It was an exhibition performance last night against a poor side and a game that had another eccentric official in charge who seemed to be more married to Brylcreem than the rulebook. Fouls inside the penalty area did not result in penalties but accidental handballs did… oh, the joys of European competition. We cannot take too much from the game but to sit in the front row of the East Middle you could really see how much individual skill and elegance our team possesses. If only every game could be like this.
Despite not being Benitez’s biggest fan (I do not think Roberto di Matteo would have fared worse if he was still in charge) he has conducted himself very professionally since becoming Chelsea manager – I even chuckled when he brushed off boos from our fans before kick-off by touching his managerial chair in the dugout for luck while grinning and shrugging his shoulders. Fair play to the bloke (although the cynics would say that anyone would smile on his wages!)
The formation last night was a good one and Mikel was rested despite signing a fresh 5-year contract. Romeu actually had a good game and the commitment of the side in general was world-class. I do not want to dwell too much on the game but Chelsea could have easily scored ten – the shots that counted as being on target for the visitors in the statistics were made up of a missed penalty, one goal and two feeble shots from way outside the penalty area.
I was quite philosophical following the West Ham game but disappointed that Chelsea fans were singing anti-Benitez songs even when we were 1-0 up. Whatever our misgivings about the way our club is managed, it seems obvious to me that such vociferous negativity will not help our side in the slightest. Better to sit in your seats and fold your arms in silence rather than imitate spoilt Arsenal fans. At Upton Park we could have easily been up by two or three before they equalised – after their first goal our confidence fell.
Am looking forward to the Europa League and hoping to draw some teams from more exotic locations in order to see different stadia and countries. Young Boys or Anzhi Makhachkala would be nice for novelty value but I hope the recurring nightmare I have of meeting Tottenham in the competition and seeing us lose to Andre Villas-Boas does not come true.
It is time for us to give the Benitez bashing a rest – there is nothing we can do about it now and we need to concentrate on getting behind our team so that we finish in a Champions’ League qualifying place again this season. We have been unlucky in the European competition this year on many counts. Hopefully we win against Sunderland and Leeds – and then the holiday at the World Club Championship may mark a watershed in our season and we can start from scratch upon our return.