It’s not been the easiest of weeks if you’re a Scottish football pundit has it? Hell no. One minute your casting your eye over the weekend’s big Premiership matches, bestowing the public with enlightened tactical wisdom. The next thing you know things go a tad pear shaped and it’s a very embarrassing start of the week for all concerned. I am, of course, referring to Alan Hansen who wrote a piece in the Independent this Monday stating that Chelsea Football Club were facing ‘football Armageddon’. Cripes. He went on to explain supposed shortcomings, too tiresome to regurgitate, but you can read through the bile here.
We are aware Alan has previous on this kind of thing so we can’t be too unkind but really this article is the sort of short-sighted journalism that was always going to bite him in the arse. You don’t go from double winners to chumps quite so easily no matter how much you wish it to be true. It’s taken, I don’t know a suitable example, let’s just say Liverpool FC a very long time indeed to sink to this season’s regulation threatening depths. Now I like Alan Hansen, he was not only a fine footballer but is also one of the greatest pundits ever to grace the box – but I have to point out this is article is, in a word, wrong. Can we push for the Telegraph to make it clear to Alan that these comments are totally unacceptable? How about a kneejerk ban from Saturday’s MOTD or a phone call Mr Hansen?
The points that Hansen were trying to make were relevant but just dramatically magnified until they became a bit worthless. But let’s tackle them all the same. Our key players are ageing and will need replaced. Roman won’t spend any more money and has lost interest. Spurs have a better squad than us and we’re heading towards Channel Five (a bit like Andy Gray according to one of the more printable chants at the Reebok). Firstly I think Carlo and the board have recognised the age issue and that’s why they are trying to give experience, bit by bit, to a very promising, FA Youth Cup winning, talented, set of young professionals. In summer they removed expensive wage-sapping seniors (and Joe Cole, who will always be great), players who were only going to be used intermittently in the squad. They’ve then given the opportunity for Sturridge, McEachran, Bruma, Kakuta and Van Aanholt to play and gain first team experience – all of whom have improved and therefore benefited from this strategy. At the same time the club have took a step towards self-financing and meeting the UEFA regulations on turnover. The same day Hansen says Roman is unwilling to back Carlo with his wallet than we’re edging closer to a megabucks deal for Brazilian defender David Luiz. Rumours are flying that Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku are also being lined up for the summer. So far it doesn’t appear to be the soundest of arguments. His third point and, much of what the article hinges on, is the side are in decline.
A team in decline? I think you’ll find our trajectory couldn’t be in a more opposite direction Alan. ‘Chelsea are back’ sang the away faithful and, after a number of limp performances, this side remembered how to play away from home again.
It may not just be three points or putting the infamous ‘bad moment’ to bed but instead could be a real statement of intent. These kind of four nil statements of intent are there to remind everyone that we are champions and that the title isn’t going anywhere without a fight. A phoenix from the flames moment, worthy of Skinner and Baddiel’s Fantasy Football league. It’s been very apparent this season that every side’s form has been indifferent and patchy at best. It will be a case of who blinks first and manages to string a run of victories together. Given we have home advantage against many of our rivals still to come in this half of the campaign it’s not unreasonable to suggest Chelsea can still retain the title or, at the very least, secure a Champions league position. The team answered their critics in emphatic fashion at the Reebok and long may it continue for the remaining games.