This past seven days we have seen the very best and the very worst that this team has to offer. The clash with Tottenham was one of those games that made us football addicts fall in love with the game in the first place. Notice I didn’t call it the beautiful game there – because beautiful it most certainly wasn’t – but that second half was hard fought, passionate, filthy rivalry at its very best and very worst. The Tottenham players were literally fighting for the biggest prize of their careers, the Chelsea players fighting for their pride. Despite our woeful season, we not only denied them their glittering prize we also forced them into revealing their inexperience and brutish tendencies for all to see.
Pochettino too – as good a manager as he is, and the potential to be one of the very best, also demonstrated his inexperience by sending his team out in such a volatile state and being unable to reign them in, and then blaming the Chelsea players. He is as much to blame for their failure at the last hurdle as they are. But hey – I’m not here to cry tears over Tottenham. It gave me one of the very few highlights of the season – and if anyone thinks that so very “small-time” of me – then I would counter that you do not understand football nor football fans. When joy does not spread through my entire being when denying a fierce rival, that’ll be the day to pack it in I reckon.
So the team has proved that they still have it in them when they feel like it, but the display up in Sunderland proved to me what I had feared for quite some time, that most of this season they have not had the competitiveness nor hunger to go and win games. That it has been the team, not the manager(s) that have been responsible for this disastrous season. There have been other contributing factors obviously, but the long and short of it is that they did not have the balls for the fight. The Tottenham game was an exception as the fans made it very, very clear that defeat would not be tolerated, the press had also hyped the match beyond a normal clash and finally as I said previously, Tottenham put the final nail in their coffin by losing their heads and managing to do the impossible – i.e. make Willian angry and get a rise out of a team who have sleepwalked through the majority of the season.
If I were Conte, I’d have probably spent most of yesterday evening going through my contract with a fine tooth comb looking for a get out clause. The majority of this team has had it and what’s worse is that we are now also led to believe that the Italian will not even be permitted to bring his own back-room staff with him. This club really amazes me sometimes. It’s already one of the most difficult jobs in football, but we still insist on tying at least one of the manager’s hands behind their back.
The only reason I can think of to explain this quite bizarre condition is money and/or a very misplaced belief in the abilities of the current coaching team. So Conte will now have to not only impart his philosophies, training methods, regimes to the players, but to the training staff too – this is simply madness – who is making these decisions? I do not believe it is Roman by the way. Money has never meant that much to him where the club is involved – this has more the sniff of those he has running the club – people that I need not remind anyone have no football back-grounds. Ah – but Roman put them in place I hear you say – but then why keep a dog and bark yourself. He has hundreds of business interests of which Chelsea is just one – he can’t run them all personally himself.
I really fear next season – I think it could out-disaster this one – I really do believe that.
There are those that will think me just scare-mongering – after all haven’t we fared magnificently for the past decade? For the past decade we have had a small group of extraordinary players that all the incoming managers could build a team around. They perhaps weren’t the most technically gifted players in the world, but they had the hearts of lions and the determination and belief that they could beat the best in the world – and they did. The last of that group of players looks to be heading out of the Bridge and Mike Jones has ensured that he will not receive the farewell that the legend deserves. This is the referee that in the same game decided not to send off serial offender Lee Cattermole for a horrendous tackle on Eden Hazard that was branded a red by most neutrals who saw it, yet felt it necessary to brandish a second yellow in the 95th minute to Terry then wonder why we have a complex at the way we are refereed in relation to our opposition.
John Terry is a legend at Chelsea. We don’t care what you non-believers think you know about him as a player or as a man. Most of you will have believed every salacious detail spewed by the press – other players have been forgiven worse – Ryan Giggs to name just one and I would wager that had JT played for any other side than Chelsea his “crimes” would not have taken up more column inches than Fred and Rose West. I found it interesting that as it became clear that Terry would miss the last game of his Chelsea career, the majority of the press could not hide their glee and took to social media to gloat, yet professionals and ex-professionals of the game were saddened that it looked like it was going to end the way it was. You see the thing is, no matter what you think of Terry, what cannot be denied is the fact that he is one of the best defenders of his generation. He won everything there was to win domestically, and was integral to every win. I would go as so far as to say that he was the most important player in the last decade to Chelsea than any other player to any club.
On the pitch he led by example – the likes of Lampard, Drogba, Cech etc could not have been what they were without him standing by them. He deserved that last game, he had earned that last game – a million times over – and if this club has even an ounce of gratitude or sense it should be putting together that new contract for him so that he can have the ending that befits Chelsea’s greatest ever captain, our leader, our legend.
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