Monday 13 February
Andre Villas-Boas had the squad in yesterday, on what was supposed to be a rest day, for a team meeting. The industrial language employed by some of the squad is said to have shocked Roman Abramovich. As player after player directly criticised AVB for confusing tactics and selections. Cahill’s one game in five was mentioned.
Given Saturday’s performance and now a failed exercise in democracy AVB appears to have lost the plot. Given that he was Abramovich’s personal choice for boss it remains to be seen whether he will stay and the senior players go or the other way around.
Meanwhile Glasgow Rangers have gone into administration. There is no room to gloat, it is only just over ten years since Roman saved us from the same fate, just to note that Rangers are the biggest club to face the prospect of a winding-up order. There but for the grace of Roman go us.
Monday 13 February
Tuesday 14 February
Chelsea reserves XI 5:4 Gillingham reserves XI
Blowing some cobwebs out of the system the reserves resulted in Patrick Bamford’s first two in Chelsea colours and marked the day that Conor Clifford signed a one-year extension. The Irish U21 will be with us until June 2013.
Wednesday 15 February
Chelsea youth 3:3 West Ham United youth
(Chelsea win 5-4 on pens)
Another seat of your pants evening for the youngsters. Slick and dominant passing football twice gave us the lead through Lewis Baker and, in the second-half, Islam Feruz. West Ham were made of stern stuff and levelled twice before taking an injury time lead when Kenzer Lee shot the Hammer’s ahead. Thankfully when we have harum at youth level there is also scarum so when we flooded back up the pitch Islam Feruz’s effort came off the post and fell to Nat Chalobah for 3-3, and thank you, and goodnight, well, almost there was a couple of periods of extra-time before penalties where we lead up to the fifth kick when Feruz inexplicably missed but West Ham fluffed their next so Todd Kane slotted to take us through.
Thursday 16 February
Oh dear, after the distraction of youth and penalties yesterday we bumped back to earth and AVB’s assertion that he doesn’t need the players on his side just the owner.
There have been rumours all week that AVB and the squad had a big falling out on Sunday. We are not sure how far a manager can get without his players. We might be about to find out.
Some good news: Ramires and John Terry are back in training. Saturday lunchtime is probably be too early for John but with the Ivorian pair back and Cole on the mend we might actually be at full strength for Napoli next Tuesday. See there is always a silver lining.
Saturday 18 February
Chelsea 1:1 Birmingham City
The shambles rumbles on with no sign of any improvement. This time the sleepy defence watched a ball all the way across the area, bouncing thrice, until a left back stuck it in. 0-1.
The dysfunctional mob called a Chelsea team welcomed back Ramires and Obi John and gave a start to Cahill for only the second time. It didn’t make any difference. We still created no chances from open play against a very spirited but limited Birmingham side. Mata missed the penalty that would have given us almost instant parity and Luiz curled a free-kick toward the top corner but stand-in goalkeeper turned over.
The second period was better but when was the last time this team performed in the first-half? It didn’t seem so much of a problem back in the Autumn but we have wasted half of every game since.
Drogba, having delivered his own kick-up-the-collective-backside at half-time, brought a new verve and fresh problems to the visitor’s defence after the break but he couldn’t do it alone.
Sturridge rose, unmarked, to head in Ivanovic’s cross for the equaliser. 1-1. But even then, we struggled to impose any authority. With plenty of possession we humped ball after ball long hoping that Didier could grow wings as half the balls were over hit. We never looked like getting a winner.
AVB was at pains to point out that Didier had not delivered the half-time team talk. He is starting to show the pressure of constantly being on the back of poor results.
Chelsea youth 1:3 Southampton youth
0-3 behind after eight-minutes it was remarkable that this Chelsea side won the rest of the game 1-0. This was the youngest U18 team for a while as Adi rested players ahead of the FA Youth Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.
Sunday 19 February
Should we progress on Tuesday 6 March – it will be live, the vultures are starting to circle – then we’ll have another humiliating afternoon against Leicester City at home in the quarter-finals.
In better news: Gaël Kakuta scored one and made a second as Dijon beat Nice 3-0. He looked to be recovering his confidence after a miserable experience at Bolton. Kevin De Bruyne also scored a winner for Genk.