Chelsea 1-3 Aston Villa – Better the Devil You Know

Updated Tuesday, 3 January: Added the Wolves match reports and goal videos.

The preamble

Well don’t I just get all the good ones? I have espoused this theory before but it’s often better to write in the pain of angst and misery than in the afterglow of a happy-clappy period. And we have hand wringing angst by the bucketload at the moment and judging by the comments we often see post any defeat, let alone a lacklustre shocker like we saw yesterday, I expect at least one or two comments on this piece of prose.

The festive period has been rather barren for us thus far with a thrilling 1-1 versus the loathsome Spurs when we as Big Time Charlies raised our game but then against a piss-poor Fulham on Boxing Day we sought to engineer an anodyne 1-1 draw. So with Villa being the worst team on the basis of current form I guess we could have expected to turn Mcleish’s dour outfit over in a decent confidence boosting home win.

Yes, that’s what us fee paying fans might have expected, however our diminishing superstar players blended with youthful potential had other thoughts…

The game

Well, the first surprise for me was the selection of Drogba over Torres after Torres had put in a decent shift against Fulham and in fact for me was one of the few to take any credit from that game. And yes, I can hear the Drogba fans getting ready to berate me with the usual ‘He’s done so much for us’… ‘On his day he’s unplayable’… ‘Been great in cup finals’… etc etc. I’m not decrying the part he’s played previously but since Valencia he’s been as useful as a fireguard made of Christmas marzipan. But as any fule kno’ I am not a football coach or even an expert. I am like each and everyone of you, a fan… a fan who has great gifts of hindsight and a typically blue tinted view of things. So AVB picks Drogba with relentless faith much like Sven did with Heskey. Any similarity is entirely intentional such is my feeling with Drogba at the moment. And not just Drogba, but Malouda as well, and to some albeit lesser degree Cole, Cech and Lampard. I’m even warming to the idea of Kalou being given more chances because no matter how many times he uses the blind alley gambit, at least the man puts some effort into it.

The first half was dull beyond belief punctuated by a nailed on penalty being awarded to us for once. We played pretty football for sure, and Villa for the most part were camped in their own half. But as with Wigan and Fulham we couldn’t capitalise on it with nothing but half chances being created. The bus was parked but as per usual we had no way of getting round it. Drogba scored from the spot but it was a close thing. Guzan was very close to stopping it, but close is nothing in the world of goalkeeping. 1-0, and we had reached what is rapidly becoming our Achilles heel score. A scoreline we just can’t keep intact. We either kick on or let the opposition back in. It was fairly obvious what was most likely in this case.

Within four minutes, Villa with just about their first meaningful foray scored an equaliser amoongst shambolic defending and goalkeeping. Fair play to Stephen Ireland, who had been pictured on Twitter topless with a drink in one hand and a shisha pipe in the other, he certainly didn’t do a ‘Chelsea’ and fluff his chance. 1-1 and for some it would usually mean game on. More and more for us it means game over. Am I alone in finding it odd that our best performances have come when we’ve been behind?

That was just about the only two things worthy of comment in the first half. It was so dull the half time whistle damn near woke me up.

And so, on to the second half. A few of the fans near my seat were chatting and the concensus was we deserved a hatful of goals at the Matthew Harding Upper end of the ground. And sure enough both teams had possibly had some Red Bull at half time because the second half started brighter and then after 10 minutes slid back to a training game. Fifteen minutes in and AVB brings Lampard on for Romeu followed quickly by Torres for Sturridge. And now with the great gift of hindsight everyone will no doubt start slating AVB for tactical naivety, and judging by the lack of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ chants both changes were met with approval. And I can see the logic. Villa were offering little and seemed to be settling for the draw, a holding midfielder substituted for the best midfielder in England for the last six years to increase the chance of a win. The hard working but unlucky Torres on for Sturridge who had been labouring and maybe limping slightly. Tactical naivety? My arse! These were bold moves that 99 times from a 100 would have tipped the game in our favour. Torres first real touch was a 25 yard screamer of a shot tipped onto the bar by stand-in Guzan. Oh to have someone like him providing real competition for Cech.

At last we started to really threaten and to be fair the whole team seemed lifted, but sadly it was temporary and by the time the much improved Bosingwa came on for faithful steed Ferreira we had fallen back into ponderous apathy. And every now and then there was a small spark from Villa suggesting they might have spotted a chink in our armour of arrogance. That chink transpired to be a dreadful bit of defending from the up till then impressive Luiz and Terry, who both managed to exercise their Gallifreyan perception filters by ignoring Petrov who picked a through ball from Clark to slot home ruthlessly. If it’s about efficiency then we really need to be worried because Villa apparently had nine shots on target (one splendidly saved by Cech which looked a banker). To our five. They had three off target to our 11. They scored three – we scored one. Even at 2-1 you might have expected an onslaught on the Villa goal. What we got was misplaced passes, poor crosses, unforced errors. Then the second chink appeared. Sadly it was a horror show to beat Malodua’s back pass to JT against Arsenal. The rapidly diminishing powers of Lampard are almost too painful to watch. Yes, he’s a great player, yes he’s the best penalty taker, and yes he had a corker versus Bolton. But since then it’s been anonymity bar the penalty versus City (who like United have also been at home to Captain Cock Up as I write this). Do we sell him? Yes if he refuses to accept his place is now firmly as a squad player. If he acknowledges this then no, don’t sell him. He’d be an inspiration to the likes of Josh and Romeu and any number of Academy fledglings. He could start the process of doing his badges and look to be part of the coaching set up. He’d still be massively useful to us, but unless his form turns around then I don’t see him getting an automatic start. The sidways pass was as Cunningplan stated in the comments, a very nice belated Xmas gift and Ireland gratefully accepted it and passed it on to Bent just back from injury. Yes, Darren Bent, a much maligned striker who guess what… scores goals. And scores them wherever he goes. Of course I’m sure a lot of you would immediately say he’s not good enough for us. I mean what do we want a striker who scores goals for when we have Unlucky Alf (Torres) in the squad or Drogba who didn’t win a single header versus Collins or Dunn yesterday, constantly failed to make a pass, tried tricks he’s not good enough to do and gave away possession constantly.

3-1 on 87 minutes. Game not just over, but dead and buried.

The pain

  • The decline of Frank Lampard. His pass for Villa’s third was utter cuntery personified.
  • The decline of Petr Cech.
  • The decline of Didier Drogba.
  • Drogba’s awful free kicks. Who lets him persevere?
  • The constant misfortune of Fernando Torres.
  • The return to piss-poor form of Ashley Cole.
  • The first real poor showing of Meireles.
  • The sheer boredom of our play.
  • The over reliance on Mata to do everything.

The gain

  • Romeu’s consistency.
  • Ramires returning from suspension.
  • The constant improvement of Bosingwa
  • A small sign of confidence from Torres.
  • The fact that Torres came on and went straight into the striker’s central position.
  • David Luiz who had a splendid game bar the joint cock up for Villa’s second with JT.

Man of the Match

Overall it’s probably Stephen Ireland who was a constant pain. For us I’m probably thinking the tireless Juan Mata was our best.

Final thoughts

Well, AVB is learning fast that certain players are in decline, but he’s just not managing it well enough for me. The talk of Josh going on loan is laughable because for me he’d fit perfectly into a team struggling to master the art of passing with meaning. But the word is he has the backing of the people that count, no doubt realising that sacking another coach and keeping the slow and lumbering old guard is not the answer. Managing decline as Thatcher found out with Liverpool (the city not the club, King Kenny will see that job out) is never easy. If we get one or two signings in January to tide us over and bolster the squad defensively and maybe a genuine creative midfielder to match Mata then third or fourth is still on. The only real winners this weekend are Arsenal and if Van Persie gets an injury then they’re buggered.

On the AVB front it may be plausible to blame him for yesterday but many would argue that yesterday’s team was strong one on paper and tactically we looked OK. If the players aren’t performing because they don’t like him then tough. I’m sure many don’t ‘like’ Ferguson, Wenger, Redknapp or Mancini but they don’t seem to suffer the same apathy and lack of passion we’re seeing. I’m rather tired of people saying the players need inspiring. Really? After seeing the United result? That wasn’t motivating and inspiring enough then? And what about playing for the club who pays their wages? Or for the thousands of fans who go week in and week out?

I want to see us succeed and of course sacking the coach would be one option. Leading us to who? Guus Hiddink, a man disinterested in club football with a heart condition aged in his mid sixties is hardly the recipe for the long term future. As grateful as I am for his Red Adair job after Scolari I just don’t see him being a viable option. So who does that leave? Not many I’m afraid. Mark Hughes? David Moyes?

Rafa Benitez?

I think it’s better the devil you know. After all Ferguson was given six years before becoming the greatest manager football has ever seen. How do we know AVB won’t be our Ferguson?

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!

The newspaper reports

The Sunday Telegraph, Jonathan Liew: “This time last year, Andre Villas-Boas could do no wrong. His Porto side were cruising to the Portuguese title and he was being feted as the finest young manager in Europe. Now he stands on the verge of ridicule. His Premier League title ambitions are gone, his team are the third best in London and were booed off the pitch by their own supporters. For the first time in his short career, this prodigious talent is meeting with the prospect of disaster.”

The Observer, Dominic Fifield : “Chelsea’s season continues to unravel around them. Andre Villas-Boas and his players limp into the new year with the scrutiny intensifying on a young manager and an imbalanced squad with every stumble. The boos that greeted the final whistle here were an indication the locals have yet to spy much evidence of progress under the new regime. Chelsea already loitered on the fringes of the title race, but now they have even been cast from the top four.”

The Independent on Sunday, Steve Tongue: “The lead provided by Didier Drogba’s penalty midway through the first half lasted no more than six minutes and Aston Villa broke out to score twice more and collect their first victory in this ground since Claudio Ranieri’s day. Much water and several managers have flown under the Bridge since 2002, yet Chelsea are currently swimming against the tide. An afternoon that began with jeering celebrations at news of Manchester United’s defeat ended with one of their own and ejection from the top four places by Arsenal. However much patience may or may not be extended towards the latest manager, a failure to qualify for the Champions’ League will hardly be tolerated.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Having taken the lead through a Didier Drogba penalty, it is a bad end to 2011 as Aston Villa level only minutes later before scoring twice late in the game. Stephen Ireland made it 1-1 at the break but the Blues were looking the more threatening in the second half, particularly after the introduction of Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres, who hit the bar, but when Stiliyan Petrov gave the visitors the lead with eight minutes remaining it was always going to be an uphill task. Darren Bent scored the killer third goal three minutes later and the points were secure for Villa.”

The goals

23′ Drogba (pen) 1-0
28′ Ireland 1-1
83′ Petrov 1-2
86′ Bent 1-3

Steve Bull Stand

Premier League: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Chelsea

The newspaper reports

The Guardian, Stuart James : “The pain was short-lived for Andre Villas‑Boas. Moments after the Chelsea manager threatened to kick over the drink bottles in the technical area in a fit of pique, following Stephen Ward’s late equaliser for Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Portuguese was celebrating a restorative victory courtesy of a vintage Frank Lampard goal in the 89th minute that should help to relieve some of the pressure.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “It was a day that began with another story about the rift between Villas-Boas and senior players at Chelsea, one which prompted an indignant denial from the manager. It ended with the pressure being lifted from Villas-Boas by Lampard’s goal. And along the way there were a few subplots that made this another fascinating day in the development of Chelsea under Villas-Boas.”

The Daily Telegraph, Jason Burt: “When Wolves had scored, Villas-Boas’s frustration was obvious but he pulled back from kicking a row of water bottles. Another equalising goal and he would have attempted to launch those bottles over the stand instead of saying, “it was good to see the team react to a negative” following the “incompetent” defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday and, before that, the draws that had hit belief and rekindled stories of player unrest.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Frank Lampard was the Chelsea hero, scoring two minutes from time to put us back on winning ways. Following a first half more notable for its bookings than goal-mouth action, although Wolves did hit the post, Ramires had given the Blues the lead early in the second period with an instinctive finish but then we conceded a goal in the last 10 minutes for the 10th time in this league season, Stephen Ward scoring. Chelsea had been on top which made it all the more of a blow but Andre Villas-Boas’s team held their nerve to go back in front again with a crisp passing move, converted inside the six-yard box. It still needed Cech to come to the rescue at the end to put smiles back on Chelsea faces.”

The goals

54′ Ramires 0-1
84′ Ward 1-1
89′ Lampard 1-2

Thanks to Mark for the photo.

Normal service will resume soon.

There are 99 comments

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  1. Pacific Blue

    Perseverance of poor tactics (high defensive line, pressing etc) unsuited to the EPL, a wasted summer to clear out dead wood, poor transfer policy (Lukaku @ 18m apparently not good enough to even get 5 mins), a declining Cech with no viable competition in Hilario(us)/Turnbull(shi*) but 9m spent on a goalkeeping “present” for A. Madrid), Modrid pursued all summer (when it was apparent not selling had become a matter of principle to Levy) with no Plan B. Sigh……..

  2. Joy Muballe

    The Machester clubs continue to hand us a lifeline despite our inability to pull ourselves together and make a go of it.
    On the upside; there will be no more papering over of the cracks. We have no choice but rebuild the team a new.

  3. SweetDairyAir

    AVB is the right man for the job. Who would people prefer? The likes of Jose or Guardiola would arguably only do marginally better. As has been covered in the excellent report, I also blame the manager less than other supporters seem to. I feel he has all the potential in the world. There have been glimpses of it, like the tactics of QPR away, and the way he hasn’t been too scared to drop players like Lampard. The high line is a misnomer because if you look at a lot of the goals conceded this season, they have been due to individual errors. Look at the goals yesterday. We even played a deeper line yet still conceded three goals, with Luiz/Terry and Lampard to blame for two of them.

    On other points mentioned in comments, anyone can see Lukaku isn’t ready. When we bought him he was the heaviest player in the league at 18 years of age. That’s crazy. He needs to be leaner, which he is already showing signs of, improve his off the ball movement and first touch. The main reason we bought him was because he qualifies as a home grown Chelsea player, as by the age of 21 he will have been with us for 3 years. We could not wait another year to buy him. It was never intended for him to go straight into the first team.

    Also Courtois at A. Madrid is not a backup goalkeeper. He is a potential first team player and he needs games. He isn’t Hilario. I don’t think any reasonable person would have assumed at the beginning of the season that Cech would have been performing like this. He had a pretty good season last year. Furthermore I don’t know how much is down to his personal form or the fact that the team as a whole is shot of confidence and everyone performs worse, further exacerbating the problem.

    And Meirelles was our Plan B. He has turned out to be a pretty good player actually. If we are honest our transfers have been pretty good (even if you take into account Abramovich splashing out on Torres in a panic last year). After spending too much money on the likes of Veron at the beginning of the Roman era, more recently players like Mata, Romeu and Sturridge have shown a degree of forward thinking. I just hope we pick up the pace and find some more players of that ilk to buy, and quickly.

  4. Simon

    Loosing at home to Aston bloody Villa is less heart-breaking than to the bottom club Blackburn. Isn’t it?
    Ha ha bloody ha… 

  5. NorthernVA

    Not buying it mate sorry. I unfortunately have seen enough of AVB to realize he doesn’t have what it takes to move this club forward. How anyone can say we have progressed. Luis Suarez has a better chance of winning a NAACP image award than we do of winning any honors with AVB’s tenure. The term transition is being used a cover for failure and ineptitude. No need for any comments regarding United giving Ferguson X amount of years before winning his first major trophy. Completely different times and situations. I don’t think Ferguson was at risk on losing a considerable windfall in the form a check from UEFA.

    Our current manager is 33.33% hype, 33.33% phony bluster, and 33.33% false bravado. AVB was right when he said he was not like Mourinho. That has been his most honest assessment during his young tenure. Didn’t take long for the world to see that and more worryingly most opposition managers. If we are rebuilding what qualifies him for the task. He’s 33 years old and has presumably never built anything in his life bar IKEA furniture. By the way Porto is still on top of their league. Good to see the that the institution still stands in light of his departure.

    He has achieved a lot over the last five months. In the last five months he has been mugged by half the managers in London. He has shipped off two key players from previous campaigns who could still contribute to the cause. Managed to marginalize a handful of others who previous managers have called upon to deliver. It appears he may have alienated half of the dressing room. The Self-Indulgent One attempted to manufacture a completely unnecessary fight with the media. It was so contrived and ridiculous on the face of it that even those bottom feeders refused to take the bait. In the last five months AVB achieved a feat that even the greatest of cynics never thought possible, he turned Gary Neville into a sympathetic character. That alone should be a fireable offense. He has got a bit of a Napoleon complex. He also sets up his defense much like Napoleon did during the Battle of Waterloo. With the resources at his disposal there is no excuse for this man. Carlo’s bad moment was down to injuries and poor planning done by the board the previous summer not to mention one of the most grotesque mismanagement of resources in recent memory back in January. A day which lives on in infamy for all parties involved. I am not buying this notion that all of these players have magically turned crap at the stroke of midnight. People can save that story for a Walt Disney fantasy. You mean to tell me that Cech goes from player of the season to the latest entry into the CFC scapegoat hall of shame in under a calendar year. Good to great managers play to their teams strengths not highlight their weaknesses. You wouldn’t attempt to put the engine of a Ferrari into a Ford pick up truck. Going mudding just wouldn’t be the same. Just look at the gap between Luiz and Terry during the second goal. This season we have conceded 24 goals in about 19 games. Last season it was 33 over the entire season. Only one clean sheet at home. FFS sake United had Carrick and Evra playing center back and managed a clean sheet against Wigan. His philosophy is complete fucking nonsense. “We are proud defenders of the beauty of the game,” when a manager makes that shit up I would really have a hard time taking him seriously as a player. He would have been better served placing a ‘kick me” sign on his back before every game.All I can say is that he must give one hell of a job interview. He must have wooed Roman over with that low block medium block number of his.  Your argument to keeping him isn’t the most convincing Tony. We could fire the manager but we might get stuck with Rafa doesn’t sound like resounding belief in AVB. However I do wish certain individuals would have heeded your advice before they sacked Carlo in a tunnel at Goodison Park last year. PS the media doesn’t particularly care for CFC however completely tactless shit like that doesn’t help the cause.

    So Tony I think we can infer from your report that you will no longer be continuing in your current function as president of the Didier Drogba fan club. If I hadn’t watched the game and only read the report I would be led to  believe that Torres the Unlucky did something to merit the praise which you have bestowed upon him. You know kind of like earning a penalty and converting the chance from the spot to become the 4th all-time goal scorer in the history of the club. But then I remember from the Genk game Torres doesn’t step up to take penalties he leaves that to defenders like David Luiz. I reckon if Torres did start the game the report may have had a slightly different editorial stance. I would expect much more focus on the lack of service to Torres. Hopefully you would highlight the poor play of the midfield three Ramires, Romeu, and Meireles. But I guess we have all of year for that. I have a secret which works for me that may help you over the last few months of Drogba’s time here at Chelsea. Whenever there is a player on my team who I think is overpaid and generally useless I go into each an every game expecting absolutely nothing. Expect nothing and when they produce next to nothing you are pleasantly surprised. I think George W. Bush called it the soft bigotry of low expectation. It has been as good as scripture for me these last 12 months with Torres.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah right. Nothing that happened last year was Carlo’s fault, but everything this year is AVB’s. Ridiculous argument. So didn’t the senior group of untouchables like Carlo either? Still better the club is run by the senior players co-operative then. Who knows we could get another 3 years of wonderful half arsed lumbering football from players with ideas way above their current capability. Another few years of being eclipsed by the likes of Spurs and potentially a Liverpool side also rather bravely rebuilding. 

      The ‘untouchables’ have become a curse. And yes, about Cech that’s exactly what I’m saying. Fat, dumb and comfortable a phrase oft used in industry to describe the condition of coasting, being unchallenged. He made a great save against Villa but was poorly positioned for the first goal. Wigan, Spurs and Fulham conceded goals are in a large part down to Cech. Competition might just restore his edge, that’s all I’m saying. It’s utter garbage to suggest that a player can’t fall from grace in one season. 

      And Drogba. the conundrum. Oh, so he ‘won’ a penalty. That’s what great strikers do when they haven’t the pace or skill anymore to beat their man. I was at the game, his contribution outside of that was virtually nil. Much like it was versus Spurs and Wigan and any other number of games this season that weren’t ‘big’ games in his eyes. It’s an opinion but there’s no way he should get anymore than a year extension to his contract.

      I suspect the mutiny rumours will be led by our so called loyal senior players who can go back to their gated mansions secure in the notion that another £100k has been safely banked. Yeah, they’re still hungry, hungry for their wages but not hungry enough to turn up for the club and the fans. Do you really think the way to make your point to the man who pays your salary is by not bothering to perform? 

      Here’s a secret……the company I work for expect you to perform day in and day out. If you don’t like your manager then you still perform your duties professionally and the company will try and accomodate a move elsewhere. FOR YOU not the manager. Good teams are regularly transformed to meet the company’s requirements. It’s often painful for the teams…I know because this happened to me last year, but here’s a fact. You suck it up and get on with it. You don’t fold your arms and play the apathy game because in the end the company will let you go. Those players should be doing the same if they don’t like AVB, after all isn’t that what they did with Grant? And Scolari? 

      I’m more than aware that Carlo was treated unfairly in some ways, but maybe if he’d had the balls to stand up when Wilkins was sacked instead of meekly bending over then this ‘rot’ and inevitable transformation could have happened earlier. But he didn’t do that. He sucked it up and seemingly also lost some of the players. And frankly, even with a depleted squad he was a tactical fuckwit when it suited him. Constant same time each game like for like substitutions, an inability to trust youth despite never being let down by them. Lest we forget he overlooked a competent Bruma to put Ferreira in at centre back versus Sunderland, a game we lost 3-0 and arguably even more humiliation than Villa. What a great message that sent out. And who mishandled Borini? Oh yes, Carlo would be the one who froze him out. Carlo won us the double then sat and watched a decline and did little about it. When it look like Anelka was the best combination with Torres he ignored it. Nice guy yes. Ruthless horrible winner no. And I want a ruthless horrible winner. I want bravery from a  coach not appeasement. 

      And yes I do step down as the Drogba Appreciation Society president. That way I can apply plausible deniability when he puts in half shifts for the rest of the season. And as for the Torres stuff. Sorry to do this but I was actually there and Torres was a bright spark in a dim display. He can at least hold the ball and drift past players. Drogba was a battering ram. Sadly instead of a solid piece of oak he now resembles a battering ram made of bamboo. A single shoot of bamboo. I loved Drogba and still think he’s been great for us, but maybe I’m in the minority of people who can see diminishing powers of speed, ability and desire. 

      So, if the players as I am hearing (albeit from Weasely Beasley from that well known tome of truth The Sun) are mutinous then what do we do? Sack another coach? because let’s face it, it must always be the coaches fault. Bring in a man of 65 to bring them into line? Why not a chaise longue in the dressing room so we can feed them grapes and fine wine on gold platters served by virgins (yes, I appreciate that in London the last bit might be a tough ask). Perhaps we could mount statues of Malouda and Kalou next to the Ossie statue if they want that. Maybe that’s the secret here. bring in a coach who can write down the names they want on the team sheet. 

      Or maybe, just maybe as the owner I might want to look at the recurring pattern here. My once prized
      assets acting like primadonnas, not playing for the club, not playing for the fans and maybe not even for their own pride. Just going through motions and further securing their financial security. As i say, why would they want to go when they have such a good life? Maybe just maybe the board and Roman have grasped the need for change. 

      I’ll say this now. Some of you have forgotten what it was like. When you had faith in players to develop, when potential was spotted and developed (have a look at Utd and Arsenal, they’ve done if for years). No what i see and hear is a bunch of johnny come lately’s demanding we buy the best. Cahill isn’t good enough for us I hear. How the fuck would we know unless we buy him? Was Phil Jones good enough for United or did Old Purplenose spot that potential? I will admit this isn’t good from AVB and he’s learning some very public and painful lessons. But if he’s learning then thats good. Oh and lets nail the age thing here. Every industry promotes through ability not age. I’m 50. My boss is 40. Have I more experience than her…yes. Does it bother me? No. Not a jot. Why?

      Because I’m a fucking grown up. If AVB’s age bothers the seniors then their bigger cunts than I could imagine. I suspect some of these pampered superstars have lost all sense of reality. 

      Still I did forget one thing. Despite the beautifully argued differences of opinion (and yes I do mean that) we’re all frustrated, hopelessly devoted (oops Olivia Newton John image flashes up) salves to the raving basket case that is Chelsea. So in the spirit of the season, here’s what I forgot

      HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL (including Harry/Moffat)

  6. Anonymous

    Fine report TG.

    After due consideration I propose:

    1) Ron Gourlay intersperse his Building The Brand efforts with launching an  “EPL Winter break” campaign to spare us from watching any more of the crap performances like our recent efforts at The Bridge

    2) In the meantime, Nick, perhaps we should implement a Chelseablog winter break for future seasons to avoid the reams of doom and gloom that have largely filled these pages despite the stalwart efforts of Cunningplan to retain some perspective?

    • Anonymous

      It may just be me…..but I’m rather masochistally enjoying all this turmoil.

      No doom and gloom here. I still think we have some great players for the future. Luiz, Romeu, Ramires, Studge, Meireles, Mata, Courtouis, Torres, Josh, PVA potentially, Bertrand, Kakuta, Obi, Cahill (hope that’s not hexed that move), Ivanovic, Cole if he can get his form back. I think that’s a bright future and a group most other Pl coaches would love to have in the wings. 

      • Anonymous

        I agree that in half a season  we’ve come a surprisingly long way toward implementing the refreshment of the squad that has been postponed for far too long, even though it means some dire performances and regressions along the way.

        I’ve found it deeply tiresome to read the near relentless stream of impatient comments on here over the “Season of Goodwill” along the lines of “AVB is shite, the team are all shite, we need to sack him/ sell them all and buy everyone on my fantasy wish list or we’re going to hell in a handcart”.

        I’m more forgiving of Carlo’s faults than you, not least because of that wonderful record-breaking Double season. No one could survive under Berlusconi for as many years as he did without being an appeaser and keep your head down merchant. Why expect him to act differently under a mad Russian?

        Mark – your dedication does you credit, Sir!

      • NorthernVA

        Happy New Year to you as well Tony! It can’t be easy to give an assessment on what you see so close the game particularly after a collective performance like the one Saturday. I do sincerely appreciate you and the other contributors musings on the game.

        I agree that it’s not really doom and gloom but rather a general sense of bewilderment which has descended upon many. What’s the old saying about the truth being somewhere in the middle. An outside observer would probably conclude that the owner, the board, the manager, the players, and us supporters are completely batshit insane and completely deserve each other in this complete mindfuck of a relationship. Honestly who really knows with this lot it seems the more precarious the situation the wriggle themselves into better the response.

        If we all agreed on every subject without critical analysis then would be entering what the psychologist have coined as groupthink. Groupthink has been the seed of some truly horrible decisions in history. It has led some countries to wage incredibly costly wars. It also provided the landscape for banks to become to big to fail. More recently it led a once proud football club to march their players out for a pre-game warm-up with t-shirts embroidered with the club slogan and the face of all fallen teammate who had just been hit with a ban for racially abusing an opponent. We should avoid groupthink at all cost.

        • Anonymous

          “An outside observer would probably conclude that the owner, the board, the manager, the players, and us supporters are completely batshit insane and completely deserve each other in this complete mindfuck of a relationship”

          This may well be my favourite ever quote. I must resolve to use this more often. 

  7. Benjami

    Is it bad that I am happy it is an away game so I don’t have to go watch us suck 😛

    I still back AVB, it is the players not the manager. All 3 goals Aston Villa scored against us were a joke, nothing to do with AVB’s tactics, just utterly disgraceful defending.

    We made the chances we just keep missing ;/

    The annoying thing is with a bit of luck we could have won our last 4 games, and had 9 extra points and be 2 points off the top.

    I also don’t believe in the player power “clique” at Chelsea, once we start winning again all this rubbish will go away as it always does.

    Look at our goals conceded per game per season

    2007 – 0.63
    2008 – 0.68
    2009 – 0.63
    2010 – 0.84
    2011 – 0.87
    2012 – 1.26

    If I looked at that without any other information I would say the decline started in 2010 and then exponentially increased in 2012.

    AKA our defence is now too old and needs to be fixed 😛 If we were back at the 2007-2009 level that means every game we have played so far this season you can divide the oppositions goals by 2. We would be top of the league if that was true. (go confirmation bias statistical crazy reasoning :P)

    I can understand Cahill’s reluctance to join us here. He knows he isn’t good enough for our first team and is only a stop gap to support JT/Luiz until we sign a new defender to replace JT when he retires. However, he knows the premiership well, is relatively cheap, and is an excellent backup (lol Jonny Evans for United). Each side has to compromise which is hard, but I think it is a good deal for both parties.

    I expect us to win every game in January now. Every game!

    I hope the formation today is the same as vs Villa except Torres starts instead of Drogba, who now needs a rest. Mata also needs a rest the poor guy, he is going to be knackered for Euros at this rate.

    Mata if you read this blog for some reason, you are awesome 🙂

    Anyone know when Essien will be back?

  8. Anonymous

    On the train to Wolverhampton so no mutiny from me.

    I don’t know if AVB is any good or not, only hindsight will confirm it. Whatever happens I’m happy for him to break up the old guard, even he subsequently gets sacked and is used as the fall guy.

  9. Anonymous

    A rare trip to the Bridge for me to see the Villa game. I went with a Yeovil supporting friend of mine. He’s not ant-Chelsea but his main observation was how we struggle to break teams down (no suprise to most of us I’m sure). We had plenty of pedestrian like possession but there was no real pace and none of the attackers seemed interested in making a run. Drogba for most of the game seemed to be telling the midfield to pass it to him and never looked interested in making a run. As Tony says we did look better once Torres came on. Drogba to me looks a problem. On the field he insists that everyone does as he tells them (see Penalty and other free kicks) and no one seems to be arsed to stand up to him.

    Is AVB the problem? God knows. I don’t think he has handled the players particularly well. Fergie does treat people in a similar fashion but his age and acheivements probably allow him to get away with it. AVB is no where near this level yet.

  10. Anonymous

    Wowzers. Those bloggers calling for youth (me amongst them) have got their wish today. Check the bench. Not sure about Bertrand, but certainly 4 of the 7 are under 20. Not sure how much of that is tactics as how much enforced, but a sign of the future.

    Hope Torres gets 90 mins. Will be interesting….

  11. bluebayou

    Happy New Year All!

    Thanks for the report Tony.

    Going by what I’ve seen lately and bearing in mind we have given up a 1 goal lead in 3 out of 4 games I do not know in what football universe a comnbination of not pressing the ball carrier allied to not shadowing the avialble players and not following the runner counts for defence. But it ‘aint his one.

    This limp lettuce leaf defensive “style” guarantees that any defensive error is fatal and allows teams to walk the ball from one end of the pitch to the other.

    The only occasions where we changed was against Tottenham and City after an embarassing 20 minutes or so.

    Yes the players have to take responsibility and do their jobs. But who is coaching the defense here? Because it patently is not working.

    Every EPL team has a modicum of skill and creativity and given time and room will fashion good chances.

    And the space is there not because all our players are caught upfield. Count the numbers who ever get in the box. Against Wigan we sat deep same result.

    No. We appear to be playing some sort of pattern defense based on where players are in relation to each other rather than where the opposition are building the danger.

    Just watched the first half against Wolves. Ignore the fact that 11 decent EPL pros rounded up in a minibus and thrown on the pitch up there would show the same level of understanding and play the patterned attacking stuff we’ve been watching, but anytime Wolves striing a few passes together we depend on their mistakes for the danger to disappear and not due to pressure and tackling.

    I could take the attacking struggles if I thought we could at least defend.

    Still there’s always hope.

  12. Cunningplan

    Yes no commitment, looks like he’s lost the dressing room, like fuck he has, and Lampard is a useless TWAT as well! yeah right.
    By far the better team, Torres did more WORK in 93mins than Drogba did in the last 3 games, the lad run and run making space for others, the goals will come.

    • Anonymous

      I do agree with your comments regarding Torres, We look so much sharper when he is on the pitch! 

  13. Ryan

    Hopefully that can be a turning point of sorts. I’d be quite happy to just grind out the wins in our next series of fixtures. CP you’re right Torres did really well. I’d still like to see him playing as a two. Maybe with Mata or Studge. Couple of wingers. 4-4-2. Never going to happen. I know. But he tried. And we looked “together”. I’d agree that maybe defensive coaching needs addressing. It’s different here to Portugal and DiMatteo’s WBA weren’t exactly defensively distinguished. What would we give to have Stevie Clarke back to guide AVB through his first year in charge? All in all though. Onwards and upwards today.

  14. Cunningplan

    Yes the defensive capitualtion in the last 10 mins of games is a concern, concentration and better coaching on the training ground is something that needs urgent attention.

    Yes LTB and we deserved it, Wolves were shite though.

  15. Ryan

    I did read a while ago that AVB removed the sports science department from Cobham on his arrival. While I believe he replaced them (don’t know what with) it seems he shifted the emphasis from strength and conditioning work (the real mainstay of our previous success) to five-a-sides (apparently the key to Arsenal’s supposed technical superiority). Possibly this was a misjudgement. This isn’t Portugal or Spain. The intensity and pace of the game requires extreme fitness. It may seem an obvious conclusion but if you concede late goals on a regular basis it suggests fatigue is a contributory factor in the “individual errors” that we’ve seen too often.

    It may or may not be the case that a player can go from great one year to poor the next but what is indisputable is that fitness, strength and conditioning can deteriorate pretty rapidly in a matter of weeks. Anyone here who goes to the gym on a regular basis will know that from painful experience. For all of that though a balance must be struck between physicality and technique. Maybe AVB is still trying to locate that equilibrium. I would say in his defence that he has done well in terms of minimizing mid/long term injuries which can occur as a result of over-conditioning.

  16. Ryan

    Also regarding individual errors and fitness I believe brain function is impaired when fatigue sets in and heart-rate reaches a critical point. I’ll try to look up a report and see if I can find some figures (cos I m really interesting like that!).

    • Anonymous

      “I believe brain function is impaired when fatigue sets in”. Wow, the members of this blog must be really knackered, lol.

  17. Anonymous

    35% Possession 65% 9 Total Shots 174 Shots on Target 769% Pass Accuracy 84%12% Aerials Won 88%1 Offsides 211 Fouls 90 Corners 519 Throwins 211 Dribbles Won 515 Tackles 17
    Fernando Torres 57 touches,92% pass accuracy (highest!), 3 shots, 2 key passes, 3 dribbles, 3 interceptions 4 through balls.

  18. NorthernVA

    Fairplay to Fernando. He did work his tail off today. There were a couple times that I wish he just would have pulled the trigger a tad quicker. Hopefully that will improve in due course. I guess he figuring out that the CF at Chelsea tends play through better balls than receive at times. He played some really sharp passes. I doubt anyone at the Bridge felt worse about that third goal on Saturday than Frank. Few can pick themselves up and dust themselves off as well that man. Kudos to Big Pete with the save at the whistle.

  19. Ryan

    Apologies. Didn’t realise you’d have to login to see that link. If you’re interested (and it’s entirely possible that I might be the only one who is) just google “brain function and aerobic activity”.

  20. Anonymous

    Hard fought win against a resilient Wolves. No poor performances from any of the Chelsea team, in fact they all worked very hard and yes, showed some real passion and commitment. And the talk of mutiny from uber-cunt Rob Beasley? Precious little evidence today for that. Frank’s post match interview was the model of diplomacy and genuine love for the club. Like NorthernVA says few players could pick themselves up from such a howler. Seems he may be accepting of being rested more often, whatever…it was very mature and grown up as interviews go. And AVBs body language during and after the game was also very upbeat. He rubbished the Beasley story roundly, which makes me wonder if Beasley has been fed some disinformation deliberately to continue exposing him. 

    The twitterverse was full of post match whiners as well. We really can be overly miserable sometimes. It’s a win. It’s MoTD as well. At least try smiling…….    

  21. Ryan

    The Arse/Fulham have just done us a big favour! It’s all happening this weekend eh? That’ll be another one for your perspective list eh CP?

    • Cunningplan

      Certainly will be, we can pretend it’s Chelsea at Rourkes Drift (I watched Zulu earlier) victory and glory against all the odds. 🙂

  22. Ryan

    Interesting to note that during last season we were at one time 10 points ahead of Utd. then 15 behind and were still in with a chance going into the game at Old Trafford. Strange things do happen.

  23. Anonymous

    Ok, a wry smile from me, and the sounds of a thousand implied “We told you so’s” from the Blog sages.

    One week of panic outside the top 4, then we win at Wolves and Fulham rob Arsenal and we’re back in the top 4 and everything is rosy again. Well, you know what I mean….

    It’s very bloody tight in the fight for forth. Spurs really need to drop a load of points soonish…..

    • Cunningplan

      Cough cough… nothing implied from me Fiftee.
      Good result for the Norwich lads as well today, must be the perfect footballing day for you.
      All we need now to finish off the New years fixtures, is the Toons to beat Utd, and Citeh and Liverpool both lose if that’s possible, 🙂  but a draw would be nice.

  24. Simon

    I liked this…

    “Arsenal supporters were daring to dream of a crack at the Premier League title at half-time. By full-time, they will be left wondering whether a top-four finish is achievable.” – BBC Football

  25. Anonymous

    I don’t know what – if anything he did going forward – but MOTD really did a number on Bosingwa’s lack of defensive nous today. A new RB, or someone else tried there soon? Is he, not the mercurial Luiz the reason for our complete lack of clean sheets?

    Impressed by Lamps post-match interview. No real axe to grind, just re-iterating his desire to play. He definitely still offers us something. Also really impressed by Torres. Seems so much more a ‘team player’, looking to always find team-mates. You just feel (well
    I do) that one bit of luck going his way and he could still be balls-deep in goals.
    Give him time AVB, it’ll come.

    • Ryan

      Did you notice after one of the free headers in the first half Luiz goes fucking mental at Bosingwa. It was just on the edge of camera and they cut away but Luiz is definitely not helped by playing on the problem side of the defence. For all that Hansen said about Terry never knowing where Luiz is, whether he’s in the right position etc. he failed to mention that Luiz has the same problem x10 with Bosingwa. That can’t help Luiz’s supposedly suspect positioning. The back four is a team within a team and when there is a weak link it can make everyone look bad. I really do think that for all the talk about Lamps, Drogba et al. Bosingwa is the one player that really can’t be accommodated any more. He just makes mistakes with such alarming regularity.

      Also is Kalou injured or just on his way out? Seemed odd he didn’t even make the bench today. Nobody else seems to have flagged it up though. Have I missed something?

    • Anonymous

      Christ the level of Utter Cuntery (copyright The Good lord Kaiser) inj both the article and the moronic commenters defies belief. The lies being spun by the press are beyond any sort of parody.

      AVB ‘ordered’ the players to celebrate the goal with him. What absolute utter fucking cobblers. if that’s the case what happened when 1-0 up against Villa. Or even when we scored the winner yesterday. Some of these hacks and commenter are seriously delusional. 

      AVB didn’t mention Frank Lampard in his post match interview? Well Frank never mentioned AVB either. However AVB has gone out of his way to praise Frank in other interviews including using the phrase ‘very important member of the squad’. Again pure fantasy bullshit speak from lowlife desperate hacks.Also it appears to me that AVB never singles any of the players out in interviews for praise or criticism. 

      They didn’t speak on the coach? Ok, maybe there is truth in this, but no hack would know this because to my knowledge none of them are allowed on the team bus. So if this is inside infor it leads me to believe that it must be Frank himself leaking this. And judging by his post match interviews I’d say this was bollocks. He was happy, mature, grown up, loyal and said the right things. I still can’t fathom that a player of his maturity and intelligence would not at least ask for an audience with the manager to discuss his gripes. Are we really to believe he just sits there with metaphorical thumb in mouth and bottom lip unfurled ?

      Honestly most 5 year olds could write more convincingly that the prick who wrote this article. 

  26. Der_Kaiser

    Happy New Year all.  Festive season has been something of a rollercoaster – can’t say I’ve paid a huge amount of attention to it all.  Good win yesterday, though – a decent run through January would be useful before United pitch up at the Bridge in February and the whole CL lark kicks off again.

  27. Cunningplan

    Shouldn’t we ban links to the Sun website from this blog, the only thing I believe from that comic is the day and date, and even then I check elsewhere just to verify it.

    I’ve long given up on the majority of written press in the country, they even make Fox News look balanced, truthful and fair.

  28. Der_Kaiser

    Whilst the jury is somewhat out for me on the boy AVB, the hackery going on around us at present is very amusing.  Am waiting for the ‘AVB demands Lampard brings him brandy glass full of M&M’s with the brown ones removed before a match’ and ‘AVB has all youth team players vocal chords cut to stop in-training chatter’ with bated breath.

    In fact, let’s kick a few off on here and see whether they fly or not…

  29. Dannybrod

    AVB Demands Only Portugese To Be Spoken In Dressing Room

    In a further move to force Chelsea players to acknowledge his leadership, Andre Villas Boas has demanded that they speak only his native language in the dressing room and at training, and inside source said today.

  30. Anonymous

    I have to admit that I had entirely failed to notice the latest ludicrous ravings of the gutter press yesterday morning.

    Therefore I was somewhat bemused when the players celebrated the first goal with a vigour and enthusiasm that seemed more appropriate to winning a Cup Final than going 1-0 v Wolves after a toilsome first half.

    Hard to guess if someone within the club is now feeding journos increasingly outlandish stories just to see if they’ll print them or if they’re just making it up themselves to fill blank pages.

    I guess no one was surprised to see Bosingwa’s idiosyncratic approach to defending getting us in trouble again. More worrying that for both the goal and Cech’s last act save there were at least 2 Wolves players totally unmarked in the penalty box waiting to put the ball in the net.

    Still, ultimately good to see us actually rescue ourselves from our inevitable defensive blunder for once and get 3 points at last, with the Gooners’ latest cock-up just icing on the late Xmas cake.

  31. Cunningplan

    AVB demands that Chelsea join the Euro…

    In yet a further move towards unity at the club, AVB has decided with the imminent pullout and default of Greece from the Euro, that Chelsea step and fill the gap by joining straight away.

    An insider revealed he knew this was on the cards, as all cash payments have been currently made in 50 Euro notes since November, and pictures of Merkel and Sarkozy adorne the Chelsea dressing room.

  32. Ososdeoro

    Unfortunately WBA could not also do us a favor. I’m sure Gareth Bale’s NBA-star treatment by the officials had nothing to do with that result.

  33. Anonymous

    Grumble grumble Spurs win again. City are gone and thus beating Liverpool does help us but, feck me, Spuds need to start dropping points soon.

  34. Anonymous

    Well I see from the calendar that we still have a whole 4 days till our next game so now might be the time to discuss the Chelsea Pitchowners AGM on Jan 20th.

    The papers for this plopped through my letterbox before Xmas and seem entirely devoid of anything to do with a move from Stamford Bridge.

    However, as BlueBayou alluded to in the pre-Xmas flurry, there are the somewhat puzzling Resolutions 9 and 10. The CPO website does not seem to have electronic versions available yet and the actual resolutions are awash with legalese about Sections of the Companies Act 2006 [known to its friends as “CA 2006” apparently]. Here are the “Explanation of the Resolutions” from the agenda though:

    Resolution 9:  “In substitution of all existing authorities, resolution 9 authorises the directors to allot new shares and grant rights in respect of shares up to a maximum aggregate nominal amount of £100,000. Such authority will expire on the day falling on the 5th anniversary of the date of the passing of this resolution”.

    Resolution 10: “In substitution of all existing authorities, resolution 10 authorises the directors to dis-apply the pre-emption rights of existing shareholders in relation to the issue of new shares under resolution 9 for cash. Such authority will expire on the day falling on the 5th anniversary of the date of the passing of this resolution”.

    These may be entirely innocent, mundane bits of housekeeping – but can anybody explain what the hell they are all about, and why they might be being put forward now?

  35. Benjami

    Every limited company in the UK operates under CA2006 so don’t worry about that. Here is CA2006 if you are interested enjoy 🙂

    In a normal company of 100 shares if I Person A owns 50 shares and Person B owns the other 50 shares. So we both have 50% of the company and equal control.

    If we pass a resolution to increase the share capital to 200, all shareholders have a “pre-emptive” right to purchase those new shares.

    So as Person A, I can decide whether or not to buy or have allocated those new shares. Now if I choose not to, and Person B or Person C takes those shares instead my control of the company has decreased from 50% to 25%. I am now a minority shareholder.

    Resolution 9 is allowing the directors power to allot 100,000 of new shares – What it the total share capital of the company right now?

    (I can look this up when I am back at work tomorrow I can’t remember any of my passwords at home)

    Resolution 10, is waiving the rights of existing shareholders to have it offered to them first if they are being bought for cash. I think normally shareholders must have a 21 day period, to decide whether or not to buy.

    So they are going to increase the allotted share capital by 100,000 and then issue it for cash to people, and they don’t have to offer it to current shareholders first.

    What does this mean?

    Well it means the directors can immediately issue 100,000 of shares and receive at least £100,000 of cash in exchange. So the company is in a position to easily raise cash very fast to take advantage of an opportunity and is doing it via capital rather than debt (debt – raising the money from the bank with a loan)

    This leads to the whole capital vs debt debate, we all want us to take on capital rather than debt I guess but debt can be more efficient tax wise in certain scenarios.

    If the full 100,000 is taken up and all these shares have full voting rights etc, then your voting power as a shareholder will have been reduced.

    So if RA buys all those shares he will have gained a certain % of control in the company, and will have injected cash into it at the same time.

    Note: I don’t do this sort of thing on a daily basis so my only knowledge is coming from exams a few years ago which I only cared about passing rather than actually learning anything. So the above could be horrible wrong 😛 go chartered accountancy!

    • Anonymous

      Nice try at explaining this gobbldeygook, but I’m struggling to relate this to CPO’s situation.

      It has already issued just over 15,000 shares valued at £100 each since its formation in 1993, mostly in small trickles in recent years. It has always had powers to continue to issue further shares to notionally pay off the £10m. loan it was given.

      These shares have been bought by fans and others each year without any need for them to be offered to existing shareholders or buyers needing to wait 21 days as far as I’m aware.

      Unless “CA 2006” brought in new rules which each company needs to formally adopt or amend in its regulations I remain bemused – though not as bemused as Phil Jones and the Mancs’ defence looked last night 😉

    • bluebayou

      Thanks for that. There seems to be a dearth of analysis on this at the moment.

      Like BBD I was under the impression that the CPO could just chunter on issuing shares, particulalry as in theory they would want to pay off the loan.

      However this does suggest that there is some change perhaps to voting rights or the intoduction of a different class of share or something.

      One doesn’t want to begin the new year in an overparanoid and downbeat state of mind but then, as the smelly monk said when encouraged to use the launderette, “Why change the habit of a lifetime?”

      So it does seem likely to me that this is all about diluting the voting power of the current shareholder or in some way boosting the voting power of those with access to large amounts of wonga.

      After all the run up to the last meeting saw all sorts of persons with some vague connection to Brucie and his mates buying CPO shares.

      However I shall suspend judgement (rather mature of me doncha think?) until a clear statement of what this all means is available.

      • Benjami

        I can’t really make any comments without sitting down and reading the full thing.

        Essentially it is giving the company cash and reducing the voting power of each £1 of share.

        There could be very good reasons for this though, if they intend to use this company in the purchase of the new stadium etc it has to raise money through some method. This is just 1 way of doing so that is used by lots of businesses to change their gearing and generate cash.

        I am all for a new stadium near SB, and Battersea power station would be a wonderful theme/location for it. My main request would be that we don’t sell the naming rights and call it something proper!

        Just thinking long term and when the inevitable happens and RA leaves us, having a solid moderm stadium generating us a high comparable cash flow would be extremely advantageous for our long term sustainability at the top of English football.

  36. Cunningplan

    Phil Jones is a great defender, gives away a freekick which leads to a goal, and then decides to wrong foot his keeper, and get on the score sheet late in the game himself.

    Don’t you just love football?

  37. Anonymous

    God you’re shit Torres. Even Tim Howard – a goalkeeper FFS – has scored more than you this year. Rubbish.

  38. Ryan

    Wonder if we’ll see a glut of stories about Fergie not talking to Wazza on the bus home tomorrow morning or how he’s lost the dressing room and his players support. I highly doubt they’ll bother inventing any of this because we all know Ferguson doesn’t give a fuck what the players think of him and everybody knows that he has absolutely no chance of getting sacked. So it’s not a story. Funny that.

  39. Anonymous

    Credit to Newcastle for transitioning their team, losing ‘big’ players with egos, cutting their wage bill, making some effective low cost signings and still being in a better position than last season.  Just goes to prove it is possible.

    When you compare Ba, for free, compared to Torres, for £50m, it’s evident who’s getting value for money.

    We’d be better off with Ba, plus fans could spend an afternoon picking off D R O G from their replica shirt and have a free upgrade.

  40. Ososdeoro

    Shameless re-post from a repost on WAGNH

    Ooh, Phil Jones… like he’s controlled by a 70-year-old with a Wii problemRick Glanvill. Legend.

      • NorthernVA

        I guess you are thinking the same thing I am as to the identity of the training ground/backroom source.

        • Anonymous

          Probably yes; there are no many options there; somebody is working hard  in the training ground/backroom, unless, which is of course just hypothesis Lamps really unsettled.

    • bluebayou

      One hour later and the story changes to Ferguson claiming they wont be able to get Lampard after speaking at a press conference.

      So they paste a few paragraphs on top of the original story.

      Makes me wonder why I bother slaving away in the new rope making business when you get so much for pre-enjoyed rope.

      Mind you looking at it as cold hard business, if we got a couple of million and used the £140k a week to pay a couple of good prospects in their early 20’s would that be so bad?

      But hang on we’re talking about super Frankie here. And it’s always sobering to realise we got him for £11 million. Money well spent methinks.

      • Anonymous

        I know the online rolling news cycle has a lot to answer for, but this surely has to be absolute bottom of the barrel-scaping stuff.

        It’s “updated” form makes no sense whatsoever, while the flimsy nature of the original is surely clear from the need to include a quote from Lord Ferg from 2005 [yes, 7 years ago] to try to give it some substance.

        I’m tending increasingly to believe the hacks are running a competition for Most Ridiculous Transfer Window Story published.

  41. Anonymous

    I’ve just realised we play on Sunday, and it’s not televised. Why the hell is the game on Sunday?

    And Josh to play please. Especially with Lamps on his way to Barca for £90m.

    • bluebayou

      Fulham are playing on Saturday so I suppose it’s a police thing.

      Although you would quite rightly ask why the senior club doesn’t get the Saturday slot?

      Tottenham are also at home on Saturday.

      Of course when we move to a new stadium somewhere south of Crawley, this will no longer be a problem.

  42. bluebayou

    On the subject of Fulham, a Spurs fan of my acquaintance was of the opinion that Fulham should have been up before the FA for their performance against the Mancs.

    He said this the day after the game and before their draw with us and win against the Arse.

    He’d watched the game and was sure that they had fielded a full side so as not to be fined (a la Blackpool) but basically didn’t compete so as to avoid injury and fatigue with a fairly tough Christmas coming up.

    Now bearing in mind he said this at the time events have tended to suggest he was right.

    Given that United have been turned over twice and Fulham got a point from us and had a good go at Arsenal on their home turf, it is a result that rather stands out.

    According to my friendly Spud it was blindingly obvious that Fulham weren’t trying. But they cleverly avoided the kind of sanction that often befalls the lesser clubs who try and rest players on a wholesale basis.

    • Ryan

      It did occur to me, albeit after recent results, that had the Utd Fulham game been a horse race Martin Jol would have had a lot of explaining to do to the stewards.

    • NorthernVA

      The Spurs fan of your acquaintance may be right. Your post immediately got me thinking of a Fulham supporter’s comment I saw on the Guardian’s match report from that game. Via Aliceluma:

      “I have been going to the cottage for 17 years and that was the most spineless 45 minutes of football by Fulham I have ever seen. Man U were literally taking the p@&s. Their right back gets injured and they played the st of the game without one and EVERY Fulham player was petrified. No leadership. No guts. Martin Jol should be embarrassed to send out that team, watch the way they played and then make NO CHANGES. Not one. I think he seems to think that 5-0 was not bad. Shocking. “

  43. Anonymous

    The attached headline appeared on Sky Sports News.  I had to pause and take a photo.

    I’m surprised it’s McLeish and not Harry.

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