I MUST admit that the last few weeks had blunted my enthusiasm temporarily. It wasn’t the results as such —a football fan needs to be able to take losing or a bad run of form – it was everything else. The Wilkins thing, Abramovich interfering again, the team seemingly playing with no passion or fight, the rumours of yet another managerial sacking, — it had all left me feeling disillusioned with the club, but games against the old enemy always seem to stir the blood.
As kick-off approached I could feel that old tingle starting at the base of my spine and working its way through my body until the adrenalin was pumping and I was ready for war!!
It was as if both team and fans had decided that all the recent shyte had to end here and now. There was defiance in both the support and the players, and it felt like we were back. Even after the goal was conceded there wasn’t the feeling of deflation and submission that there has been in recent weeks, we all knew there was a way back.
John Terry returned to his best — the defensive error aside which involved a couple of our players — he showed what it takes to captain a side. He was back to marshalling the troops, unreservedly throwing his body into defending our goal, growing in stature rather than shrinking when the Spurs fans tried to target him with their childish and unimaginative chanting, and careering forward himself when the attacking players were not getting making progress.
Even at the final whistle he strode towards the Park Lane end and malevolently eyed the Spurs fans. He fixed them with a death stare that saw the gimps positively shrivel in his gaze. The sparks were virtually flying off him as he roared at them the only word that matters “trophies” — they had no come back to that one.
The attitude of all under the blue banner last Sunday reminded me a lot of the Mourinho era and that can only be a good thing.
There was a collective sigh of relief when Lampard took his rightful place in the midfield — we looked like Chelsea again and the passing improved almost immediately. It’s still not a given that he will play against United this weekend, but I pray he will as his presence alone seems to give confidence to all associated with Chelsea. He is our talisman.
The penalty was just one of those things. Some will argue that Lampard should have taken it, personally I don’t agree.
Certainly no one in the crowd blamed Drogba —his name was chanted loudly at the final whistle, proof if ever he needed it that effort and commitment is what is valued by supporters above everything else.
We need to kick on and past our recent run of bad form now and we need to play at the kind of pace we demonstrated against Spurs and I think that means a couple of changes. Obviously as supporters we are limited in what we see. We do not have the advantage of watching the team train, nor of knowing what the manager is looking for in terms of tactics, or indeed, of what goes on behind the scenes, so our opinions are based purely on match time which isn’t ideal, but these are the minutes that count. What I am leading up to is Kalou . . . again.
I am not saying he is a bad player. How can he be when he has effectively kept a starting place under four managers (its not five – Grant doesn’t count), but I do think it is time that that starting place was given to Sturridge. This may be controversial as some do not think that he is ready, but he never will be fed on few scrappy minutes at the end of games. I think he looks energetic and hungry when he comes on and runs at teams. He makes mistakes of course, but that I believe is directly linked to lack of playing time.
Kalou has a place at our club, but I’m not sure it’s in the starting line up. Others also need to look at their form recently — Essien and Anelka have been poor considering their usual high standards, but hopefully their “bad moment” too has passed.
What we need to remember is that despite our worst run in form for 13 years, we are still within touching distance of the top with United and Arsenal to play next — amazing considering.
I think the Tottenham game has woken us all from the malaise that had engulfed us in the last few weeks; with our important players coming back, a bit of confidence and strength of character – and also a bit of luck which has evaded us recently, we could be back at the top in no time.
Come on Chelsea.