It’s been a remarkable 10 days – especially as Chelsea were all but read the last rites by all and sundry following the loss to Liverpool. The Newcastle game was a much needed psychological lift; the Valencia game was surprisingly easy, but no less important, but it was the Man City game that we needed to win to prove a few points.
Firstly, that City are not invincible; secondly, that we are not a spent force and finally a reminder to all (myself included) to have faith in our manager.
The game meant much to the supporters who have had to endure some pretty depressing press recently and that was evident in the atmosphere at The Bridge on Monday night – the place was absolutely rocking; many stadia in modern football can be described as sterile these days so it was good to feel the adrenalin pumping through the veins and a crowd that roared its support to the team – I honestly believe it gave us that added edge. Also the competitiveness confirms (should confirmation be needed) that City is now a “big game” in the calendar are a truly a force to be reckoned with.
Indeed the period following their goal I feared the worst. They simply waltzed though our defence and I found myself initially praying that we could at least keep it within the boundries of decency – but as we weathered the storm the belief grew not only through the crowd but through the players too.
By this point the rain was torrential but that did not stop the players of either team giving it 100% – it was a great game to be watching – the kind of game which reminds you why you love football.
Yes, I am going to mention the refereeing decisions – Clichy was always going to get sent off – every time one of ours ran at him he panicked and ended up conceding a foul; the only real surprise was that he didn’t go earlier to be honest. Should they have had a penalty? Yes. Bothered? No. Still a long way to go until we are level as far as refereeing decisions go.
Let’s not forget Toure who kicked out at Mata – then later tried a patronising slap round the head – I’ve seen players go for much less – Boswinga at QPR for a start. As for Silva and Balotelli, I suggest they go and see the club doctor – may be something as simple as an inner ear problem that is affecting their balance. Yes I know, Drogba, pot, kettle – whatever.
It looks like AVB’s preferred starting eleven is beginning to be established and given recent results it is difficult to argue with it. There will inevitably be casualties whenever a new manager comes in – especially when that also involves a change in the playing style and the most high profile of those at the moment is Lampard. I believe that he will still play a significant part in the team this season and beyond, but that it will in all probability not be a starting role most of the time. The question is, whether he is willing to accept that.
He is arguably the most popular player at Chelsea; he is on an excellent salary, Chelsea have a state of the art training ground, he lives in one of the most cosmopolitan and sought after areas in London, his personal life seems settled and happy – should he, would he put any of those under threat and consider a move? I couldn’t name many top division clubs that could guarantee him a starting place week in week out so think that he should do what he does best and just give it his all whenever he is on the pitch and continue to train longer and harder than anyone else at the club.
His experience will be needed throughout the season and playing less will hopefully actually extend his career. It will be difficult for him to accept and so it should be – he has been a player constantly at the top of his profession for the past decade and acknowledging that this could no longer be the case would understandably be difficult for a competitor of his calibre.
From a purely selfish point of view, I do hope that he does decide to stay as he is without doubt, the best player I have seen at the Bridge in my lifetime. There may be others that were more skilful, or quicker or more athletic, but football is about goals – and no one can argue with his goal tally. He is the complete player and statistically superior in so many ways than his counterparts. He has achieved legend status at Stamford Bridge and it would be fitting that he should continue to play with us until his retirement – and then could there be a better role model/coach for our youngsters? Whatever he decides, he will forever be held in the highest regard by Chelsea fans.
So, the three “must-win” games are won, let’s not let our desire and current form drop – come on Chelsea!!!