Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Chelsea 2 Manchester City 1

There was something in the air last night at Stamford Bridge that seemed to blow a wind of change in the team, fans and club. The blustery, wet gale that poured on and battered the fans did not seem to dampen spirits in the stands even after Chelsea conceded an early goal against the team that is trying to emulate our success in the early days of the Abramovich era.

I have always had some kind of sympathy for City (not that I like any club other than Chelsea) - a team that has had decent home attendances even when dropping divisions; one that plays in blue and up until a decade or so ago had plenty of similarities with our club. One thing they will never be able to emulate is our strong, loyal away following - quite embarrassing to see their fans take less than half of their allocation considering these are supposed to be potentially their greatest times in recent history.

It was an intriguing spectacle. For the first thirty minutes of the match Manchester City were dominant and should have put the game beyond Chelsea. Some of the passing and movement from the visitors was sublime and they played with such utter confidence that my prior good feelings about the game were beginning to fade. Even the luck seemed to favour them: every deflection seemed to go off for a City throw or corner and every clearance seemed to fortuitously land at the feet of their players. I always say that a good team makes its own luck and it seemed to initially favour the visitors – in the end it was Chelsea who rode their luck and the quality of the home side eventually shone through. I was also hoping they would fail in their bid to win at the Bridge following Balotelli’s absurd celebration in front of the Matthew Harding Lower – ill-advised at best and he probably has the aroma of coffee surrounding him today.

The turning point of the game was the penalty kick not awarded to Silva in the first half. Considering Clattenburg was in charge it was a tad surprising… but by the same token if it was not to be then the Manchester City player should have been awarded a yellow card instead. The Londoners weathered the storm and began to take hold of the game especially after scoring against the run of play following tremendous work by the ever-improving Sturridge. The Meireles’ finish from his cross was quite superb considering he had been fairly anonymous up until that point.

Chelsea cleverly exploited the weakness on the right wing with Clichy looking out of his depth. After his sending off Chelsea still found it hard to break down Manchester City. The fans really got behind the team and it was fitting that Lampard scored the winner from the spot – although I am perturbed by some of his post match comments. He has not been firing on all cylinders at all this season and should not be surprised that he sits on the bench for many games.

It was an emotionally charged atmosphere and one that I have not seen or felt for quite a while. When Lampard scored I felt such a release of emotion and relief following what has been a very tepid season so far. AVB seems to finally understand what it takes to win in the league and also seems to be less naïve when it comes to taking needless risks. Special mention must go to Terry, Ramires, Mata and Sturridge.

We have tough games coming up but the last few performances in the major competitions do seem to demonstrate that the team possesses quality and the players are beginning to gel. Well done to the Chelsea fans for getting behind the team – the atmosphere was electric and it was the first time for a long time after a game that I struggled to sleep because of the euphoria from the match.

Friday, 28 October 2011

No vote to CPO buyback

Yet again the club seems to think supporters are a bunch of ignorant schoolchildren who will toe the party line for the sake of it.

The CPO meeting yesterday created a big split among Chelsea fans.

The 'yes' voters' arguments are that we should trust Roman no matter what; and hope for the club to move forward and be able to eventually fund itself without relying on our generous billionaire owner as our main reliance of income.

The 'no' voters were in the main not necessarily against a move away but wanted certain assurances from the club which were not delivered.

Reading the Chelsea Chat site it seems that the performances of Buck and Gourlay at the CPO meeting yesterday were so poor that they even turned some 'yes' voters to change their tune.

The main worry from my point of view is that the club is looking for a move within a 3 mile radius but "by 2020". I do not doubt that an ideal location would be somewhere like Battersea and the club would wish it to be the case. By the same token if nothing is found by 2020 would we move the club to the outskirts of Reading or perhaps even further afield? It just does not seem clear.

Having initially being fairly balanced about a move away from Stamford Bridge (I am not a CPO share holder so hope I am not being hypocritical in any way) the lack of concrete commitment or honesty from the club - and along with seeming underhand tactics to secure a 'yes' vote by buying CPO shares at the last minute and twisting some people's arms to vote in the club's favour have made many Chelsea fans worry about the club's real desires.

It is nothing new - when you are a Chelsea fan you are always sceptical of the club's real goals and those who run it behind the scenes. We are in an age now where in order to secure revenue real, loyal fans are not the most important thing as our club is one that can fill our stadium every week.

Chelsea gave very short notice about the vote and should have started this process rolling 5 years ago. Be more honest with the fans - all most want to know is if Chelsea can guarantee that a stadium will be built roughly in south-west London. We want the best for our club and completely understand that more revenue needs to be generated (although spending £20-odd mio on the likes of Shuan Wright-Phillips should also be avoided).

Sort this out as soon as possible Chelsea as this is distracting fans from focusing on some very promising signs on the pitch.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Stadium move thoughts

I come from a pretty conservative family. Any changes are hard to take at the best of times – whether it is a new government in power, some new fashion or ‘star’ invading our lives. It took me years to get used to the fact that Kerry Dixon was no longer with us and I am still having difficulty accepting the new Chelsea Football Club crest – introduced over five seasons ago.

The announcement from Chelsea yesterday that it hoped to buy back the shares held by CPO shareholders was sad news as it finally, officially signalled the intention of the club to move elsewhere. While lying in bed I shed a tear remembering all the great memories I had from the Bridge from standing in the Shed (albeit also when we were relegated against Boro) to sitting in the East Lower with my Dad and being able to obtain the autographs of my favourite players… how immensely large the stadium seemed to be to me when the East and West Stands were the only proper parts of the ground. And how before the redevelopment of the Bridge we always seemed to be miles away from the play no matter where we sat!

The argument to move to a new stadium is simply one of economics – a new stadium could (according to the media) bring an extra £50 mio of revenue a year. I presume we can sell the site where Stamford Bridge is at a premium which could easily fund the building of a modern stadium. Considering how much money Roman has pumped into the club it is understandable that at some stage he wants Chelsea to be a going concern and not a loss making club. As much as I despise Arsenal, their model is one we need to copy although one wonders how this will work when they are relegated at the end of the season together with Liverpool and … er… QPR.

The main problem is the effect a new stadium has had on a club. Don’t ask me why, but in the UK it seems to be a poisoned chalice to move. Not only does the atmosphere seem to suffer, but the seeming dilution of quality amongst the support by having more bums on seats has created a fickle atmosphere. Some out-of-town new stadia are a complete pain to get to (Reading and Bolton are not exactly walking distance from the train station).

With no bias whatsoever, Chelsea is by far the best situated stadium in the UK. There is so much to do in the area whether it is entertainment or nourishment – the weaknesses are the transport links, the sheer congestion in and around the ground and the woeful facilities. I can live with the latter because of the former. I am surprised that it has been difficult for Chelsea to create another exit from the ground behind the Matthew Harding Stand which would allow fans to have a short cut to West Brompton and Earl’s Court. I also shudder thinking about the complete waste of time that is the “Chelsea Club” in the rear of the ground and the hotel… but then again due to the council not wishing for us to increase our capacity by much when we originally redeveloped the ground under Bates (completely forgetting that during our history attendances of 60k or more were a regular occurrence) our hands were tied at the time.

There is no easy solution as there is little room to build at The Bridge. The main worry for me is whether we will regularly fill a stadium with 55/60k fans. If we do move then I would love for us to remain close to the Bridge. I cannot quite fathom what is wrong with Earl’s Court as a new venue – it has better transport links and is still down the road from the hustle and bustle of the King’s Road.

I love Stamford Bridge because of its character and I easily forgive its weaknesses. The conservative and romantic in me simply cannot imagine Chelsea playing anywhere else, but in a modern era where a club needs decent income to be a going concern (especially in a financially difficult climate) I reluctantly understand why the owner wishes to find us a new venue. I just hope the environment they find contains as much soul and variety as we have encountered in SW6 1HS.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Feelings after Norwich

I went into this match full of confidence, convinced that it would not be a matter of whether we won but by how much. Playing a team that had been beaten 4-0 at home in the League Cup (albeit with a weakened side) to the MK Dons this should have been a match where Chelsea’s superiority showed – nay, glistened.
Fans were left disappointed and with some sloppy defending we were extremely lucky to get away with a win. MotD pointed out that our high defending allowed the opposition to attack with ease. The defence did not seem to feel comfortable only having Hilario between them and the goal – woeful kicking from our usually reliable ‘keeper didn’t help either.
Norwich lack quality up front and that is the difference between a team that will fight relegation and one that will look for a top three finish – the latter will scrape a draw or a win when playing badly; the former will not get results even when they play well.
Torres again disappointed and he seems to be behind the play on many occasions. He has to gamble on runs into the box more and not keep trying to score the perfect goal.
There was no disputing the penalty following a brilliant run from the up-until-then anonymous Ramires although the sending off was a tad harsh on Norwich. Lampard, who looks a shadow of his former self (but because I laud him I keep imagining up excuses for him such as “the formation doesn’t suit his style of play”) buried the penalty right in front of me. Worryingly, even with Norwich down to ten men we could have easily conceded an equaliser.
It is always a dangerous game to overly praise new players – especially when they are attackers. It is easy to get more excited because the fruits of their labour are more obvious. Nevertheless, the workrate Lukaku and Mata put in was in stark contrast to our lack of urgency in play before their appearance… I hope that they both start in our next game and at this stage Torres looks like he will be (or perhaps should be) a benchwarmer this season. Lukaku looks the size of Chewbacca and I pray he injects some “force” into the side.
On paper Chelsea has a decent squad now – it is about time that we injected some youth and pace into the side. At present, however I can’t help feel that a finish in third place would be a decent show.
How Ferguson does it I do not know – he makes players who I thought were no more than mediocre shine – that is the sign of a quality manager. Ours seemed to resort to petty squabbling after the game when the Norwich manager tried to ridiculously claim that our penalty was unjust. There are ways of coming across professionally and AVB didn’t do that – by all means back the club when decisions go against us but don’t try to sound like a 6 year-old who has lost her doll – Fergie and Wenger manage to do the moaning much better! Onwards and upwards hopefully when our new signings bed in.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Opening season thoughts

A disappointing start to the season in some respects but the quality in the current Chelsea side is still there for all to see.
Stoke were a stubborn side and with the referee again not giving at least one blatant penalty in Chelsea's favour it seems we are in for the same old cliches... decisions not going our way against a side that couldn't even muster a shot on target.
Chelsea's defence look solid and the central part of the team has decent cohesiveness now. Ramires looks the part after my initial reservations.
More worrying is the balance up front. With the ball at his feet Torres looks frightening - it was this aspect of his game that sent a chill down my spine when he played against us. Other parts of his game are disappointing. Many times there were opportunities for him to make the most out of crosses by actually being in the vicinity of the six-yard area and yet he seems to lag behind play as if he is too good for simple tap-ins.
I like Malouda a lot but he does not seem to be the same player he was - on his day he looks an adequate replacement for my favourite ever Chelsea winger, Arjen Robben but he lacks consistency.
Kalou too is not a player who you can criticise for wont of trying but he lacks the quality needed to be a player who can start every match.
Essien missing is a big blow to our midfield and I do worry that we do not seem to possess "natural" wingers. If we are not going in the transfer market to add in this part of the pitch then the formation has to be changed to allow our wingbacks to attack more. This to me equates to a 4-1-3-2 formation (bear with me!) with two strikers up front. Dropping Drogba to me is a big mistake even if he is more sulky than a 2 year-old child at times.
Watching snippets of Manchester City shows they have bought quality - the real test for them will come if they go through a rocky patch. The likes of Balotelli and Tevez (why do the media love the latter when he has cheated on his wife? One rule for Chelsea players...) are the types of player who can spoil the apple cart but they will still be our main rivals along with Manchester United.
The Lukaku signing is a little puzzling and we look a little top heavy now - Sturridge has his critics but the gambler in me would like to see him playing more regularly if the future is youth.
Overall it feels like the top in football overall... many unsold tickets for our first home game and many fans becoming more unenamoured with the direction of "soccer". High ticket prices, more concentration on pleasing JCLs than our traditional fan base and biased media reporting do not help. If anyone can call Real Madrid and Barcelona the best two teams in the world with the amount of diving and feigning injury that occurred during their Super Cup match then it shows what is wrong with football today.
I am sceptical about football but modestly confident this season. My first match will be the Norwich home game... one that brings back lukewarm memories of a match in the early 90s for a birthday that must have been one of the most tedious games I ever saw at The Bridge... a 0-0 bore draw when Townsend was still on their books. More recently, I still guffaw at the admittedly puerile chants directed at Delia at a recent away match at Carrow Road... one thing for sure is that Chelsea fans' still make me smile even at my most pessimistic!
Liverpool and Arsenal look like they could really underperform this season which would be music to my ears, nose and throat but regrettably it may mean Spurs creep back into the top 4 at season's end.
I am looking forward to Swansea away (if I can get a ticket) and will try to make the odd sojourn into Europe.
Good luck to the Blues this season and I pray for a miracle!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Oh Dear Carlo....

I had tears in my eyes on Saturday pre-kick off. A great atmosphere, a few jokey boos directed towards Drogba when he missed the target in the warm up and a rapturous welcome for Torres. On top of this, gentlemanly applause from Chelsea fans for Steve Clarke and Glen Johnson. We were back with a couple of top signings and it looked like Roman had not let the club rot as many of us had predicted he would.

Then came the teams news - Torres to start, hurrah! Drogba to start alongside, double hurrah! Anelka to start.... er, three strikers up front? Anyway, I am in a good mood so triple hurrah!

Then the game kicked off with Liverpool playing with just Kuyt up front. From the opening exchanges it was quite obvious that Chelsea's lop-sided team were struggling. We were eventually beaten by a team with better tactics and a bigger heart - a team which had its fair share of injuries and players out of position such as Johnson at left back.

The irony for me was to see Liverpool adopt the same tactics that Chelsea had under Mourinho. 4-5-1 with Kuyt the loan striker and wingbacks tormenting our fullbacks. Meireles kept making roving, unmarked runs through the centre when they attacked (as Lampard used to do for us) and with more accuracy we could have easily been down by two goals at half-time.

The blame for the performance must go with Carlo who seemed to revert to his Ranieri persona. It was almost as if Roman had picked the team with our biggest and most expensive names on the pitch at the expense of formation. Mikel had his malco hat on; Essien looked a shadow of his former self and Lampard does not look happy playing the role of midfield support rather than being able to join the attack. It is a waste of space to have Anelka playing a midfield role on the pitch when we have Malouda and Kalou on the bench: we ended up finishing the game with the team that should have started.

With hindsight, Torres should not have begun this game and the team that defeated Sunderland should have started today. I can imagine Alan Hansen laughing at our formation of three strikers up front when the opposition only had one.

The chances of us winning the league is more remote than ever. If we had won then the romantic in me would have thought we had a slim chance still with United home and away to contend with and other results going our way over the weekend. Instead, Chelsea supporters have been let down by odd decision making again that I feel will cost us should be make the latter stages of the Champions League. Even worse is to be on the same level of points as Tottenham.

As for Torres - he had a single one-on-one which he spurned but you cannot blame him for a lacklustre debut when he had so many cooks spoiling the broth alongside him. How he must be feeling today when the manager took him off with thirty minutes still to play is anyone's guess - a normal manager would have brought him on as a sub rather than starting with him. I liked Luiz's tackles and hair though when he came on!

I cannot begrudge Liverpool their win - I hope one day Steve Clarke will come back to manage us... it is more painful to see their less than salubrious fans enjoying their day while spending the game throwing Torres shirts and other detritus on the pitch - that is what hurts the most.

Friday, 4 February 2011

World Cup winning manager Del Bosque says it all

'Del Bosque was also asked whether he had spoken to new Chelsea striker Fernando Torres after his high-profile move from Liverpool on transfer deadline day last Monday.

"I haven't spoken to him," Del Bosque said. "It's a surprise but it's a step forward in his career."'

Thursday, 3 February 2011

BlueBarney's excellent dissection of Liverpool's "fanatics"

"Let me try and explain Liverpool Football Club and why they have so many representatives in the media, why they seem to get away with anything, why they are so distressed about Torres leaving and why this all leads to Chelsea being openly hated.

It's quite simple and fascinating. Liverpool (the "club", which is like any other football club, no more than an abstract concept built on concrete facts like past records, a stadium and supporters), the fans and many of their former players show the same behaviour traits displayed by followers of major religions. Once you begin to understand this and how it manifests itself, the anger dies down.

The closest comparison is with the Catholic Church and Islam. Both powerful religions obsessed with being big. Obsessed with the number of followers they have and obsessed with preserving their beliefs even when faced with evidence that disproves or just challenges their long-held assumptions.

Ritual, as we know, is a key element to religious behaviour. "You'll Never Walk Alone" is an incredible example of this. It is sung with religious fervour and is about surrendering individuality for the group. It is a defining moment for all Liverpool followers. No other football chant comes close. And they ask everyone who hears it to comment on it. They ask us to confirm that it is the loudest, most awe-inspiring, most spine-tingling, most religious moment we have ever experienced. And it is repeated word-for-word, note-for-note before every match as a gospel choir would sing in church. It does not behave like a football chant. There is no humour, no taunting the opposition, no jolly lads getting ready for 90 minutes of support and abuse. It is born-again, wide-eyed fervour.

Repetition is, of course, a central factor to the belief system and that is why every Liverpool follower (I choose this word above supporter), is primed to say exactly the same as every other Liverpool follower. There can be no deviation from the true path. Have you ever met a Liverpool follower who would dare to say that YNWA is a dreadful chant or that talking about "history" is a load of bunkum? This kind of deviation is not allowed and if someone dared to say such a thing then the simple answer would be that he is not a true follower because a true follower would not say such a thing.

History. What is this fascination with history? Football is really only about the present and memory. It is not about history. Most supporters know all about their team. They know the great players, cups won and disappointments along the way. But history? This is something that religions do in order to create a back story on which to build a myth. Liverpool has no more history than Crewe Alexandra or Queens Park Rangers, although it has certainly had more success. Success can be measured and although Liverpool's followers like to quote their successes (and fear being surpassed), it is something that is ultimately too risky to build a belief system upon. In fact, this season Manchester United could become more "successful" than Liverpool in domestic league titles. For this reason Liverpool's belief system is built on an abstract concept (history) rather than something that is scientifically provable (league titles). In fact, the more Liverpool stopped winning things, the more "history" became the currency for their beliefs.

Only recently have we heard commentators say on television that even with all Chelsea's money and recent success, they will never have Liverpool's history. Of course that is true because nobody knows what it means to have another club's history and nobody could ever be anybody else anyway! This is a trick that religions have been using for thousands of years and why it is practically impossible to debate with "true believers".

As an aside, an interesting comparison can be made between Liverpool and Everton and one that a football anthropologist would do well to study and report on in detail. The followers / supporters of these clubs display very different traits even though they may come from the same families, live in the same streets, go to the same schools. Everton play the theme tune from Z Cars when the team runs out and talk about the School of Science. They support their club and leave it at that. I would love to see some genetic research on those who choose to be a Blue and those who opt for the Reds in Liverpool. If, as neuroscientists are attempting to locate at the moment, there is a "god gene", I would imagine it is more prevalent in Liverpool followers than Everton supporters. (This doesn't mean they are closer to god but more disposed to believing in one).

It is often remarked that there are more ex-Liverpool players in the media and on football programmes than any other club. Match of the Day is a good example where the definition of a balanced view is to listen to Alan Hansen first and then Mark Lawrenson. But why does this happen? Again, the answer lies in religion or how Liverpool displays all the traits of religion at its worst. There are not more Liverpool representatives because they have history or had success. That would be ridiculous. And statistically Liverpool has had the same number of players in the last 40 years as any other club and they are only one of about 45 teams that have been in the top division during this period, which makes it unlikely that any club would be represented by more than a couple of ex-players on television. But, like religious followers, the ex-players are believers and believers want to be heard. (Evolutionary biologists describe the meme theory where beliefs are transmitted by individuals or a group. This may be how religions survive and so the analogy holds in this case). It is essential for the Liverpool story to be told over and over again and therefore it needs storytellers. This subconsciously propels ex-players from Liverpool to become spokesmen and storytellers and thus perpetuate the myth. The only other club that does this is Arsenal, where it has convinced its own followers first and then the wider public that it has a "way of doing things". But we can leave Arsenal for another day.

And all this brings us up to Fernando Torres. He is a footballer. He played for Liverpool. He is a good footballer. He decided he wanted to move to another club (in much the same way he decided he wanted to move to Liverpool four years ago). This happens all the time. Footballers either stay at one club all their career or move. These are the only two things they can do. We are all used to it. But something very different has happened here. In fact, something religious has happened.

Fernando Torres was loved at Liverpool. He had a special status like a saint or a leader. And he became an apostate. In religious terms, this is as bad as it gets. No matter how big or how powerful a religion is, the "church" is rocked to its foundations when someone chooses to leave or step outside the line. In Islam, apostates are killed. Think of Salman Rushdie. He wrote a book where he imagined some scenes that involved the prophet having sex. This led to death threats, book burning, flag burning and the incredible scenes of followers of an enormous religion feeling threatened by the words of one man. The lesson is simple. When you are in the club, the church, the movement you do not criticise and you always follow the party line. You'll Never Walk Alone. The Biggest. History.

Fernando Torres angered his followers by becoming an apostate and daring to say that he was moving somewhere else that might be bigger. And just like across the muslim world the same reaction happened on Merseyside. Book burning, shirt burning. And to back up the meme theory, this was transmitted through the media. It was considered a subject for debate even though the conclusion was never in doubt (as it never is with religious followers). TORRES DID NOT MOVE TO A BIGGER CLUB. HE IS A BAD MAN. HE HAS LIED.

And so Torres has moved from saint to apostate to sinner to Judas figure. And he has been replaced by a second coming, by a brighter future because religions don't like to lie down and admit defeat. They are never wrong. Every Liverpool follower is now saying exactly the same thing. They did best out of the deal. They got two for one. They traded in someone past his best. They are happy. The religion was challenged but it has come out on top. They will never walk alone.

And just like the Catholic Church has a history of murder, rape and massacre from the Crusades to the Inquisition, this history is irrelevant. Only good history is history. And no other football club has blood on its hands like Liverpool but this is also ignored in its history. Just like a religion, it creates myth and worries not a jot about the truth.

I could go on about how they have created a god out of Shankly. Someone who is often quoted, even though he didn't really ever say that much which is particularly illuminating or original. I could also mention the self-pity (another religious characteristic) and their desire to always be a part of every tragedy. In fact, once you start the more you realise how interesting it is that in England there are so many football clubs but only one that stands out for displaying the behaviour traits of a religion.

Religions do need other religions in order to survive. It may be argued that through memes they create other religions themselves along their evolutionary path (Judaism to Christianity to Islam as well as the different branches specifically within Judaism and Christianity). Opposition is a necessary factor for belonging. And, for another day, this is why the new Chelsea myth exists and why "pundits" (followers of Liverpool) are openly antagonistic towards Chelsea, something which they would not do to any other club. Chelsea is a threat and must be treated that way, according to the followers of the Liverpool religion.

But I don't want to linger on Chelsea, or why Manchester United has continued being successful without displaying the same traits as Liverpool or why nobody has ever considered if Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion or West Ham United have a history. I just want to show why we all find it so frustrating listening to the nonsense that is spoken about Liverpool and by their followers. And once we begin to understand that it is like listening to a Moonie talking about being saved or a theologian cloaked in mythology masquerading as fact "proving" that miracles really do happen that we realise that we will never be able to argue with Liverpool followers. They are too far gone. And quite simply, that means they are too far away from truth, reality and knowing how to have a good time."

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! ;-)