Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool – No Country for Old Men

This was an odd film. A film where the marvellous Javier Bardem walks through the entire 120 minutes on a killing spree – I believe a spree is anything more than three people. It has no relevance to this report or the game really other than the ending is curiously very satisfyingly unsatisfying. Maybe that’s the relevance because that’s a little like the way our season seems to be heading.

Mind you had Mr Bardem turned up today and decided to take a few players out in new and interesting ways then I for one might have viewed it as mercy killing rather than mass murder, or indeed a killing spree.

One other glaring link though is this. The Premier League is most certainly not a place for the ageing player. Once legs and desire go, then your days are numbered. Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda, please take note.

And so to the game…

Do I have to? Oh OK then. I could sum it up in one sentence really. First half rotten but a better second half ruined by sheer stupidity and failures in the basics of football. Two teams in transition on the path to trying to get back to former glories? Or two bald men fighting over a rusty comb? It would seem they’re further on that transitional path than us.

Let’s look at the team selection first. On paper the back four looked OK, with the allegedly suspect Luiz getting a start. Honestly the way some Chelsea fans talk about him, you’d think Mr Bean had been selected. Personally if he develops as I suspect he might, then we’ll have a faster more skillful centre-back than Riccy Carvalho. Ivan always reliable at right-back, captain JT in the centre with Luiz and ‘the world’s best left-back’ in Ashley Cole. Now, personally I thought he had a stinker versus Arsenal and in fact has looked shaky all season, but the press and many others have copyrighted that title so who am I to equate his recent form to the Emperor’s New Clothes analogy? Ramires, Mikel, Lamps formed the middle equation with a front three of Mata, Malouda and… the complex enigma that is Drogba. A ripple of surprise resonated through the room at that. I loved Didier but like many I fear that he’s a spent force now. Certainly his patchy season last year and frankly utterly ineffectual performances thus far this season indicate as much. Still… we thought… maybe today’s the day he could prove so many wrong.

How wrong could we be?

So let’s just cover the game with a few extended observations.

Our first half started brightly but confidence soon drained as did desire and passion. We really had no pace but Liverpool were equally as poor. Within 10 minutes it was plain to see that Drogba is a shadow of his former self. Like watching Muhammad Ali get back into the ring against Larry Holmes. Sad. It is also apparent that Malouda is lazy and won’t run to the ball. Most glaring of all for me though is that Cole has forgotten the fundamentals of defending. And crossing. And shooting. All of these are bad points, and as the antimatter Brucie himself might say in a parallel universe where everybody is tuned to Play Your Cards Wrong, “What do bad points make? Bad points make bad prizes.”

The ultimate bad point though was a Cech decision to pass to Mikel when he was isolated. The defence was level with Mikel but spread across the pitch, Mikel was exposed, but we see this all the time. All teams regularly pass out to isolated defenders and midfielders level with play. The pass was the equivalent in its badness to Malouda’s hospital pass to JT against Arsenal three weeks ago. Mikel patently wasn’t looking for it. However, despite this Mikel’s indecision and subsequent loss of the ball was incompetency personified. In filmic terms it was Dumb and Dumber. A goal down but hardly deserved and it’s stupid basic mistakes like this that alleged top players constantly seem to be making that are costing us dearly. Frankly the half time whistle couldn’t come soon enough.

Second half the rocket up the arse treatment seemed to have worked. We looked livelier, more desire being shown. It was as if it had taken a few people to explain to the players that an injustice was about to be carried out unless they rectified things. Finally we got ourselves level after Malouda’s duffed shot showed it had a plan B of pretending to be a perfect pass to Sturridge who gleefully tapped home the equalizer. For the rest of the half we had chances but the worrying thing is our inability to capitalize on them. We got the ball into the box plenty of times and Ivan was unlucky not to score from a decent Drogba cross, but not having a consistent striker is costing us. Drogba is no longer a striker. On 86 minutes a cross field ball found ex-Chelsea player Glen Johnson on his own. He then decided to do more than a passable impression of a neutrino by passing undetected through the body of an AWOL but returning Cole before running into the box and slipping neutrino-like through the remaining defence to place the ball into the net. No ‘high line defence’ bollocks at fault here, just a missing left-back who at the moment isn’t even the best left-back in his own house. It was every bit as shockingly poor as Walcott’s was the other week. Schoolboy defending and a real mugging. At this point the game was over.

It was bad, as bad as losing to Arsenal. We need to learn, but the players really need to look deep into themselves as well.

The good

  • Luiz – kept that despicable cheating Suarez quiet and showed, despite one silly reaction that he can play very effectively at centre-back.
  • Ivan – superb, unluckily booked. Deserved more. If we had 11 with his attitude and desire we’d be invincible.
  • Ramires – hard working and full of fight. Got a yellow card for a scissor tackle. I’m guessing it wasn’t red because he let the player live. Ran out of steam.
  • Mata – if I was him I’d be wondering just what I’d signed up for.
  • Sturrudge – didn’t do much BUT he did get another goal and seems to be the only one who remembers that scoring them is a fundamental point of football.

The bad

  • Drogba – awful from start to finish, no pace, no touch, no power. A shadow. Goodbye.
  • Malouda – slow, lazy, unwilling to track back. Would make Joe Cole look like Pele right now.
  • Cech – coasting. Needs Courtois back for competition.
  • JT – slow in thought and position and everything else today. I think the pressure is telling.
  • Cole – a candidate for the ugly section, but today as he did against Arsenal he stunk the house out. Got nutmegged more than once, and as for positional sense? Mark Thatcher would have been better today.

The ugly

  • Luis Suarez – a man who as the World Cup showed will go to any length and any manner of fakery and cheating to win an advantage for his team. Makes Tevez look like Mother Theresa.

The Man of the Match

From our side, David Luiz, who suffocated Suarez out of the game. Few others apart from Ivan and Mata really deserve much credit.

The epilogue

AVB did get some things wrong today. But it wasn’t tactics as much as personnel. He seems to be falling foul of the old senior player power curse hanging over us. Remember when Scolari tried to be brave by dropping Drogba? Only to find dressing room factions and smears undermining him to the point where the senior players under-performed to such a degree that he was sacked, to be replaced by Hiddink?

Just saying…

Now, I am 100% behind AVB. Twelve games in and four defeats is not good, but some horror shows from senior players have been on display and contributed largely to leaking goals and failing to score them. Horror shows which smack of revenge to me and for which there’s very little any coach could legislate for. It’s time for change and I think he knows this. I’d like to see Josh getting more chances, Torres being confirmed as first choice striker and getting regular full games, Sturridge being a more regular starter. I’d like Courtois to at least be given a chance if he’s as good as everyone says. Get Kakuta back to work alongside Mata. Give Romeu more starts. Shake Drogba, Malouda and Kalou’s hands and wish them well. Buy Perreira and Cahill to build the new defensive unit. Trust Luiz more, he’s a great and skillful player. Could Bertrand or Van Aanholt really be any worse than Cole right now?

The old guard need to know they’re under threat. And that AVB is brave enough to get rid of them. If they don’t like it, then tough, I don’t want people like that spreading poison through the squad. We need more Fergie balls the like of which he showed with Sharpe, Staam, Van Nistelrooy and Beckham.

What’s NOT the answer is sacking AVB and bringing back Hiddink. For a start, Hiddink is 65. So hardly at an age for rebuilding the team as is required. And don’t quote Wenger or Fergie at me, they’ve been in place for many years and I doubt either would relish starting a club from scratch again. Hiddink himself has stated publicly he has no desire to be in day to day management, hence his recent leaning towards managing international teams. So no, Hiddink would not be welcomed back by me as head coach/manager.

Like I say, No Country for Old Men.

However, I would welcome Hiddink back in a Director of Football role. He would provide a welcome bridge between the board and AVB. He could take control of the strategy including the style of play, the scouting, the academy… building that to match AVB’s specifications going forward, linking the roots of the club to the first team, and acting as a paternal mentor to AVB. Roman could dispatch Gourlay to do CEO stuff, Buck to do Chairman stuff and allow proper football people to run the football side from top to bottom.

This season is dead for the Premier League. We will be destroyed if we meet Real or Barca in Europe. We might win an FA Cup, but we have to treat this, and maybe next season as periods of transition much like Fergie has done over the years at Manchester United. If we want to play great football, to win the big trophies, to be consistently challenging then we need a coach who is brave, can execute a strategy and can bring consistency. I still think we already have that man.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!

The press reports

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “It is never too early for dark speculations at Stamford Bridge. At most clubs it would seem absurd even to doubt a new manager before November is behind him but it does matter that Chelsea are a dozen points off the lead in the Premier League and Andre Villas-Boas’s side will not be in the top four should Tottenham Hotspur so much as draw at home to Aston Villa on Monday. That, in itself, would scarcely be a decisive blow but the brooding about Chelsea would then intensify.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “This was a strange game, one which Liverpool dominated in the first half before the home side resolutely fought their way back into after the break. Then, after Villas-Boas sent on Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles, there was an instance of sloppiness in his defence and Glen Johnson ran through to score an unlikely winning goal.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “In extending their unbeaten run to nine, Liverpool exuded qualities that Chelsea need: pace on the break, unity of purpose and resilience in adversity. Above all, everyone at Liverpool is behind Dalglish. How Villas-Boas would crave such dressing-room to boardroom fidelity enjoyed by Dalglish.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Consecutive home defeats for Chelsea leave a dent in our title aspirations. A late goal from former Blue Glen Johnson did the damage after Daniel Sturridge had equalised Maxi Rodriguez’s opener. After a first-half that saw few chances for either side, we started the second spell brightly and were quickly rewarded with substitute Sturridge’s equaliser. We should have kicked on from there but wasted chances meant a price to pay with Liverpool’s winner coming against the run of play.”

The goals

33′ Maxi Rodriguez 0-1; 55′ Sturridge 1-1; 87′ Johnson 1-2. Extended highlights via 101 Great Goals.

There are 141 comments

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  1. Cunningplan

    Hard to argue with any of that Tony, whenever we make mistakes, teams are punishing us, defensivley we are like rabbits in headlights. I know AVB is protecting his players, but he actually stated that Liverpool’s first goal was a good counter attack to score, yeah right!

    Anyway it’s gone midnight I’m still pissed off, this defeat will take a bit longer to get over than the Arse one.

  2. Harry

    AVB does not show pedigree needed to manage a club like Chelsea in crisis. I do
    not blame AVB, but Chelsea board has to take responsibility. Chelsea fans want
    both AVB and board of directors out. Chelsea, this season, is lucky to finish
    mid table, let alone play champion league. Those who engineered JM downfall
    must put their necks on the block.

    fans want board’s’ heads on a platter.

  3. BangkokBlue

    There’s a bit of a perfect storm going on. Various players were bought in the last few years that managers seem to have had little say on, and who have not performed. Those players who have performed are now ageing. Mikel and Malouda in particular seem to be not doing what they were bought for (alas). And we don’t mention Kalou anymore because he’s not used now. Signing new players seems hard because sellers ask for so much from RA. 

  4. Machchan

    Agree with your views Tony.  AVB deserves more time but he is not doing himself many favours on his approach to our defensive frailties.  His take as per the report on “…we trust our defensive organisation… We need to organise a little bit better”.  Hmmm…
    I agree with Tony (and several others have posted along these lines) that we need to clear out the over paid and under performing rotten “core” of Drogba, Malouda, etc.  We should also consider seriously the continuous flatter-to-deceive occasional heroics of JT which I’m afraid only masks what is a major problem with our defence: JT’s organising of it and performance within it.

  5. Anonymous

    I’ve seen a few mentions of the Cech-Mikel effort and Petr’s getting some unfair criticism in my eyes. Mikel wants the ball. You can see him check over his shoulder, drop 10 yards to receive it. The problem is he’s so slow, the Liverpool player who read this was 10 yards of him and still made te challenge.

    I don’t agree with all this twatting around at the back. We’re doing it more than ever, playing across the back 5 and losing it more and more. Why we persist in putting ourselves under pressure is anyone’s guess. Drogs was picked to bully Liverpool, so why not punt the fucking thing up to him? No, dally on it and concede. Genius.

    I feel most sorry for Mata. Must be like playing with pub players at times. How or why Malouda remains in contention for te squad – let alone starting XI – is a mystery. He’s useless. One mis-hit shot yesterday was the total of his output.

    Im just really really angry. We genuinely will struggle to finish top 4. What sort of impact will no CL next season have on the club?

  6. Anonymous

    I went a bit easy on JT but I think he may be feeling the pressure even if he doesn’t want to admit it. You may have it right with occasional heroics masking a decline. When he played alongside Riccy and Gallas before him we had pacy cover, hence my point about Luiz potentially being a new Riccy. With both these it was possible to ignore JT’s occasional errors. But we all make mistakes…for me the bigger worry with JT was around his lack of leadership. His influence yesterday was next to non-existent and my worry is the racism has undermined him, the pressure has got to him, or there is an issue with him and #avb (much as there was with TSO)

  7. Peterw

    Strongest squad for years and the results and performances are getting worse and worse. This isn’t like Carlo last season – he’s got everybody bar Essien to pick from, so no excuses about injuries. If the team he picks doesn’t perform, we know where the buck stops.

    The diabolical defending – as a unit and as individuals – and complete lack of coherence between defence and midfield suggest somebody is either not getting their message across, or there message doesn’t make any sense in the first place. A defence doesn’t go from best in league to worst practically overnight unless something is badly wrong in training. The gaps between our centrebacks are embarrassing, the lack of support from midfield unforgivable. Every mistake leads to a goal because of the way they are set up, creating vast acres of space for the opposition to exploit.

    I’m not impressed. I want AVB to succeed, but the players he has at his disposal and the support he had in the summer, he should be doing much, much better. 

  8. Ryan

    Excellent article. I’m sick of watching some of the useless cunts that AVB picked yesterday. Terry, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba. They’re finished. Squad players. AVB picked Ancelotti’s team yesterday. Then told them to play like Barcelona. Is he completely mental? Did he see these players last year? To paraphrase what I’ve said elsewhere… No Chelsea player on the pitch yesterday would get in Barcelona’s team because they can’t pass the ball, their movement is average, as is their technique. There may be a couple of exceptions but they’d still be lucky to get on Barca’s bench (Mata, Luiz). Therefore it must be naive to pick those players and play them in a system that they clearly aren’t capable of playing. I began to lose faith with AVB yesterday. It’s correct to suggest that it’s partly the fault of the players. But some of the worst offenders didn’t HAVE to play yesterday. The manager chose to play Malouda, Mikel, Drogba and Lampard. So he should share in their blame. I certainly didn’t expect any better of them than I saw yesterday. Why not start Mereiles, Romeu, Torres and Sturridge yesterday? I’d be inclined to drop John Terry and play Alex with Luiz. His positioning and decision making was awful yesterday. He dived in when he should’ve stayed on his feet numerous times and left gaping holes across the back four and in behind. To play a high line you have to retain the ball and press it high up the pitch. Lampard, Drogba, Malouda and Mikel are not capable of doing this. If the manager doesn’t realize this then he’ll soon find that Roman “sacks who he wants”. If he thinks Abramovich won’t sack him because of the loose change he spent getting him out of his Porto contract then he really is naive. Hiddink will come in as director of football and if a CL place is in doubt then the inevitable will happen.

  9. Cunningplan

    The frustrating thing for me with AVB (I also want him to succeed) is the continued philosophy of playing a high defensive line. Confidence amongst the players appears fragile again, just like last season in our blip three month period.
    Now AVB has worked with Jose to know how to organise a team defensively, and on our current run, should just revert to what works to stabalise the ship.

    What has Fergie done at Utd since the 6-1 thrashing? gone back to no nonsense frill free football. Three 1-0 results in the league, and nine points, plus two clean sheets and wins in the cup competitions. That’s why the wiley old fox wins things consistently, it’s not rocket science. 

    I still think we’ll finish top four, because Liverpool aren’t good enough, Arsenal’s defence is worse than ours, the only difference is they’re confidence is high and Van Persie is on fire, when’s his injury due, must be soon?  And Spurs will fall to pieces once Harry’s locked up for alleged Tax evasion 😉

  10. Anonymous

    Echoing Ryan’s sentiments a bit.

    Cech has been making a lot of short passes to defenders under pressure this season.  Actually it’s not just us but a lot of teams, even in the Championship, and the explanation is quite simple because footballing folks are generally simple.

    All the coaches at the beginning of this season asked the same question they ask at the beginning of each and every season “how can we play better?”  The conversation naturally leads on to “who is the best team out there?” shortly followed by “and what tactics do they deploy” quickly followed by “ok let’s start playing that way ourselves”.  Consequently there are 20 teams in the English league who have now deployed the Barcelona philosophy in much the same way British Leyland deployed the Japanese approach to quality in an attempt to raise the stakes with the Austin Allegro.

    This is the problem for AVB.  He’s under instructions to win and play exciting football like Barcelona.  He’s passed on these instruction to his players, specifically Cech, and told him to keep the ball moving at all times, even if players are under pressure, because Barcelona’s Xavi and Iniesta are able to get away with it.  What’s slightly confusing is that I would rate Cech as one of the more intelligent players in the squad, at least he looks intelligent in post-match interviews when he’s wearing his glasses, so I’d expect him to interpret these orders better on a play by play basis.

    Playing like Barcelona is not such a poor idea or objective.  Of course I’d quite like to cook saddle of venison with beetroot soubise, risotto of spelt and umbles as created by Heston Blumenthal but I’m not sure I’d attempt it if all I had in the kitchen was a packet of chicken nuggets, soggy lettuce and old potatoes going to seed. Instead I’d design a dish based on the ingredients I’ve got to hand and wait to introduce my more expansive menu following my Ocado delivery, scheduled for some time in January and next summer.

    For Roman, Chelsea and us fans AVB is a leap of faith.  The word transition is currently the word in vogue for underperforming teams, Italy and Greece.  Transition is great if you know what you’re transforming to.  If you’re restructuring your house and knocking down walls then the transitional pain of dust and rubble is bearable because you’ve seen the plans of what’s to come.  If you’re ill and the treatment is known to cause even more pain, it’s bearable because you know it’s going to make you better.  For us we could go through two or three years of transition and still end up playing like this.

    However, subject to Roman’s continued support, I’d like to take a leap of faith with AVB because he’s bright, intelligent, young and ambitious.  Currently AVB is undergoing an education in public.  He’s making mistakes and we’re all watching.  It would be a shame to provide this private education at our expense only to then sack him so that at his next club he starts to perform better have learnt from his mistakes with us.

  11. Anonymous

    Pete Watts said   ‘…and complete lack of coherence between defence and midfield suggest somebody is either not getting their message across, or there message doesn’t make any sense in the first place’
    Or the message is being ignored. 

  12. Anonymous

    Alex must be wondering what has to happen for him to get a game.

    I’d drop JT, stick Alex in with Luiz next weekend. JT seems to be going backwards quicker than ever.

    The problem we have now is that while the title is all-but-gone, we have to finish top 4. Still too much to risk in giving the likes of Josh and Romeu minutes on the pitch, despite it being apparent theyd do no worse than what’s happened already.

    • Ryan

      Ironically I think the problem is that JT is going backwards (and sideways and forwards) slower than ever. I can’t see any risk in giving Romeu starts ahead of Mikel. He is ineffectual at best and a liability at worst. Allow me to dispel a popular myth. Jon Obi Mikel is disciplined defensively and holds his position when others attack. Bollocks. Utter bollocks. He plays in this position because he is too slow and unfit to play as a proper Central Midfielder. He is ponderous on the ball. When he finally makes his mind up he is under pressure and the player he passes the ball to is as well because the pass was so obvious, owing to his lack of vision and awareness of what is happening around him. The gulf between him and Makelele is ridiculous. Comparable to getting rid of Cech and putting Warwick Davies in goal. Look at the progress players like Jack Wilshere have made because they’ve been given a chance. If were going to start players who won’t be at the club next year AND play like shit where is the harm in giving someone a chance?
      Also I would like to defend Ashley Cole a little. You don’t go from being the oft-quoted “best left-back in the world” to not as good as Ryan Bertrand in 12 games. He was left exposed yesterday by Terry and Malouda. When you ask your full backs to get ahead of the ball, you must have pace in the team to cover. Or they need to be quicker than Kyle Walker! AVB needs to grow into this role quickly. The fact that we as lay-persons are pointing out some glaring errors worries me. I’m not sure if he has the bottle to drop Terry and Lamps. But somebody has to eventually. Send them off to the donkey sanctuary,(with Samuel Eto’o) make some money out of big name under performers while we can.
      If Terry is found guilty by the Met investigation AVB will never be in a stronger position to get the old guard out. I don’t see Cahill coming in to play with Terry I see him replacing him.

  13. Marco

    An excellent analysis, Tony, which every far-sighted supporter will endorse.

    Most of us on here want Villas-Boas to come good but he is going to have to be brave and bold and start the clear-out now. Who could have imagined in July that Cech, JT, Cole and Mikel would join the likes of Drogba and Malouda in the ranks of the piss-poor so quickly?

    But AVB has to take responsibility: the sheer awfulness of our defending has been patent for over two months now and he has done little to address it. When teams concede as easily as we have it demoralises even the best players, leading to sloppy passes, wild tackles, silly mistakes and frantic shooting right throughout the side. Unless he does something very quickly then I can see a witch-hunt growing out of control which will put the Board under increasing pressure to replace him.

    As I have said all along we can’t expect to win anything this year but we all want to see a new team evolving if the dinosaurs can’t hack it any more. So bring on Courtois, Romeu, Josh, Bertrand/Van Aanholt, Lukaku and Kakuta with one or two new centre-backs coming in.

    Good defending is the basis for all winning sides – which is why Ferguson has gone back to winning ugly with ‘boring’ defensive displays. Villas Boas has to do that urgently. Coming up with twaddle about ‘projects’, ‘sub-projects’, ‘inefficient play’ and ‘tasks’ while our team plays like Wigan is just going to piss everyone off – even those of us who want Villas-Boas to succeed.

  14. Der_Kaiser

    Morning all,

    A few ponderings from my side of the fence.

    1)  In times of trouble I refer to the sage that is Mr. Sacchi who nailed how relatively feckin’ simple it is all those years ago; first, stop them losing, second, get them winning by whatever means, however ugly and tedious the performance is, and only when those two are ingrained in the squad as a default mindset do you worry about any kind of fancy football.

    2)  When your defensive unit doesn’t work and your strikers can’t put away the chances being created, point 1 becomes even more relevant.

    3)  Much talked about high lines and so forth, but in short the system we’re trying to play works if you have a team full of snappy Ramires types buzzing around in midfield and a Rooney up front bothering the shite out of the back 4/5 for 90 minutes, but our older pins just aren’t up to the job.

    4)  If AVB thinks that Roman spending heaps of money in the summer to get him is some kind of guarantee that he won’t spend as much again to get shot 6 months later, he really hasn’t been paying attention.

    5)  Hiddink is simply not the answer.  Experienced, yes but he’s never been a DoF (whatever that might entail in the unhinged world of Chelsea) and despite his wealth of knowledge learning new tricks when you’re the wrong side of 65 isn’t a great idea.  And do we really have to undermine yet another manager in this way?  Have we really learned nothing? (actually, don’t answer that).  Maybe advise on players the manager needs to put his plan in place, but start pitching him in to tactics and so forth and it will all go horribly wrong.  Again.

    6)  Drogs, Malouda (who I thought did pretty well second half, personally) and Anelka are ultimately the past, whichever way you cut it; Mata, Torres – who I still harbour doubts about, but he probably should have started yesterday – and Sturridge are, even on our average form, surely the first choice front 3 on recent performances?

    Had Ancelotti turned in that kind of showing last season, the bellowing for his head would have been ever-more deafening.  New man gets some slack and I’m ultimately happy to back him as I think we have a rough diamond on our hands.  Watching the second half yesterday I think I understood what he was trying to achieve, but the deficiencies already identified were ultimately our undoing.  If he’s smart he’ll realise that goodwill doesn’t last as long here as it might elsewhere – keep repeating the same mistakes and the support you have in all corners will disappear quicker than a small fart in a hurricane.

    Away trip to Germany probably not what the doctor ordered right now, but onwards etc.

    • Cunningplan

      Your point one is spot on, and is what I’ve posted earlier, Fergie has done it with aplomb, and Utd have got maximum points from those three games since Citeh.

      If AVB is going to remain stubborn like Wenger and adhere to a certain philosphy, then we need to get our safety goggles and hard hats, because it’s going to be rough.

  15. SweetDairyAir

    This will make me sound like a greedy fan, but we need about five players. 
    Left back will be ok for a few years (although you can see the beginning of the decline now), so that can be left alone for a bit, and if we’re lucky van aanholt or bertrand can step up in future (although if I’m honest I don’t think they will – squad player status only). Right back is a must fix. The dutch guy we’ve been going after for a while sounds ok (van der wiel) but there is a dearth of right back talent in the world right now, so that position is quite difficult to fill. Even Spain struggle to fill that position, pushing ramos out there.
    Alex will be sold. People say he is solid, and he mainly is. However AVB doesn’t like him. There are rumblings from within the club that he is one of the worst and laziest trainers at the club. And he wouldn’t work in a high line. We need a new CB with pace to go alongside Luiz in the long term (for when Terry retires). We need a CM in the style of Modric. I see exactly what AVB was going after with him. Our midfield is too slow, predictable and monotonous. We rely too much on Mata to create something. Ramires needs to improve his touch, but he brings much needed pace to the side, so he’ll stay. Lampard will become our Scholes. Romeu should be the long term DM, and Mikel is a good squad player. With McEachran rounding out the list, our central midfield only needs one player like Modric, but not necessarily Modric himself.
    Our attacking midfield/wingers though are in desperate need of help. Malouda, Kalou, Anelka are not good enough. They’re a combination of slow, plodding, too old or just plain incompetent. And they’re not wingers anyway. We need a pacey, tricky player who can play out wide or in the middle. And we need two. If those three players go, we only need two replacements. Hazard and someone else would be nice, but I’m no scout, so I don’t know who the best value for us would be. But I can see where in the team we need replacements.
    Finally Drogba needs to go. He’s been great (overall) for us, but with him in the team the other players can’t help but resort to long ball football. It won’t work! His touch isn’t good enough for passing football. Sturridge, Torres, Lukaku (although he needs a lot of work), and someone else would be ideal. That someone else I couldn’t name. If we could combine one of those wingers/attacking midfielders with a striker, it would reduce the players we would need to get. Someone like a Neymar (but not him!) who can play up front, or wide, or behind the striker. Someone versatile.
    To sum up this stupidly long rant, we need a first choice right back, a pacey young centre back who won’t necessarily be first choice for a few years but will get quite a few games as Terry’s fitness starts to get worse, a central midfielder like Modric who is tricky with good technique and who can create things, a winger/attacking midfielder like Hazard, and finally an attacking midfielder/winger/forward like Neymar (but not him!)

  16. bluebayou

    What does Paul Simon know about football? Well he appears to be the touchstone for a certain point of view. Let’s hope Roman isn’t listening to “50 Ways to Leave your Lover”.
    Hop on the bus, Gus
    You don’t need to discuss much
    Just drop off the key, AVB
    And get yourself free
    (with suitable apologies to the great man)
    And still on the subject of the Omnibus, it’s like the days of bus deregulation in Manchester a few years back. So many operators fighting for your custom. There you are waiting at the bus stop of depression in the driving rain and suddenly with a screech of brakes there they all are offering you the ride to footballing oblivion.
    Blame the oldies
    Blame the manager
    It’s the players
    It’s the tactics
    It’s the board
    It’s the Bankers (oh dear that’s a new driver who’s on the wrong route)
    So many bandwagons so little time.
    The winners in all this is of course are Kalou, Alex and Jose Bosingwa because defensively we’re just as shite when they aren’t playing.
    While it had no bearing on the goals, one thing I noticed was how easily they are beaten by the simple wall pass (give and go, call it what you like). Too often the player who goes to close down the ball doesn’t then go with the opponent once he has played the ball, so a simple 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 turns into an overload. It happens all the time all over the pitch. I can’t think that this is a general attack of idleness all round but must come from some sort of confusion about who is doing what, when and where.
    Perhaps this confusion about positioning is affecting confidence and concentration and leading to the higher rate of error than we would normally expect?
    I enjoyed reading your report as always Tony, but I think suggesting sabotage of the management by the senior players is not borne out by the effort that is being put in. Against QPR, Arsenal and yesterday in the second half, the team competed.
    They appeared to respond to AVB and his changes. After all his original selection of Mata  on the right of the front 3 stymied the team going forward as he was always in Ramires’s channel, always inside Ivanovic offering no width, which meant Liverpool could stay compact. With Mata more central, Sturridge offering width on the right, there was more room for Malouda on the left and Drogba in the middle, so more consistent pressure was applied as a result because Liverpool couldn’t close down on the ball as easily.
    I seem to be in a minority in not seeing Malouda as lazy, idle and useless. He’s not in the form he was under Hiddink and in Carlo’s first season, but in the second half particularly he was possibly our most effective player going forward. He certainly had the step on Johnson and produced some of our most dangerous moments. Yes he should have done better with a couple of chances, but there were several crosses that should have been dangerous had there been any attack on the ball from midfielders and forwards. When he’s not been an automatic choice he’s still put a good shift in during the Carling Cup marathons. He was Captain against Everton (I think), which would seem to suggest AVB is approving of his attitude.
    They are all making too many mistakes at the moment. The cohesion isn’t there. Cole certainly seems to be having a dip in form, I thought he wasn’t that impressive for parts of last season but put that down to the World Cup, ankle problems etc. 
    To me the players are trying, perhaps too hard in some cases. Is AVB trying too hard to change too quickly? I don’t know.
    Maybe this is what a real transition feels like.
    One last thought. We live in a consumer age and therefore the first reaction is that there’s always a newer model on the shelf let’s buy that. But we can’t expect wholesale change in January.  I agree with Pete that on paper this squad is a strong one. After all how many of QPR or Liverpool would significantly improve the squad? Maybe a couple from Arsenal, but then again they were getting their arses kicked all over the shop a few weeks ago.
    No. It’s about confidence and belief I think.
    So as I said on the previous thread, let’s scrape the bits of the bus we’ve just thrown them all under and park it when Wolves come to town.
    (The Champion’s League? Well……..)

    • Cunningplan

      BB said…”No. It’s about confidence and belief I think.”

      Again something I mentioned earlier, and that’s the difference between us and Arsenal at the moment. They’re as suspect as us defensively, but have one man up front who believes he can score when given the chance.

      Yesterdays game was tailor made for Torres, and probably Meireles to start IMHO, unlike last time we played Liverpool when Torres should have come off the bench, they got it the wrong way round with him.

      Hindsight is a wonderful thing, must be some cash to made from it.

  17. bluebayou

    Oh yes one other last thought.

    Surely the key is not to play like Barcelona, but to be the team that comes up with the system/player mix that will beat Barca seven times out of ten. If you accept that they are the best at what they do, then find a way to consistently beat it.

    Someone will come up with it. The game evolves.

    • Ryan

      Hiddink had Barcelona’s measure in the CL semi. That was his finest achievement. Ok we lost (1-1). But stopped them scoring for 180 minutes and were a decent referee away from beating them. Jose got the better of them with Inter.
      Unless AVB has scouted 4 or 5 players who are better than Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Busquets, Alves etc then what chance of beating them at their own game? You’re absolutely right.

    • Cunningplan

      I think JM is doing a pretty good job of keeping them in check with Real.
      Three points clear at present, and playing some pretty football as well, who would have thought it, we all know JM’s teams are functional and boring, right?

    • SweetDairyAir

      I think if you look at Real Madrid you can see how to beat a Barcelona type system. However you still need players with touch, technique and pace, which we don’t have. This is where Barcelona’s system can be tweaked a bit. Their attacks are quicker and more direct, yet if they need to they can keep possession and pass it around all day. We don’t have the ability for either, and that’s what we need to strive for. It’s not so much that we are copying Barcelona exactly, but I think we should combine their passing/technical game with a Premiership style directness. I believe that in the long term that is the most successful strategy.

  18. Peterw

    Like BB, I don’t think the players are deliberately sabotaging the tactics – they have too much pride for that – but I am sure they are not happy being asked to play the way they are. Terry in particular could not be placed in a system that plays so strongly to his weaknesses if it was the opposition manager doing our tactics. To reverse the analogy, it’s like getting Barcelona and asking them to play like a Mourinho team. It’s bloody stupid and the players would know it. 

    Also like BB, I think Malouda is fine and works harder than people think. The problem is between defence and midfield and the huge space we are giving the opposition. It’s not the high line, it’s the space around them. Maybe we need to stick two DMs in there – it seemed to work second half with Lampard and Ramires sitting deeper.

    My first choice forward line would be Anelka, Mata and Sturridge for intelligence, movement and technique. Torres and Drogba just aren’t good enough. 

    But we need to see more of the younger players if this season is really going to be ‘transitional’ and not just a bad photocopy of the one before.

  19. Peterw

    one other point –  I also see a connection with Scolari. But the point with Scolari isn’t that the senior players decided on a whim that they didn’t much fancy this new bloke so weren’t going to perform – it’s that they could see his tactics and training methods were hindering their attempts to win things and perform to the best of their ability. 
    The fact Hiddink took the same squad and nearly won the European Cup with them suggests they were right. 

    • Anonymous

      Maybe, but those players who got it together again under Hiddink are all 2 years older now and finding it ever harder to dominate teams with sheer power or even live with the pace of the game – see The Drog yesterday for the saddest-looking example. It looked like AVB had established earlier that the JT/Lamps/Drog trio were no longer automatic starters or the focus of our playing style and you could see why yesterday.

      I thought for the first 10 minutes we were watching one of those tedious CL group games v the Scousers from the TSO era, complete with the hopeful high boot up the middle toward Drogba.

      Then, things brightened up a bit till we offered up our latest rival to The Gooners for Comedy Defending of the Season Award. Does seem to be official though, we are incapable of playing consistently well through both halves of any game.

      Worrying that for all our dominance of the second half, we seldom looked like scoring again after the equaliser – largely confirmed by the stats that we had only 3 efforts on target all game.

      Not sure why Torres and the other subs were left mooching around on the touchline for around 20 minutes before being brought on when it was too late to expect them to make any impact inside the last 10 minutes.

      I fear AVB showing signs of developing bipolar views attempting to reconcile reality and the thinking of his employers  from the post match quotes I’ve seen:

      1) refuses to countenance concept of “transitional” season – we aim to compete in all competitions [utter bollocks, but it’s what Roman’s legions seem to insist on].

      2) Roman won’t fire me after spending all that money on my release clause from Porto – see JD’s point 4 below.

      Our current woeful defending suggests it’s entirely likely further embarrassment will follow v Citeh at home and possibly Newcastle and the Spuds away this side of Xmas.

      Will we even make the Europa League spot?

  20. Cunningplan

    Another thing with regards Barca, they’ve always had that footballing philosophy, but not always had the players who were good enough for it to succeed.
    In all sports over the years, sometimes teams get a purple patch where they have a crop of great players who all come good at the same time.
    It happened for the West Indian cricket team of the 70’s and 80’s, and more recently Australia, also the Welsh rugby team of the 70’s

    I’m sure there are more examples where this has happened.

    • Ryan

      You’ll notice a similar pattern in Horseracing. Success can, to some extent, be bought. However all the big owners in racing are competing to buy or breed the best horses. These horses inevitably go to the best trainers and the status-quo is more or less maintained. Sometimes you will see a large operation (Coolmore and O’Brien for example) dominate many big races throughout the flat season. Other years they’re unable to do this because two or three excellent horses happen to be owned or trained by someone else (Frankel this year). That’s just the way it goes. The top investors stay in and around the top of the sport (racing or football) and unless you have a year where you have the dominant pool of talent it is very difficult to dominate.

  21. Vik Sohonie

    Please tell me what has changed here since Mourinho’s last few months as manager – which served up some absolutely turgid stuff?  Grant stunk up the place and we did what we did because we still had the bullocks Mourinho instilled.  

    Scolari galvanized the team for about… 1 month.  Then it was absolute shite.  Hiddink realized the only way to get these players to perform like they used to was to play the Mourinho way – and that’s what he did, to the very tee.  

    Ancelotti built on that momentum and was effectively hired to get the best out of an aging squad.  Him and his old-man doctor were able to do this for one season, and how.  Then it all went to Scolari-esque shite again.  

    And now we have AVB whose team is turning up performances that give me deja-vu of Grant, Scolari, and Ancelotti’s final days.  The crux of this Chelsea side that has come to define it is, effectively, dead.  The spine is broken.  Each manager has simply injected as many CCs of adrenaline as required to get this team to perform.  But there’s only so much old withered bodies and even older guards can take.  If we really wanted to get into a transitional period, starting with the team AVB did yesterday was ridiculous.  

    Drogba and Malouda must go.  Before anyone says Flo Mo provided the assist – that was a scoffed shot.  Malouda doesn’t do assists, he is selfish as they come.  If you take notice, he only passes to Anelka or Didier when he finds himself in the left channel.  Mikel cannot play, ever.  Terry is half the defender he use to be.  Lampard I’ll reserve judgement because he shuts all of us the fuck up when he needs to.  We need to dissect this team apart and go on a proper transfer killing spree, letting loose and selling players who have far too much power but just won’t leave.  

    Having said all that, I called – and bet – on a 2-1 to Liverpool.  Now some see that as absolutely shocking that a Chelsea fan would do such a thing – I see it as evidence of our guaranteed futility that even an ardent supporter such as myself was able to forgo heart and use his head to read and realize that this game was Liverpool’s to be won before a ball was kicked.  When I saw the team line-up, I was certain I had won my bet.  When you make drastic changes like that – it’s for one of two reasons: You are very unsure about how to get the best out of your team, or you have been told from a certain Russian owner that you need to treat the old guard better.  Reports abound that Roman had a quiet word with AVB a day before this match.  There isn’t a silver-lining in either of those scenarios.  

    Get yourselves the finest bag of hashish, aged singlemalt, or whatever your poison of choice is because it’s going to be a long, long season.  Something tells me AVB will not make it, players aside, he can’t just take a team dedicated to the dark arts of football for close to a decade and smash on his “free flowing, high defensive line blue print” over night – did this man learn nothing about Chelsea while he was CHIEF OPPOSITION SCOUT?!

  22. Der_Kaiser

    Very difficult balancing act to pull off – transition is fine but with competition for the top 4 in the PL increasing, you simply can’t afford to miss out.  Last thing we need is the get drawn into a 3-4 way scrap with the rest just for the right to start farting about against FC Sporting Plovdivinar somewhere in the Baltics a fortnight after Euro 2012 finishes and the possible absence of Olympic participants to consider a few weeks later.

    The acquisitions we’ve made in terms of Luiz, Ramires and Torres have certainly pointed towards a more ‘footballing’ side as previously noted, but it’s a work in progress and not an easy change to make for those who have played in the more powerful and muscular sides in recent years.  Souness mentioned it yesterday that AVB needs to ask whether his players are understanding what he wants and then whether they have the skills to carry it out; on current evidence you’d err towards ‘no’ for both which is a big worry if it isn’t remedied soon.

    • bluebayou

      You’ve made a very decent point there.

      Financially the club can’t afford to not make the CL. So the pressure is always there, not to mention the Holy Grail. That makes tanking for a year in order to strip down and restart out of the question.

      So at the minimum we have to do what Wenger has done and hang on in there to make fourth, let alone Fergie’s trick of still being vaguely competetive while refreshing. They of course have the advantage of continuity when implementing their strategy.

      We are always in the situation of a new man trying to meld the old with some new, though often not his chosen players, while trying to put his stamp on things before reverting to something approximating to late period JM vintage. (Carlo pulled it off for one year, but he didn’t get a second chance when derailed the following year).

      The problem is that Spurs and possibly Liverpool are getting into the mix. Previously, it’s been 4 from maybe 5, now it could be 4 from 6. No disrespect to the Magpies but they may not have quite the depth to last 38 games, like Villa a couple of years ago. However they could be spoilers for others.

      There’s two thirds of the season left. As last year proved, you can slump and still come back so don’t hit the Panic Button just yet.

      But maybe bring it up from storage, just so we know where it is eh?

  23. bluebayou

    I’ve reverted to using “we” when referring to playing matters. Subconsciously I must be getting over yesterday.

  24. Anonymous

    Actually I think we’re one of the 2 clubs that could afford to miss the Champions League.  Not saying it’s ideal but we could afford it.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Financially (in the short term at least), yes, but in terms of the overall plan, players we want to attract, maybe throwing a new stadium into the mix – probably not.

    • bluebayou

      In the run up to the “Financial Fair Play Let’s Pull up the Drawbridge stitch up”, I’d say it would be problematic, because they’ll be trying to avoid being seen to fall back on money they haven’t earned.

      The CL and telly money generally was a big wedge last year. Fall out of contention for a season or two and the fall off in income would make a difference to turnover.

      And we’re not in the business of putting serious increases in value on players and selling on at a big profit if recent seasons are anything to go by.

      Not to mention testing the just how loyal the fans in the new Asian market we’re targetting so heavily would be.

      Sorry I’m starting to morph into Ron Gourlay……….

      • Anonymous

        Yes yes, I’ve admitted my statement was foolhardy, naïve, ill considered and not thought through.

        Now I know how AVB feels.  One small little mistake and all hell breaks loose!

    • Anonymous

      Twiddling their thumbs in the stands till the next League Cup tie comes round?

      No one has yet mentioned perhaps the final nail in The Drog’s demise: despite having objected to Mikel’s parting words as he trooped off after his rush of blood moment at QPR in his last game, he still felt entitled to walk half the length of the pitch to give Cech a long, obvious lecture on the art of goalkick taking with very deliberate pointing after the botched effort leading to the first goal.


      • Anonymous

        I did notice that but forgot to include it in my appraisal of the (once) great man. I do think yesterday was proof that he is in his Thierry Henry late stage career phase. henry by general consensus went  a year too long with Arsenal with just the odd flash of brilliance. Yes it was attributed to injury, but the combination of that and the undoubted loss of desire factored hugely to his demise. Sure, Drogs may have one or two great turns left but it’s been some time since we saw anything from him on the pitch other than flouncing, sulking or berating others for his own misgivings. For me the Mikel incident was bad, but yesterday just added to my view that he’s using seniority to try and compensate for his own decline.

        It is sad though because on his day he was the best in the world for my money. 

      • NorthernVA

        So wait a minute you crucify the man for putting his finger on his lip and “allegedly” telling Mikel to shut the f**** up whilst walking off the pitch for a tackle he surely knew was boneheaded. If the agreed consensus is true and he did tell Mikel to bugger off WHO CARES! Damage was done no need to pile on at the point. Also consider the messenger. Mikel is not a lad who has been averse to red cards.
        Travel three games forward *suspension served.* He walks forward to Cech and says what? “Get your head out of your ass that was a boneheaded pass Batman.” Defending the poor helpless Mikel whose honor he had recently done such a disservice to. I wasn’t there Dave but what was Cech’s reaction because he is no shrinking violet from my understanding?

        Can we stop filling in the blanks with what is going on with our players on field conversations. This squad has enough problems at the moment. Better they are still talking then not talking at all. 

        • Anonymous

          Firstly, I’m not trying to “crucify” Drogba or anyone else.

          My point was that in his last game at QPR Drogba didn’t like being on the receiving end of Mikel’s comments after he’d made a blunder. Therefore he might have thought better of walking half the length of the pitch to dish out something similar to a senior player like Cech.

          I don’t think there are any blanks in the conversation to fill in – the exaggerated gestures with his arms pointing in a wide arc from the six-yard box to the other end of the pitch made his view very clear. Cech sensibly just blanked him totally and ignored his antics as far as I could see.

          Sure, our players need to keep talking to each other and encouraging each other to do better. This just looked like an attempt to humiliate a colleague and I never think players on the same side arguing on the pitch does anything but boost their opponents.

          The Drog has had a horrendous time recently with a broken arm, malaria and concussion and I expect is as frustrated as the fans with his poor form and the increasing likelihood he may never get close to his best again.

          My point is he should concentrate on getting his own game back on track, or take one of those alleged mega offers from obscure Middle East or Russian clubs where he can be clear top dog for a few more seasons if that’s what he wants.

          • NorthernVA

            Firstly let me apologize I think my words may have been a bit harsher than intended during my post last night. Crucify was definitely over the top. Secondly thank you for replying and clarifying your remarks.

            My primary gripe was that Mikel was praised in many quarters for stepping up and confronting Drogba for his idiotic tackle however Drogba confronting Cech about an “unforced” error was viewed in a completely different light. I just felt that the in the first instance the aggressor (Mikel) was piling on whereas in the second instance we have situation of one player (Drogba) telling another (Cech) to pull it together after his ill advised pass to Mikel. Football really is the circle of life.

            Maybe it boils down to different strokes for different folks. Over here Stateside neither of those incidents would be that big of a deal. We actually celebrate athletes and coaches that are willing to have a go at each other. Makes for good viewing and let’s us know they are a least as emotionally invested in it as the rest.

            Anyway cheers mate! Let’s hope the boys can right this ship. If they made it look easy it wouldn’t be a much fun!

          • Anonymous

            No problem – “fun”, yes now I’m remembering again that when we got a bit bored by all those predictable 7-0 and 8-0 wins under Carlo we should have recalled that this is one of the gut-wrenching alternatives.

            As for Stateside attitudes, I love watching the NFL but remain bemused by rules which allow both sides to go unpunished when indulging in mild [and not so mild] fisticuffs after almost every play in some divisional rivalries, yet draw penalties for verbal taunting of opponents or even “over exuberant” celebrations after scoring touchdowns.

            Turning to tonight, I see from the official website that Paulo has stayed at home “as other squad options were taken”. So who’s back-up left back if Ashley gets injured?

  25. Machchan

    Just look at wage bills:
    “Chelsea continued to top the league for spending on salaries, at £174m.” comparing that to Citeh, at £133m and Man Ure at £132m (source: June 2011)

    It must be getting embarrassing for Roman that Citeh’s expensively assembled squad costs £41m less in annual wages than ours and runs rings around Premier League opposition while our plodders continue to… well, plod rather expensively.  Surely he has to see the elephant in the room.  If instead he has, as alleged, told AVB to pick the expensive plodders over the bright-eyed youngsters (who surely cannot do worse – and need blooding anyway) our “transition” will get well messy.  Oh well, us bipolar types will at least turn uni-polar for the period (i.e. to the negative extremity consistently!).

    [Caution: the Sky report in turn quotes Deloitte’s figures from the 09/10 season and Citeh has spent shed loads more since so the gap may not be as high as £41m now.  Does anyone have current figures?]

  26. Anonymous

    Properly depressing afternoon yesterday. After the first month or so of the season I thought we might have got that kind of sluggish one-paced performance out of our collective system. So a particularly grim surprise when it returned.

    Here’s the odd thing: from where I was sitting I thought our defence actually looked much more organised and coherent, at least in terms of the *system* (i.e. ignoring individul brainfarts and fuckups). Hands up all those who were very nervous about Suarez vs. our old/slow/”high line” back 4? Yes, me too. And Suarez did absolutely bugger all from start to finish. Kuyt wasn’t a threat either. When we lost possession (i.e. extremely often) everyone seemed to rotate back into the appropriate position quickly and efficiently. The ‘Poo were much sharper and hungrier and quicker than us through midfield (except for the 20 minutes when we were good) but still didn’t actually look very dangerous near the goal.

    To me the problems were up the other end of the pitch. Remember the first ten minutes v. Arse, when we could have had three goals? Where did that speed of ball movement disappear to in the first half yesterday? We looked like we wouldn’t score in a million years.

    Credit to AVB for making the right change at half time and getting an instant reaction (not just the goal — Mata was hugely influential as a 10 instead of out on the right and everything was happening much faster and more incisively).

    Then we stopped again. No idea why. Watching people resume hoofing it towards Drogs was bum-clenchingly miserable.

    I don’t think Malouda was awful. I don’t even think the Drogs was awful. (We certainly didn’t get any better when Nando came on.) If I had to guess, I’d say the current media “story” about us being too free-flowing and open somehow got in everyone’s head and we decided to slow to a crawl again just to show them.

    It’ll be interesting to see the Carling Cup “replay” against ‘Poo in a couple of weeks — our kids versus their kids, one assumes. You have to think that we’ll put in a much livelier and more exciting performance, whatever the result. At least after being tonked by the Arse I felt like there was some of that vigour and promise in the first team.

    Oh and I should say: marvellous report Tony.

    • Anonymous

      Crikey Here’s the odd thing: from where I was sitting I thought our defence actually looked much more organised and coherent where exactly were you sitting?

  27. Ryan

    Yeah I thought the defence still looked to have more exposed holes than a swinger’s disco. Remember also that Liverpool have previously failed to break down teams like Swansea and Stoke. I sort of see your point of view about containing Suarez but I thought that KD and more importantly Steve Clarke set Liverpool up to contain Chelsea by being very compact at the back and pressing relentlessly in midfield. They didn’t need to be too attacking away from home and also I expect felt they could rely on our frailties to present a gift or two. So from where I was sitting it wasn’t a particularly great leap forward.

    To address Malouda’s performance… Maybe he isn’t lazy but he doesn’t press the ball, he isn’t quick by any means, his crossing is average/poor and crucially he looks totally clueless with the ball at his feet and a full back in front of him. So he isn’t really fit for purpose in the position he is playing. He would be a good acquisition for a Serie A team. I’m not surprised about the rumblings from Torres about old, slow players. I d probably be a bit fucked off too watching some of them lumbering around a la yesterday. Fair enough Torres hasn’t set the world alight (understatement?) but when a team is struggling it’s rare to find any striker (especially one like Torres) thriving.

    It seems like Lampard scored a hat-trick against Bolton and Mereiles was instantly consigned to the bench. Yes Lampard scores goals like no other midfielder we’ve ever seen but his impact on the midfield as a whole isn’t entirely positive. AVB was prepared to pay £40 million for Modric’s creative ability but from the way things have gone he’d be warming the bench while Mikel, Lampard and Ramires carry on as usual! Does that strike anyone else as strange? That you can recognize a major weakness in the midfield but just carry on as before. How can you expect any great improvement? I was actually more disappointed when I saw the team sheet yesterday than when Glen Johnson scored. Honestly.

  28. Ryan

    Also (sorry to go on) is 4-1-2-3 or 4-3-3 the only permissible formation now? Will nobody countenance the idea of a 4-4-2? I think we would have scared the life out of the second rate Liverpool team that turned up Sunday if AVB had started something like this

    Cech GK
    Ivanovich RB
    Luiz CB
    Alex CB
    Cole LB
    Mata LM
    Romeu CM
    Mereiles CM
    Ramires RM
    Sturridge CF
    Torres CF

    Maybe you’d like to see Terry in for Alex or Lampard in for Romeu but whatever. I don’t think playing an out and out DM is a great advantage unless you have a player who is exceptional in that role. You could add flexibility by bringing on another midfielder and playing Mata in the hole.

    I’m sure some of you will be able to pick holes in this and obviously I don’t claim to know the manager’s job better than him but it seems that things have become tactically predictable when we have to play the same formation every week, without fail. You can win games without playing the ubiquitous 4-3-3. It’s not like deciding to play three up front and no Goalkeeper.

  29. Anonymous

    Having watched a bit of Chelsea TV I was disappointed with AVB’s post match comment re

    we are still in 4 competitions

    We’re almost out of the league and the FA Cup hasn’t started yet so it’s a bit worrying to start falling back on that lame cliché.

    • Ryan

      Yep. I couldn’t agree more. Seeing as the general idea is to win these competitions. It’s not much good losing a game and focusing on the fact that we’re still in the Carling Cup. We re 12 points behind City. That means they need to lose four times and we need to win all our remaining games. Just to come second on goal difference! I don’t think they’ll lose four games this season. So we’re out of the title race already as far as I m concerned. Forget the CL. You’d literally have to be educationally subnormal to have money on us winning the CL. And as you rightly say the FA Cup hasn’t started yet.

      P.S Spurs will be 3 points ahead of us with a game in hand tomorrow morning.

    • NorthernVA

      Sounds eerily like an occasionally unhinged Frenchman based in the north side of London. Carlo doesn’t look as tactically inept as some of our supporters led us to believe when you consider our biggest defensive issues at the time were defending set pieces.

  30. Cunningplan

    I get the feeling that sometimes with AVB, perhaps he’s too analytical in his approach to the game, to the detriment of some of the simple things.

  31. col

    hilarious u think sideshow bob was chelseas mom!! loved it when suarez megged him in 2nd half, hope other defenders keep him as quiet as luiz did!! haha!

    • Cunningplan

      I know I should know better and not get remotely invloved with this but…

      You said…. “hilarious u think sideshow bob was chelseas mom!! loved it when suarez
      megged him in 2nd half, hope other defenders keep him as quiet as luiz
      did!! haha! ”

      So on the basis of one nutmeg, you feel that Suarez wasn’t kept quiet?

      But the facts are, that he didn’t score any goals, didn’t make any goals, and was substituted late in the second half, seems like he was kept pretty quiet to me.

    • Cunningplan

      It’s astonishing considering they claim to be the most knowledgeable footballing fans on the planet, don’t know what planet that might be though.

      • Ryan

        We all know that because they were the dominant team in the UK several decades ago they are finest team, supporters, players and so on in the country forever and ever and no one will ever match them, everyone else is a plastic, has no history, has bought their success etc. etc. etc. but it’s all bollocks cos all they really want is to win the league after sooooo many years. And it isn’t going to happen. So they can sell us Torres and hate him for leaving and tell anyone who’ll listen that he was finished anyway. But he wouldn’t have left if he thought he could win anything by staying and that is what really hurts isn’t it?

        • col

          no, the hurt is the apparant special bond torres had with lfc fans, he was foreign but had an affinity with lfc before he signed. we adored him when he was shit hot, we made excuses for him an still adored him when he lost his form, he said he cud never leave the fans, an then a month later he forced a transfer to u guys, no disrespect but a hated rival, on the last day of transfer window an then dissed our club an fans in interviews after. he isnt the player he was 3 years ago an will never be again cos hes lost his pace, but thank god we replaced him with andy carroll (!!!)

          • Ryan

            Why such hatred for a player who was great for LFC, who you all agree isn’t the player he was and who you sold for a British record transfer fee. Why all the bitterness and spite? Why not just accept that he did you a huge favour if that’s how you feel and move on. I’ve always assumed that his leaving rankled with Liverpool supporters because it meant he was questioning the clubs ability and ambition. Not because of a special bond. Maybe the hurt stems from knowing that you adored him and maybe the feeling wasn’t reciprocated because he is a footballer and it’s just a job.

          • Hunkycol

            because of how he left. he said in january he wanted to stay, kenny had arrived, new owners, new ambition an money finally arrived to back it up which is what he wanted. suarez was actually signed to play with torres. bear in mind this was a player who was up there with gerrard with supporters, an had he given it til summer an then moved on then ok, but when he did an to then diss the club an fans that stuck up for him was shitty. but as you say maybe its just a job for him an atletico is his only love in footy.

  32. NorthernVA

    Before I rant can someone explain to me what pertains to this new found philosophy know as “attacking football?” Also what is this flair thing you speak of? Or is it rather flare? Was is it an attacking philosophy which lead us to the Double 18 months ago and 103 league goals? Could it have been a combination of a watertight defense and the ever elusive “flair” or “flare?” 

    The revisionism that goes on these days is staggering. World Class players like Lampard, Malouda, Drogba who were instrumental in our record breaking year under ruthless tyrant of Carlo the Unqualified of Parma/Roma/Milan are somehow unable to comprehend this undiscovered philosophy of…wait for it “Attacking football!” Although you can’t see me at the moment I currently am currently dressed like a matador clenching a rose with my teeth all the while screaming attacking football.

    LTB I concur 100% regarding Malouda and Drogba. They were by far the most dangerous players we had on the pitch. Malouda should give Mr. Cole a tutorial on how to deliver a cross because he has clearly regressed  in the part of his game. I excluded Danny because it obviously tough to make a cross when your all left foot and made to play on the right. But you would think when on the break with the game tied four minutes from time and four of your teammates storming into the box you would find  a way to connect with one of them rather than cutting inside and hitting a shot woefully off target.
    Whoever has said that Drogba and Malouda weren’t pressing need to re-watch the game just as I have and I pray that your opinion changes. To say they lacked commitment is an insult to the the shifts they put in. We were camped in Liverpool’s half of the field in the second half and it wasn’t just by chance. Malouda owned Glen Johnson in the that second half.

    Drogba still gives us our best chance to remain in the top four. It’s my belief and I am entitled to it. Whoever said he didn’t win headers once again I recommend your re-watch the game. Lost his power tell that to Lucas and Agger who he nearly powered through in the first half to earn the free kick which he nearly converted. Lost his first touch? He had the most deft touches of anyone in a Chelsea shirt! All the flicks and backheels didn’t come off but when your trying to breakdown a well organized defense like Steve Clarke’s Liverpool you are going to need that something extra. Lastly anyone who claims that Malouda’s assist was actually a scoffed shot really needs to put aside their bias against the player re-watch it and if you still believe it was a scoffed shot well then the really is no hope. I highly doubt either one of those two players will be short of potential suitors come the January or summer transfer window.

  33. NorthernVA

    One last thing that annoys me to no extent. To say that when DD is one the pitch we revert back to our “old style” of play is complete non-sense. That was never our style of play that is Plan B. It is a luxury that many other sides do not have when their midfield is being completely overrun. I’m sure Fergie would have swapped out Chicharito for Drogba in a New York minute after the fist ten minutes versus Barca at Wembley.

    From here to the end of the year this calendar year is going to be telling for our side. Wolves played us tough as hell last year beating us away, Newcastle got two draws, lest we forget City’s arrival to the Bridge. Only given you would assume is Wigan. The game which will probably have the most crucial impact on our only reasonable goal of making the top four is our game away to Spurs. If we continue to defend the way we have over the this season we are in some real danger. ‘Arry has got the talent up front to exploit our weakness which have been cruelly exposed.

    I know I probably shouldn’t be worried but I am! I like AVB a lot, however at the same time I also do fear for his long term prospects. Bigger and better have fallen. I can’t see this project being allowed to carry on if we are in jeopardy of Champions League qualification. Definitely not with FFP less than 12 months from implementation. The results in this case do matter. You can talk long term philosophy all you want however this club is run by results driven businessman. The contract may say three years but I’m sure like any other business you are probably evaluated on a quarterly basis.

  34. Simon

    It’s unbearable to see Chelsea going down to the 5th place… below bloody Newcastle and Spurs! 

    Just shoot me now, Chigurh.

  35. Anonymous

    It still hurts, didn’t want to write anything till it settles down a little. Can’t argue with Tony’s report – true till the last word. The likes of Flo, Drog, JT and A.Cole have to leave or become a bench warmers. Their time is gone, simply gone. The change had to start about two, three years ago, but Carlo didn’t pay any attention to it. He continued to employ our geriatric squad without any thoughts of change. We went to far and change will be painful.     

  36. Andy

    Blue M – Can you really call for 4 of the most senior players to be chopped all at the same time? I appreciate it feels like drastic action needs to be done, but surely this needs to be a gradual process. Personally I think it should have started under Carlo, the summer the double was won. But hindsight is great sitting here. Having said that first one to go – for me is Cole then JT.

    • Anonymous

      It had to be gradual process 3 years ago, now it must be drastic process. They become burden and reason for lost points. As cruel as it sounds it is reality 🙁   

  37. Anonymous

    You know it’s come to something when even Wee Pat is starting the game of blogging his ideal XI —,,10268~2523858,00.html

    (and rather charming that he can’t spell Meireles either …)

    In fact that whole article is worryingly like the kind of “flog the lot of these useless w**kers and get it fackin’ sorted AHHHT” thing we like doing here. Which given that we are a bunch of crazed amateurs and Wee Pat is a proper footballing brain is either pleasing or — the more you think about it — actually a bit worrying.

    Interesting too that the Pravdatastic club website didn’t ask him for a few editorial, ahem, revisions.

    • Anonymous

      good reading and the line he proposes is actually worth trying, although I don’t believe that Alex and Terry can fit into it. Both can be compared to tortoise in terms of speed.  

      CechIvanovic Alex Terry Cole/AanholtRomeu/Luiz LampardSturridge/McEachran Mata MereliesTorres

  38. Peterw

    I’m partly with NorthernVA here. These old slow one-dimensional yadda yadda yadda players produced some of the best football in the league under Hiddink and Ancellotti. Sure, we need to bring in younger players, but the idea that they can only play one way is bunkum. 

    If the manager uses them properly – and integrates the likes of Sturridge, Luiz, Torres, Ramires, Mata, Meireles, Romeu and Josh – they should be more than capable of producing entertaining but intelligent football without conceding a bucketload in the process. We have a massively strong squad capable of playing a few different ways. 

    The fact Ashley Cole is underperforming is most troubling to me because he should be thriving under the sort of football AVB seems to want to play. Cole is a great player, he is fast, he has good technique, he has everything you would want from a left back in the system AVB prefers but the fact he is struggling suggests to me that something is going very badly wrong tactically.

  39. bluebayou

    A propos of nothing at all really but I went to book tickets for the Villa game on New Years Eve and as it’s a Saturday afternoon game it will be a nice treat for the boy, who is 8 and committed to the cause and seen 2 wins and a draw so far.

    He will be going to a panto at the Hackney Empire before Christmas, which is always quality, but given the way we are at the moment it’ll have nothing on events at the Bridge, I’ll be bound.

    But I digress. Because it is on over Christmas and invoking the spirit of Scrooge I thought I’d try the Family Section. We’ve sat in the East Upper where the language hasn’t been too bad but at last year’s Villa game we were in the Shed End and you can well imagine some of the refreshingly different idioms to which young Bayou was exposed.

    The North End of the Family section was full. So I tried the South, and to be fair there is a warning that you will be near the Away Fans. How near I didn’t appreciate until I was offered Row K seats 1 and 2. No offence to yer average Villain, but that was just too close.

    I know I should toughen him up with a bit of away fan baiting, perhaps throw him in and let him fight his way out or be torn apart in the effort. Am I guilty of being overprotective. Is this Health and Safety and political correctness gone mad?

    Anyway, you can get half price for Juniors in the East Upper, it is towards the back but it is there we will reside in relative peace and quiet.

    (Sadly Princess Bayou has gone the way of the Spud. I blame the Mother)

  40. bluebayou

    From the Guardian, an interview with Arrigo Sacchi, now in a role where he’s looking to overhaul Italy’s Youth Football Sector.

    A couple of quotes jumped out:

    ‘What Sacchi found in Italy’s youth teams disgusted him. “I see kids who are 14 or 15 years old who are already specialists. But football is not a sport of specialists,” he says. “I was watching the under-15s the other day – 14-year-old boys – and the central defenders arrived and all they did was mark their man. They took themselves out of the game. This is suffering, this is not joy, this is not football. If someone does just one thing over and over, they will get better at that thing. But is football just one thing?” ‘

    and further on

    ‘The same could be said of club football in Serie A, where the need to produce immediate results has led to a suspicion of youth. “When teams lose two games they sack the manager,” says Sacchi,’

    It’s not just the English game where concerns about coaching and opportunity for youth is a problem.

    Well worth a read if even you’re not a fellow travelling pinko and would normally not peruse the “lefty” nonsense.

  41. WorkingClassPost

    Had to wait for the irks to subside before venturing online – just as well after reading those poovisitors.

    Mostly agree with the report, but, like JD, I thought Flo was OK, he’s getting slower and has less stamina, but that’s what age does. DD also did his best when the ball got to him, he’s just not able to hunt it down like he used to.

    We didn’t deserve to be behind, but when Danny came on and scored we seemed to be set for a three or four goal romp, but then the strangest thing happened, and it might go some way to explain our current plight.

    After bringing us level, did Sturridge grab the ball from the net and run back to place it on the centre spot, confidently shouting ‘Come on guys, we can win this’?

    No, not even remotely. He ran off the pitch to perform some gay, fart-arsed, wiggle in front of the cameras.

    Now, if he’d bagged a hat-trick that assured our victory, it might have been valid, but when we’ve just managed to scrape level in a must win home game, is doing your job (a simple tap-in), really such a big deal?

    These players earn more in a few weeks than most of their supporters earn in a year, so what’s wrong with expecting them to maintain concentration and effort for 90 poxy minutes?

    I’m not particularly knocking DS here, but there’s a thing called professionalism.

    It’s only a few weeks ago that we were fighting for each other when down to 10, and even 9 players, so where has that spirit gone so quickly?

    Sod the selections and stuff the tactics. 

    If we can’t play for each other, the owner, supporters, ground-staff and all, then we’ll be lucky to fill Stamford Bridge, let alone a bigger ground.

    • Anonymous

      Me too — though I hope we’re not reduced to chanting “There’s only one team in Europe” on Dec 12th when Citeh are tonking us 6-0.

      • Cunningplan

        I’ve think I’ve got Fiftee syndrome, because if we lose tonight (and I have a bad feeling) then we’ll be under immense pressure in the final game to qualify, and if that’s the case it will be Thursday’s on Ch 5 for us.

  42. Ososdeoro

    Well, for me, I liked Flo going up the middle but hated it when he was anywhere near the left side (on the Poo side of the field). 

    I agree with NoVa on many points. Two years ago Ancelotti’s “non-attacking” football looked remarkably similar to Arsene Wenger’s attacking football….only we had a defense. Carlo’s fatal flaw in my eyes was his refusal to infuse the place with some younger players. We’re paying for that now. 

    And I also dislike filling in the gaps of the conversations that occur on the field. Speaking of which, has anyone assessed the possibility that John Terry said anything other than what he is accused of saying, or would a 12-member panel of expert lip-readers convict him?

    • Marco

      I am a lip-reader (learnt how to years ago when I changed jobs).

      The clip I saw (and could not see what was said before and after as JT’s face was obscured by other players read:

      “F*cking black c*nt. F*cking knobhead.”

      What was said then might have been qualified by what was said before or after, as JT claims.

  43. Anonymous

    We’d better qualify for the CL knockouts.  If Thomas Cook lose our travel package business they’re dead.

  44. bluebayou

    I’m having an afternoon coffee in the office. The biscuits have been passed around. They are German. From Hanover. They purport to be some form of Chocolate biscuit with a hazlenut filling, but to me they taste strangely of herrings. Very disconcerting.

    I hope it’s not an omen.

    • Anonymous

      No, it’s not an omen, it just means the biscuits have gone beyond their best before date.

      Hang on, that could be an omen!

  45. Ryan

    Torres on the bench again? Some unrest there? What do we think? Is Drogba now the future of Chelsea? Or is Torres on the way out. I’m very surprised he isn’t playing tonight. It’ll become harder and harder to label him a flop if he isn’t even getting a run in the team. Maybe he was unhappy about only getting 8 mins against Liverpool? Who knows at Chelsea.

  46. Anonymous

    What an awful, awful game.

    Valencia are caning a Genk side we struggled against. We very possibly could not make the knock-out stage.

    Drogba has been shocking, including that up-to-the minute rounding of the keeper and shank over the bar. Why no Torres? Makes no sense.

    • Cunningplan

      I think you’ll find that Valencia drew 0-0 with Genk playing away, and are only 3-0 up at present, and of course we did beat them 5-0 at home. 😉
      But agree with you if we don’t at least get a draw, we’ll be on Channel 5 on certain Thursdays

  47. Gleb

    Wow… never thought I’d say this… But I’m losing trust in AVB, early or not. I wholeheartedly believed he was the man for Chelsea, long before there were any signs of Carlo’s demise. I was ready to bet any amount of cash, anything, that AVB will bring success. Not straight away, mind you, but the kind of success the atmosphere of which you feel right from the start. And now this… absolutely pathetic. Whatever the reason, it can’t and shouldn’t be this bad. 

    I’ll be very, very sad to see AVB get the sack, but if he does, then I have absolutely no idea who’s his ideal replacement, and for the first time in my Chelsea-supporting life I don’t give a damn at all. It just doesn’t work, we’ve had the best managers, and something just doesn’t work. There’s no one better out there. We’ve had them all. It could be Mark fucking Hughes for all I care. Wouldn’t make a difference. 

  48. John

    Though plenty hint at it, no one seems to isolate what is surely the key issue: player power. We have too many players who have been great performers but whose track record and past performance seems to give them more influence than any club that is led properly should allow. By “influence” I mean direct and indirect – so we get lots of dark murmurings about their inability to understand any new manager’s philosophy and we also suffer from the can’t afford-too-many-changes-at-once-syndrome. The poor old supporter is left not knowing what the fuck is behind it but certain that something needs to change and nothing will. I am also becoming concerned by some of AVB’s selections and comments, but the one certainty is that none of us knows what is really happening behind the scenes – so we’re left to fill the vacuum with speculation. I really want a bit of stability, a period in which even if I moan like fuck because of results, style or whatever, they stick with one manager and one strategy for a season or two. 

    • SweetDairyAir

      I agree. We need stability. Changing manager will change nothing. The players are still the same underperforming ones who are getting older by the match, and you can tell! 

      Oh and Alex comes on and we concede two goals. Should have kept Luiz on

  49. Anonymous

    Honestly, I don’t know why I do it to myself. I spent all day excited about the fact that Chelsea were on proper TV. Now I wish I’d spent my fifth evening in a row making dinner for my drunken ancient in laws.


  50. Anonymous

    The vultures they are a-circling.

    Oh dear. Oh deary dear.

    Is there anywhere to start? Save for his goal, i thought Drogs was a passenger.

    This insistence on using Cech as an outfield player when we’re in possession has to stop. It just invites too much pressure, pressure we can’t deal with. We are fucking shot to bits as a defensive unit. Simply abysmal from right to left. Why stick Bosingwa at LB when he’s shit on his natural side? Bertrand would have done perfectly well there.

    It’s just embarrassing. Leverkusen were pony, and yet are through. Anyone actually that confident we can get a result at home to Valencia? I sure as hell am not.

  51. Anonymous

    Is there anybody who thinks we  should progress to the next stage? I personally think we drop out to save us from further shame. Regarding AVB I completely agree changing him going to give nothing. 

  52. Ryan

    Another embarrassment. I’m worried now that if Roman is losing faith in AVB he won’t give him the cash to replace some of the under-performing regulars (stand up JT, Lamps, Malouda, Mikel, Drogba, Bosingwa). I know some here will brook no argument regarding these players but they’re playing week in week out and are no longer good enough. Regardless of how much you may respect what some of these players have achieved no-one can seriously tell me these players are improving. They certainly aren’t the players they were 2,3,4 years ago. Consequently we are getting worse. AVB’s immense faith in the talent of his squad could be dangerously misplaced. He resisted making radical changes preseason and it could cost him. His observations about how happy he is with the strength of the squad are being undermined by the fact they’re playing like shit week in week out.

    • SweetDairyAir

      To be fair to him though he can’t publicly slag off the players he has. He couldn’t go out and buy 11 new players last summer either, so he has to work with the players he’s got. And they’re not good enough. Carlo wouldn’t have done any better with this lot, and neither would someone like Pep. These players are just not good enough anymore, and as I have said previously and elsewhere I believe Roman will splash out in January like last year, because we need freshening up. And badly. Everyone can see that. Realistically who else in the squad is there right now that could have been in a radical team change. 

      • Ryan

        Yeah, you’re right. He has to be decisive. It’s no good spending a fortune on Krasic, Modric, Cahill, Cavani, Who-the-fuck-ever if there’ll be no place in the team for them because we can’t drop the big names.

      • Anonymous

        Torres, Romeu, McEachran.

        BTW, Luiz was superb again tonight.I told you, he’s the new Riccy.

        Lampard was awful tonight, a passneger. and yes Drogs got the goal but loused up 2 excellent chances for Studge by being offside for one and lashing the other wide. Sorry, he’s not back. He’s not even knocking on the door of back. Actually he might have just turned into the street of back but its a bloody long street. And he’s walking. 

        Meireles and Studge impressed. Ramires also worked bloody hard but worryingly seemed to tire quickly again in second half. Malouda added next to nothing but understand Mata was probably being saved for Saturday. Ivan did a passable impression of positioning failure in the stylee of Ashley Cole against Liverpool. 

        I truly hope we see some sweeping changes for Saturday.  If not then I suspect John’s earlier point about player power (as we saw with Scolari and Ancelotti) may well be the unseen factor here. 

        • SweetDairyAir

          But those three do not a whole team make. He has consistently played Sturridge. McEachran and Romeu aren’t first team players yet. He has given Torres a pretty good chance but to be honest his form, although getting better, isn’t there yet. I don’t doubt he’ll be our long term striker, but at this exact moment in time our team wouldn’t have miraculously been winning all these matches with him in the team. Nobody in the team (apart from Mata, who we rely on too much by the way) can create chances for him regularly. And Torres isn’t the type to create his own either. 

          We need first team players. Players for the long term are great, but we need at least some to replace the likes of Drogba (I agree he was pretty poor tonight), Lampard (was going to be Modric in theory), any wingers/attacking midfielders. We’ll hobble along with our wing backs this season (Ivanovic and Cole are fine), but in the longer term they’ll need replacing too. There are serious problems in our team and squad.

          Do not change the manager. Change the players. No manager in the world is going to make this bunch of no hopers into world beaters. I expect better from this lot, but if I’m honest going by performances last year and beyond, not much better. 

          • Anonymous

            “Do not change the manager. Change the players. No manager in the world is going to make this bunch of no hopers into world beaters. I expect better from this lot, but if I’m honest going by performances last year and beyond, not much better.”

            And with this point I doff my cap sir, because I totally agree. I think AVB has started this process and over the next 2 or 3 windows some big names will go. This will weaken any clique and those that remain can do a great job in a support role if they love the club so much (yes, like Giggs and Scholes)

    • Anonymous

      yes, he utterly eclipsed Lampard in terms of influence tonight. A very poor decision by Carlo to sanction his departure. A player he should have fought harder for. 

      • NorthernVA

        The most frustrating thing is he wanted to stay. Ballack was willing to have a massively reduced contract. Carlo wanted him to stay as well according to this interview. Be warned this link is from the Daily Mail. 

        I believe no more than ever that letting Anelka go will be another mistake. The board has to bear some responsibility.

  53. Anonymous

    Oh and when we needed someone who could hold and trap the ball and keep posession….where was Anelka? Back home in London.

    Badissimo AVB, badissimo. 

  54. Ryan

    Also a pretty basic lack of confidence. Inability to create and convert sufficient chances to win a game and total inability to defend a lead. Does anyone remember the good old days when as soon as we were winning you felt we’d never lose? This felt more like the Ian Porterfield (RIP) days when you never knew what the fuck was going to happen next.

  55. Anonymous

    In retrospect, the tone for the evening was set when I had to spend the twenty minutes immediately prior to kickoff sitting on the toilet holding one of the Junior Limetreebowers (aged 10) while he cried in incoherent and unconsolable misery because he’d thought about dying.

  56. NorthernVA

    Credit to DD on his goal. With that goal he became number 8 All-time in Champions League goals. He has surpassed Fernando Morientes. Also out of the top 10 he has the fourth best goals to games ratio. Legend.

  57. Cunningplan

    I did say I had a bad feeling about last night, which I suppose is a bit unlike me. The game was poor first half, but considering both teams were set out not to lose, it was hardly surprising.
    I did feel when Drogs scored, that he scored too early in the second half, and that we were never going to last the best part of 40 mins without conceding.
    But after 15 -20 mins I changed my mind, because we did look comfortable and fairly organised by recent standards. I did say to myself, don’t change anything, we don’t have to chase it, and what did he go and do?
    Took off probably two of the best players of the evening, and especially Meireles who was fantastic at protecting the back four last night.
    We know we’re not going to win this competition, but making the knockout stages seems to be a given, but at the moment I have no confidence, or the players for that matter in making it.

    I will say yet again, when it really matters unlike the Genk game at home, we just don’t get penalties, how he didn’t give one for Drogbas assault in the box beggars belief. I’m not using that as an excuse for our capitualtion late on, but it’s significant nevertheless.

    Also to put the English club regulars in this competition into perspective, Arsenal get the easiest group yet again, but are still relying heavily on Van Persie, how I wish we had somone like him. And Utd who have an easier group than ours, and are fairing no better than us.

    It’s still in our hands to qualify, which I supose is some consolation.

    • Anonymous

      Yes but there can be no excuses such as penalty claims, harder group etc.  The truth is we’re not good enough.

      Genk away was an easy game, we had the lead.  Valencia away we had the lead. Last night we had the lead.

      We have too many players who aren’t performing and we’re incredibly fragile.

      • Cunningplan

        I did say Mark that I wasn’t using the penalty claim as an excuse, I know we’re not good enough at the moment. With regard the groups, my point was that Utd have an easier one than us, and aren’t doing much better.

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