BEFORE we get to the important stuff can I just say that, however bad things get at Chelsea, one thing I will always be grateful for is that I am not an Arsenal fan.
From the lobotomy survivors singing “We’re having a party when Ashley dies” (this from a crowd which protested the hounding by Tottenham supporters of Sol Campbell) to the smug and speccy pseudo-intellectuals clutching their “Up The Arse” fanzines, I despise them all.
Inside the ground the attempts at manufacturing an atmosphere in that soulless bowl are just plain embarrassing. First they play London Calling – Strummer (a Chelsea fan) must be turning in his grave. An iconic song that usually stirs the blood went ignored. Perhaps if he had recorded “Home Counties Calling” it would have made more of an impression.
I also note that the Scousification of Arsenal is coming along nicely with their fans holding their scarves aloft a la You’ll Never Walk Alone while the words to The Wonder of You are flashed karaoke style on their big screen.
As if that isn’t cringe-worthy enough, the crowd “noise” (I use that word in its loosest term) is piped through speakers. The saddest thing though was the announcement approaching the end of half-time that the teams would be out in three minutes – or is it even called half-time at the Emirates? Is it now an intermission or interval? Never has football been more like going to the theatre – appalling.
But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. I am not going to have another rant about the weakness of the squad and Abramovich’s stupidity. Both of those subjects have been done to death, not least by me and are also evident to anyone with half a brain.
Ancelotti must wonder whether he is coming or going (the odds have just switched heavily to the latter, and soon, if we lose to Bolton tonight.) He is linked with a €35m defender one moment, and €12m journeymen the next. My bet is that Chelsea will sign no one and the Italian will still be expected to win the Champions League, if he is still around. 2011 is going to be an almighty wake-up call for Abramovich. And that’s maybe no bad thing.
But you have to look at Ancelotti and the team too. Why is the manager insisting on this 4-3-3 when that evidently isn’t working? Some will say that we don’t have the players for a 4-4-2. I don’t think that is true. We do if we play the kids and, let’s face it, at the moment they couldn’t do any worse. Yesterday when Kakuta came on, he at least scared Arsenal for 10 minutes by actually running at them, something our senior players seem to have forgotten how to do.
The players too need to look at themselves in terms of their performances. Malouda, Essien and Kalou were woeful, again.
Abramovich does not acknowledge mistakes on his part and inevitably it will be Ancelotti who pays the price. He has the air of a dead man walking anyway and I imagine discussions between the owner and his trusted cohorts centre on whether the Under-14 Girls Scout is put in temporary charge, or whether they look for a fill-in manager.
The fact is, Chelsea won’t get away with this twice. The team is older, the mental strength nurtured by Mourinho is no longer there, the well is dry.
The frustrating thing was that Arsenal didn’t even play that well. In the spirit of the season we gifted them those goals. But they were on us all through the game, never allowing us to rest on the ball, demonstrating energy all through the game. Remind you of anyone? Yes, how we used to play.
The title is gone. Not even the most optimistic Chelsea fan can deny that. The really worrying thing is whether we can finish in the top four and current form makes that uncertain. I said a couple of weeks ago we were looking worryingly like Liverpool and that comparison is looking more accurate by each passing result.
Then there is the Chelsea spirit which was much admired during and beyond Mourinho’s range. That is all but disappeared. Carlo’s jovial and laid back manner has been replaced by a grey pallor and a haunted expression.
Lampard and Terry looked furious when they left the pitch while some of the players rubbed salt into the wounds of the fans by laughing and hugging their Arsenal counterparts. Unsporting it may be, but I hate seeing that. I want to see them hurting like we were, but the sad truth is that it meant nothing to the majority, and that is demonstrated by the way they play with no heart and no pride.
Sorry to all Blues out there. Not a very festive piece I know, but there are very few tidings of comfort and joy. The best we can hope for is not to drop below Bolton this week. How depressing does that sound?