I didn’t want Fernando Torres to score against West Bromwich Albion last Saturday – purely for selfish reasons you understand – you see, we had a bit of a drama on the way to the Midlands – our front tyre blew in the fast lane of the M40 when we were going faster than we probably should have been. We then spent the next hour or so waiting for the recovery vehicle and then were towed to a tyre retailer by our Manchester United supporting patrolman.
Veering across three lanes of a motorway while trying to keep control of your vehicle does concentrate the mind somewhat, but not far behind for me was the possibility of Torres scoring when I wasn’t there to witness it – selfish I know, but I feel he owes it to me!!
As I watched a mechanic change my scarily shredded tyre while I tried to get updates on Twitter, I cursed my bad fortune as I had been particularly looking forward to this game as last Thursday I was lucky enough to see an entire training session and wanted to see how much of what I saw was actually put into practice. At Cobham, I observed a rather stern Ancelotti divide the squad into two teams (Drogba & Torres on opposing sides) for a twenty minute match, as he counted 1-10 repeatedly quick quick quick – the team had to pass on every number; I was relieved to see this exercise as previously I wasn’t sure whether it was a deliberate tactic to continually slow down the play & in doing so, invite pressure on – evidently not. It was a relief that not only had Ancelotti identified this issue but was addressing it – no excuses then.
Training seemed a serious – almost solemn affair. One has to remember that this was less than two days after losing in the Champions League to United. I’d like to think they were hurting – I know I still was. Torres looked nervous as he came off the training field and approached the twenty of so of us fans waiting for him on the touchline. He needn’t have worried; at Chelsea we have a pedigree of backing players – especially strikers – who don’t make an ideal start to their Chelsea careers. He was greeted warmly, and his interaction with us fans was exemplary. He’ll be OK.
David Luiz, already a fan favourite, proliferated that good will by enthusiastically posing for endless photographs, signing autographs, attempting to communicate by means of a few English words, a few Spanish/Portuguese words and hand signals. His energy was seemingly unending and rather than going to get changed after the rigorous training session, he insured that we all had the pictures/few words/autographs we wanted, then proceeded to chase the squealing, yet delighted Lampard youngsters around the training ground. We like him a lot.
Indeed all the players with only a couple of exceptions, were charming, friendly and all too willing to give us some time – they often get a bad press, but for me, they were top drawer.
Carlo Ancelotti did not come over – whether this was because he had a special guest with him at the training ground that day (Arrigo Sacchi) – whether he was too busy, or whether he wasn’t up to it that day – who knows, but it can’t be much fun being the centre of the usual Chelsea manager sacking tittle tattle that rears its head every year directly after we get knocked out of the Champions League.
Various journalists this week have claimed to have been informed by Chelsea “sources” that Carlo Ancelotti will no longer be Chelsea manager come the start of the new season; his demeanour betrays that he too believes that to be the case. My feelings on Ancelotti are mixed; I didn’t feel he was right for Chelsea in the first place – but then he went and confounded all his critics by delivering the double in his first season. Was it genius? Was it luck? Was it the players?
Then we look at this season, which by our recent standards, has been a bit of a disaster. Was it the injuries? Was it tactical nativity? Was it our suicidal dealings in the closed season transfer market? Was it bad luck?
My problem is that we are almost at the end of his second season with us and I’m still not sure whether he knows what our best eleven is, what our best formation is and how to make substitutions – which isn’t good whichever way you look at it.
But then you can’t just keep changing managers every couple of years – it doesn’t achieve anything but instability. And who is available to take over anyway? Some of the names put forward have raised a chuckle but the most ridiculous to date has to be Harry Rednapp.
Harry has lots of friends in the media, which allows him to enjoy a certain gravitas that is beyond his actual ability as a manager – I hope Abramovich will not be swayed by a English press which has been guilty of making and breaking careers based on nothing more than bias, self-indulgence and an inflated sense of their own worth.
Abramovich has to decide whether to stick or twist – I think he will twist again, but he can’t carry on in the same manner as eventually, he will either bust, or run out of cards.