THIS week was our second week without a weekend game – yet we have had more midweek games than ever this season – someone show me the logic in that? But then logic never enters the equation these days.
It’s been a relatively quiet week as far as Chelsea are concerned – both on and off the pitch. No shootings at the training ground, no reported extra marital affairs, no multi-million pound signing. I bet Arsenal wish it had been as uneventful.
I see there may be a thawing in terms of Capello’s position on the England captaincy as far as John Terry is concerned. The Italian obviously feels that Terry has been sufficiently humiliated. A lesser man would have told Capello exactly where he could stick the armband, fortunately for the manager, the honour means far too much to JT to do that. He would walk over broken glass to be re-instated.
The general consensus is that Ferdinand and Gerrard have done nothing wrong, which is a fair comment, and so he will still come behind them in the pecking order, but Terry is by a country mile a better leader of men than either of them. It will also avoid the frankly embarrassing sight of watching the armband passed around like a joint at a student party, while markedly avoiding the eye of its former owner. I’m not sure whether its common sense that has finally prevailed or that Capello didn’t like the press this fiasco was beginning to attract.
This evening we take on Copenhagen in what I believe will be a less than full Stamford Bridge; as previously explained, many Chelsea fans are boycotting this game due to the prices being charged. For me it also demonstrates how important the Champions League is to many Chelsea fans – i.e. not very. It’s mainly an excuse for a jaunt in Europe and the majority of us value the league above anything else. Those romantics among us put the FA Cup on a high standing too. But I would suggest that it is a minority who are as obsessed with the trophy with the big ears as Abramovich is . . . or indeed Liverpool are.
Perhaps if we had won the Premiership many, many times it would take on more resonance, but for now, I still perceive it as an “extra”. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to win it, but I enjoy it more for the camaraderie of a few beers outside the Mestalla or in the Plaza del Duomo than any sense of superiority over other clubs.
I also recognise that in terms of revenue, it is important for the club if we want to compete for the best players in the world – after all the cost of these players is stratospherically stupid now, thanks in no small part to ourselves. That said, I did read a piece just the other day that valued Gareth Bale at £40 million – the world really has gone mad – £10 million for each good game he has a season.
If we make it through this evening, the next round could be interesting – the very real possibility of an English club, facing José Mourinho again or the old enemy, Barcelona. Out of all those I would rather take on the Catalans. The possibility of losing to a fellow Premiership side is galling at best (Manchester United) or at worst, unthinkable (Tottenham). And José would have the measure of us despite the extensive change in personnel. We always seem to be able to get under Barcelona’s skin – Messi or no Messi – and, barring any dodgy Scandinavian refs, I fancy our chances.
But to matters at home. On Sunday we need to overcome this Manchester City hurdle that we seem to have had difficulty with in recent years. They do not seem a happy camp and we need to exploit this. They are a good team but then so are we. The difference as I see it at the moment, is that their strikers seem to be scoring regularly where as ours have been unpredictable lately. This would be a great game for Torres to shake that monkey from his back. Although, to be fair, he has not allowed it to get to him up to now. I have only seen his head drop in the very last few minutes against Blackpool but his contribution in all other areas has been superb.
We seem to have developed into a bit of a confidence team, so the early goal is important. We have often been guilty of starting games slowly this season, and have been punished on more than one occasion. Hopefully we will take the matter at hand seriously and go for the jugular from kick off. A better performance than the one against Blackpool is absolutely imperative as this game is one of those clichéd six pointers. Games are running out now, so no more avoidable mistakes or half hearted performances. Time for action – come on Chelsea!