Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City – Out with the Old, In with the… err… Old

The preamble

It’s a bit of a misnomer that title, in reality it was out with the old, well to some degree, and in with the old and young and new. Actually I suspect that as with the featured image, the new will not differ that much from the old. It might just be faster. Whatever, it is working and this game showed there’s life in our mixed age dogs yet. I read the comments, and love the passionate debate and the variety of opinions whether I agree or not. My stance on this game before the game was I’d have taken the draw such is the promise and potential of this Manchester City team, but accusations of hypocrisy to AVB because he’s changed his philosophy are wide of the mark. He has the backing of our beloved owner for this season at least and he does have the big task of changing us and our style of play for what we all hope is a bigger future. More of that later.

The match

It’s 24 hours after the game and I’ve had time to reflect and watch Sky’s rubbish repeat, really rubbish. I mean Aguero’s attempt on 10 minutes they actually showed twice seamlessly spliced together to look like continuity. However, let’s briefly summarise – no surprises in team selection for us. Meireles has done enough recently to warrant keeping his place and as Mark so eloquently put it, Frank isn’t selected because on current form he isn’t one of the best three midfielders we have. But he is a class act and maybe this all about using him sparingly to extend his impact. I like thinking that way about it.

After 93 seconds utter seeming disaster occurred when a superb ball through to the moody but undeniably talented Balotelli led to a cool rounding of Ivanovic and Cech to slot home and give them an early lead. It felt like Old Trafford last season all over again. After 20 minutes of some of the most dazzling football I’ve seen live for some time, with City making mesmerising use of space off the ball, and supreme confidence on it I whispered to Chelsea Bob, ‘If it stays 1-0 I might be happy with that’. At this point I was reminded of a broken and beaten Sonny Liston retiring on his stool as the young Cassius Clay danced around knowing he had slain the old man and ended his career. But I was wrong. Because the Chelsea I’ve become so accustomed to reappeared and slowly but surely we climbed off that stool and started to put a stranglehold on the game. Yes, City dazzled but the end product was effectively neutered by superb defensive displays from our back four and the new Makelele in Oriol Romeu. Ivanovic shrugged off the early error for the goal to utterly boss the back line, helped by a slowing but determined Terry and even Bosingwa putting in a shft. Cole took a while to get into his stride but when he did he resembled the Cole of two years ago. I’d still have Ivan at right-back and the improving Luiz alongside JT, but credit where it’s due, heads soon rose again despite the silky City skills and with it came a bit of the old Chelsea doggedness and refusal to lie down.

By the time Sturridge had bamboozled Clichy and mugged him again to deliver the cross for Meireles to equalise, the feeling around the ground was that we were not out of it by any means. And on Sturridge… is there any doubt that if Rooney or any Arsenal/Man Utd or Liverpool player was delivering the level of performance he has that the media wouldn’t be hailing him the new English wunderkind? There’s under the radar and then there’s pure ignorance. I’m just saying…

Second half and the home team suddenly looked more like the home team. City still tiki-taka’d around the pitch but there was a relish from Romeu, JT, Ivan and Ramires at breaking this up. And with that the confidence grew. We started to believe we could take them on and it felt good. Sturridge tormented Clichy finally forcing a yellow card as he sped past him, forcing Clichy into pulling him down. I suspect Clichy was taking one for the team. But minutes later, after every Chelsea fan had spotted the prospect of Clichy’s desperation getting the better of him, Ramires went on yet another jinking run (yes Ramires now jinks like a Brazilian) and Clichy did what we hoped and Mark Clattenburg was left with no choice but to issue the second yellow and the consequent red card. Mancini rang the changes soon afterwards, replacing Aguero and Silva with Kolo Toure and De Jong. The message was there, hold onto the draw. And we suddenly found ourselves with all the cards. Yes, City were still hard to break down but we had genuine belief. Lampard had come on for Meireles and when Lescott decided to defend his handsome visage with his hands instead of letting Studge’s shot deliver a stinger, there was only one person to take the penalty. Cool, focussed and determined was the aura around Frank as he thundered home his driving penalty. Off came the roof. We were still alive and kicking. The last few minutes bar a City free kick were a master class in seeing a game out. Mikel Obi came on for Mata and we delivered our own defiant ‘hold on to this’ message. Drogba delighted in annoying City with his tactics in the corner to hold the ball.

It was over. We’d delivered the best team in the Premiership a full on bloody nose. We’d come off the ropes and fought back. Reports of our demise have not only been greatly exaggerated but turned out to be fuckwittery of the highest order.

The good

  • Ramires. Machine-like and no matter how high he’s kicked he just gets up and on with it.
  • Sturridge. He’s not even the full article yet, and that should scare the crap out of everyone.
  • Ivanovic. Better than Vidic. Better than most in the world and undervalued and underrated.
  • Romeu. Will be better than Makelele.
  • All of the rest of our team.
  • Silva, Aguero, Balotelli… hell they haven’t got a duff one in there. Manchester City, still my tip for the league this year.

The bad

  • Really? OK Toure’s sly kick and slap on Mata. Not punished by Clattenburg. Now had that been Drogba…
  • The weather.
  • That genuinely is it.

The ugly

Nope I can’t think of anything that worthy of being in here. This was a game for celebration by any football lover, barring City’s fans I suppose.

Player ratings

Gold stars and trebles all round.

Manager rating

9/10 – He’s had some harsh criticism, some tied up in post Ancelotti bitterness I suspect. But if he’s U-turned or wound his philosophy back then that means he’s flexible and can adapt. Qualities every truly great leader needs. Those abilities come from intelligence and the ability to recognise your own shortcomings and improve.

Overall team performance

9/10 – A lesson in not being beaten after the first setback.

Man of the Match

What? How the hell do I? OK then, I’ll call it. Ramires. But it could have gone to Romeu or Studge or Ivan or Mata. Choice is good.

Final thoughts

This game is the exact reason I suspect we keep coming back for more. Nerve racking and thrilling, despairing and joyous. Life summarised.

So, I have a friend. He’s a long-standing season ticket holder, retired early through illness. The pension is running a bit thin and like many he cuts his cloth accordingly. Nowadays he sells his ticket on game by game. He is very close personal friends with Gus Poyet and gets lots of nice tickets at Brighton. He plays golf with Zola, Vialli, Gullitt. He dines with Dennis Wise. He has friends in and out of the club and one of his best friends, close and personal friends is inside the club now. Very very close to the coaching team indeed. This is what I was told, I hold no claim to the truth or closeness to the truth.

After the Liverpool Carling Cup game or debacle, call it what you will, AVB called a group of players in to see him. These players were Drogs, Lamps, JT, Flo, Nico, Alex, Cech and Ashley. The following discussion became heated and AVB finally delivered what one might call his true thoughts. He tore into them as a group telling them that they were great BUT that none were performing and that he saw hunger only in the others. That he would pick the team on form and form alone. That his word was final but that he would always grant a player the chance to see him alone. Then it was made known to them all that the message from AVB had the full backing and agreement of the owner. That was the realisation that the balance of power had shifted. Alex and Anelka handed in their requests. Anelka after a one-to-one with AVB where he agreed that the future wasn’t him, professional to the last. Alex followed suit for different reasons – it would appear there’s some truth in the rumours about a poor training ethos, but maybe like any demotivated team member who isn’t fancied that isn’t unusual. Unlike many of our cherished commenters I am employed and I do see this reaction regularly. Good man management takes many forms, but cliques aren’t broken effectively with bombs but by slow methodical demolition. Weaken the clique, reduce the power base and suddenly your rebels become a bit more compliant, and some even become advocates. It’s the way of life.

The message was powerful and ended with AVB simply stating that anyone not with him would be marginalised and if necessary sold. All backed up by the owner. The backing wasn’t given by AVB but by a route that was incontrovertible. Since then we’ve seen a resurgent Drogba, a more focussed JT, Cole back to his old form and Lamps being misquoted but remaining loyal. I saw the Sky post match interview and everything Lamps said was bang on the money. Whatever the relationship between him and AVB, one thing is for sure. He won’t tell the press first.

Times are changing and AVB seems to have learnt that the pace of change needs slowing and that keeping some of the seniors on board will benefit him, but the message needed to be delivered hard and cold. I’m not alone in thinking Ancelotti might have wished the same but didn’t get that backing.

Now, let’s keep it going and beat Wigan and at least try not to be beaten by the loathsome Spurs.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!

There are 67 comments

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  1. Anonymous

    Great writing Tony and the story does make a lot of sense! I am happy for AVB he does look oike a guy who can take care of himself! I am happy for those players who realized that nobody is bigger than club, hence I am happy for Chelsea! I just want it continue this way! 

  2. Dylbo Baggins

    Great bit of writing. 

    If that story is true, then i am rather impressed by the size of Lampard’s testicles. Massive Penalty.

    Fair play to the senior players for responding in such a way.
    Wigan must be cursing their luck having to face chelsea post Man city rather than Chelsea post Liverpool…

  3. Dannybrod51

    That’s the second source on that story Tony, and as they say in All The President’s Men, you must have your second source. The first was published in one of the tabs that I know you don’t read. I don’t usually put I picked up a link to it off of the Fulham Chronicle writer Dan Levine’s excellent Blue’s Chronicle twitter feed: (which, incidentally has linked to this blog before – one of Der Kaiser’s full on pieces). 

    I can’t remember which paper it was in. Probably the Daily mail, but it pretty much said the same thing as you have just relayed above, and then went on to record a subsequent bust up at training that led to Alex and Anelka being banned from the first team sessions, though that bit now seems imaginary journalistic fancy. 

    • Anonymous

      Yeah I did wonder on the tabloid front. My second source though does play golf (not gold!!!!) with a lot of ex players, but also this person who is right in the heart of it. He’s given us stories before, mostrly stuff exposed in paraphrased form in the tabs. So as I say it may be spot on, it may be a coloured version but knowing where the story originated from i tend to think there’s a lot of truth in it.  I think it adds weight to the improvement in some of the senior players who for me have undoubted been in the ‘dumb, fat and happy’ MO for the early part of the season. 

      And yes, it does mean Frank has balls of steel, but 99% of us know that anyway. Like I say, his post match interview with Sky was very different from the McGarryism spin put out across print and broadcast media yesterday. In fact it very much reiterated his loyalty and passion for the club. of course he wants to play, that’s his job, but as he acknowledged it’s going to get harder rather than easier at his age. He knows the challenge, that’s half the battle. 

      As for AVB, I hope it is true and that he does have the RA backing. Any industry will have examples of people who are coasting and need a proverbial kick up the arse. And senior players or not, AVBs age has nothing to do with it. He’s the boss …end of. I work for someone 10 years younger than me and I don’t sit there saying I know more, even if I do. If i want to remain a valuable member of the team then I need to adapt, shape up or ship out. I have a choice, as do our senior players. 

    • Anonymous

      Am I the only person who hasn’t seen All The Presidents Men?

      Should I put that on my ‘to watch’ list?

      Oh, and thanks Johnny Wilkinson for deciding to retire and stealing lots of our deserved thunder!

      • Nick

        Oops… sorry about missing the “gold” typo. It was late. 🙂 Great post by the way.

        I would place All the President’s Men in my top five favourite films of all time. See it. The book’s good too.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry Pete, I don’t read that shit rag but I know who I know, and I know who they know and how often they see each other. My friend is a very decent honest chap who doesn’t swallow conspiracies and is as far from hysterical as it’s possible to be. I did honestly toil over this because I don’t want anyone being dropped in the shit, in or out of the club. As DannyBrod says, maybe the second source is right. perhaps The Sun was right. It has been known. 

      And also…..well AVB would say that wouldn’t he. He’s hardly going to say ‘yes it’s true’ is he?

  4. Anonymous

    The Daily Wail did print a less specific version of the “Abramovich backs AVB against players” story a couple of weeks ago – I think I mentioned on here reading it in the hairdressers one day.

    It was memorable only as running against the then growing tide of “AVB’s job under threat” stories, though entirely lacking in direct quotes or sources even of the “someone close to the club” type. That seems to be par for the course in what passes for sports journalism throughout the press these days.

    Today I see they are back in kite-flying knocking form with an entirely speculative “Torres for sale for £20m in January” which hardly has the ring of truth or any sense behind it.

    Haven’t seen “All The President’s Men” for years so don’t know if it still stands up. Certainly good example of 70s political paranoia at the time, though “The Parallax View” [same director, even more baffling plot] or “Three Days of the Condor” are probably as good a place to start on that genre.

    I really hoped “plays gold” wasn’t the obvious typo but was revealing an esoteric version of a pub quiz competition based around detailed knowledge of old British TV comedies –  coat already on against this nippy weather.

  5. Peterw

    Sorry, I was interrupted.
    The story was in the Sun and AVB has denied it, but I do hope it is true because it suggests there is some communication going on, and he’s saying exactly the right things. In fact, it reads a little too much like a manager’s wish-fulfilment fantasy, so I think we can all guess where the leak came from.

    And, of course, it is clearly not the only reason results have improved. The players were pissed off because they were being asked to play a ridiculous formation that suited nobody and led directly to one of the most embarrassing results for years – the 5-3 defeat to Arsenal.

    AVB has clearly almost clearly reversed his tactical innovations, realising that his philosophy was misguided and poorly applied. The results have immediately improved. 

    That will also have much to do with the senior players sudden improvement in form – they are being used properly. I hope it continues, and just wish it hadn’t taken three months for the manager to realise what was blindingly obvious yonks ago to anybody with half a footballing brain.

    • Anonymous

      Aah, didn’t see this follow up Pete. My response may sound like a dig. Please ignore it, it wasn’t meant like this but the day for me thus far has been like to fist 3 minutes of us against City the other night and I’m only just getting my grip on today’s game! 

      I may have to accept that being 50 really does mean I’m grumpy.

      And on the All The Presidents Men front, thanks, I”ll make it a date. Sometimes I surprise myself at what I not seen or heard. I am after all the bloke who had never heard the ‘live at Leeds’ version of Magic Bus by The Who, and when he did didn’t catch on it was The Who. Maybe because I’d never heard the original either. Proof that you can’t have seen or heard everything no matter how cultured you might believe you are!

  6. Anonymous

    One other thing that comes to mind is that AVB has been very strident in telling everyone that he has the owners backing and his job was safe. At no point has he looked worried about his future. Contrast that to Grant, Scolari and Ancelotti who whenever asked the inevitable lazy hack question about owners backing would always answer with a non-committal ‘we have to wait and see at the end of the season’ standard answer.

    Maybe RA has realised that it’s time to stop the managerial merry go round as it can’t be all of them at fault, and that maybe it is the playing personnel that needs changing?

  7. Peterw

    The Sun version was laughable, to be honest. It had AVB going up to every player, Clough-style, and telling them they were shit. For instance, he is supposed to have told Drogba he was half the player he was last year, etc. I did not ring true in the slightest, it sounded ridiculously aggressive and self-defeating.

    This one makes more sense, but still has a certain self-aggrandising quality.

    I think it’s also very interesting that after Monday’s game AVB admitted the players were given the freedom to change tactics during the game, hence they began with a very high line and got murdered, so switched to a formation they were more comfortable with and slowly took control of the game. 

    This is exactly the sort of management we need. The coach makes the tough decisions about who to start and substitutions, but he also needs to accept that the senior players have a good of their own strengths and weaknesses, and are very good at winning football matches when given a fighting chance. 

    As i’ve said from the start, far from taking on a tough job, AVB has it just about as easy as he can expect at a top club like Chelsea – the backing of the owner, oodles of money to spend, diminished expectations, and a squad that is stuffed with exciting young players and brilliant experienced ones. 

    The last week has shown that for every Mata and Sturridge, we need a Drogba or a Terry. Transition might be difficult, but it doesn’t mean we have to lose 5-3 at home to Arsenal.

    Now, is anybody out there going to make a case for Torres still being ‘the future’? 

  8. Der_Kaiser

    Very enjoyable read, TG.

    Does sound like the Sun’s version came with added exaggeration for dramatic effect, as always.  AVB is definitely on a fairly steep learning curve (awful phrase) but is doing enough to keep himself in the hotseat – and Pete is right, to do that he needs the experience as well as the vibrant youngsters.

    I’m always amazed we’ve done as well as we have and stayed in contention with all the upheaval we’ve had managerially in recent years – a lot of credit has to go to the likes of JT for their part in keeping the ship steady.  It’s a fine line, no doubt, and some heads may have got a little too big at times, but the legacy that some of the old guard will leave behind when they depart, while not as tangible as Mourinho’s, will be just as important.

    Just hope one or more of them actually put pen to paper to tell the tale some day, without resorting to the usual football book cliches – would be a fascinating read.

    • Peterw

      This is quite right, and is why I’d like to see some of them sticking around the club when they have retired (although JT himself may be more trouble than it is worth).

      It’s interesting the way Ferguson has disposed of his old timers, sometimes with respect (Scholes, Neville) and sometime with viciousness (Keane), but it’s important to remember that Ferguson has managed these players since they were teenagers and is himself old enough to be their grandfather – it’s a completely different scenario and cannot really be compared to AVB’s much more delicate situation. because just because somebody is your boss, it doesn’t mean they know what they are doing.

      Wenger, on the other hand, eked as much life out of the Arsenal back five as was humanly possible – he recognised their value and stuck with them even if their footballing style was the antithesis of his own.There could be lesson here. 

    • Anonymous

      I can imagine The Sun getting the story and then going to work on it to ‘sex it up’ after all it’s about selling print/advertising space. It may be the same original source but I doubt it as they have much too lose if discovered. My guess is The Sun got it from someone else inside the club and then put the requisite layers on it. The way it was told to me was was much more of an open but heated debate with AVB letting the players know where they stood and that it was a battle they couldn’t win. No histrionics just firm leadership and seemingly a positive response from all but Alex. Even Nico has been highly professional in his departure. 

      It’s good to see as the transition from old to new is trickier than building from scratch. 

  9. Ryan

    Excellent article. What your source says makes sense on all levels. AVB had to let all of the senior players know that he was there to stay. As simple as that. Maybe this time the players realized that they couldn’t keep blaming the manager. Which we all knew anyway. There’s no record (that I’m aware of) of a team regularly being successful AND changing the manager every year or two.

    Thought Ellis Short’s comments on Bruce’s sacking were interesting. Bruce had everthing he would ever get (in terms of time, fan’s patience and money) and he had consistently failed to fulfil expectations. Persistent underachievement. Compare that to what we’ve heard about AVB’s supposed demise and it becomes clear that any half sensible chairman ought to give his manager the opportunity to deserve the sack.

    I’d like to mention one other thing that has been overlooked in the press. If Michael Emanelo is now pulling the strings (presumably with AVB) regarding scouting, transfers and youth development I think he’s doing bloody well. I was thinking earlier about how well Romeu and Mata have done and it occurred to me that in previous seasons these two would probably have ended up at Arsenal. Romeu, £5 million. Unwanted at Barca. Looking world-class (ish) already to me. Smacks of Arsenal and Arsene’s famed purchasing preference.

    Courtois doing well on loan. Sturridge gets better and better. Lukaku will be a slow burn. In horse-racing terms he could be “slow coming to hand”. However he is a monster. When he’s adapted to the PL and learned his trade a little more extensively he will be giving plenty of centre-halves sleepless nights. Somebody is doing a pukka job there.

  10. Anonymous

    Someone certainly deserves major credit for the fact that we now have an academy player called Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

    (No, seriously, we do.)

    Presumably the aim is to bring him on against QPR a.s.a.p.

  11. Anonymous

    Incidentally, the yoof scraped through against Doncaster in the FA Yoof Cup tonight. Looking forward to seeing them in action in later rounds. The young Brazilian Piazon had the winner, apparently.

  12. NorthernVA

    LTB did the youngster Islam Feruz a run out? If so how did he look. When we signed him I checked out some youtube highlights on the kid and he looked a very interesting prospect. He’s supposedly the Scottish Wayne Rooney.

  13. NorthernVA

    Well done on the report Tony. So it seems there may have been some kernels of truth in Rob Beasley’s story. In honor of managerial motivation techniques I have attached a couple links to the epic rants of former Leyton Orient John Sitton. 

    It’s got everything from abusive language, to threats of physical violence, and even a halftime sacking. He apparently started his playing career with Chelsea. Does anyone remember him?

  14. ravenous1

    For those interested: Saw the yoof game v/ Doncaster yesterday. Here’s how things looked for us.

    Islam Feruz:  Great ball control and link-up play. Decent pace, good eye for goal. Only problem was  him fading in and out of the game. Most threatening player on the pitch. Definite prospect.

    Amin Affane: Pure Class. Just a kid but from what I saw, excellent in cutting in from both the wings. Sweet left foot. I really rate this kid.

    Lucas Piazon: Had very little influence on the game for most parts. But grabbed his opportunity when it arose. Looks like Kaka (just Looks-wise). Needs to settle in and play a bit more advanced role.

    Todd Kane / Nat Chalobah : defintely too easy a game for them. Chalobah was having a proper jog throughout the game. Todd Kane was bombing up/down the right flank a la Ivanovic although with a good piledriver of a shot from distance.

    Nathan Ake: young center back  we acquired from Feyenoord earlier this season. lively and decent ball player.

    Nditi, Swift were O.K. Kiwomya, Blackman etc were average.

    Must note that most of these kids are  first year scholars and quite far from being good enough for even the reserves but undoubtedly excellent in technical qualities.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Thanks for that – don’t get much time to pay attention to the kids so always good to hear of their progress.  Have heard good things about Feruz, though – sounds a good prospect.  They’re all clearly some way from any first team action but good to know their technical abilities are impressing at this relatively early stage.

    • Kikan

      Well, I am waiting for the highlights of the Portsmouth game to quash your jibe on Piazon. Reports say he was unplayable.

      • Anonymous

        Do they? I’ve only seen Ravenous’s report and the official one on the club website, which has some typical euphemism about him “having difficulty imposing himself on the game” or similar.

        (Compare the club website’s reports on poor old Nando — it’s always something about “willing running” or being “unable to find a finish to match the rest of his contribution”.)

      • ravenous1

        Piazon is no dud. He couldnt get the ball in advanced positions because either we played the ball out wide and crossed from the byline or generally the ball bypassed Piazon in another way. Eventually, this will change and he will start to orchestrate things. At the youth level, Its also important to look at how much of a level head a player exhibits, how much responsibility a player takes at these levels as opposed to how many opponent players he takes one-on-one.
        Kakuta, Stoch were unplayable in their time too.
        McEachran was good to watch. Always shows great poise. Hopefully Aidy Viveash plays his cards well reg: Piazon’s development.

  15. Peterw

    Ridiculous story. There’s no way anybody with any sense would pay £20m for Torres now. 

    I’d love to know what AVB said to Fernando during his training ground mano-a-mano…

  16. Cunningplan

    I think some of you are being a little unfair on Torres, I do think he’ll come good.
    And when he does, I will just hate being the one that told you so. 😉

    • Marco

      I sometimes think that flat opinions and predictions should have consequences on this blog.


      Torres/Drogba/Kalou/Mikel/Bosingwa is useless
      Lampard/Drogba/JT will never be the player he was
      AVB is simply not up to the job
      The Board will end up transferring the stadium to White City or somewhere just as bad
      We are doomed to a 6th place finish/early exit from the Champions league

      Then, when such ideas later on prove to be exaggerated or blatantly wrong the perpetrator would have to pay some hideous forfeit such as being forced to watch Spurs for a month on pain of suspension.

      I freely admit to similar errors myself in the past and will pay any forfeit you suggest ;- )

      • Cunningplan

        I’m certainly like your idea of a forfeit!
        Although I will add, the Spurs punishment would even require the Geneva Convention to be rewritten to make sure the victim doesn’t suffer too unduly.

        Ever thought of being a magistrate Marco, you could find the crime rate dropping drastically in your area.

  17. Anonymous

    Thanks Ravenous. One hears good things about Feruz. Or one did until one heard someone suggest he might be “the Scottish Wayne Rooney,” a concept before which my imagination quails and flees in gibbering terror.

    Chalobah has played a couple of years ahead of his age group for so long it already feels like he’s been around forever.

    No one’ll be surprised if a lot of these kids end up playing for their countries before they play (if at all) for Chelsea. Like Bruma.

    • ravenous1

      Indeed. The more you look at him , you see a very Rooney-esque skull on this boy’s shoulders.Painfully, what also is similar are those dreaded mini-megaphone like ears. I can although vouch for his naturally  healthy hair.

      I read an interview recently where Bruma had said that he intends to stay back in Hamburg for another year. I am not very sure of that idea but seeing as how important a player he has become for them in the last few weeks, I’d say his development is going very well. Sadly rajkovic, mancienne are completely out of the picture (injured or out of favor). Another ex-blue youth, Gokhan Tore is doing well in the first team.

  18. Ryan

    Anyone else watching Nathan Redmond playing for Birmingham. He looks a player. Seventeen. Takes people on. Plenty of confidence. Looks a really good prospect. Pretty impressed. Mind you he is playing against a real load of shite.

    • Anonymous

      Given that we seem to be becoming as litigious a nation as our Transatlantic cousins should we expect a torrent of lawsuits against the richer EPL clubs now, claiming compensation  for causing all this discovered ill health.

      Could I blame my only recently discovered hypertension on watching Chelsea in the 80s?

      Some of the more exotically sourced fast food at football grounds is probably a richer source of damages claims 😉

      • Cunningplan

        I should imagine your hypertension, (due to your scottish origins) is down to all those deep fried mars bars you’ve consumed over the years. 😉

  19. WorkingClassPost

    Most interesting account of Tony’s insider dealing, is that AVB identified the little clique that was forming and nipped it without too much delay, where previous managers have tried too hard to deal with individuals rather than the group.

    Personally liked both Nick and Alex, but they’ve both probably done the right thing with their own futures to look out for, and I’m quite confident in our manager’s ability to buy in good replacements.

    Hope things continue to improve.

    Back to the game, and agree that City looked better than expected, but we were very tense and some of our wayward passing (and piss-poor marking) put us under unnecessary pressure. 

    If we keep focused then it should be onward and upward.

  20. Cunningplan

    Napoli for us then.
    Full draw…
    Lyon v Apoel, Napoli v Chelsea, AC Milan v Arsenal, Basel v Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona, CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid, Zenit St Petersburg v Benfica, Marseille v Benfica.

  21. Biggs

    does anyone else thinks that coordinated draw sucks because it favours stronger teams…we end up with same old few teams every year from the quarterfinals on…well, it’s rating, money and all, but still.

    napoli for us then. no idea what that means. they are currently 5th in the serie a, 5 wins, 6 draws, 3 losses. scored 22 conceded 14 in 14 games.  at least maradona is not there anymore.

  22. Gleb

    Given how exciting Napoli’s system (and manager) is, the tie is a real tactical challenge for AVB, one that he’s sure to relish. We’ll need to watch their front three very closely, and definitely NO HIGH LINES. They’re probably the best counter attacking team in Europe (perhaps behind RM).

  23. NorthernVA

    With his next goal DD will surpass Bentley and Osgood for fourth all-time in CFC history. He will only trail Tambling, Dixon, and Lamps. We are witnessing legends walk among legends. As CFC fans we should appreciate these moments.

    I got a feeling we will do the business this upcoming round in the CL. However I said the same thing with JM’s Inter squad two years ago. However I do seriously doubt many Napoli fans woke up today and said I want to play CFC in the next round. Neither of our clubs reps seemed enthused after the match-up was made. It should be a cracking tie.

    • Nick

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