Newcastle United 1-1 Chelsea – Newspaper Reaction, Goal Videos, Match Report, Player Ratings

Newspaper reports

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “Chelsea reached the top of the Premier League on 3 April and had remained there throughout each set of matches until now. There is no longer a view from the pinnacle, just the sight of Manchester United above them. While it is not so long since the team was engaged in one long spree, goals are currently rare.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Chelsea remain trapped in a cold snap. Locked in winter’s icy embrace, the champions have struggled to four points out of 15 and cannot wait for the warming return of John Terry’s leadership, Frank Lampard’s goals, Michael Essien’s drive and for their attackers to take their chances.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “Chelsea end the weekend off the top of the table for the first time this season after a dominant second-half performance could not be turned into a winning goal.”

The goals

6′ Carroll 1-0
45′ Kalou 1-1

The preamble

So it’s been a relatively good week so far, hasn’t it?

We only conceded once against Birmingham which was nice, although the obligatory away defeat followed (remember, we’re Champions) and then we smashed Zilina by the mightily impressive scoreline of two goals to one. So take that doubters. We scored twice against Zilina, although the obligatory conceding of an early goal straight down the middle of the pitch was again on show (remember, we’re Champions). At least we got to see some promising performances from the youngsters like Josh, Van Aanholt, Bruma and Sturridge. Although the lack of confidence being shown in the majority of these youngsters is starting to annoy some, i.e. me. Throwing them in for a Carling Cup game against Newcastle was a good start but it’s clear that Carlo has lost trust in a few of them after seeing us concede four in that game. Since then the likes of Josh, Sturridge and Kakuta have been restricted to ten or fifteen minute substitute appearances and Bruma was overlooked for Paulo at central defence despite our small squad experiencing an injury crisis in midfield and defence. But in this strangely positive week, a few of the kids did get to play for 90 minutes, so my confidence began to grow ahead of today’s crunch match.

However, this optimism was smashed as I woke up this morning to a raft of headlines following that extremely complicated narrative of recent weeks since Ray left (you may need to get your maths degrees out for this):

Chelsea – Ray = Carlo Out.

“That seems a little simplistic, doesn’t it?” Well that’s a very good question from you in the corner and you’d be right. So let me pad out the equation:

(Chelsea – Ray) + Bad Results + Arnesen Leaving in 7 Months + Txiki Begiristain = Carlo Out + Pep In.

“Ah, it all makes sense now.” Thanks for that. But sadly for you, your stupidity means you have to return to the corner because none of this idiotic reporting in the press makes any sense whatsoever.

Let’s start with the bad results. Bad results automatically lead to negative headlines in the press but why should that result in Carlo being pushed out? Injuries to Lamps, JT, Alex (sort of), Didier (nearly) and Essien’s red card can partly explain our loss of form, (although our old legs should worry people more in my opinion) but unless Carlo leads us to 5th or 6th in a Scolari-esque mess, then there is absolutely no chance that Roman’s favourite manager will leave. And that is what the journalists seem to be missing from all of this. Roman had been chasing Carlo ever since Jose left so why would he sack him and hand over £13m in compensation because of a dodgy November which can easily be explained by Roman’s cost cutting and lack of quality signings?

So it can’t be the results then. How about Frank’s resignation? Before I move on, I’d like to say that I’ve been quite impressed by Arnesen in recent years. Yeah, his early years were an embarrassment as his £5m transfer from Spurs plus his splurge on dross like the Leeds boys made him look like an idiot. And Josh’s breakthrough has nothing to do with Frank either but he has been an integral part in developing a team which has won the Youth Cup, designing a brilliant academy centre and scouting infrastructure and finding the likes of Van Aanholt, Bruma and Kakuta. So he does deserve a bit of praise.

But back to his resignation. Well, I see nothing suspicious in a guy wanting to find a new challenge after completing his assignment of discovering a bunch of kids ready for the first team squad by 2010. Josh, Bruma, Kakuta, Sturridge and Van Aanholt are all part of the first team squad and I see no reason why his statement on the website should mean that again, Carlo is being pushed out:

“It is always difficult to take big decisions like this, but it is entirely my decision. I’m looking forward to continuing my work here until such time as the club decides which way they want to move forward. After six wonderful years I have decided to seek a new challenge when my contract expires at the end of this season. It has been a tremendous journey and I would like to thank everyone at Chelsea, especially Roman Abramovich, for giving me the incredible opportunity to help build on the club’s academy and youth system along with our greatly talented academy and scouting staff. We are now seeing the fruits of that labour as our stated aim was to get one player from the academy into the first team each year from 2010. We have a great crop of young players now coming through, and I feel it’s the right time for me to start looking towards a new challenge.”

So, anything out of the ordinary there? Thought not although the Daily Mail decided that this statement meant it was now a “CRISIS FOR ANCELOTTI AS ARNESEN QUITS!” I could add six more exclamation marks but you get the point. These are sports journalists remember, people who are paid to report sports news, yet for the past two weeks we’ve been subjected to this bullshit which reached a pitiful nadir this morning with talk of Txiki replacing Arnesen and because Txiki knows Pep, it automatically means that Carlo will be traded in at the end of the season. And just to justify these reports, the press say that because Roman enjoys the way Barcelona play (who doesn’t?), a combination of Txiki and Pep at Chelsea is inevitable.

So that optimism from earlier in the week began to fade. Not only because we were playing away from home again but also because of the continued speculation surrounding Carlo’s future. On paper, it doesn’t seem too bad to replace one of the world’s best managers with another member of that club but it does get tiring having to read this rubbish every single day. As does watching our embarrassing football of late. Talking of which…

The team

Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Ivanovic, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Malouda, Anelka, Drogba, Kalou.

Subs: Turnbull, Ferreira, Sturridge, Van Aanholt, Bruma, Kakuta, McEachran.

So Bosingwa was back in for Paulo and Kalou was given a start ahead of Sturridge which was disappointing. As was Josh’s omission.

The match

Chelsea playing away from home at the moment meant that we only started one way; poorly. Our tempo was so slow that you had to check some of our players for a pulse and yet again the basics seemed to be beyond us. Things like passing to a blue shirt or crossing from open play was done so badly that all I could feel was embarrassment. Embarrassment at watching a bunch of lazy twats, walking around from kick-off in a first-half display, which for long stretches was completely devoid of any passion or spirit. And before anyone throws at me the injury list argument, one shouldn’t forget the number of key players Newcastle were missing.

Oh and we’ve just drawn Ipswich at the Bridge in the Cup. Phew. Home win there although Spurs’ last minute win in the league means we are just four points away from dropping to 5th in our nightmarish December. Fuck me, we could be in trouble.

And before you could say “ooh, we haven’t conceded yet”, we conceded and in comical fashion. Yet more sloppy passing from us saw Newcastle pounce on a loose ball and surge towards our goal. A crucial Mikel tackle stopped them though and we looked to have escaped the danger. But Alex and his dodgy knee decided to ruin things as he hobbled back towards goal by hoofing the ball past Cech towards the open goal with Andy Carroll charging at him. It left Carroll with the simplest of finishes and summed up all that is wrong with us at the moment. A lack of communication led Alex to kicking it despite Cech clearly coming out to claim the ball and one of the basic rules of football, i.e. backpasses should always be angled away from the bit in between the two posts seemed to have left Alex’s brain. Add to that the lack of organisation at the back in recent weeks thanks to JT’s nerves/back/other injuries and our title losing form can easily be explained.

After that I expected a Birmingham-esque response. I wanted plenty of shots, pressure and some football at a high tempo. But strangely none of that arrived. Newcastle’s tactics may have been basic (lump it to the big man seems an accurate description of their “football”) but they were looking more likely to get the next goal for the next ten or fifteen minutes. A couple of headers and long shots were hardly dangerous but at least they were having a go which is more than could be said of our efforts.

Carlo had done the right thing in immediately switching to 4-4-2 but our passing, movement, attacking threat and effort were all well below par at this point. Didier was beyond ineffectual (more on him later) and despite Kalou, Anelka and Ash all displaying some good movement, a lack of tempo and pace from the rest of the side meant that each move generally fizzled out due to a lack of options or numbers in the box. But we did begin to increase the pressure on Newcastle and gradually improved. Malouda may have been anonymous and Bosingwa’s crossing was so poor it was embarrassing but Ramires and Mikel were impressively holding the fort as a pair in our midfield and Kalou was looking dangerous. Eventually we got the goal we deserved as a nice flick from Malouda sent Kalou into the box and despite his woeful finishing in front of goal returning, his tame shot straight at Krul was luckily deflected into the corner.

Phew. 45 minutes to get a winner. Easy.

And we started the second half at a blistering pace (well, blistering for us, which is probably normal for other sides). Ash, Nico and Kalou were running all over the place, Mikel was spraying passes around, my favourite midfielder Ramires was closing down impressively and even Malouda was brushing aside defenders as he stormed forward. But something still wasn’t quite right. Yes, we were pressurising their defence and monopolising possession (82% at some points) but in terms of clear cut chances, we looked a shadow of the side that was roaring along at the start of the season. Didier’s touch was completely gone as was his pace when Enrique strolled passed him to catch up to a through ball which Didier would have reached a few years ago and he seemed a pretty ineffectual presence, which is worrying for a captain. I know that he swivelled nicely for his disallowed goal but in terms of passing and precision with his first touch, Didier looks nothing like the talisman he was for us last year.

But we were pushing hard for the win which the quality of our football barely deserved but our second half effort and spirit did warrant the three points I felt. Newcastle were non-existent in terms of attacking but there seemed a strange inevitability about our inability to find a winner. At the moment our team is not only lacking in confidence but also in quality and to break down an eleven man defence you need something other than Kalou’s erratic dribbling, Malouda’s trickery and Didier’s rapidly declining pace and power. When Nico drifts out of the game, as he did today, our team does look very one-dimensional and we appear to rely on set-pieces or a bit of luck to get us a goal. And that tactic nearly worked for us. Branners had a great near post header shoved out by Krul but it was Kalou’s chance that could prove very costly indeed. This idiot’s inability to score into an open goal for the second time in a week is simply unacceptable for a player at Chelsea Football Club and the dark, slightly crazed but certainly pissed off look on Carlo’s face as Kalou kicked the ball wide instead of into the empty net from six yards out said it all really. I may go on about Utd’s side being the worst in 10 years (it is you know) but when you take Lamps, Essien and JT out of this team, we look slow, weak and too fucking old to win anything.

And that was about it really. Sturridge came on to show that he deserves a start soon, although his obsession with left-footed control, passing, shooting, crossing… does drastically hinder his effectiveness but the match petered out pathetically. We have dropped like a stone from being in a position to extend our lead to eight points to now finding ourselves two points behind despite our November fixtures being rather kind. Unless there is a drastic change in terms of mentality, we could be 5th by 2011. Now that does scare me.

The good

  • Ramires – I have to hand it to the kid because this was a very impressive showing from him. Despite his passing reducing me to tears at some points (he really doesn’t know how to pass it more than five yards), he grew nicely into this match. He may have been on a yellow, but Carlo trusted him for the whole match and his pace, passion and ability to steal the ball did impress me. It seems clear though that he should not play the Essien attacking role. His technique in terms of shooting and passing just isn’t good enough and if Carlo simply switched Mikel and Ramires then our midfield would have a better balance about it.
  • Cech – His handling was exemplary and his distribution was also extremely impressive. The best in the world at the moment?

The bad

  • Away form – That’s one point from nine and it’s not as if we’ve been playing the big boys. Throw in a Sunderland thrashing and it’s a miracle we’re still second. If Carlo doesn’t wake up soon then it won’t matter that he doesn’t want to walk away. He’ll be sacked if we drop out of the top four.
  • Bosingwa – He’s a right-back who can’t defend and since his injury, he can’t attack either. His crossing today really was embarrassing.
  • Attacking threat – We have loads of possession and loads of pressure. It’s not just luck or misfortune which explains our inability to score. We’ve been worked out and we don’t have the legs, pace, power or creativity to fix it anymore. Roman’s cost-cutting may have been inevitable but our squad looks thin in places and too old in others. Our first-choice front three for example have a combined age of 95 and with so few options on offer to Carlo, it looks like they’re in a comfort zone in terms of pressure and performances. They know they don’t have any competition so why bother trying your hardest every match? Malouda’s form has dipped drastically and Nico and Didier are looking more ineffective as each game passes. But what can we do about it? Kalou is too crap in front of goal to challenge them and Sturridge is still too raw to kick one of them out. We’re stuck with them but if Carlo and Roman don’t realise that our attack needs a complete overhaul this summer then they both must be dumber than they look. It’s not their fault that they’re too old but there comes a time when we have to move on and our Didier led battering-ram act has to stop now as it just won’t work next year.
  • Didier – A legend at the club but if you need one reason why Roman will never replicate Barcelona-esque football in London then look to this guy. He’s scored plenty of goals thanks to his pace and power but in terms of touch and technique he’s the exact opposite of a Barcelona player. That’s no bad thing in itself but I sometimes wonder if he’d be anywhere near as good in a team apart from Chelsea. We’ve built our footballing identity and philosophy around him but as I said above, there comes a time when we have to move on. So why not 2011? Do we really want to build a team around a 34 year old? How about a 35 year old? We’ve been worked out and we need to learn how to win games without Didier or Nico. Maybe that’s why Roman wants Pep.
  • Football – I know we’ve got injuries but our football at the moment really is dull. The dross of the Sunderland game may have been forgotten but the stuff we’re putting out is grey, one-dimensional and boring.
  • League table – Second to Utd’s abysmal side and at present we’re only heading one way.

Player ratings

  • Cech – 8/10 – I thought he was great today. Still conceded though.
  • Bosingwa – 5/10 – I haven’t enjoyed his return from injury. He’s too casual and shit when defending and his attacking looks worse than rusty.
  • Alex – 5/10 – Terrible defending for the goal but his lack of mobility can be explained by a broken knee.
  • Ivanovic – 6/10 – More impressive than Alex and nearly got the winner but he seems to need JT to keep him in check.
  • Ash – 6/10 – Looks a little lost without JT and Lamps providing him with the through balls he relies on.
  • Mikel – 6/10 – One of his sloppiest performances for a while. Still a class act at times but he seems to miss Lamps and Essien. Who wouldn’t?
  • Ramires – 8/10 – Very good (see above).
  • Malouda – 6/10 – Appears to be going backwards in terms of affecting the game. His Guus/early Carlo form has gone and his lazy tracking back and lack of pace going forward is starting to annoy me.
  • Kalou – 1/10 – Five points knocked off for his open goal miss. I don’t care that he got the equaliser (with an awful shot straight at Krul) as his finishing and inconsistency is infuriating. Back to the bench you go.
  • Anelka – 5/10 – Anonymous.
  • Didier – 4/10 – Malaria only partly explains his regression. The end is nearing for him and whilst it will be a great shame when he leaves, I think we all agree that it’s time to move on soon.
  • Sturridge (substitute) – 5/10 – Nice running and showed some good pace but his one-footedness is frustrating.
  • Carlo – 8/10 – Did all he could really. Made tactical changes, went to four up front and even ignored Emenalo’s advice which pleased me. He just needs a bit more investment in the squad. His achievements merit a world class signing or two and after missing out on Ozil, Neymar and Pato why doesn’t Roman reward him with Torres or Schweinsteiger?

Man of the Match

It’s got to be Ramires. That turnaround after all the abuse I’ve been giving him really does amaze me. Perhaps I should start mouthing off about the rest of them to provoke a response.

Final thoughts

So we’re second then. How to react?

Well, we’re two points from the top and through to the next stage of the Champions League? Pretty much the same as last year then when we were chasing Utd at some stages. Except we’re eight points worse off in the league and playing some of the worst football I’ve seen from a Chelsea side in ages. The away form is dismal and if it continues the title will be gone. Perhaps we are prioritising the Champions League but that is one bloody risky strategy if we are.

But there are bigger problems behind our dip in form. It’s not the Ray Wilkins debacle or the Carlo out rumours by the way. It’s the fact that this team is coming to an end and anyone who denies that must be blind. Why is it such a bad thing to admit that a side built around Didier, Nico, Frank and others had to come to an end at some point and that point is the end of the 2010/11 season? We are too old to keep this same show going for much longer so why don’t we do something about it? Josh will be a star but he can’t rebuild this side on his own and after winning the Double, Carlo does deserve to build his own side. He may put up with demanding owners but as one of the world’s best managers, and Roman’s personal pick, why don’t we just fucking back the guy? Imagine what a guy who found Pato and Kaka could do at Chelsea? He’s a world class manager and if we supported him as we did with Jose, then we would be unstoppable. But we’ve gone for the frugal route and this is what we get for it. Today wasn’t that bad really, although drawing against the shit Newcastle put out is pretty terrible actually, but next summer will be a turning point for this club. Down one path is Arsenal where we refuse to spend and rely on kids to get us quite close but not close enough to winning trophies. Down the other road is Real Madrid (or Spurs if you want to look closer to home). Investment in talent like Ozil, Di Maria, Alonso, Khedira, Bale, Modric, Van Der Vaart… works and Roman has to decide what he wants to do with this club. A new stadium may be beyond us but a few new players aren’t.

At least I’ve got Jose and El Clasico to enjoy tomorrow.

Nighty night. Don’t let the league table bite.

There are 60 comments

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  1. Talktoace

    I really look forward to your postings after each match . . . but Ramires, man of the match – is this a joke? he consistently took the ball from a Newcastle player and then gave it straight to another one

  2. Anonymous

    Great read Habs, and it cheered me up in a funny sort of way. I’m sure your conclusion is the right one. We won’t be this stodgy all season and we’ll probably end up in the top two by the end, but the truth is that the core of this side is reaching the end of its line; the JT – Lamps – Drogs spine, plus Cashley and Malouda and Alex and Nic, can’t carry us through a season any more. Obi and Branners and Essien are young and very good, Ramires and Kalou are young and pretty good, but they’re not ready to take over the team yet.

    In a strange way I’m looking forward to seeing how the transition goes. You might argue that the vile Mancs are at a similar stage, with their old core dissolving and the new intake not showing that they’re ready to take over the team. (Whereas the Arse are held back by their unshakeable conviction that they’re actually winning everything even when they aren’t.)

  3. Blueamerica35

    Yes I agree with you on Drogba. We should sell him to Real Madrid in January. I mean he is cup tied right? That would free up room for that world beater Sturridge with his world class first touch and ability to score (and use) with both feet and I am sure that would give Kalou (maybe Borini) his time to shine. Since Didier has proved over that last six years and specifically over the last month that he is rubbish right? Let sell off with the guy who is in the top ten in goals and third in assist!!

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think Habs is saying get rid of Drogba now, but is alluding to some succession planning. I’m sure Drogs will come good again, but he’s had malaria and (for some) a bigger ailment in being Captain, and he ain’t no captain. Well not at club level. His form has been poor, his touch has been poor, the yard of pace has disappeared. I hope losing the capataincy and responsibility leads to a Botham-esque return to form, but if it doesn’t then there’s nothing wrong with putting some contingency plans into place. And in my view captains should always be at the back or maybe midfield if no defender is suitable. Oh, for another season of Ballack.

      But as Habs says, Drogba can’t go on forever, unless of course Carlo wants to recreate the Milan experiment by keeping some of these going until they’re 40…admirable, but look how that left Milan. So, I agree with Habs, Schweinsteiger would add bite and drive to the midfield, and Torres would put pressure on Drogba and Anelka…and young Sturridge,,,,no bad thing either.

      The disappointment for me is that players trusted in mid-week were cast aside in favour of some usual suspects, and I’m afraid Kalou is there. He’s loyal, hard working BUT he’s not a 90 minute player, he’s an impact player at his best coming off the bench. There’s nothing wrong with that and Sturridge could have started and been replaced by Kalou had things not worked out. Kalou has had more than enough time to prove his worth as a starter and has mostly failed to deliver…anyone remember Kezman who wasn’t even given the chance of another season to show his worth.

      The point is, if the kids aren’t good enough then they shouldn’t be there, if they are then they deserve some proper chances rather than 10-15 minute cameo’s when we’re winning or as a desperate dice throw to try and win a game. Against Zilina, I repeat this as it seems to have been missed/ignored by most….THE KIDS GREW AS THE GAME WENT ON!!! That growth in confidence could have been consolidated yesterday for at least 2 of them (Josh and Dan) but once again the chance was discarded. If what we’re seeing is development then it’s a very stuttery development.

      I’ve said this before, I’ll take a second or a third with a decent CL run and even no trophies at all if there are visible signs of development and our star youngsters start to shine, but as yet I don’t think we’re seeing that. The danger is we finish with fuck all from an ageing group (but not yet too old) no further development and facing next season in the same position as now. I think it’s time to be brave….

  4. Ringo

    So are we the designated crisis-club-of-the-week again? Or is that against the rules.

    If there were a ‘clearance off the line of the season” award Ashley would have won it today.

    And Brisbane looking a lot like Wigan tonight.

  5. ososdeoro

    Oh nos, couldn’t watch this game. If Ashley’s goalline clearance was better than Carragher’s today, I’ll watch the whole Chelsea match when I get back home! Looking forward thereto.

  6. Anonymous

    Not sure about your analysis, Habs.

    The defence is looking sloppy and this is why the goals are leaking in at the back. Mikel was dire in the first half and he won’t give the ball away that much in the entire rest of the season.

    Malouda, Ramirez, Anelka and Kalou were our best performers….. I find it bizarre the grief that Kalou gets. Sure his miss was bad, but he was off balance, and his touch to get into position for the goal was sublime. Drogba by contrast has been dore for weeks and, sick or not, he had hardly lead by example.

    And if anyone thinks Sturridge is the answer, you are asking yourself the wrong question!

    • Anonymous

      I agree with your summary GreenlightInOz.

      On the one hand our performance didn’t look too bad but that’s only because I was 4th row from the back of the highest stand in the universe and could barely see the far end.

      On the other hand there is a recurring theme developing here. Sloppy passing, going one nil down, rubbish first half performances followed by spirited second half displays that give us some encouragement but not goals or wins. Newcastle were complete rubbish and offered nothing so if we can’t beat them we failed and there’s no excuse. How hard can it be to tell the team “can you play like you have in the second half of the last 5 games but do you mind doing that in the first half”. I’ve got Google to translate this into Italian if Carlo needs help “poterla gioca come lei ha nel secondo tempo dell’ultimo 5 giochi ma la fa bada a per fare che nella prima metà”

      Drogba is trying silly flicks, Malouda runs up cul-de-sacs, Kalou runs into wherever Anelka is and Strurridge just runs with the ball like a child in the playground.

      • Ososdeoro

        @mark_25 – “Sloppy passing, going one nil down, rubbish first half performances followed by spirited second half displays”

        Yes, seems to work better for Tottenham than us.

  7. Anonymous

    I think half the problems stem from the decline in form of the front three. I know we’ve had injuries etc. but we are still getting plenty of possession. Everytime we get the ball near the box there is no real cutting edge. Movement is limited and they are all ponderous on the ball. Yesterday there were a number of times when we were breaking and Drogba and Kalou just ran in straight lines, no change of direction, no creating space or pulling defenders out of position. This is pretty basic stuff and wasn’t happening at all yesterday. Or they would just get the ball and try to run through 3 defenders without even attempting to dribble. My concern is that we will get our better players back and it won’t make a difference if our forwards keep playing this badly.

  8. Aravind NG

    After every game, I console myself saying that “okie..maybe we dropped a few points but so what. Things are only going to get better.” So for one more time.. things are only going to get better right? Come back Frank…

    Btw, The Madrid team bus has been stoned by Barca fans. Wonder what Mourinho has to say about that. Fingers crossed.

  9. Der_Kaiser

    Given the recent run, I’d say there are at least signs of life – 2 wins anyway – after the last 7 days which can only be a good thing. The issue, on pitch at least, is that the spine of the team is missing; JT, Frank, Essien and, in spirit at least, Drogba. Get them back and things will improve. And I’m afraid that talk of everyone being over the hill, finished, past it and their era being at and etc. after one poor month riddled with more bad luck than a sack full of dead black cats does ring a little hollow when it comes from someone who was bullishly declaring the title all but won and the team absolutely unstoppable 6 weeks ago.

    Presumably Carlo is a reasonably smart man and knew the drill when he took the job – you would imagine he was aware of what would be available in terms of cash for new players etc. and where he had to look closer to home and move the youngsters in; it really is time to accept that we’re not competing with Real and City in the market and will look to pick up the likes of Ramires if the price is right. Managerial stability gets forgotten as a key component in this, too. Presumably if Carlo is a long-term proposition – we would hope that is the case, but only one man can answer for certain – then hopefully we will be able to attract players we need in the medium to long term. If there is to be another managerial merry-go-round – and I doubt it, personally – then getting new bodies in will be that much more difficult, dependent on who ends up in the hotseat.

    Which leads me to off pitch matters – well, who knows what is going on and indeed if there is anything to be overly concerned about in the first place? ‘Forget it Jake, it’s Chelsea’, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s associates at the end of ‘Chinatown’.

    • Anonymous

      Hence my hopefully more measured response! I’m not hitting the panic button because there is no reason to. My mate Red Ken (yes, because he’s a Manc) decided not to gloat and more rationally said ‘Its November, there are 3 teams in it and there’s much more to go’. Which was nice because I was able to remove my tin hat and kevlar jacket for a while. I stand by my view that a Schweinsteiger or Torres would be fine additions, but also my disappointment in the lack of consolidation for some of the youngsters. I just don’t see the succession planning happening quickly enough. Maybe the environment I work in has coloured my view on this, whereby people are rather chucked in at the deep end and supported through tough times. The failure rate is miniscule because of this (and the vetting for potential and ability) but the churn rate high as they often get better offers from elsewhere. I am happy to win nothing for a while if we see real development and real talent coming through, but it’s too hard to tell when they only get a few minutes in a comparatively safe environment. Horses, courses etcLastly, any talk of replacing CA with Pep is utter bollocks and utter madness (yes I know we have the sheen of permanent insanity over us). Continuity is the key (and even Paddy Miserable Barclay said as much yesterday) and CA needs the free reign to manage the development side of things and succeed or fail on the balance between experience and youth, Personally I thought the last 15 minutes, and the 2nd half against Zilina was as exciting as I’ve seen from anyone including Arsenal. I’ll repeat again, seeing those kids grow in confidence second by second was joyous. Of course there is a ‘but’……….the departure of Ray, then the announcement of Arnesen, no matter how spun, is bound to unsettle things and I don’t care what the players say, or CA…this stuff unsettles people even if they don’t have the emotional intelligence to admit or recognise it. The lack of Rays familiar Uncle Fester face at Cobham, or at half time means the dynamics have changed. And when things change, people go through the change curve of shock, denial, acceptance and commitment. Everyone does this everyday in some way, but the bigger the change event, the longer the duration of the curve. To disassociate poor form from such turmoil in your work environment, whether planned or unplanned, is just not possible, and for others to say different is just disingenuous at best. I’m convinced the slump is partly due to sloppy arrogance (seen earlier in the season), partly due to injuries, partly due to stupid unnecessary suspensions and partly due to Rays departure and Arnesens resignation. The aroma of change is in the air and everyone at the club and us fans can smell it. As time moves on, all of these things should fade in the memory and people will adjust to the new environment and get back to BAU. Remember the big friendly words on the cover of The Hitch-hikers Guide to The Galaxy.DON’T PANIC*

      *much as I didn’t with all the typos – the edit facility saves the day again

  10. FanSinceTheSixties

    Agree that apart from some wayward passes Ramires was very good. His constant running often gave us that extra man when we needed it.

    Although the Maggies didn’t do much attacking second half, whenever they did get near our box the whole defence descended into panic in a way that I’ve seldom seen in any PL club.

    And why is DD copying Nico?
    Somebody needs to stay up front and worry the last defender, that used to be Didier’s job but he seems to have forgotten how it’s done.

    And why do our forwards always want to trap and control the ball instead of sometimes hitting it first time when there’s a good chance to score?

    All in all a pretty disapointing evening.

    Watched the game then decided to cheer myself up by staying on for a few more pints and watch Spuds get pooed on. Knew it was a risky decision but figured there wasn’t much to lose and it was all going so well…

    The point is that I woke up feeling less than optimum this morning and wonder how much more badly Carlo must be feeling.

    It can’t be mere coincidence that the magic has increasingly left our play since his return from Italy.

    As a true professional he was determined to get back into the saddle which is fine, but someone in CFC HQ should’ve insisted that he took a few days off.

    It’s called taking time to grieve, and without it people just don’t function properly.

    When so much of human communication is non-verbal, and rarely more than three of the team speak the same language anyway, it must be hard for Carlo to lift and inspire the players if he feels like shit.

    Add the sacking of one of his closest confidants and it’s clear that our club management is lacking something at the moment.

    After reading about Emanelo (who seems to be well thought of in the game and may be a real asset for the club) my guess is that Avram was planning to poach him and we trumped up some excuse to get rid of Ray, just so we could offer a promotion.

    Looks like bad decision making isn’t restricted to our footballers.

  11. Anonymous

    I’d like to stress that I’m not suggesting we get rid of the whole crop of oldies now.

    I’m just saying that there is a time to look to the future and move on. Didier is and will be crucial for us but he can’t go on forever and if we’re not careful we’ll get so reliant on playing it up to the big guy that when he does leave, we’ll have no idea how to play or win games. Our side is too old at the moment and the lack of pace in our attacks and the dismal performances after midweek games and short rest periods are no conicidence. As I asked earlier, what is so wrong with saying that a team built by Jose over 6 years ago needs a change?

  12. Anonymous

    Lots of comments here that summed up how the game struck me – ponderous first half, liked the “our tempo was so slow that you had to check some of our players for a pulse” quip Habs. Mikel having his worst first half display in years [possibly still suffering from the injury that kept him out in midweek?]. Early comedy goal conceded straight through the middle of our defence yet again.

    It’s too painful to go on really. We can but hope that Essien [is he actually fit?], Lamps and JT return quickly and re-invigorate a pretty dispirited looking bunch.

    @fansincethesixties – is your Emenalo comment meant to be a recycling of a joke someone made on here last week. Didn’t the “well thought of in the game” guff come from a link we had on here that read like a club PR release and was mostly colleagues from his undistinguished playing career in minor football in Israel and Notts Co. and minimal coaching in an academy in Tucson, Arizona saying he was a jolly nice chap who looked like he might go far.

    He had his finger as an agent in that dubious pie that was the Mikel transfer debacle and apologies for veering into the dreaded body language watching on the bench but there was a priceless moment captured by the TV cameras when a look of utter derision crossed Carlo’s face as Emenalo leaned across to make a comment to him that summed up those only slightly coded statements Carlo has made recently about him.

  13. Der_Kaiser

    I think the key thing as regards to the older legs in the team is evolution, not revolution; not entirely implausible that there are replacements for most of the key positions coming through that should hopefully make the grade, the obvious gap being top class striker to replace the Drog (if indeed you can replace him).It will take time – yes, the kids were good in midweek, but they need to be eased in gradually – look at the state of Michael Owen now and ask yourself whether you want the 17 year old Josh thrown in every week; not the best comparison, maybe, but a valid point overall, I think.There is a tricky balancing act to be managed in the next 3-5 years – whilst the fans may be (grudgingly) happy with a couple of ‘transitional’ (i.e. trophy free) seasons, Roman probably won’t and I don’t doubt Carlo knows this all too well. Less money, more kids and similar results will not be at all easy. The chasing pack is getting larger and the holy grail of CL places (and subsequent cash) is not. As well as the other two in the traditional ‘big 3’, City and Spurs are making steady progress and whilst their current predicament is a source of amusement, Liverpool now have an apparently shrewd owner and won’t be mid-table for too long.It’s a jungle out there, but we are one of the bigger beasts and hopefully with some shrewd management of the old legs and young guns from Carlo, the odd splash of Roman cash and a following wind, we’ll be well set for the next 3-5 years and beyond.That said, being us we could completely fuck it all up, but then again, where would the fun be if we were a United type fixture up at the top of the pile all the time?

    • Anonymous

      See what happens when you come on all level-headed voice of reason and experience, JD – kills the discussion stone dead 😉

      • Der_Kaiser

        Alas, it seems so. As such, might I suggest a moderate level of panic (of the type once seen on the streets of Carlisle, Dublin, Dundee, Humberside…) in order to liven things up?

  14. Timf

    Isn’t it the case that any new players recruited will have to be made way for by other members of the squad? I seem to remember that one of the reasons the squad is so threadbare is that we have so few players who qualify as ‘British’. So unless we buy British – and I can’t think of any good ones available – any player bought over 21 will have to take the place of a current squad member

    • TrueBlue

      Can anyone clarify this point? Can chelsea buy only british or homegrown players? I also thought the reason for our thin squad was for this very reason. Anyone over 21 would push out a current squad player unless they meet the new squad rules.

  15. Cunningplan

    Well according to Wikileaks, Avram is coming back as manager, or perhaps I’ve missread that amongst the other nonsense.

  16. Anonymous

    Strange as it is to say, Iniesta must be the most under-rated player out there. Hardly gets a mention and is utter class.

    And those saying what a mistake it was to sell Riccy C, are you watching? Admittedly Messi, Xavi, Villa et al are a little better than Ameobi, Welbeck, Zigic and the others that tormented us, but he’s being make to look like, well, a current Chelsea defender. Not what we need.

  17. Anonymous

    So that’s why Roman wants Pep.

    That really was incredible. One of the best displays of passing and moving I’ve ever seen. Although a side with Messi, Villa, Iniesta, Xavi and Pique have always got a chance.

    The Chelsea midfield should take note of how to keep the ball and pass to a man on your own side. It seemed pretty easy tonight.

  18. Der_Kaiser

    Extraordinary performance. Much as the very mention of Barcelona brings bile into my throat, you have to applaud that – passage of possession and passing just before 70 minutes which said “we’re not just beating you, we’re humiliating you”. Cruyff would have been quite chuffed until he remembered that’s what him, Rep and co. should have done to the Germans in ’74.

    • Anonymous

      Been tweeting to PW through the game, with reputations at stake it’s hard to swallow one’s own humble pie, but bloody hell that was impressive…even more so than when they destroyed Arse and dumped Salford Quays on their red arses. Yes, the insufferable Cruyff should recall that but he won’t , he’ll be too busy bathing in a glow of self righteousness and gleeful smugness. Bastard.

      I’d rather we didn’t draw them at any point in the CL even with all out top men back, have a feeling that if they can do that to RM, they might be a bit too eager to take us apart. As Dan Walker tweeted (yes I’ve discovered Twitter) Barca spend a bit, but RM spend millions more and get dumped by a team brimming with academy ‘products’.

      I kind of see Roman’s point, although sending money on academies is rarely enough, it’s more about club culture and that’s not something we traditionally have (academy culture that is). Having said that, was it that long ago that Barca were second raters having to field impostors like Kluivert?

      • Timf

        But that team also included Figo and Rivaldo, who both won the Ballon d’Or. In the game at the bridge – the one we won 3-1 – I seem to remember a youthful looking Xavi was also in the team. Jari Litmannen played in that match too so I think it was a team at the end of its cycle. I think even Winston Bogarde might have played. Sorry, I realise I’m now digressing

  19. FanSinceTheSixties

    [Scouse accent] Calm down, calm down!

    If RM had made it 2-1 then who knows…

    Personally, I’m delighted with the result.

    Chances are we’ll meet one of them in the CL and I’d always back us against Barca, but Jose is a special case and poses more of a threat to our psyche, so seeing them destroyed is just what we needed.

    The finishing was superb and Villa showed what Torres might have been.

  20. Cunningplan

    As good as Barca were tonight, seems a bit of a freak result, I certainly don’t think they’re five goals better than Madird.
    Just remember our 5-0 thrashing of Utd under Vialli back in the day, and who went on to win the league that year?

  21. bluebayou

    Didn’t see it unfortunately.

    Now if any of the Pep to the Bridge stuff was true this should kill it stone dead. Whether it’s supposed to be his own or the fantasy of someone else in his set-up, this current Barca team are exactly why it would be madness to bring their manager over to us.

    After all was it not the success and style of the Milan team that made Roman want Ancelotti to fulfill his dream? (I have no idea what made him or his associates want Scolari and Grant but that’s another story). It was JM’s success with Porto that made him the man.

    But it’s never just the man alone that brings success. For starters he usually has his own staff, his trusted few. It’s other factors as well. And with Barca and Guardiola the mix of factors is even more complex and deep lying.

    I’m not saying a Guardiola led staff couldn’t make a success of Chelsea. We just wouldn’t get that playing style and success overnight. You need certain types of players for starters and some of Barca’s current lot don’t come along every day.

    And up to now whoever is in charge it’s overnight or goodnight.

    No. we have to believe that Roman has the good sense to know he has a good manager who given the tools and the time will build success with depth to it. Because if Carlo was to be held as unsatisfactory then it would prove that somewhere at the heart of the project there was a fundamentally irreconcilable tension.

    It would take the form of a strange oscillation between employing the best available manager, complete with unrealistic expectations and seemingly immediate disappointment at the first hint of struggle, followed by the over-promotion of some obscure individual plucked from the fringes, not from the heartlands of European football, in the belief he is somehow the undiscovered genius. Does this struggle take place in the mind of Roman or evince some battle amongst some of his advisors and associates.

    It is certainly the pattern we are being asked to consider by some of the media.

    But all Roman need do is look at tonight’s game. Love or loath Barca they are the product of a long standing football culture that has its successes and its failures. Now it is riding high. It wasn’t always so. But that team didn’t spring up overnight. Look at Jose. CL winner with 2 clubs. Who is to say he wont do it with Madrid. Or win La Liga. Tonight was just one game in a long season. Jose has only just started to build his team at Madrid.

    What it says about football is that you have to play the long game.

    Will we?

  22. bluebayou

    From todays Telegraph. The article itself is the usual mish mash, but if this is a solid fact then no good will come of it.”…..guest of agent Pini Zahavi, who has been reinstated as an adviser by Abramovich.”I could write loads but you all know how his presence seemed to bring him loads of commissions and us nothing but trouble and dear old Avram (the echoes of which now mean were left with the farce of Emanelo foisted on Carlo). He was sidelined in the recruitment process that saw Carlo arrive. If you’re wondering why we bought Ramires, when maybe he wasn’t Carlo’s number one target, perhaps there is your answer.No wonder last season’s happy ship suddenly seems to be listing badly.

  23. bluebayou

    Sorry Habs I wasn’t ignoring your entertaining contribution.A typically impassioned polemic from you. It’s good to let go with both barrels and generate a bit of debate, but you might have downed a few of our own in friendly fire.
    Bit harsh to use the term “shit” in reference to the team put out by our Geordie friends. They had their troubles with injury, as you conceded and played their part.We’re caught in a perfect storm of significant injuries, the new rules on squad sizes and minimal investment in players from outside the squad.We just have to batten down the hatches and ride it out.Talking of storms we could do with a big freeze to kill of a couple of weeks worth of games so that, like a boxer saved by the bell, we can have the blood staunched and come out fighting with some of our key players restored.

  24. PeteW

    Barca were incredible. Not only did they beat a Jose team fairly for the first time, they totally destroyed them. JM will win the CL and La Liga with Real if they give him time, but that’s not what that club are famous for. The Madrid press is like nothing else and he will have lost all the cachet he’s accumulated for his work with Inter and his strong start with Real after that. Puts our own problems into perspective a little as well. As soon as I read at the weekend that Carvalho was thriving over there, I had to question the quality of the opposition because Ricky’s hasn’t played well for three years or so.

    As for our own issues, well it’s a tough one and well summed up by many on here. If we genuinely believe this team is spent (and I am sceptical) we need to show more patience and not write players off after a dozen games or slag off the striker who has just secured us a valuable point, because expectations are changing. I’m still pretty convinced we are going to snap back into form when the balance to the team is restored, but that doesn’t mean Carlo has covered himself in glory with his somewhat insipid management of the injury-hit team. But it all depends on what we expect. All I ask for each season is a proper challenge in the three big trophies and, this year at least, a couple of young players establishing themselves in the matchday squad.

  25. Anonymous

    Talk of Avram returning in the Telegraph scares me. Imagine what a dream team of Pini Zahavi, Avram and Emenalo could achieve at Chelsea. It really is depressing.

  26. bluebayou

    Pat Nevin as quote of the day reminds me to say Happy St Andrews Day to BBD and other Scottish listeners.

    (That’s assuming they actually care).

    “Tasty Birds” Pat? Surely a phrase that only the late Bernard Matthews and the poultry farming fraternity should be using.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the kind thoughts, BB, though I have to confess I’d forgotten what day it was even though the weather should have reminded me of my dear home country.

      Can’t say I’ve ever bought into these dubious associations of countries with saints, personally, but at least it doesn’t require consumption of disgusting offal like our other national day in January.

      Surely we can forgive wee Pat his trip back to less politically correct times when “Minder” was still good and recreating the ethos of Budgie on TV – and he was probably grateful to be able to make any connection with his team mates?

      • Der_Kaiser

        Fair play to wee Pat for trying to integrate – he’d have stuck out like a sore thumb if he’d have said something like “fine fillies” or indeed “top totty”.

  27. Der_Kaiser

    OK, what inconsiderate fucker dumped a foot of snow outside my front door? That’s doubled the walk time to the local Indian establishment.I see the Mancs aren’t enjoying their trip to the frozen wastelands of the East End, to keep things vaguely footy related.

  28. ososdeoro

    So while we’re waiting for the next match, I was curious about something. Can people in England actually understand what Sir Alex is saying when he speaks? Am I better off that I cannot? Maybe someone transcribes it all. How do we know it’s accurate?

    What about Owen Coyle? Benitez is far more decipherable.

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