Facing a mediocre Liverpool side brought no fear out in me. The bigger worry was what kind of performance Chelsea would put in today individually and collectively - something that has been as consistently inconsistent as the treatment of our football club by the authorities and match officials for years. What would Mark "Boyband" Clattenburg do to us today? The usual game where he is too afraid to make big decisions, but be good at awarding throw-ins correctly (and that sort of thing) so that he can earn praise for "letting the game flow"?
Chelsea began the game at full speed and deservedly took the lead with a fantastic cross from Azpilicueta headed in by the impressive Ramires. Our passing in tight spaces was intricate and there was a good feeling on the pitch and in the stands.
Then the horror show began. Mikel lost the ball in front of his penalty area. And again. Heads dipped. Chelsea toned down their ambition in attack. Clattenburg did not yellow card Lucas for a series of fouls. Can was not booked either for a foul similar to one last week which led to Matic being sent off. Both these players were booked in the second half and the visitors should have been down to ten - if not nine men. Noone really wants to beat a team purely because they have had players sent off - you wish to annihilate them at full strength. But last Saturday we had Matic sent off for a tackle that this week went unpunished for a far worse offence. Matic's dismissal had a significant impact on the result of that game. These decisions worked against our confidence. I crossed my arms in resignation and did not unfold them until the final whistle when collecting my "With You Jose" banner.
To cap the first half off, the visitors equalised in the third minute of stoppage time when only two had been allocated. The goal initially came about as a result of a reckless clearance by Zouma who looked out of his depth at right-back and lacked the finesse required in that position. The amount of space granted to Coutinho for both of his goals was simply embarrassing as was the amount of space Liverpool were given on the wings.
The second half started as the first - Chelsea playing brightly. But again, mistake after mistake was made. And apart from Oscar's ambitious chip over the 'keeper, it was difficult to remember any clearcut chances for us. Passes went astray, poor choices were made with runs. Recycling of the ball has been too slow. It is more obvious than ever that the strength in depth is not there. It is making me so angry to see players who should be giving it their all not doing so. Hazard again gave the impression of a player who has been told by his agent to play poorly so that he can have a cut-price move from the Bridge this summer. He was deservedly subbed. Mikel too. Kenedy initially looked impressive with his pace but added little else - although I would like to see him take Hazard's place.
Jose Mourinho cannot squeeze anything more out of this poorly-performing team. We are breaking the point of elasticity that was holding this side together. Ironically, the only part of the jigsaw that does not make sense is the fact that Chelsea fans are still taking these continual losses in good heart. Renditions of "Jose Mourinho" and "Mourinho's right, the refs are shite" reverberated around the Bridge today and at the final whistle there was no booing. Simply an acceptance that this is how things are. Although I still believe in Jose - he is the only one who really fights for this club at senior level - I do not believe that he can change anything by this late a stage. If a large minority of players are not giving it their all because they have their own vested interests in mind then it will impact not just our football club but also their careers. Not only that, but without enough "class one" eggs in our squad one feels that some players are not being challenged enough.
Writing this only a few hours after the game, my instinct is to say that the best thing our manager can do is resign and seek challenges elsewhere. We do not deserve him. Neither does this league if it (even subconsciously) wishes to drive him out. Some of our players will face the backlash that they warrant and English football will lose its most exciting asset.