FOR THE first time since the affable Italian joined Chelsea, Ancelotti looks under pressure; his usual easy manner and jovial banter with the press has been replaced with frowns, snippy comments and an unease which leads me to think that even he doesn’t believe some of the things he is currently coming out with.
I doubt he really believes that we don’t need any players in January, nor do I think he believes that the Guardiola stories are “utter nonsense” and his demeanour betrays the fact that he is obviously not “relaxed” about how we are playing. And nor should he be — our strikers are not scoring, our defenders are making terrible mistakes and our midfield seem intent on passing to the opposition.
All that said, we still dominated the game last Sunday and with a bit of luck we could have easily won both the Birmingham and Newcastle games — luck, and with a referee who wasn’t such an obvious homer.
The foul on Ashley Cole in the box was a stone-wall penalty — but Marriner was never ever going to whistle in favour of the man who cheated on the nation’s sweetheart. The predictable booing and Ashley Cole Geordie-rhyming slang obviously got to the referee as I can see no other reason for not giving it. The left-back went some-way to getting his own back on the northern monkeys by making an absolutely cracking goal line clearance which would have certainly otherwise resulted in a goal.
I am desperately looking forward to the return of Lampard and Terry but wonder if they are being hurried back earlier than is advisable due to our woeful current form. One thing is evident from the most recent spell of results and performances, those that were writing off both Terry and Lampard, hugely under-estimated what they bring to the team, even when we are playing badly. Players like the dynamic duo are the difference between playing badly and winning and playing badly and losing.
Both are great readers of the game; with Terry in the back line against Sunderland we would not have conceded three goals — and with Lampard playing at Birmingham and at Newcastle we would have scored more goals. During both those games no one was following in on the myriad of shots we had. Lampard would have done, and I would have put my house on him putting at least a couple away.
Confidence is another issue, and this is where the likes of Abramovich and the other suits need to understand that their constant interference impacts directly on the team. If the politbureau are destabilising the management team then the players in turn will be affected. Players need stability; constantly changing managers, coaches, and management styles and formations and team relationships are not an ideal basis for any team.
How can the team play confidently for a manager who could effectively be a dead man walking soon if the rumours are to be believed? Answers on a post-card to R. Abramovich please.
I must admit Frank Arnesen resigning took me a little by surprise. What would make an individual on such a cushy number voluntarily relinquish his post? My guess was that he jumped before he was pushed. Leaving by one’s own volition always looks better on the old CV than being shown the door. His reputed €2.5 million a year salary would have made him an obvious target in terms of the aggressive cost cutting exercise currently being undertaken at the Bridge.
He has been a controversial figure since he joined us five years ago. The circa €10m that the club had to pay in compensation made many of us expect great things from him, and initially his input seemed minimal. There were also rumours that he was somehow involved in Mourinho’s departure — although there were no actual facts to back this up as so often is the case, but the aura of distrust seemed to continue to surround him for much of his tenure.
More recently attitudes have become more ambivalent as youngsters have started to break through into the first team with varying levels of success.
The most exciting prospect does seem to be Josh McEchran who Arnesen was not responsible for. However, the Dutchman was directly involved in bringing Kakuta, Borini, Mellis, Van Aanholt, Sturridge, Bruma and Sala to the club who all look very promising in terms of making the grade.
His worth will only really be proved once these players reach the level expected or not as the case may be. I am hoping that perhaps his legacy will go on to give us a crop of youngsters all who mature at the same time to provide us with almost a ready made replacement team for the battle worn warriors who have been so successful for us in the last seven years or so. So I will reserve judgement on Arnesen and will be happy to eat my harsh words of the past should the transfer market become a lesser visited cess-pool for Chelsea in the not-too-distant future.
As for now, we need our warriors back and to make a statement of intent before it’s too late. Let’s put Everton convincingly to the sword and show that we can claw our way back.
Come on Chelsea.