ALTHOUGH the rendition of “we’re gonna win the league” was sung with tongues very firmly in cheeks at Bloomfield Road on Monday, there was very much a sense of revivalism amongst the supporters even though we didn’t play particularly well. Indeed we had a major wobble in the last 10 minutes or so of the game with Boswinga especially who was described by one fan as being “needlessly shit”.
And I think that is the point – the majority of the problems we encounter, are of our own making. Our play is so slow – we seem to have lost the ability of being able to zip the ball about; some may bemoan the tactics of the opposition – putting men behind the ball, defending above and beyond everything else, but if we just moved the ball around quicker that we would overcome a lot of that.
But there were a number of positives from the game. One thing we have missed terribly this season and has contributed badly to our extended slump is the lack of goals from Frank Lampard – something we have (unfairly) come to rely on from him. But he has recently been finding the net quite regularly and, surprise, surprise, we are back to winning ways again.
Now, if we could only get some of our players to remember that we have a £50 million striker up front and pass to him occasionally we might be able to cement that Champions League spot.
The vast majority of Chelsea fans thankfully understand the game and can see that Torres is doing everything right – his movement is excellent, his work-rate is as it should be and he evidently worries opposition defences as they often mark him with at least two if not three players. I hope mentally he is as strong, as the media attention is unrelenting with that price tag and the longer he goes without a goal, the heavier that monkey on his back becomes. This is where the value of a good number two proves his worth. Ancelotti as manager has a strategic overview and a whole squad to manage and I’d imagine his time to dedicate to one player is limited.
Someone like Ray Wilkins would be invaluable – he has been described as being a very positive influence to have around a football club and was obviously popular with the players. Paul Clement seems to be growing into the role of Carlo’s assistant – Emenalo is largely absent – so its important that he contributes to keeping Torres’ spirits up.
Obviously as a professional player he will have gone through peaks and troughs in his career anyway, and I am sure this isn’t worrying him too much, but will prey on his mind if it continues. Personally, I think his team mates could do more to help him. There were a number of occasions when we were 3-0 up, where the pass to Torres was the right move, instead various individuals took on half chances themselves. I understand of course that players want to prove their own worth, but the good of the team must be paramount – some just need reminding of that occasionally.
Now towards the end of the season we need to be more positive on the pitch – this sitting back is neither helping the team to perform, nor is it helping my nerves. Carlo needs to understand that English teams simply do not play like this – they don’t really know how to. It invariably leads to the ball being lost cheaply and with our lack of pace it can be difficult to get it back again. We got away with it at Blackpool because, with all due respect, our players are simply much better than them, but we may not fare so well with teams nearer our own level, and at this stage, every point counts.
One thing that Carlo obviously has learned, is something that most Chelsea fans have known for quite some time – that is that Kalou is better as a substitute rather than starting. He is one of very few players that does have some pace, and to bring him on when there are tired legs amongst the opposition, accentuates that. Also, Kalou seems to have problem with concentration when he has a full ninety minutes stretched out before him, yet bring him on as a sub and suddenly his purpose seems evident to him.
The stuttering form of Arsenal and Manchester United show what could have been achieved if all of Chelsea hadn’t gone AWOL for five months. We’re too far behind for the title . . . but beat bogey team Manchester City on Sunday week and the race for third place, and automatic Champions League qualification, is well and truly on.
The only player I really fear is Tevez and hopefully between Luiz and Terry we can keep him quiet. The games against Tottenham, City and United are the clichéd six pointers and we need to do the business. The results involving the top four seem totally unpredictable at the moment and it would be a brave man that would bet on the eventual order. As far as we are concerned we need to play as if the title is still a possibility and of course, mathematically it still is. Bit more attack, bit more pace, Lampard back doing what he does best and a few goals from Torres and who knows where we will be come the end of May. Come on Chelsea!