CORONER’S INQUEST by Gary Watton
Okay so the defeat at Goodison isn’t the end of the world and indeed may prove to be a wake-up call, but well it is a case of glass half full, glass half empty at the moment, depending on your outlook of recent results and our future prospects.
If you are a glass half full geezer, then it is worth reminding ourselves that Everton defeated ManUre 1-0 at the beginning of last season, and that setback didn’t do the Manchester Mercenaries much harm as they proceeded thereafter to lift the Premiership trophy, with ease. Therefore, our defeat could be a good omen, if you are superstitiously inclined. Let’s face it. Everton away from home is definitely a dodgy fixture at the best of times, but it is a blow to leave empty-handed.
Secondly, under Ancelotti in the autumn of 2010 and Di Matteo last autumn, Chelsea accelerated out of the starting blocks, but flattered to deceive, and come nasty November, our team hit the buffers, big time. Maybe if we start less impressively, we might actually build our season gradually and maintain momentum. After all, under Jose in his first season, Chelsea also narrowly lost at Manchester Shitty one-nil in October, to an Anelka penalty. Folk scorned us after that result, but we never lost another league match after that and we actually won the Premiership at a canter. Therefore, there are a few good omens to clutch at.
However, if you are a glass half empty geezer [like yours truly], then no goals from our two trips to Old Trafford and Goodison is frankly unacceptable, and a total of four goals in our first four Premiership outings is dire. Apart from a scintillating opening half against mediocre Hull, we have been distinctly average. We struggled against Aston Villa. Even Jose conceded that we were lucky to take all three points. We contained ManUre at their place, without threatening to score, and at Goodison we fluffed too many chances in the first half.
If Chelsea want to be the top dogs in England again, we need to take a leaf out of ManUre’s manual. They have been masters at drawing matches where they looked down and out and also at winning close matches. Those two extra points in a close encounter make all the difference. They also have been frustratingly good at coming from behind. Until Chelsea acquire ManUre’s knack of winning matches after having conceded the first goal, then we will remain at best a distant third to the two manky Mancs.
Jose’s post-match comments about our failure to convert chances were spot-on. Sometimes we snatch at chances when we need composure and then do the reverse: we take too much time over a chance when a quicker effort is needed. Either way, we failed our audition on Saturday past. Personally, I don’t blame Eto’o. He got himself into several goalscoring positions, which is a healthy sign, and I still reckon he will convert plenty of chances this season. However, in the last analysis, we need someone to score important goals when we are behind. Scoring the fourth or fifth in a drubbing of the opposition is easy. Netting the equaliser against a well-marshalled defence like Everton is the sign of greatness for any player. We cannnot forever rely on Frank to get us out of jail.
Finally, most folk seem to feel that Jose can do no wrong. Well, under beloved Benitez, the ‘interim one’, we took six points from our trips to Goodison and Old Trafford, so we are five points worse off by comparison – a sobering thought. Secondly, if Rafa or Avram had presided over the Everton setback, everyone would jump on a bandwagon and exclaim “you don’t now what you’re doing.” Well, why did Jose not sacrifice our defensive midfielder Mikel in our search of an equaliser? Okay, so big John Obi did little wrong on Saturday, but replacing him with say De Bruyne might have brought more reward rather than chasing the game with your non-scoring holding player! Maybe the special one doesn’t know what he’s doing. Oh blimey. I will be accused of blasphemy now.
Gary Watton [see also http://sporthistorian.blog.com/chelsea]