I’VE had better days. It took us six hours to get to Old Trafford thanks to a pile up on the M6 then a magical mystery tour over the Pennines courtesy of a sat-nav with a sense of humour.
En route I managed to lose my wallet with a substantial amount of money in it — luckily, or unluckily depending on your viewpoint, my other half had been carrying the tickets. I was hoping we could produce the kind of performance that we had served up against them in the league at the Bridge — but it was evident very quickly this wasn’t going to be our night. Making matters worse United’s approach reminded me of what we were like under Mourinho.
They controlled the game throughout. Even when we were in possession, they marshalled us and ensured we rarely became a threat. They worked tirelessly, while we looked ponderous and pedestrian. We appeared a group of strangers and bereft of any ideas.
We could talk about Torres again, but what is the point — Ancelotti’s solution to this absolute refusal of Drogba’s to pass to the Spaniard is obviously simply not to play them together — rather than address the issue. The Wigan game was so excruciatingly dull last Saturday, I tried to find alternative ways to amuse myself during the 90 minutes.
One way was to count how many times Drogba passed to Torres. I was shocked it was just twice — and I’m being generous as one was a mis-controlled ball which somehow found its way to the new man. He is not the only guilty party, but he seemed the only one taking on the impossible shot/pass to avoid giving it to his strike partner. You could argue that Torres doesn’t pass to Drogba much either, however Drogba’s seniority within the squad seems to guarantee him assistance from the majority of the side — the same players who seemingly, faced with the option of who to pass to, invariably select Didier, no matter who is better placed.
It could be argued they are more than aware that Drogba is a phenomenal striker where as Torres has seemed to have alienated lady luck. Or it could be down to some off-field pressure applied by Drogba, the senior player. Who knows, but this has to be addressed for the good of the team.
Who would have argued with a strike-force of Drogba & Torres at the start of the season? Instead there are those saying that the style doesn’t suit Torres — that he has been shoe-horned into the system. Let’s see how much the system doesn’t suit him after we have given him some service.
This has gone on so long now that you do wonder whether the problem has developed into a psychological one — continually hauling him off during matches can hardly be helping either. Ancelotti is the manager and he needs to start managing the situation.
But back to Old Trafford. With the exception of Drogba coming on, the substitutions were pointless. But then our squad is hardly robust enough to make telling changes and this is not Ancelotti’s fault. But we do have a wealth of talented young players who Carlo refuses to play.
Football is a ruthless game and he has to be ruthless. Lampard, Essien, Malouda, Kalou, Anelka — none of these are playing well at the moment yet the majority are guaranteed a starting place week after week. Would Fergie allow that? I’m not calling to get rid of them but our manager should be doing something rather than standing pitch-side watching our season dissolve from total mediocrity to abject failure. I can’t remember when I have been as pained watching a Chelsea team — I just want the season to be over. And it looks like the team feel that way too.
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