us. Apart from anything else Mancini has worse man managment skills than AVB (who as you say has at least learnt from his CFC experience). Just one more point, Jose loves English football and often states that, so maybe, just maybe he had to leave in order to appreciate that, and therefore he may just be a bit keener to stay (politics aside) and finish what he started. That article is quite nasty isn’t it?

  11. Crespo

    “we’ve played at new Wembley more times than England.” you sure? any statistics between us and England at new Wembley? Thanks.

  12. Dio269

    Completley agree regards graham hunter…. I have seen nearly every Madrid games since Jose arrived and followed all the press including Marca, AS, Mundo, etc as i’m originally Spanish and i can tell you the jealousy and witchhunt around jose by the press who want something to write about is quite frankly disturbing and bordering on Psychosis. I can also tell you that he has many many fans in True madrid fans who will continue to follow him. Grahame hunter, Guillage Ballangue who regularly talk on Talksport are Barca fans and have both written books on Barca. They have the Barca agenda against Jose who is the ONLY manager who has stopped Barca. There will be a hurricane with Jose because the press knows he is an easy target for a daily story. Already Journos and presenters have already started here in the UK before he has even landed. Check out Richard Keys and Adrian Durham stance on Jose constantly on Talksport. The same presenters who have their so called Spanish correspondants i.e Hunter and Ballangue come on constantly critiscing Jose at every opportunity. they have an irrational hatred of Jose and will use every second to put him down. This is not a joke either. Therefore we should draw up a list of such press people and start to combat te bad filth that will come our way simply because Jose is the best and they dont like it….

    • PeteW

      Amazingly, some Liverpool fans maintain that Rafa gets a hard time from the press because they are all in love with Jose. Not sure what universe these people live in sometimes.

    • WorkingClassPost

      That’s truly outrageous, some of my best friends know Scots people and I’m sure they are all devastated.

      Just because they wear kilts and stuff doesn’t make them any less human than the rest of us.


  13. limetreebower

    There were otherwise fairly rational journos here in the UK too who just couldn’t stand José — I’m thinking of Richard Williams in the Grauniad.

    I think they were simply furious at being played with. Williams is no fool and could obviously tell that José’s dealings with the meejah were 90% theatre; I get the impression it enraged him. You can sort of understand why, too. And part of José’s modus operandi is to drive people outside the club crazy, so he can’t really complain when they turn against him (unless complaining when they turn against him is part of his technique).

    I agree with Tony and others that this is the right appointment, but for a slightly different reason. I really do think that reappointing José leaves the club with absolutely nowhere else to go. It’ll be incredibly difficult to sack him on the usual basis (i.e. a few poor results), simply because the mere fact of reappointing him indicates that they feel like they’ve tried everything else and can’t find anyone better. It’s also effectively an admission of a mistake: they’re more or less saying they were wrong to drive him out in the first place, so it’s going to be doubly hard for them to discard him again.

    Nevertheless I also agree with Pete that it’s bound to end in tears. But it won’t be because of our usual late autumn slump. It’ll be because José himself conjures up his standard volcanic apocalypse. Still, the eruption may take a couple of years to happen, which by our current standards will be a relief. And, to be honest, anything’s better than this unbearable reflex idiocy of firing the manager whenever we don’t win every game.

    I suspect the players will love him. There are obviously certain players he wasn’t able to work his magic on. It’s weird to think now that we let Arjen Robben go, and that was because he and José couldn’t really get on with each other. And things seem to have gone badly wrong at Real, presumably because an established group of players refused to adapt to his methods. But the key to Chelsea’s future at the moment is obviously the Luiz-Mata-Hazard-Oscar group, and I’d certainly guess that three of those four are the kind of bright, eager, motivated talents who’ll find him incredibly inspiring. (Hazard gives the impression that he might be fractionally more “high maintenance” — but who knows.)

    A lot’s going to depend on what the mood’s like when results aren’t going well. But again, since the home crowd is basically being given the manager we want, we’re going to have to back him whatever happens, at least at first.

    Incidentally, I’m pleased to see AVB doing well at Spuds. It’ll be quite interesting to see how the chemistry works when we next play them. Ditto José versus Rogers. With Stevie Clark having had an excellent season, Franco nearly getting Watford promoted, Robbie winning the CL and AVB and Rogers establishing themselves at major English clubs, it would be nice to hear a bit more about Chelsea as a seed-bed for bright young coaches. As opposed to all Fergie’s underlings, who seem happier to pontificate from the commentary box. José’s brilliant at playing a monster, but the real monster was clearly Fergie — a bullying autocrat who could make teams great by sheer force of will, but who appears to have made it impossible for anyone to get out from under his shadow.

    • Der_Kaiser

      A few random thoughts on the return of himself, which may or may not have been made previously.

      Firstly, and probably most importantly, he’s coming back to a very different club. A fully operational Cobham HQ, a far more defined youth policy, a different player acquisition strategy and more specifically a very clear structure on the football side. The bus is ready, the route defined – just needs a(nother) driver.

      Roman has spent a number of years and a fair bit of cash putting this in place and he isn’t going to dismantle it all just to suit Jose. He defined the club during his first spell here, but I doubt he will be allowed anything like as much control this time should he return. He is, however, probably the biggest control freak in football so how he deals with that is anyone’s guess.

      Bizarrely, the club can point to the fact that our post Jose history proves that while managers change, we can still win trophies. No-one really thought that when he left.

      Both sides know exactly what they are getting into this time. When he marched into SW6 in 2004, Jose was in a position to demand fluffy white cats in his dressing room and a brandy glass full of M&M’s with all the brown ones removed. He isn’t this time, and while the club need to win the fans back after the division of Benitez’s tenure (with this being the ideal way of doing it), I suspect he’s a smart enough man to know that.

      In 2004, irrespective of Roman’s vast wealth we needed something more than a polite knock on the door of European football’s executive dining room to announce our arrival – we needed someone to kick it in, create a huge row, shove the establishment’s face into the proverbial trifle, nick the silver service and fuck one of the waitresses. Mourinho was the perfect man for the job – right man, right place, right time.

      We simply don’t need that approach any more. We just need someone to add steel to an impressive looking squad, which we know he can do. Turn a bunch of talented individuals into an unbeatable force like he did nearly a decade ago. Without all the politics, drama and ill feeling.

      Whether we like it or not, coming back here after Real Madrid is a step down and to a small degree he needs to rebuild his reputation; their season has been pretty dismal by his standards and the divisions are there for all to see. Not all down to him, of course but the way that football’s revisionists work he’ll carry the can for it.

      The biggest problem is that wherever he goes, he creates conflict – it’s just in his nature and I’d go as far as to say almost essential to his management style. Any notion that he’ll come back, win trophies while remaining ‘on message’ and build a decade long dynasty in relative peace and harmony is – well, you get my drift.

      One way or another, it could be quite a ride. How long it lasts for and whether we end up with the Chelsea juggernaut stacked into a brick wall is anyone’s guess.

      (I’d also add that when I wrote here regularly way back when, he made it easier to do so as there was always a story – the fact there are twice as many comments on this thread as we’ve had of late, mainly driven by himself, speaks volumes).

      • Cunningplan

        And perhaps Roman is also being clever in giving the majority of supporters and fans what they want, In order to soften up those very fans who own shares in the CPO.
        They may just be more amenable to parting with said shares, so he can get the move away to a bigger stadium he craves.

  14. Ramone

    And so the season ends. A great relief for some of you chaps.
    Me ? I’m missing it already, am looking forward to meaningless kick abouts with New York City FC’s part owners, a summer of ridiculous speculation, some marquee signings, T.S.O. and the start of next season where we’ll win the league and a cup or two. Roll on August……

  15. Blueboydave

    PLEASE – a plea to bloggers to avoid using the reply button to anything but the most recent entry. It’s driving me nuts trying to find new entries when the numbers at the top change, but they are buried somewhere no matter which order I use in Disqus’ “new improved ” layout.

    @DerKaiser – would you really credit our recent purchases as a “strategy” given that we’ve acquired a surfeit of young, attacking midfielders with minimal defensive qualities, a shortage of real defensive midfielders and a dearth of functioning strikers – plus almost 2 teams worth of loan-outs most of whom will never get a chance to show if they can make it in our first team?

    @Cunningplan – I seriously doubt that the return of Jose will melt the cynical hearts of many CPO shareholders to another vague “you can trust us, just sell us your share even though we’ve no detailed proposal or long-term guarantee to give you”. Certainly not this one, anyway!

    • Cunningplan

      It’s the off season, surely driving people mad is an acceptable summer pastime. 😉
      You’re probably right with regard the hard nosed cynics, but he hasn’t got to win over them all.

    • Der_Kaiser

      In the sense that we seem to be looking towards a very technically able type of player, yes, I think there is a strategy in there somewhere. Strikers is where we fall down, primarily due to the ridiculous lengths we’ve gone to in order to accommodate the £50m burden.

      Granted it has holes, but there is certainly a core there and we may be more than a little fortunate to have the likes of Courtois, Lukaku and De Bruyne all performing so well. Our academy is playing catch-up to a degree having been neglected for some time and not really delivering the goods under Arnesen.

      • Cunningplan

        I see Arnesen has been released by Hamburg, begs the question why we chased him so badly, I really think Roman has been badly advised over the years with regard some appointments.

        • limetreebower

          — or maybe he’s just had bad luck with the dartboard he apparently uses when making staff appointments.

          On the other hand, when he threw the dart to decide on his original director of football it could have landed in the “Damien Comolli” area of the board, so perhaps we should be grateful.

  16. mark_25

    All the chat is as if the Special One has returned.

    If an alternative manager is appointed it’s going to be uproarious, probably even more so than when Benitez arrived.

    I’m indifferent!

    • Day Tripper

      Yes, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, indifferent is the best thing to be. There are so many random factors that play out in life, and football especially, that I often wonder how much difference a manager really makes. We had fabulous success under Mourinho between 2004-2006 but he took over what was then the most expensive squad ever assembled, added another £100m of his own, and the trophies duly came. But in his third season, some dire stuff was served up, and Utd comfortably won the premiership. The next season, under Grant, whom no one would say was a good manager, we challenged Utd all the way for the championship, and reached the CL final, something which Mourinho never managed. Even Ranieri managed to hitch us up to 2nd in the Premiership and get us to a CL semi-final. Someone posted earlier that he thought that all the success we’ve had since JM left was due to the players he’d assembled and the mentality he’d instilled in them. Really? If we accept that the spine of the team in our heyday was Cech, Terry, Makelele, Lampard and Drogba, it was only Drogba that was specifically recruited by Mourinho. I’m not saying that JM isn’t a world class coach but there are always other factors at play that lead to success or failure and I don’t think he is uniquely qualified to lead the team. And he is a wrecking ball at times and I really can’t predict how it will turn out if he does finally return

  17. limetreebower

    I’m not sure anyone beyond the most demented optimists necessarily thinks that José is the person who’s going to lead the club to guaranteed future success.

    I think what the pro-José lobby (myself inclded) would say is that since any manager we hire will be gone in a maximum of two years anyway, we might as well have the one who’s the most entertaining in the meantime.

    In an ideal world I’d love Roman to hand the keys to Franco or Stevie Clarke with the promise that they’d have four or five years to develop the team.

    But then in an ideal world I’d also like Man U to be relegated for four successive seasons. There’d probably be various things involving Imogen Stubbs, too. Best to leave the daydreams out of it.

  18. Blueboydave


    Is there anybody there? Did the End of Days happen and nobody told me?

    Speaking of which, if the Second Coming of TSO all goes pear-shaped will the Podding Shed be employing one of those Biblical experts to explain the error and recalculate a new ETA?

    Now that Mad Rafa is safely installed at Napoli I thought I should briefly adopt as avatar this pic from the post-Benfica game of Rafa and Cech that I stumbled across .

    I wonder what Petr was actually saying to him?

    • Der_Kaiser

      Nice avatar D…

      There will be a Podding Shed managerial special when the new manager is announced. Then we might run a competition based upon what date it all ends horribly with the inevitable sacking.

      • Cunningplan

        Come on guys lets be more optimistic, it may just last longer than we think.
        As a matter of fact I’ll stick my neck out and reckon it will last over 5 years.

    • mark_25

      If the Second Coming of TSO all goes Rafa shaped my Divine intervention will have succeeded.

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