NICE GUYS COME LAST

By Grahame Fendle
Feb 8th, 2009

I’m not known for having a particularly good memory, in fact it’s fair to say it’s pretty atrocious at the best of times, but as much as our memory often plays tricks on us there are some things that just stick. Not always a good thing though, is it?

I can only remember leaving three, maybe four games early since I started going to football over forty years ago. The first time wasn’t even a Chelsea game, it was Basingstoke vs Northampton Town in the 1971-72 season. Memorable because it was the first time my home town team had reached the 1st round proper of the FA Cup, and a then record 3400 people had turned out to witness the event, which turned out to be a 5-1 thrashing for the home side. More memorable for the fact that I went home at half-time. Not because the football was rubbish, but because it was so bloody cold your correspondent, then 11 years old, was frozen to the core and wanted to go home.

So, to present day, and this season alone I’ve left the ground early twice. Against Roma I left because I was so angry at the way Roma played. They came to us with no intention of doing anything other than frustrating, and that they achieved in spades. So much so that I fully expected to see an article in the Daily Telegraph the next day on anti-football, seeing as it’s an expression they’ve used on more than one occasion to describe the football Chelsea has played in recent years. Actually, I lie, I didn’t expect to see anything at all from the Telegraph. Like the Times’ anti-diving campaign, which famously featured only Chelsea players, all talk of anti-football has disappeared now they don’t have a high-flying Chelsea to play the Tall Poppy games with.

Today, against Hull, I left on the 86th minute. A thing I constantly moan about other people doing. Yet as I turned to leave and excused my rudeness to the bloke next to me, he simply said, “I’ve seen enough too, don’t blame you mate”, and off I wandered.

Well, I’m not one for calling for the heads of senior figures at Chelsea; I’m all for stability, which is ironic seeing as it’s the very thing that’s eluded this club in all the years I’ve been following it. Mark Worral in a recent interview for Match of the Day 2 remarked that some might say we’ve got our old Chelsea back. I reckon so.

But I’ve had enough now I think. Certainly I’ve had enough of Scolari, and his oh-so-nice approach. I wasn’t than keen on Scolari taking over at Chelsea, but what I was looking forward to was seeing a man with a reputation for telling it like it is when the need arises, but what I’ve seen so far leads me to believe that what we’ve got is a bloke who’s content in the knowledge that he’s got the credit crunch-busting pension to end all pensions. Fine and dandy of course, but I’d rather he wasn’t doing it off the back of the match-going punters standing (or not) out in the freezing cold to watch the utter bilge currently being served up at Stamford Bridge. Phil, stop sending Ray Wilkins out to face the cameras, he’s getting more grief from the punters than he deserves. He’s a bloody Chelsea hero who captained a freshly relegated side to promotion and played at times for no wages. Show some respect, and get out in front of the cameras and admit that you’ve cocked this one up quite royally. Admit that you took on a job without researching it properly, and admit that with the players at your disposal you’ll be lucky to win a cuddly toy at the fair. Just stop being nice, that would be a start. It doesn’t work. Ask Claudio Ranieri, he’ll be over here soon.

The other person I’d like to come out and speak, in the absence of Roman Abramovich every actually talking to the fans in any official capacity, is Peter Kenyon. However, what I’d like to hear is less of the snake-oil and more of the stuff that the fans are interested in, not just what you think they want to hear with more of your condescending twaddle.

We want to know what’s happened to the legacy that Roman wants to build. As thankful as many of us are for the way things have gone on the pitch over the last few years, what’s gone on off the pitch looks like a bloody shambles, frankly.

We want to know that if there’s a long-term plan to make Chelsea the biggest club in the world, why didn’t you give the funds to Scolari to build a team in his own image? If Scolari isn’t the right man for job, which could easily be construed from such a short contract and lack of said funds, why the hell is it taking you so long to find the right man?

I personally would love to know why you’ve allowed successive managers to tear down the good work Claudio Ranieri did in building a team of youngsters that were primed to help build Roman’s dream. And I’m not talking about just the players who have aged since you sacked Claudio, I’m talking about the fact that you’ve allowed successive coaches to actually bring in, with few exceptions, even older players! Seriously, what is that all about?

So, for me, Phil has to go. I’d rather it was sooner, assuming someone at Chelsea has been doing their job and they’ve found the successor. I don’t believe in giving people a season, or a week, if it’s clear that they’re not up to the job. He’s got a squad of players who earlier in the season had the media in raptures over the game against Villa, a squad of players who are well versed in playing excellent football, but it’s turned into a travesty.

I’ve watched this squad soak up far more pressure in the past than it did against Liverpool recently, and still show the patience to wait and batter a team on the counter. That’s the way the team was set up, so why get a coach in who simply can’t play football that way? Doesn’t make an ounce of sense to me at all.

So, if he’s staying, he should have been given the funds to build something in his own image. If he’s not, then get shot of him now. It doesn’t make any sense to prolong this nonsense for him, for the club, or for the fans who stand out in the freezing cold doing their level best to get behind a team that looks for all the world like it’s never had a sniff of a trophy, much less won a hat-full in the last few seasons. But if I were you, Peter, I’d keep Phil away from Claudio when he pitches up at the Bridge, because he might just have some sage advice for him. Nice guys win nothing at Chelsea.

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