AS WEEKS go, that was pretty damn near perfect. I am, of course, writing this prior to last night’s match against Bolton so if we managed to balls it up please substitute all that follows with “flippin’ Ancelotti – I knew he would bottle it . . . team didn’t want it enough etc.”
Schadenfreude – pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. I have to confess that I have been very guilty of this particular vice this week and can only hope that the footballing gods do not decide to punish me for my lack of grace.
But really, can you blame me? I don’t know who to thank first – Lionel Messi perhaps? As an aside, I would like to point out that in the umpteen times we played Barcelona, we never got close to being so systematically out-classed as Arsenal were last week. Nor did Messi get the freedom of the park from Bosingwa and Ashley Cole that he was so generously allocated by Arsène Wenger in his quest for the pure spirit of football.
And then there was “Chelsea rent boy” Arjen Robben. He obviously heard the chant throughout the game at Old Trafford, so to then score such a sublime goal – and a goal of such importance too – was just perfect.
I should also offer apologies to Blackburn and Big Sam. Having seen the quite frankly nauseating footage of Allardyce and Ferguson giggling away like a couple of teenage girls at Aintree and again on some golf course, I fully expected Blackburn to roll over and allow Lord Govan’s men to march over them. So fair play to Blackburn.
Similarly, every Tottenham fan I knew thought that the Portsmouth semi was simply a formality; to see them denied a final against us by a rag tag relegated team was chortle-tastic. Portsmouth have done us all a favour. I’m not sure many of us could stomach a Chas n Dave FA Cup final song.
As for our semi-final against Villa, I’m not going to make any apology for the penalty that wasn’t given, nor for John Terry’s tackle, as we are long overdue some luck. In fact if we got every decision our way until the end of the 2010-11 season it still wouldn’t balance out the things that have happened to us in the past couple of years.
And if it has made O’Neill all “woe is me” so much the better. He wasn’t so gobby when refereeing mistakes helped his side over-come Palace was he?
It wasn’t because Villa were denied a penalty that they lost, it’s because Cech barely had a thing to do all game and when Chelsea started turning the screw O’Neill was unable to change the game; his one like-for-like substitution came too late and to that end his team were physically exhausted in the final 15 minutes. John Terry said the team had noticed that Villa finished their games in poor condition, and that’s exactly what happened again.
Villa were previously one of those clubs that didn’t really register in my consciousness apart from when we played them. O’Neill, too, was one of those managers who I neither liked nor loathed, but put the two together and suddenly you produce something very irritating indeed.
I never really understood the big deal over O’Neill; it is generally accepted that he is a great manager – in the running to replace Ferguson eventually if you believe “those in the know” yet what has he actually ever achieved? Two league cups – big deal! Scottish titles don’t count for anything when you are managing either Celtic or Rangers. His CV makes him no better than a mid table manager for me.
But it’s not just the over-inflated public worth of O’Neill as a manager that annoys me – it’s O’Neill the man. The patronising voice, the constantly martyred expression, the trying too hard to come over as an intellectual, those tracksuit bottoms – need I go on. Then that coupled with the Villa fans’ insistent proclamations of being “a big club” (have another go at that when you sell out your full allocation at Stamford Bridge and for a Wembley semi-final) make them the footballing equivalent of nails down a blackboard.
I was concerned about Chelsea’s performance, especially in that first half. It seemed really hard work but shows that we can dig in when necessary. In the end it was lucky for Villa that there wasn’t any time left after those last two goals. Had the game gone on another 10 minutes or so there would have been another avalanche.
Suddenly everyone is talking about the Double and it’s taken me rather by surprise. I have not mentioned it before because I hadn’t considered it. We are Chelsea after all – Chelsea don’t win the Double!
I still don’t believe we will do it. Perhaps it’s the season we have had, perhaps it’s the fact that most of us are still not fully convinced by Ancelotti (humble pie all round if he delivers) or perhaps deep down some of us still have a complex about Chelsea hobnobbing it in the big time. It’s going to be a nail-biting six weeks.
If we are going to do it then every cliché will come into play. We will concentrate on the games one by one as they come, take nothing for granted because it can be a funny old game, play everything like it’s a Cup Final (including the Cup Final!) and if it all comes together we won’t be sick as a parrot but over the moon.
Come on Chelsea!
Trizia is Joint Chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group. Visit the CSG website to find out more information.