Monday 30 December
Ray Wilkins has a new job this Christmas. He has been saved from the pundit’s chair by Fulham where he will be head coach under manager Rene Meulensteen. Having managed the Cottagers for a bit in the heady days of the late 90s at least he will know his way round.
Tuesday 31 December
A good day to bury bad news: Chelsea announced a £49.4m loss during the last financial year. Turnover was up to £255m despite the failure to get out of the Champions League group. Winning the Uefa Cup doesn’t have quite the financial impact of its bigger brother.
Ron Gourlay burbled about meeting the Financial Fair Play guidance but the accounts don’t look too rosy. On the positive side we increased commercial income by £12m on the back of the European Cup win and have lowered too the age of the squad. The new Adidas deal kicks in soon and we have passed the group stage in Europe both of which will boost income next term.
These are, as always, the shortened version. For the detail of the picture we have to wait for the full accounts.
Wednesday 1 January
Southampton 0:3 Chelsea
What a weird match: with lashing rain and howling wind it seemed anything above head height would land in the Solent but somehow a football match was played.
We adapted much more quickly to the pitch and conditions but like most games in the recent past we dominated but couldn’t score. Fernando Torres kept breaking through the high line Southampton were trying to defend but kept fluffing his lines.
He broke threateningly three times in the first ten minutes but looked indecisive and nothing came of the chances. With a succession of players going down injured it seemed the game would never get into swing but when it did it was Southampton who found their rhythm, we played on the break but still suffered from indecision.
Ashley Cole deserves a medal for the one he cleared off the line and Gary Cahill and John Terry both put in a shift in the first-half.
By which time Jose had seen enough: he waited just seven minutes into the second period before swapping Mata and Schürrle for Oscar and Willian. Mata was clearly not pleased having just taken up a role behind Torres as a number 10 he is suddenly on the bench.
Oscar’s first act was to start falling before the ’keeper touched him. Actually from most angles it was a penalty and the Brazilian was unlucky to get a card rather than a spot-kick.
He made up for it by crossing for Torres to score. His cross was actually deflected onto the post but Torres’ reflexes were sharp enough. 0-1.
It was then Oscar again who fed Willian on the edge of the box. The Brazilian took a step to the right and unleashed his shot in one movement. 0-2.
To top things off Oscar then accepted Hazard’s pass and drilled a goal of his own. 0-3.
Michael Essien came on late in the game to mark an interesting stat. Jose Mourinho has used every sub available to him so far this season, three in each game, 60 substitutions in all.
Mourinho hinted that Mata might be for sale in the post match press conference. It does seem they need to sort things out. Jose is famed for fanning little fires to keep the press distracted but to lose one of the best players of the last decade because of a personality clash would be criminal.
We have a new face already. While the country sleeps off a hangover, hic, the bureaucracy at the Bridge swung into action and Bertrand Traore is officially a Chelsea player. A Burkinabé international from the age of 15, Traore featured well in our pre-season tour of Asia, scoring twice, and is an exciting prospect in midfield.
Thursday 2 January
Bertrand Traore has taken the familiar path to Vitesse as two Chelsea players make the return trip.
The Burkina Faso international joins a Vitesse side pressing for their first Eredivisie title while Gaël Kakuta and Sam Hutchinson return to Cobham after injury hit campaigns.
Like Watford last season Vitesse have been heavily criticised for using the loan system as they do. Imagine that, rivals who have not exploited the rules as they have are suddenly complaining that the system is unfair.
Friday 3 January
Mata is not for sale. Jose made it clear that the strop at Southampton has passed and all is well in the Cobham garden.
Patrick Bamford is on his way to Derby County for the second half of the season. Patrick has thrashed in 16 goals in 29 games on loan at the Milton Keynes franchise and moves up a division to the Championship with Steve McClaren’s Derby.
Mark Clattenburg is back in the news for insulting Southampton’s Adam Lallana. The referee’s body PGMOL are standing by their man again but Southampton have refused to accept their decision that Clattenburg has no case to answer. It just keeps happening to the hapless official from County Durham.
Saturday 4 January
Kenneth Omeruo is on his way to Middlesbrough for a loan, with details to be finalised before Monday. The Nigerian international was injured at the Confederations cup and so missed a loan in September. Aitor Karanka the current Middlesbrough boss was one of Jose’s assistants at Real Madrid. In his spare time, presumably, he plots to take over the world.
In FA Cup news nothing much happened Aston Villa got themselves knocked out to Sheffield United and Arsenal won the most one sided North London derby – Spurs really were crap – and Rochdale beat Leeds. Finally, Everton thrashed QPR who were so bad Nikica Jelavic scored twice.
Sunday 5 January
Derby County 0:2 Chelsea
Chelsea put in a very professional performance as Derby made us work extremely hard.
The first-half was graft with the occasional half chance. Ashley Cole was particularly sharp in clearing one off an attacker’s toe. We had a few shots from distance. Samuel Eto’o was released for a one on one by Willian’s block but he dawdled and defenders got back.
Ramires did hit the post with another rangy effort just before the break.
It took only a few minutes of the second period to realise that Derby had left all their effort back in the first. Eden Hazard came on for Essien and our attacking quartet started to dominate.
That said, you could of have had good odds on first scorer: Willian whipped in a free-kick and Obi John Mikel flicked the ball in with his head. 0-1.
It was Obi John’s 300th game and his fourth goal: three of them in the FA Cup.
Just as everyone was on their feet celebrating the end of a successful Christmas period Hazard released Oscar and he thrashed a shot in off a defender. 0-2.
Derby had a late go but couldn’t fashion a chance that needed saving until five minutes from the end. Lewis Baker will have enjoyed the afternoon as our accomplished U21 captain made his debut for a last few minutes.
The draw before kick-off paired us with Stoke City at home in the next round.
Elsewhere in the cup: West Ham lost by every goal in five at Nottingham Forest. Sunderland, Liverpool and Swansea were all comfortably through against minnows.
Eusebio died at the age of 71. The Portuguese international, originally from Mozambique, scored in almost every game he played and became one of the stars of the World Cup in 1966. He is a sad loss simply because he was possibly the nicest chap in football.