We should start off by thanking West Brom for the bellended nature of their time-wasting tactics adopted to secure a point. This, twinned with the frankly pointless attendance of the referee roused our home support which was otherwise anonymous. If we had won the game it would have felt like a moral victory; one that would have glossed over an otherwise mediocre performance where we were once again exposed at the back and would have been destroyed by a more capable side in attack.
It is difficult to criticise without still sounding bitter about Mourinho’s sacking. But when he blamed his employees out loud for failing to carry out their work diligently he was not wrong. The theory was that once he left we would see the real Chelsea re-emerge. Those players who might have deliberately or subconsciously played below-par would be reinvigorated. Some did… at first Oscar and Mikel shone for the first time in years. That honeymoon period is now over.
The player who earned my partisan support when he joined, Diego Costa was Mourinho’s equivalent on the pitch. He would distract the opposition. Wind them up. But still manage to score goals. This worked brilliantly when we were winning. It was even entertaining. When you struggle this creates an unneeded distraction. At one stage he was even pushed away by his own players when he bickered with the referee while we wished to take a quick free-kick. To cap it all, with only a few minutes to go he brainlessly asked for a quick ball to be released to him from Courtois so he could go on the attack on his own. Him against five WBA players. He lost and didn’t even try to hold it in the corner when he had no support. From the resulting counter, the visitors were awarded a free-kick (one of many set pieces we failed to defend) from which they equalised.
He was not alone:
Pedro. There is a reason why you were not wanted by Barca. The abysmal position on the pitch where you gave away the ball that lead to the visitors’ first equaliser was unforgivable;
Fabs. Through balls need to go to a player. Not straight out for goal kicks;
Kurt Zouma. Simply hoofing the ball as hard as possible hoping it goes to a Chelsea player is Sunday League football. Look up the word, “finesse”… it is not just used in a game of Bridge;
Thibaut. Those gloves you wear are supposed to hold the ball. You are making me miss Petr Cech more and more by the day.
One wonders what many of these players take in on the training pitch when it comes to defending – or what, if any intelligence they hold when it comes to trying to squeeze results out during trying times. One of the most annoying characteristics of our team has been the poor marking in the box. There was always at least one visiting player unmarked on the far post from crosses.
There are some positives. We are unbeaten since Guus took over. Kenedy looks an exciting prospect even if his speed means that he has to one-two against the opposition’s legs rather than his own team-mates. Ivanovic actually did a brilliant cross. Twice. Yes, twice. And Willian… I must apologise for this team that you have to play with in which you are our only consistently good player.
If we had the misfortune to play any of the big sides we would be shredded apart because of the vulnerability in our defence. In the old days, teams would pray that they would be awarded the odd free-kick to try to score against us. Currently, we are allowing sides to have umpteen chances in and around the box which used to be unheard of. This squad needed a major injection of investment but now it is too late. Nevertheless, many individuals cannot lose: financially, they are sorted; poor performances can be blamed on the preceding manager; legitimate excuses can be used for jumping ship should we not qualify for the Champions' League. It is us fans who are left powerless.