As the half time whistle went last Saturday, the guy next to me was singing “we’re going down with the Arsenal” – I’d like to tell you in was tongue in cheek, but he was serious. In fact there was a generally disgruntled air right around the stadium, the crowd evidently not liking much of what they had seen in the first half. This followed on from some frankly embarrassing barracking of Kalou who was subbed on 35 minutes.
I am probably the Ivorian’s harshest critic but I have never booed him, nor have I cheered when he has been substituted – personally, I thought it was all pretty shameful, especially as I have found Chelsea fans generally encourage players going through a bad patch. He was poor, but there were a number of players equally poor in the game and it really could have been one of half a dozen that were substituted so swiftly. It was also obviously a tactical change rather than a personnel change as such, but either way, it will be difficult for the player to come back from such a public display of no confidence from the fans.
Of course it may be the last time he turns out for the blues should we believe the rumoured latest offer for Modric – Kalou, Benayoun plus bundles of cash. Tottenham are claiming that any deal is off following our acquisition of Mata, which seems an odd thing to say as they are two completely different types of players. Today may be D-Day as Benayoun tweeted on Saturday that his future would be revealed by Wednesday. I would be quite disappointed to see Yossi go as I thought he looked really bright in pre-season and feel that he was never given a chance at Chelsea – and typically, just when he seems to be fit, and be coming into some form, it looks like we are off loading him to one of our fiercest rivals!
Funnily enough, Kalou doesn’t strike me as a Tottenham/Rednapp type player and I can’t wish him well if he goes to “them”; I have cursed him under my breath more times than I care to remember, but I don’t think he ever put in less than 100% and he seems a personable individual and a good professional. I just don’t think he has ever been consistent enough for us, yet his medal haul will tell a different story – wherever he ends up, I am sure he will end up making us pay for our lack of belief in him.
If last Saturday confirmed one thing it was that our midfield need a serious overhaul and on paper, Mata and Modric seem exactly the kind of players we need – but in reality every player you buy is a risk and until they play regularly you don’t know how they will fit in with the rest of the team, or with the tactics or even on a personal level.
Most players invariably need time to adjust (unless your name is Aguero!! – TWO years we chased him – I’m not bitter – much) and this is often a difficult period as instant success is not only expected, but demanded from various factions of the footballing fraternity.
Fans are probably the worst, expecting new players to single handedly turn the fortunes of their club and as AVB pointed out, its these vocal fans who just pile the pressure onto the players – the anxiety was palpable on Saturday right up to the final whistle, when relieved bravado took over. And as for the media, woe betide the player that doesn’t hit the ground running – especially if he went for big money – the press will break down every move, highlight every deficiency – be it real or perceived and gleefully publish the damning stats in ever increasing sized fonts.
Then there are the money men – instant success is also demanded from them as it is directly linked to profitability – and that’s before we even get to agents, sponsors etc.
This stipulation for immediate success extends to new managers – the amount of people already questioning AVB and claiming that nothing has changed from last season – well of course not much has changed – it’s still the same team!! At least our new man can make a tactical substitution and make it early enough to count and perhaps with the latest additions we can improve and develop to better reflect what I imagine the manager is trying to do.
Some football fans needs to be educated – it’s not about instant gratification – it’s about watching a game you love and supporting your team – it’s as much about the hope as it is about the winning, if not more so. With a young manager and young players such as Lukaku, Mata, McEachran, Piazon, Courtois etc we could be building a dynasty of the future – one that could have the longevity of the United team which dominated under Ferguson. This is finally looking like a long term plan and that means a transition period at some point – we should be excited – I know I am.
So let’s cut the whinging and get behind the boys – whoever is wearing that shirt and try and be the best supporters a team could wish for – the future looks bright – and even the here and now could be successful – but we all have our parts to play – come on Chelsea!