Thursday, 6 January 2011


Recent shenanigans at Chelsea reminded me of the film Awakenings where patients suffering from some sort of coma for years rise from their sleep just for a few days, have their fun in the sun before retreating back to their beds to resume their slumber to the bewilderment of their doctors.

It is a seriously depressing time to be a Chelsea fan and I suspect in several years time when we look back at the "noughties" we will rue the chance we missed to be the dominant force not just in English but European football. I can imagine many "neutrals" pleased that we are dramatically falling away as well as having the grand order of things restored with Manchester United set to yet again dominate the domestic title race for many moons to come.

The same person who helped push us from simply being the winner of the odd minor cup competition to league champions must take a large part of the blame for the failure of Chelsea now if he was also behind our initial success. It is important to look at our current slump in a historical context: a football side does not simply become poor overnight. It is my firm belief that it was Roman who decided he knew best by bringing in the likes of Shevchenko when we looked invincible and it is this undermining of managers throughout his reign that has led to our team regressing in the last three or four years. The way the club has been run behind the scenes is very Russian in so many ways - the dispatching of Wilkins for daring to question the transfer policy of the club (not to mention Mourinho's departure for similar - remember the "eggs" quote?) and some of the appointments on the footballing side of matters have been bizarre to say the least: Avram Grant, Frank Arnesen and currently some other bloke as assistant manager who I have never even heard of... the list goes on.

There is another argument of course - by this stage of Roman's tenure we should have at least one or two youth team players graduating to the first team. He has already pumped a lot of money into the club. Personally I would prefer to leave those choices up to the manager of the club - I am sure Roman would not trust Avram Grant to run his oil company (although I would not trust him to manage a football team either).

Some of the real Chelsea fans will probably find some perverse relief in this slump too. The JCLs who joined the bandwagon ten years ago will probably for the first time in their football supporting lives see our club deteriorate. I find no joy in what is happening but must admit to some relief that my instincts were correct in thinking that this football club has been veering down the wrong path for several years.

We were extremely lucky to win the league last season - the Premier League is not the force it once was with only 20 odd points separating top and bottom with over half the term gone. On paper we have a side which (at least last season) has a crop of five or six players who would grace the first team of any side in the world. This season, those same players look a shadow of their former selves. I have no idea what has happened to Drogba, Lampard, Essien, Anelka or Malouda but suddenly the squad looks quite old. Nevertheless I still believe in the individual skill of the majority of these guys and struggle to think of any players who could take their place were we to get involved in the transfer window - and most of the names we have been linked with so far have been quite embarrassing!

Those days where we played average but still managed a positive result are over - we are statistically at least having far more efforts on goal than the opposition (when we lost to Birmingham I think we had twenty shots on target compared to their sole effort which they scored from) but not hitting the back of the net. This shows what a lack of confidence the team possesses.

I will never forgive the club for undermining the modern day Clough in Mourinho and eventually letting him go and although I will always love Chelsea I find it hard to find much sympathy with many of those who are in charge. We are now going to revert to the days where we would be happy to win most of our games against weak opposition and scrape the odd win against the better sides. We will regret listening to those who classed our side as boring for having the audacity to try to win every game possible at any cost - and there are a minority of Chelsea fans in that number as well as from our rivals: Manchester United have won most of their games this season by just the odd goal but that seems ok for the media and so-called neutrals... oh to have Jose still in charge.

This decline in Chelsea Football Club will have far wider reaching consequences too in terms of trying to attract quality senior players and youngsters to our academy. I have no confidence in our manager who, like Ranieri is a bloody lovely bloke but seems to lack strength and the abillity to motivate when the chips are down. But if we get rid of Ancelotti which quality manager would ever want to join this disjointed football club?

Although Manchester United are a weaker side than they were two years ago, the lessons from that club show how important it is to have continuity amongst the ranks of senior management. Any Chelsea fan would take a top 2 finish in the league for the next decade as Ferguson's side has done over the last ten years and more.

The only thing that doesn't make me suicidal is the sense of humour Chelsea fans have... even in dark times we can laugh as we have been in far worse situations in the past. It is ironic that Chelsea's spiral lower is inversely correlated with English cricket's sudden resurgence... maybe a sport I will start following instead! ;-)