Monday 24 November
Oh no, John Neal has died. He passed away at the age of 82 and we will all miss him. John took Chelsea by the scruff of the neck and at our lowest ebb fashioned a brilliant team. Suddenly in the early eighties Chelsea were fantastic and it was all down to John Neal.
He signed Pat Nevin from Clyde, Nigel Spackman came from the south coast and Bournemouth, David Speedie from Darlington, Joey Jones and Eddie Niedzwiecki he knew from his time at Wrexham and a little known striker from Reading called Kerry Dixon. It is rare in football that so many new players should gel so quickly and it is testament to Neal’s man-management that Chelsea went from the verge of the third division to the top reaches of the first in four years.
More important than the results was the style of play, Chelsea were brilliant under John Neal, fluent and Chelsea fans had smiles plastered across their faces for the short but thrilling ride.
John retired as manager due to ill health and served on the board of directors. He will be missed by all at Chelsea and our condolences go to his family and friends.
Tuesday 25 November
Shalke 04 0:5 Chelsea
Roberto Di Matteo didn’t hide his head after this drubbing but he might be in trouble. Shalke look a very disjointed side and we starved them of the ball and sliced them open in attack.
This was also our strongest XI with Costa firing on all cylinders and the Hazard, Oscar, Willian attacking thrust being fed by Fábregas there are few who could cope. Especially when you concede as early as Shalke. Costa’s first run drew a save and a corner. John Terry rose highest to head in. 0-1.
Almost immediately they had a looping deflection strike the bar but that was the end of their attacking threat as a slick passing move set up Willian to shoot at, and through, their goalkeeper. 0-2.
With the defenders all shouting at and blaming Fahrmann in the Shalke goal they contrived to extend our lead as three of them challenged each other to head into their own net. Jan Kirchoff was the lucky winner. 0-3.
The second-half could have been a stroll if it wasn’t for Didier Drogba’s determination and drive. He turned in a square pass for his 50th goal in European football, 0-4, and then reversed a cross for Ramires to head his second of the season. 0-5.
Di Matteo admitted his side had been handed a drubbing but will be concerned at how quickly they threw in the towel. He has a big job to do in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Jose for once said he thought it was near perfection. Nobody is going to want to draw Chelsea in the next round as the win means we top the group.
Shalke 04 U19 2:0 Chelsea U19
A first defeat of the campaign came as two second-half goals drew no reply. Tammy Abraham and Dominic Solanke both went close but this was battering our heads against a well-organised brick wall.
We can still top the group if we match Shalke’s result in the next round. We are home to Sporting, they play Maribor.
Wednesday 26 November
Victor Moses has a thigh injury and will be out of action for eight weeks. Chelsea are discussing whether or not he comes back to Cobham for rehabilitation.
Victor was on loan last season at Liverpool and has had a positive start to his time at Stoke City.
The Uefa team of the year shortlist includes Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois but omits Cahill, Terry, Hazard, Matic and Oscar. Strange it is almost as if we didn’t get to the semi-finals of the Champions League last term.
Alex Davey signed both a new contract and a loan deal today. The loan takes him to Scunthorpe until the end of January and the deal keeps him with us until 2016.
The Iron are struggling a bit in League One so perhaps a bit of defensive cover is what they need.
Friday 28 November
Southampton U18 2:2 Chelsea U18
Ten changes from last week and a younger profile as we battled back from two down. Southampton worked extremely hard and were worth their two goal cushion but Isaac Christies-Davies, with an exquisite chip, and Tammy Abraham provided the finishes for the league leaders to take a point.
Saturday 29 November
Sunderland 0:0 Chelsea
The first really flat performance came at the end of a draining week as travel and European football made this a likely slip.
Jose chose not to rotate the team and while we passed well and forced Sunderland to defend for almost the entire contest we didn’t have the usual spark of imagination or power.
Diego Costa was booked after being fouled all over the pace off the ball for the entire game. His booking was the fifth he has received although he has been unlucky with three of those. Here he caught Brown in the face with his trailing arm, accident, you could say, the ref saw otherwise. To be fair he kicked out at John O’Shea after being flattened from behind on the touchline and could have seen red for his react. As it is he misses the Tottenham game.
Willian hit a post with one strong drive but we wafted shots from twenty yards rather than try to work wide to negate their packed defence. It had stale nil-all written all over it from the kick-off.
Sunday 30 November
Manchester City are starting to get themselves together. They trashed Southampton 0-3 with ten-men. This is going to be a race after all.