The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “Chelsea have reclaimed some momentum at the Premier League’s pinnacle, though rarely can a return to the old routine have felt so horribly disjointed. The champions spluttered their way to another home success here at their local rivals’ expense, extending their lead at the top in the process, but with the gloss completely stripped by Michael Essien’s crude two-footed lunge in stoppage time, which will earn such a key performer a ban.”
Daily Telegraph, Jason Burt: “Chelsea missed Essien at Liverpool last weekend, due to a toe injury, and they will miss him now for the next three Premier League matches. There was insult, too, for Chelsea, who felt aggrieved when Dempsey was not punished for an apparent elbow on Jose Bosingwa, with the groggy full-back having to be substituted.”
The Independent, Ian Fleming: “Ancelotti exonerated his player for the challenge, but said he wanted to study TV replays before deciding whether the club would appeal. “Maybe it was not a red card because Essien did a strong tackle but on the ball. There was not a risk on the opponent,” he said. “I don’t think he made a silly foul. He tried to do a tackle, he won the tackle. And I’m not sure it was a sending off. It would be a problem if we lose him for three games.””
Official Chelsea FC Website: “On balance over the whole 90 minutes it was a game Chelsea clearly deserved to win but having created little for the first half-hour, after the goal a flood of chances were spurned before Fulham rallied and tested Petr Cech. There were nervous moments before the three points were secured.”
The Bridge, The Bridge of Sighs, Wayne Bridge, The Bridges of Madison County, moving from the Bridge, The Bridge over the River Kwai. All the sort of random thoughts that might run through your mind any day of the week. But there was only one bridge in my mind as I contemplated the West London Derby (the one without QPR) and that was the poxy bridge over the M6 the powers that be decided to move on the 14th of April 2002. It was the reason I was sitting on the motorway at one o’clock in the morning in an endless queue of traffic.
Of course I wouldn’t have been there had Fulham not demanded the FA Cup semi-final be moved from Highbury to Villa because of the enormous number of fans they were going to bring to the party. In the end they wouldn’t have filled the Trotters’ 3-wheeler.
So despite the loveable “Tudor Cottagey, Brylcreamy, Johnny Hainesy, Down by the River and Wave at the Passing Boat Raciness” of our near neighbours, I feel just a little frosty towards them.
The fact that they have been difficult to beat in recent years is their right and entitlement. That’s football. Making me go to Birmingham to end up in a pub with no beer and then spend half the night on a motorway isn’t.
To the game!
Essien was in to replace Ramires, Anelka was resting, Alex injured, the Boz was back and Ivan the Engine was paired with JT in the centre. A front line of Drogs flanked by Kalou and Malouda had the job of getting some goals.
A most disturbing display of man love by the chaps pre-kick off. A firm handshake and a steely look in the eye is surely enough. The hugging got so intense I had to avert my gaze at one point.
A steady start with Fulham not seeing the ball for over three minutes augured well. We were neat and tidy, moving the ball and carrying some threat, though the final ball and the shooting was somewhat wayward.
Five and half minutes in Essien performed his by now customary nutmeg, but then lost the ball, probably because of the foul that wasn’t given. That set the tone really. Essien was rusty, his shooting poor, but he did make a contribution with his drive, purpose and physical presence, scored a well-taken goal and then got sent off in injury time. I haven’t seen a replay. It looked harsh as there was no contact that I could see, but that little jumping motion will always get you in trouble.
Fulham appeared to have little ambition and were content to sit deep denying the space in the final third. Both Cole and Bosingwa were raiding the flanks, Malouda making a three with Zhirkov and Cole on the left and then popping up on the right and floating in the space behind Drogba to some effect.
All in all we were lively through the first half, but lacked a little bit of quality around the 18 yard box. Coming up to the half hour Drogba rolled the defender on the corner of the six yard box only to be called for a foul. Then Kalou went on a clever run and was brought down, following the free kick, Essien was then fouled. Pressure was building. As play developed from the free kick, Drogba went down in the box, Fulham may have got distracted, Chelsea played on and Essien rose unchallenged to meet a smart cross from Kalou.
Fulham briefly got some pressure into their game and gained a series of corners, but Chelsea coped and looked dangerous on the break. Around the 40 minute mark we were again looking threatening and Kalou should have done better with a good cross from Malouda. Minutes later Zhirkov released him with a well judged ball, he went on one of his mazy runs and was clear in the box but shot just wide.
By half time a 2-0 lead would have been deserved, despite the team not firing on all cylinders. Indeed there were a couple of penalty shouts late on, but Martin Atkinson wasn’t interested.
The second half opened with Fulham pressing a little higher and Chelsea got a little sloppier under the pressure, but 10 minutes in another fine run from Kalou saw him almost thread the ball through Schwarz’s legs, but it slowed down enough to allow a goal line clearance.
By the hour mark, with Andy Johnson warming up, the sense that a second goal was needed seemed to be creeping up on the crowd. The team must have felt that too, because as Fulham started to push up realising that they could get something from the game, we suddenly had a good five minute spell after 65 minutes. Malouda beat Schwarzer to a through ball, laid it off to Drogba who should have done better from 15 yards than slam his shot into a defender. Drogba was again loose in the area a minute later, but couldn’t finish and gained a corner. From the corner Chelsea had three good chances but there was always a body or the keeper to get in the way.
On 70 minutes Fulham had their first really threatening moment but Cech saved well. Then the game went through a rather loose phase, which apart from a similar period toward the end of the first half was in contrast to the controlled manner in which Chelsea had managed the action. We were still dangerous, with Kalou and Zhirkov in particular creating a threat but either Fulham fouls or poor finishing meant good opportunities fizzled out.
Another good save from a fierce Geira shot in the 81st minute ensured jangly nerve time all round. Ramires was by now on for Malouda and he brought some zip to a midfield that seemed to be running out of steam. Sturridge replaced Kalou on 85’ but didn’t really get a chance to run at Fulham.
Bosingwa had to go off after a nasty blow to the head from Dempsey who had a look behind him before throwing an arm. Ferreira came on to replace him. Both Mikel (head) and Essien (back) had also suffered from somewhat undisciplined aerial challenges that went unpunished earlier in the game.
In injury time Drogba had three men with him on a break yet ran up a blind alley and passed to none of them. A frustrating end to a night of real endeavour that should have yielded more.
It only remained for Essien to head off early to light the boiler and get the showers running.
Thoughts I have thunk
The game seemed to zip by and was entertaining, I thought. Not a perfect performance by any means but you’ve got to eke out these wins sometimes. Fulham lacked ambition and seemed surprised to be still in it after 70 minutes when they seemed to decide to have a go.
- Essien was rusty and needs game time, which is unfortunate as he will be out for the next three. In defence, Terry and Ivanovic both played well, though I suppose they weren’t kept that busy, with the latter getting some vital headers late in the game.
- Cole and Bosingwa were full of endeavour. Cole didn’t hit the heights but the Boz got much needed match practice.
- I thought Zhirkov had a steady game with a couple of really eye catching passes and Mikel was as strong and steady as ever.
- Drogba was great in defence, not so great up front. He seems to be trying too hard. He should relax. But then I haven’t tried playing top flight football with a dose of malaria.
- Kalou played well. Yes I know we get frustrated at his finishing, but he gave Fulham defenders a real dose of the jitters. Deserved a goal.
- Malouda was very good in the first half, but faded, I thought towards the end. A little bit of zip was missing.
- Cech. Secure as ever. I don’t want to tempt fate but our defence of set pieces is better and some of that must come from how the players in front of him feel about Cech’s form. (I hope this doesn’t come back and bite me on the ass.)
- All in all we looked capable and confident. After Sunday we needed to respond and despite the unevenness of the performance there was a lot to enjoy.
Inconsistent was Mr A. Insisted that Chelsea twice re-take a free kick down in their right hand corner until it was from the right spot. Didn’t bother late in the game when Fulham did the same thing in the same place.
Booked Chelsea players yet let Fulham away with a series of fouls and challenges that by the same criteria merited yellow cards.
Gave fouls when Chelsea used their physique fairly to good effect, yet on one occasion in particular let a Fulham player wrestle with Malouda, pull his shirt and generally prevent an attack developing, only blowing up when the Frenchman went to the ground in frustration.
A baffling display.
A word of caution
While Frank’s long awaited return is something we welcome, it is surely going to take him a few games to get going.
Thanks for the report. Only caught the last 30 minutes or so. We looked fine- nothing special. It appears we’ve hit our lull in form- and other than the loss this weekend we seem to be coping.
What is strange, however, is this story:
Wilkins is out as #2.
Now, I remember when things weren’t going so well at one point that almost all of the fingers in here were being pointed at Ray. Perhaps they were right? It could be that Carlo feels comfortable enough speaking and “expressing himself” in English that he now wants a better #2.
It’s like a manager search all over again! Who is it going to be?
Thanks for the report BB. I was struggling with the rubbish stop-start transmission on My2P2 and could barely follow the action. Your report backs up my impression that we played well, on the whole.
Also that, once again, weak refereeing allowed Fulham to go unpunished as they kicked, wrestled and elbowed our players, exactly as Hughes taught Blackburn to do. Minutes before the sending off Dempsey elbowed Bos in the face while Atkinson stood there watching just a few yards away. Wouldn’t be surprised if Essien ‘did him’ in retaliation.
@ Be Champions
As one of those asking last season what, precisely, Ray Wilkins did for this club, my first thought was that Carlo had asked the same question and failed to come up with an answer. But not so. Apparently, RW was watching the reserves today and was sacked at half-time. Looks like a disciplinary to me.
From related bbc article:
In Ancelotti’s autobiography, which was published two months ago, the Chelsea manager said Wilkins was a key part of the London club’s recent success.
“Ray is one of those select few, always present, noble in spirit, a real blue-blood, Chelsea flows in his veins. His heart beats in two languages, and that helped me,” he wrote.
I don’t think CA would write that for no reason.
There’s got to be more to the Ray Wilkins story. There has to be a reason. Maybe he’s been caught with someone’s wife. I mean if Arsene Wenger is at it surely they’re all at it.
Being a practising pessimist, along with qualified sceptic and permanent conspiracy theorism, this all sounds very strange, especially as he was training with the reserves. So in true BP spirit
1.) Who’s he been knocking off?
2.) Who’s he been tapping up?
3.) Who has he been grassing up?
4.) What did he nick?
5.) What did he fiddle?
6.) Who did he slap (admittedly this is far fetched for mild mannered Ray)
And if you saw the hug between GFZ last year and Carlo, especially at the FA Cup final, maybe there’s a clue there!
Or could Maldini be about to take residence?
Steve Clarke (with his renowned refuelling …ahem….issues)?
Dennis Wise anyone?
Right, now to read Dr Bayou’s undoubtedly fine report!
Looks like I was right with my first guess. According to this source Carlo has lined up a ‘big-name’ replacement. Maldini?http://twitter.com/chelseayouth
A fine effort, BB.
I think the most notable point you failed to mention was Mikel getting not only his first, admittedly rather tame, shot on target, but also his second quite decent effort that Schwarzer almost palmed out straight to another Chelsea player. Time perhaps to up his target to a first goal by the end of the season, or Xmas if we want to get really ambitious.
Dempsey was responsible for a number of swinging elbows to head and back of a quite nasty type that somehow all went unpunished by a card, as did Hangeland’s ridiculous barge into Kalou [?] to prevent a swift counter-attack. If Essien was seeking revenge he might have made a better job of it as TV replays suggest he made virtually no contact despite the writhing in agony antics that ensued.
As we contemplate the departure of Uncle Ray [from “happy as a pig in shit” just a few months ago to this?] a brief thought on Sparky’s management style. He seems to have inculcated swiftly his previous reputation for putting out sides full of endless niggling fouls, but what has he done to Fulham’s attempt to play a reasonable passing game. They seemed soon reduced to long-range efforts and high punts up the middle to the steady stream of new forwards who appeared as subs. Poor stuff.
Yes the Mikel shots! We’re all getting like those millenarian sects in the US. Heavily armed and wearing combat fatigues we’re heading up a mountain in Idaho, ’cause we know the day is coming, it’s getting close but we’re just not sure when.
Very strange stuff from the club regarding Ray.
Not renewing a contract is one thing but pushing him out of the door a few hours after he helped us beat Fulham is weird. After progressing from the translator to very uesful coach and Chelsea contact for the players, he’s now been axed. Replacing him with Maldini or Zola will be a positive step but trying to cover up the real reasons for his sacking seems like a return to our early cock-ups under Roman.
Our success under Carlo has been based on a calm and relaxed atmosphere both on and off the pitch but this mini-crisis/shock sacking will be Carlo’s biggest test since the JT story. He’ll flat bat it tomorrow but it’ll be interesting to know why we’ve pushed Ray out of the door. If he’s been negotiating behind the club’s back for a new job elsewhere then we would have held out for a transfer fee as with the Steve Clarke and Brendan Rodgers’ deals so it must be something a little murkier.
Butch was obviously dismissed for clear breach of the Bertie Wooster clause in his agreement; any excessive use of the words ‘chaps’ or ‘smashing’ shall result in the immediate termination of your employment with us.
Interesting game – not flying but decent for 75 minutes, bit wonky thereafter but Cech on superb form saved our bacon. Essien can have no complaints, no point in appealing that one, but how Hughes’s mob ended that game card free is a mystery. Doubt there will be any action against Dempsey. Need Lamps to get back a bit sharpish now; fingers crossed that the Sunday prediction isn’t another bum steer.
Sparkling form from Blue Bayou this week, it should be noted; held the place together, Airfix glue style and even managed to sneak in a spot of Robert Wyatt (comfortably in my top 5 favourite songs of all time). Lovely.
I shall be on duty for the Sunderland game. As long as we win, I shall probably in a flippant, irreverent and down-right silly mood. You have been warned.
Agreed on the Ray front, lovely bloke from my neck of the woods (Hayes in Middlesex) and new his brother Graham a little (both went to Hayes Grammar dontcha know) – so his accent and intonation is definitely the result of some AF style elocution….dash it!
Rather reminds me of the RAF officer interview joke…
Wing Commander: Right young man, you’ve passed the physical tests to become a flying officer so just one more test to see if your suitable. Question 1, what do we call the stuff we breathe in.
Young Man: Air sir?
Wing Commander: Well done , now Question 2 ….what grows on our heads and needs cutting
Young Man: oooh…….Hair sir?
Wing Commander: Top hole old boy…..nearly there now……what is the name of the place where rats live?
Young man: (scratches head looks puzzled….then smiles) Lair sir?
Wing Commander: Spiffing young man, now finally say all three answers one after the other quickly….
Young Man: Air Hair Lair…
Wing Commander: Perfect, welcome to the RAF!
The TwitterBookSpace sphere is rather enamoured by the Zola or Maldini theory, and also that it was simply a disagreement over term of the contract. I think Ray will be snapped up pretty quickly.
Yep. Much thanks to BB for a couple of smashing posts. Kept this chap sane during what has been a crappy week.
Bring on the “flippant, irreverent and down-right silly”, JD. The more the merrier I say.
To the game. I stand by my comments said when I got in last night on Dr Bayou’s fine eulogy to a modelling career. I once built a Starship Enterprise (NCC1701-D) and a Vulcan Bomber (my true life’s love) – sadly the Vulcan is in need of repair, and the Enterprise looks like it was subjected to a sneaky attack from a cloaked Romulan Warbird. Never trust a Romulan I always say.
I thought Kalou was bright at times but eventually ended up being our very own Scarecrow again. It confirms my view that he’s a great option from the bench like Tore Flo, but he’s not a starter or a 90 minute man. Drogba was never anywhere near fit to do 90 minutes and Sturridge should have come on with 20 or so left. I am in the middle of yet another raging gout attack and I reckon I was faster than Drogs in those last 15 minutes.
Almost everyone else was Ok for me, with Zhirkhov being the stand out player, reminiscent at times of Charlie Cooke with his mazy runs. If he can nail that reputation then he’ll be made for life at Chelsea. Ramires was very lively when he came on, but he was bought on for the wrong person…Malouda may have been tiring and guilty of having the positioning sense of a Dalek with a jumper on its head but he worried Fulhams defence big time, hence my theory that they were trying to bully him out of the game. No, Ramires should have replaced Essien who was having a stinker by his standards. yes he got the goal, but he guilty of poor passing on several occasions, and he was knocked off the ball too often – and something that Essien usually never does. So, he could have got some fitness back and been replaced by Ramires, with Josh or Kakuta coming on for Malouda.
And I’ll repeat this, but Anelka would have had a field day against them last night AND his ability to hold the ball Sparky Hughes like was missed terribly last night. I know he can be a bit Marmite for some, but his ability to hold and slow/stop the game until everyone catches up without surrendering possession is unmatched in the PL today.
On the plus side, it did make the game very exciting to watch unlike the Wolves game for which the frustration was us not scoring 5 when in reality they never looked like getting 2 goals. It was good to shout!
Oh, and hats off Dr B, a fine report – tell me which memory method do you use to correlate incidents with the linear passage of time?
Years of rigorous training, a phenomenal memory, a gift for taut, witty and vivacious prose and an innate understanding of the game of football.
Yes I’d like to lay claim to any of those. But in their absence I just jot stuff in a notebook as the game rolls on.
Might seem a bit trainspotterish, but then no-one could accuse me of that…….
Nice to see young Josh stepping up. Note that this can be watched on TheFA.com next Tuesday.
I have no idea about the Butch business. One would hope that it’s the culmination of some behind-the-scenes work: a managerial opening for Ray and someone we like coming in to assist Carlo and refer to BBC interviewers by their first names (“It was hard work, Jonathan, they’re a good side” etc.) Anyway, you heard it here first: wasn’t it a year or so ago that we were loudly wondering what exactly Butch did?
I don’t know why some of are surprised regarding the Uncle Fester news. Some of new, if not all, questioned his contribution in the last season. Probably we were not alone.
Not me BM! But then I never questioned what Steve Clarke did ….I just trusted the head coach/manager to pick the right man.
I think Ray did rather well, and as a ‘chap’ thought he was a rather good ambassador for the club – I’m a bit sad to see a Chelsea great treated like this – but as Habs says, he may just have something better lined up himself. What I’d rather hoped was that he would be a constant at the club, irrespective of who was the coach, just a symbol of stability. Lets face it the trophy haul under ray was pretty good and you can’t convince me that Guus and Carlo did it all alone.
The one thing I want is Clarke back. I believe he was the architect of our watertight defence. However, let’s see Carlo thinks about it.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tony Glover, Chelsea FC Blog. Chelsea FC Blog said: Premier League: Chelsea 1-0 Fulham – Newspaper Reaction, Goal Video, Match Report http://goo.gl/fb/Ps6dq […]
Despite my scepticism about what exactly it was that Ray was doing for the club, beyond giving some anodyne interviews on TV while Carlo was having his English lessons, it seems to me that he has been treated rather shabbily (unless, of course, it turns out that he was talking to his new employers on the quiet).I remember watching him in 1977 when we were promoted back up to the old First Division with a team of kids skippered by Chopper Harris. My Dad (a Tottenham Supporter) watched him execute this 45-yard pass from out of nowhere to set Ian Britton up near the opposing penalty area and said: ‘that boy’s a genius! – he’s almost as good as Glenn Hoddle!’.Then he went to Manchester United and they schooled the boy genius to pass every ball thirty inches on either side. But as a Chelsea player, he is well up there in the ‘Greats’ gallery.And let’s not forget that Ray is the only Chelsea manager in history with a 100% record 😉
Disappointed in Ray leaving, and I think the players will be too.
One saving grace could be if Stevie Clarke was to return to the club, but in my opinion we do need a “Chelsea through and through” coach, not a Maldini type. Whilst an overseas coach is fine, and English back room staff is also important in keeping the players happy.
I hope this doesn’t derail our season.
This from CA’s autobiography
Ancelotti had been effusive in his praise of Wilkins in his autobiography. “Ray is one of those select few, always present, noble in spirit, a real blue-blood, Chelsea flows in his veins,” he wrote. “His heart beats in two languages, and that helped me. Without him, we couldn’t have won a thing, and in particular we would not have started the year at supersonic speed.”
Wonder how he feels about this…..
GrocerJack and BB have got the game down perfectly, though I would add that Dempsey has previous – didn’t he break JT’s jaw with an ‘accidental’ elbow a few years ago.
It’s a shame about Ray.
Nice Lemonheads reference there, PeteW. Smashing album.
I shall miss Ray. One of the good chaps.
So do we have any budding Dick Tracy types on the blog who have got their ear to the ground with regard Ray?
I don’t mind if it’s rumour, innuendo, or just plain bollocks you come up with, just throw some ideas out there.
Good report BB, covered every angle, but you could use a few more swear words for that touch of realism. 😉
On the airfix model making, spent many a happy hour glueing my fingers to the plastic, and to my other fingers. But having a disturbed childhood, all my models ended up with fireworks attached to them, or being doused in lighter fluid, with the obligatory Swan Vesta to follow.
I was in the pro Wilkins camp myself. We have the big name manager, the people behind him just need to be good at their job. I wonder was Carlo involved in the decision?The manner of Ray’s departure tends to suggest that someone upset someone, somewhere, somehow.Otherwise if it was just a mutual agreement to terminate it would have been stage managed.I suppose it was all going too smoothly.Caught the end of a very affecting piece on Robert Enke this evening on R5 Live. Coming on top of the recent release of a Ted Hughes poem on the death of Sylvia Plath it is a reminder of what a destructive illness depression can be and it is no respecter of class, wealth or talent. It was striking about how few people knew of his struggle. Professional sport is obviously not a place where men and women feel they can openly discuss such problems despite the massive spending on welfare and conditioning.It just made me think the old adage that you can or should leave your problems behind when you get out on the pitch is not a help when you have something like clinical depression.
Too true BB, mental illness has no boundaries, and still has huge stigma attached to it.
I suppose in some ways Marcus Trescothick was extremely brave to openly discuss the problems he was having, and still does with regard his anxiety/depression.
You’re right he is a high profile example of the problem
The Grocer has the Wilkins situation down perfectly – whatever the merits of him as a coach he was a great ambassador and the fact we couldn’t find such an official role for him suggests something was amiss. (Unless he was offered and rejected such a job.)
I’m reminded of the scorn and apoplexy we attracted in football when Kenyon was sent up to colllect our runners-up medals in Moscow while United sent cuddly Bobby Charlton, even if Bobby is by all accounts something of a ruthless and unpleasant man. A Wilkins in that sort of situation would do us no harm. The hacks clearly like and respect and that is something we don’t have much of.
There are some very interesting comments on this twitter account. Dan is a well-placed source and a decent bloke with fine taste in hostelries, as I discovered on Wednesday when i found myself inadvertently trailing him around the real ale pubs of London.
Good article in the Grauniad on the RW sacking. With some interesting behind-the-scenes revelations about life at Cobham. If these stories are based on fact, as they seem to be, there must be a deep throat on Carlo’s staff.
This Wilkins affair is wholly unsatisfactory. I’ve been a long term fan of Ray. I’m roughly his age and admired his early play at Chelsea where he looked a cut above the rest, exuding class in a midfield alongside Ian Britton, Ray Lewington and Gary Stanley. In his role as assistant he’s always been a great representative for the club and, even if his coaching contribution has been zero, we managed to achieve the double with him.
As it stands the club has tainted its reputation, something we’ve managed to avoid in the last couple of years. Since I’m a fan of Chelsea, above any individual, this is disappointing and I’d like to know the truth to understand if it’s either gross management incompetence or the management truly are brutal, otherwise I’m left with this rather unpleasant feeling of hoping Ray has been up to no good purely as a means to restore the clubs reputation.
Reading about the Wilkins affair, there are numerous rumours and endless speculation.
One thing stands out for me. If this was purely performance and contract related, why act in the way the club did? No successor was announced, it happens the day before Ancelotti will have to front up in a press conference, it was done in a phone call rather than face to face. So many elements point to some sort of statement being made to those in the know.
If there was no big falling out with Wilkins, this seems to be a humiliation for him to be removed in this way. And if was not at CA’s behest, what does it say about his position in the club when he can’t prevent his own staff being cut like this?
If it was felt that Wilkins wasn’t performing, there was surely time to appoint a successor and present it all in a tidier fashion.
It makes you think that irrespective of his performance or contractual demands this was done at this time for a reason.
You’re left with the assumption that a specific incident (there are veiled references doing the rounds) left the club with no option or a worry that the political infighting so prominent in recent years is an ongoing problem such that elements in the club would rather destabilize the team (some outlets are reporting that the players are unhappy with what has happened and CA is left looking either particularly ruthless and hypocritical or helpless -neither good really) for their own ends.
This is tremendously worrying if true.
Number 2 is very worrying, the last time we saw RA put his Napoleon hat on we were saddled with Grant ( a name also doing the rounds of the BBC/Guardian) – if true I’ll be joining BB in his darkened room.
Number 1 – would someone from oop North really be that brazen? Would that not imply some tapping up has already occurred.
Number 3 – please with GFZ, Clarkey at a push and maybe even Paul Clement.
So it s a shitty way to treat anyone UNLESS they’ve done something very wrong, which lets face it we all find very unlikely. If its incompetence then move him sideways, if its contractual put him on notice. Still it about time we got a gun, pointed it at our feet and shot.
No idea about the Ray situation; plenty of theories floating around, but you can only guess that something was amiss somewhere – the old ‘with immediate effect’ wording tends to suggest that. Good luck to him, wherever he ends up – one of the decent guys in a game that doesn’t have too many. He certainly played his part during some difficult times at the club, for which he deserves our gratitude.
Rather looking forward to Sunday; hopefully Lamps will return and all will be right with the world. Sunderland fan I had a beer with yesterday was less than optimistic about their chances, given their largely shocking and win-free away record this season.
Oh lord. None of these make happy reading.
The second explanation in particular makes me want to draw the curtains and retire to my bed for a period of months.
(thanks to Pete W for the above link which led me to this)
Blimey. Having supped ale and conversed with the (very amiable) chap who wrote that on many occasions, he’s certainly no sensationalist hack and does seem to know the lay of the land at the club.
Would be very typically Chelsea to throw a large monkey wrench into the works when it was all looking so silky smooth and trouble free. You couldn’t make it up etc etc.
Am I being thick, but I don’t see why any of those 3 rumours would require the insultingly abrupt eviction of Uncle Ray?
’tis a good point, well made… who knows when it comes to this football club?!
Purely speculation on my part, but if scenario number 2 is the reality, then it goes something like this (with a nod in the direction of the Sopranos).
Wilkins role was already being re-appraised with his and CA’s knowledge but no need to make any moves ’til end of season.
CA is tapped up and agrees to go North for next season. Chelsea are made aware of this. For obvious reasons they want CA to see out his contract.
But those close to RA feel that he should be shown where the power is.
Poor old Ray is last seen in a limo, squeezed between a couple of heavies before floating in on the morning tide….
CA sees his boy end up in the morgue and knows he is now a dead man walking (note to CA – there’s a bloke in Rome who can talk you through what the coming months will be like).
But random rumours of City tapping up Carlo appear to tie in pretty neatly with stories leaked from Carlo that he would wait until the end of the season before signing a new deal. Is this simply a negotiating tactic from Carlo? And if he does get Maldini, Galli, Tassotti as an assistant, this will all seem like a silly storm over nothing.
But if it’s Emenalo or Avram…fuck me, I’ll be off.
If Avram got within 20 miles of the boardroom at the Bridge again, the club would be dealing with fairly large scale civil disorder the following match day. They wouldn’t be that stupid – although the next question is inevitable when considering matters Chelsea – would they?
Frank’s injury being billed as abductor muscle that he picked up in training, so a new one. Sod’s law – always more vulnerable to new knocks when recovering from old ones, I suppose.
Didn’t he tell Adrian Chiles against Spartak that this new injury is the abductor tear? Or was that Carlo? Either way, it would have been much better for the fans (and the squad players replacing him) if everyone was told that he would have been out until December either way.
This is the interview with Rob Beasley where he brings up the 12 week recovery:
Rough maths says that he was injured two months before that interview. Add on today’s announcement of another 3 weeks and that makes 12 right? If so, why has Carlo been hoping his return for the past 5 weeks?
And you’re right on Avram. If he ever appears in that home dug-out again, there would be a pitch invasion and a rather nasty riot.
Isn’t it fun that the chaos is back?
Carlo’s press conference live in a few minutes: http://www.chelseafc.com/page/LivePressConferences/0,,10268,00.html
Lampard out for ANOTHER two or three weeks.
Good grief. Josh, your hour may have cometh, so to speak…
So Frank’s out for another 2-3 weeks… WTF !!
This from the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/chelsea/9184447.stm
Rumours of Michael Emenalo’s promotion scare me. Firstly, because he’s a moron who constantly gets outsmarted in the big games despite being our chief scout (anyone who watches Chelsea TV will know how often his predictions for how the opposition will line up are proved to be wrong). Secondly, because it will be a clear sign that Roman wants to get involved again. And thirdly because he still has a stench of the Avram nightmare about him.Things have been going so well lately that it just seems strange that Roman would want to upset Carlo like this. The rumours of Carlo to CIty are absolute bullshit in my mind (even if City did want to tap him up, there is no way Roman would want to lose one of the 3 best managers in the world to a rival and more importantly, he would hate to lose face again to Sheikh Mansour after the Robinho debacle) so I think we’ll calm everyone down with a big appointment like Zola or Maldini.So nothing to worry about really (I hope). Of more concern is Frank. Is this another new injury or the same one which Frank admitted he “always knew would keep him out for 10-12 weeks?” I’ve forgotten how long he’s been away for now but if 3 more weeks makes it 12 overall, then it’s hardly a shock is it. I guess it’s back to the awesome attacking trio of Mikel, Zhirkov and Ramires. Hmmm…
I’d give Josh a go. He’s not put a foot wrong (last minute against Villa aside). He can always be replaced at half-time.
Agree with all the other comments about Ray. It’s certainly an odd way to go about things and all this cloak and dagger business suggests there is something to hide. Despite it being quiet(ish) recently Roman still remains surrounded by the nightmare “yes men” like Buck and Tennebaum.
Coming to a Screen Near You – the Blockbuster, Mystery, Thrillery , Dramary sort of exciting film thing.
The Question -What’s Going on Down in Cobham – First Peter Kenyon, Now Ray Wilkins?
For the answer make sure you get down to your local cinema and see
“No Country For Bald Men”
And Anelka already injured. And now Alex injured too. I think you’re onto something. Maybe there is a drive to revert to a hairier era such as in 1970. There were a lot of impressive sideburns back then. I was especially impressed with Paddy Mulligan
That is very funny !!!
Maybe Ray kicked Frank in the nuts on his way out. I hope there’s no full scale riot at the Bridge if Avram returns because I’m still recovering from my efforts at the Conservative HQ.
This just doesn’t make sense http://www.chelseafc.com/page/LatestNews/0,,10268~2217759,00.html – Carlo says the club just took his assistant away from him and he went along with it. Is he a man or a mouse?
We’re miles from the truth.
If that’s the case then I suspect Carlo is watching his back, with one eyebrow raised (obviously) in the direction of recent managerial history at the Bridge.
His record at Ac Milan as being the doormat of Berlusconi has been mentioned by me and several others prior to his residency with us. He seemed to be prepared to put up with whatever humiliation was rained upon him. He’s either Mr Rhino Skin or we need to determine if his wife’s name is Minnie and he has a weakness for Gorgonzola.
I suppose that when the likes of Berlusconi and Roman decide they want to do something, it’s their way or the highway. Carlo’s a smart chap – he kept Silvio happy and in trophies for some years and didn’t get the boot, and presumably knows that having uprooted himself and his life to another country to come here, it’s probably best to keep a low profile and get on with the job.
At the end of the day I guess I don’t really care (although I feel for Ray) provided it doesn’t destabilise the teamand we carry on winning.
It can’t be easy running a business in public view. There are plenty of others who’ve lost their jobs this week but the companies involved aren’t subjected to press speculation or blog frenzy.
Sounds like the decision to let Ray go was made and some self-important twit thought that he might be a destabilising influence if left to finish his contract.
I see the logic but it shows no knowledge of the man at all.
It reminds me of the early days in IT when leaving techies were given 15mins to clear their desks before being escorted from the premises with their belongings in bin-liners: the fear being that otherwise they would sabotage the system.
Whereas now with the Internet we can all login remotely to destroy everything 🙂
What does this Format Disk thingy do?
Oh dear, better not press that button…
Hope that Ray moves on to good effect.
Does this also give Sunderland hope that we’ll be having an off day?
Injuries or not, I don’t fancy giving Josh a game in Sunday with a thug like Cattermole on the loose.
Without the good Kaiser’s endorsement, I’d have marked the author of that Hammy & Fulham Gazette piece as an obvious fantasist. Since the article contains three entirely different lines of speculation it’s hard to take any of them very seriously.
On the other hand, my assumption that the suits will act rationally has been spectacularly wrong before. Though at least they had the sense to ditch Uncle “20th Place” Avram despite finishing second in the two big competitions and the wittering of all those pundits who were so terribly impressed by how well he’d picked up the pieces after the, er, disastrous Mourinho years.
Player power did for Scolari (rightly, one has to admit) and presumably for “20th Place” as well. Since Butch was fairly popular — or so one imagines — can the suits really be dumb enough to throw in a replacement who hasn’t been pre-endorsed by the dressing room awkward squad, whoever they are?
Meanwhile, Frank continues to be a couple of weeks away. I wonder if he accidentally fell into the Large Hadron Collider and got caught in some kind of temporal wormhole warp-flux jobbie. What with Butch plus the malaria issue, the season is becoming faintly surreal. Next they’ll put Branners on trial in The Hague for war crimes, and sign Craig Bellamy in January.
No way Josh’ll play against the Mackems, natch. Cattermole might tackle the poor lad’s legs clean off him.
Can’t see Lamps playing again this year, there’s a deep-rooted problem there now. Josh has to be given a chance because we really have no other options.
Essiens stupidity really will cost us before long.
On the whole Wilkins thing, no idea what the he’ll is going on. Very strange one to me, a lot more to it than we’ll ever hear. Really not ideal, especially given we’re top of the league with everyone gunning for us.
Another thought about the RW thing.
Does anyone know if Roman is even in the country now?
Assuming that Fulham and/or Slumberland aren’t top of his must see listing, he might not have had any input on how the dirty deed was done.
Clutching at straws..?
Makes me feel better.
Can’t paste the link from my phone, but the Grauniad has an ‘unprecedented’ article behind the scenes at Chelsea looking at the kids coming through.
Get the feeling there’s a lot of content boys there already, with one or two of them casting admiring glances at what Josh has done. Bodes well for the future.
Someone said last week how quiet it had been on the Chelsea front in the papers.
Then came the moving to Earls Court story and now Ray getting shafted.
I have to think if it wasn’t Carlo’s idea ,then it was with his approval. I can’t believe they would have got rid of Ray if Carlo had insisted on him staying.
Which for me raises questions about whether Carlo is the person we thought he was.
Still a No.2 shouldn’t make THAT much difference ,and if we keep on winning and end up with a trophy ,or two ,at season’s end all will be fine.
But if we start dropping (more) points and end up potless…
Of course ,I have been wrong before.
But it was a pretty shitty way to end the career of a Chelsea legend.
As JD and TG pointed out yesterday afternoon below, Carlo didn’t survive all those years at Milan by questioning the decisions of the egomaniacs with the power at the club like Berlusconi and Galliani.
The Daily Wail would like us to believe he tried:
though this turns out to be a classic “Headline not backed up by content of story” bit of journalism as all the quotes are from the press conference we saw yesterday and consist of an Italian version of “I like Ray and it was nothing to do with me, squire” with no hint that he tried to stop it.
Still all looks very odd, indeed.
And have I had a senior moment, but I don’t remember Roman ever trying to replace Steve Clarke with Uncle Avram while TSO was in charge, as stated some way down the article?
Anyone else have trouble accessing the blog this afternoon? It seems fine now. There was nothing wrong with the server – I had full access to it via its IP address – but I couldn’t access the blog via its domain. I’m trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong… but need to know if it was just me who couldn’t access the blog via chelseafcblog.com?
To be honest Nick this has been more reliable form than OleOle for me. No issues at all today here.
Nick, I’ve been checking the site regularly. Checked 4-5 times today as well. Never had any problem.
And to the question as to how long United would remain unbeaten – Let goodluck keep them unbeaten till December 12th.
It’s also been fine with me as well Nick, far better as Tony mentioned than Ole Ole was.
One of the great mysteries for me is, how the fuck we managed to lose to Citeh and Poo considering their results today.
That’s a good point (or no points in our case).
Must be something about the way we were set up for those games – expecting trouble and finding it in a self fulfilling sort of way.
Might also explain how we took all three points from teams who actually played better but who we weren’t too worried about.
Point taken, Clive — but then it’s not so bad when you think that we’ve lost to Citeh and ‘Poo, and *they’ve* lost to Stoke and Wolves.
We do seem to be catching teams at their best. But we’re still getting the points we’re supposed to get, while everyone else is dropping them left right and centre.
So far so good.
Couldn’t get on The Blog after the Fulham game. (Something called Nearlyfreespeech kept coming up).
But at least it spared you all from my words of wisdom.
Nice touch with the Avatar Ringo. I expect Chelsea will do something special pre-game today, they normally do with Remembrance Sunday. As I recall, last year it was when we played United and Carlo and Purplenose walked out together, plus we had current serving members of the forces with the pensioners…..I think they walked out between the teams who did the guard of honour. Either way I expect it ot be quite emotional.
Always good to see the Pensioners being acknowledged at the Bridge Especially on a day like today.
Love it when they’re part of the PL trophy presentation too.
I know we all gave Martin Samuel a lot of (deserved) shit a while back ,but he was spot on with his wearing the poppy column last week.
First time I’ve tried today, but earlier in the week the same thing happened to me.Not sure what day it was but the site was down for most of the afternoon, or maybe it was the evening, but certainly no go for several hours.Also: time to remind those of us who buy from Amazon to use the link on the home page. Support the blog.
Thanks, FSTS. Looks like it was an issue at the company that manages the chelseafcblog.com DNS and email. It’s annoying because I pay a bit extra to host the blog with Amazon only for another link in the chain to break twice in a few days (DNS company also had some “network instability” earlier in the week). Grr…
Anyway… United pulled off another unlikely comeback then. Goodness knows how they remain unbeaten.
Very strange England squad:
Foster (Birmingham), Hart (Man City), Green (West Ham); Gibbs (Arsenal), Cole (Chelsea), Terry (Chelsea), Jagielka (Everton), Lescott (Man City), Richards (Man City), Ferdinand (Man Utd), Smalling (Man Utd); Walcott (Arsenal), Wilshere (Arsenal), Young (Aston Villa), Gerrard (Liverpool), Barry (Man City), Johnson (Man City), Milner (Man City), Henderson (Sunderland); Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Bothroyd (Cardiff), Carroll (Newcastle), Crouch (Tottenham).
A mix of experience, youth and rubbish (Bothroyd, Barry, Smalling, Agbonlahor and for me Carroll whose touch and technique is abysmal at times).
Fabio has said that the match with France will see a lot of new players being given a chance but if he’s really going to stick to that plan, why waste JT and Ash’s time by making them turn up at Wembley? With all our injuries at the moment our two England players should have been rested but it seems inevitable that Fabio will play his most experienced team for no logical reason whatsoever.
The scary thing is that that may be the best fit squad available. (Scary if you’re English, that is.) There really doesn’t seem to be much talent out there until you get down to the U17s and U18s.
Pick your best 11 from that lot and there’s every chance Agbonlahor and Carroll are actually in it. Would you really rate Crouch ahead of either of them? In a 4-1-4-1 it’s probably Hart; Richards (holy crap), Ferdinand, Terry, Cashley; Barry; Gerrard, Wilshere, Walcott, Johnson; A Big Man (probably Carroll). Crikey. We’re the Fulham of international football.
“Why ,Why ,Why Delilah!”
Have no idea why they sing that ,their own One Man Went To Mow? ,but it sure sounded good towards the end of their game.
Glad I didn’t pay to see that “fight”. (Not that you could pay here,even if you wanted to).
Used to see better fights every day on the school playground.
Think Harrison tried to emulate Ali against Foreman ,unfortunately he mis-understood Ali’s tactics.
He thought it was dope-a-dope.
Fucking Ancelotti!! where da hell is Mancienne and Rajkovic ? oh yes Ancelotti loaned them out for rookie Bruma who then decides to put on the bench for slow poke fullback Ferreira in central defence. Damn I’m pissed off!!
we were bullied and kicked of the ball…like arsenal. ancelotti go home!
I accept with all our injuries we would struggle in some games … and struggle we have.
We needed Yuri and Ramires to step up with Essien and Frank out and they failed badly. What quality did Carlo see in Ramires to pay such a hefty price? Sure he’s young and will get better but what is he? DM? MC? AM? He’s very light weight, poor touch and so far no vision. He does run a lot though … but surely thats not his USP?
Yuri also suffers from this … WB, LW, MC, AM? Sure injuries force Carlo’s hand but we have seen him play in all of these positions and no-one knows where best to use him. However albeit no outstanding performances he is a great utility player. His versitility merits some margin for shitness.
To sum … our bench is light-weight. We look light-weight. Our attack is at full strength (ok drogs at 80%) and we are still not incisive infront of goal.
Do we panic buy in Jan? Has the policy of playing youth back fired? Or can we hold on until the return of Essien and Lampard?
That’s fucking ruined my weekend, we looked like a pub team, played like a pub team, and made Sunderland (who fully deserved it) look like world beaters.
I hope your promise of a light hearted report JD remains, because after that we all need cheering up, the pressure is on you for a comedy extravangaza, to match the football we played.
Terrible. Utter shite.
The only positives were Cech and in young Josh, it looks like we’ve found someone who can take a corner at last.
There was so much wrong with that defeat but here’s my first thoughts:
1. Ramires – Disgusting. He should be embarrassed to call himself a Chelsea footballer. Can’t pass. Can’t tackle. Can’t cross. Can’t shoot. Can’t even put in any fucking effort. The fact that we cheered off this £18m joke says it all.
2. Drogba – Forget the malaria. Forget the lack of fitness. Basic things such has passing to a teammate, shooting on target or heading the ball on were beyond him today. If we’re relying on this 33 year old for the next two seasons in these cost cutting times then god help us.
3. Effort – Yes Cattermole is a thug. But Sunderland’s effort contrasted appallingly with the number of Chelsea players who seemed happy to walk around like lazy little shits. Our front three’s lack of fight and passion was disgusting.
4. Crossing – Please tell me that after 6 weeks of seeing Zhirkov and Didier hit the first man, Carlo has noticed that we should be practicing this basic skill.
5. Football – So slow and so uninspiring that it just depressed me. Can you think of a chance we created in 90 minutes?
6. Transfer policy – Breaking even and promoting youth is one thing but does Roman feel that saving money is fine when this form and football means we’ll win fuck all this season? Looking to the bench for help today brought a sad smile to my face as a bunch of kids and Kalou came on.
7. Tactics – Our 4-3-3 has been outwitted by a 4-4-2 for the second time in a week. Our tactic has officially been found out.
8. Substitutions – Why did it take 68 minutes before Ramires was hooked? And why does there have to be a 10 minute gap between each like-for-like sub?
9. Age – We’re so slow and old that it was hilarious the number of times Cattermole, Richardson and Bardsley out ran us today. Time for some investment from Roman otherwise we’ll be heading backwards.
10. Defending – Bosingwa is a defender isn’t he? Because his understanding of how to defend as a right-back makes Glen Johnson look world-class.
I’m too pissed off to think of much else but the fact that there weren’t even enough fans to boo off this disgrace of a performance says it all.
The biggest pile of shite I have seen since the 0-0 draw with Hull that got Scolari binned.
Think you’ve missed the point, guys.
Whoever kicked Ray in the balls, then expected us to go out and play like champions has found out what life’s really like.
My thoughts exactly FSTS. When you treat someone as badly as that, then how does that make everyone else feel? Something was broken with Chelsea today and without a number two to offer opinion and choice – even Picard had an XO in Riker to assist with decisions, surely a number 2 would have give CA the nod about Ramires suffering rather than allowing Malouda to come off – a decision met with abject howls of derision from most of the ground. Without a ‘Ray’ at his side, Ancelotti looked like Avram Fucking Grant* this afternoon. * I am assured by West Ham and Pompey fans that this is his real name. Very poor all round, and the injuries are no excuse for that lame a team performance. You might expect that from a United, or an Arsenal, for therein always lurks that possibility, and you might expect a shock 1-0 versus Sunderland with us battering them but not getting the breaks, but one shot on target in the whole second half tells me those players heads were down from the minute they came out. And I’m with Benjamin as well – if you don’t trust Bruma as 4th choice centre back then let him go an play elsewhere. Paolo tried but really, am I the only one who remembers his last time at centre back versus Liverpool a couple of years ago?
Personally I don’t think that was that bad a performance. It was just poor and average, as we have been for the last month, which lead to Sunderland getting 1 great lucky goal, another great lucky goal, and then essentially an own goal.
I think CA picked the wrong side.
Bruma should have started, you could easily argue that the 1st and 2nd goals were the fault of the 2 CBs. If I was him I would consider leaving as he clearly isn’t going to get a chance at Chelsea.
I think our formation has now been found out, and lacks creativity.
We should switch to:
Bos Ivan Bruma Cole
Ramires McEachran Malouda
4-3-3 no longer works CA !!
Ramires is very good, but he needs time to settle in and learn the Premiership. This will take a season. I really enjoy watching him play, just lacks the edge he will develop as the season progresses.
Zhirkov on the other hand should be sold at Christmas, and be replaced by a young English DM who is ready to fight and work hard for the ball.
Ramires and Zhirkov should never ever start in the same side again, it leads to our midfield being overrun, and then a lack of support/link/creativity for our forwards.
Lamps Essien we need you back!!
Torres £30m offer at Xmas ;p?
Cech, Cole, Terry, Alex, Ivan, Mikel, Essien, Lampard, Ramires/McEachran, Drogba, Torres (4-1-3-2) yeah!!
Ends a great weekend for me, thought it was a 3pm kick off on Saturday, really should have noticed on the tube on my way over where everyone was :/
Fuck a duck.
Had a long think on my walk home from the ground and I’m pretty confident that the terribly weak attacking midfield axis (Zhirkov and Ramires, competing with each other for the Moffatt Award for Waste of Space 2010) caused all the problems, plus of course Paolo (who didn’t do too badly given that his positional instincts must have been all wrong) playing so badly out of position.
Plus Sunderland were excellent. “Outpassed by the Sunderland,” their tiny band of fans crowed as 90 mins ticked up — yes, I stayed to the end — and they were absolutely right.
And I agree with Benjamin above about other things too, especially the worry over Bruma. If he’s so far away that he’s not the 4th choice centre back, he shouldn’t be in the squad.
The worry is that for the second week running 4-4-2 seems to have confused us yet again. It may be an antiquated formation these days, but sometimes it works. I agree with LTB our midfield has looked light yet again, against a team that were in our faces for 90 mins. No doubting Sunderland deserved it, and Cech was our best player, says it all really.
And to be critical of CA which I haven’t been, but to take Malouda off, when Ramires and Zirkhov were having a very poor game beggars belief.
Totally agree, the fact that Paulo played centre-back suggests they may not be quite a ready to give the youth a chance as they have been making out.
And the Ray thing, whatever the ins and outs of exactly what he did, his removal this week can’t have helped.
I’m sure all of this is because Roman is trying to recoup/limit his losses, irrespective of the fact most of the losses stem from him throwing money around like lunatics at a random set of players chosen mostly by him and his crackpot advisors when he first arrived.
I despair of this club some times
I’m willing to be on suicide watch.
Too late I’ve drunk 12 pints of somerset’s finest and taken 300 Prozac, how long have I got?
at least 45 minutes because Kalou consumed the same just before he came on
Paulo should be nothing more than a last resort back up. He’s done a fantastic job in hid time at the club but if we’re picking him ahead of Bruma when we need a CB then somethings wrong.
Set pieces continue to be nothing more than an embarrassment, why supposed proffesionals are unable to deliver a dead ball mystifies me. I’m a portly 30 year old and can do better than any if them. In Lamps absence, we’re relying on Mikel to prove decisive on the edge of the box? Seriously? Shocking scenes.
Can be put down as one of those things (as was the Liverpool game…..) but how many more can we get away with? No one seems to want to run away with the league, and we’re doing our damnedest to be caught, but someone needs to have a serious think about the repercussions of getting rid of Ray. And persisting with oldies instead if the kids. And overlooking what is clearly an issue with Lamps comeback. Things are far from well at the Bridge and, to be honest, don’t look like getting better any time soon.
Watched most of it.
I will spend the night deciding if we are in a slump or a crisis.
No doubting it appears to be a bit of a slump. When Citeh beat us last year, it was just one of those games/results, and I wasn’t unduly worried.
But two succesive Sundays against teams that have been pretty poor this season, is a bit of a wake up call.
The frightening thing is, Sunderland totally outplayed us, if they had of been wearing our kit, they would have been totally at home, and we’d be waxing lyrical about them.
Report filed with the boss. Humour in short supply, but hey, what can you do?
I can hear the MotD music – that must mean it’s time to go and hide under the duvet.
Yes brings back memories of Dr Who and hiding behind the couch as a young lad.
[…] Alex) and we look like sitting ducks.Even longer without Frank and Essien – whose red against Fulham is now looking very costly indeed – the midfield is looking overwhelmed and undermanned in equal […]