At least now it’s over. I don’t think I’ve looked forward to flipping over my calendar as much since Cindy Crawford in a swimsuit graced each month. September has undoubtedly been the worst four weeks under the Abramovich era. Not a single Premiership goal to our name, the loss of our most successful manager in history, an embarrassing home draw to Rosenberg, defeat to our main rivals and, even worse, defeat to an average Villa team.
Injuries left us without Lampard, Carvalho, Drogba and Ballack. Just when it couldn’t get much worse it inevitably did with Terry now out with a depressed cheekbone. The only bright result was the 4-0 drumming of Hull with was robbed of its sheen as it was both expected and badly needed. On the plus side we’re not in the relegation zone (please see Spurs.) So where do we go from here? With so much bad luck and turmoil over the past month surely from here on in the only way is up.
The rumours of a new manager coming in will only intensify over the next month. The club needs some stability in the long term and if that means bringing in a more experienced coach then the quicker the better. As it stands not only are Grant’s credentials being questioned but also whether he is even calling all the shots. If the players do not yet feel confident in the coach it is little wonder that there seems to be a lack of confidence on the pitch at times.
Having watched him these last three games it’s little wonder the fans are not overly impressed. For a start he looks like he has escaped from the cellar of the Adams Family, standing on the sidelines like a member of the undead and leaving all the barking and motivation to Steve Clarke. Passion isn’t everything of course but so far his team selection has raised some question marks too. Namely Ben Haim who looks far too error prone to be ahead of Alex in the pecking order, Belletti has to be first choice right back every time, Wright-Phillips is in the form of his life and Pizarro’s link up play and efforts have to be rewarded with more starts. But it is early days and let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
One win, one draw and one defeat may not have set the world alight but in such a turbulent week it might have been worse. Valencia away is the time to judge the coach, the real work has to start on Wednesday and the players need to pull together and give everything during October or this season will be finished before it has begun. Every league game from now until Christmas has to be a must win to close the gap on all-conquering Arsenal and that’s a tough ask of anyone. But this team can do it.
We’ve created enough chances to win games with goals to spare but continue to waste them with an almost gleeful abandonment. Some target practice must be high on the agenda with training geared towards an empty net and players kicking that round thing into the back of it. Kick. Ball. Net. Goal. The defence has looked shaky at times but if they do not concede then we have to capitalise on that every time and take the three points. As it stands some of the players need to take a long look at themselves and in the case of Sheva can someone give him a shake? Where is the powerful goal hungry predator of Milan? Too often crosses have been fizzed across the six-yard box as he watches, too often he it nudged off the ball, too often his control is heavy.
Whether he needs a few goals to get him going or just a bit of desire, a bit of bite to get his game back on track. Whatever it is, it needs to start happening because we need a Shevchenko banging in goals. Sheva probably pales next to Kalou though who despite hitting a dubious double in Hull should be in double figures by now. He has seemingly missed two good chances per game this season. If he wants to be a world-class player for a world-class club that’s just not good enough. But goals aren’t just the strikers problem and the lack of goals from those outside of the Drogba/Lamps goal machine can probably be counted on one hand. Essien and Cole have been lively but need shooting practice more than most.
Cole favours the pass back technique whereas Essien aims for orbit. These two need to take on the responsibility of grabbing the goals that they are more than capable of. We’ve seen that Malouda and Wright-Phillips have the ability to grab a fair share too but so far follow the trend of missing the target. Sidwell has so far yet to fully convince, his work rate is good, his passing can be slick and the crunching tackles can make him a fans favourite. However so far I don’t think he has managed to string two games in a row where he has played at a consistently high level and if he can’t do that he might struggle this season.
Although there are niggles and gripes if these can be ironed out and we can start to find the net again then there is more than enough talent at the club to compete for all four trophies. The pressure is on and October will be a massive month for us, starting with two tricky away games that are going to make or break our hopes for the big two trophies. Hopefully the month will see some big players return and that includes Terry. We all know what he’s like and expect him to return sooner than medically advised wearing a comedy Batman mask for that cheek. The effort and determination is still there from the players to succeed this season.
The players, the fans, the club have to stick together during the tricky times and hopefully we can all laugh at the end of the season at how utterly sh*t September was.