With no game at the weekend, the CFCnet crew met to reminisce about our season to date and discuss any other subject that raised its ugly or pretty head. With the imminent return of Jesper Gronkjaer for Tuesday night’s tie against Copenhagen, the topic turned to our Danish international, the man who scored one of the most important goals in Chelsea’s history.
Signed by Ranieri in 2000, Gronkjaer’s debut against Man Utd was significant for his solo run from deep inside our own half to the edge of United’s area. Whilst it didn’t result in a goal, it showcased the Dane’s blistering pace. Unfortunately it also highlighted his lack of end product, as we were soon to discover.
Our favourite story about Jesper concerns the Vauxhall Astra he was given as a ‘run about’ when he first signed for Chelsea. New signings, who often move clubs within hours, are normally lent a Vauxhall or Ford to give them some form of transport when they first arrive.
Unlike most players who quickly replace their Vauxhall for an Aston Martin or Maserati, Jesper kept his Astra ‘run about’ for the entire four seasons he was with Chelsea. Even to this day we can’t work out whether he was a naturally humble sort of guy or simply too lazy to visit the Lamborghini showroom in South Ken.
Still, we’re very grateful for Jesper’s strike against Liverpool in May 2003 which propelled us into the Champions League thereby staving off any threat of administration and allowing the Club to be an attractive proposition for a certain Mr Roman Abramovich. For that reason alone Jesper’s certain to receive a warm round of applause on Wednesday night. A true legend, as much for his hamstring strains as his 3 goals a season.
Conversation then quickly turned to the plight of Arsenal, the self-styled purveyors of the ‘beautiful game’ who have crashed out of three competitions in two weeks. Living in London, like most CFCnet volunteers, we meet Arsenal fans every day in daily life and we’ve grown tired of their protestations that they play ‘the beautiful game’. One hundred passes might look pretty but how effective is it?
Yet again the Gunners are staring down the barrel of a trophy-less season, and whilst they might be second in the Premiership, their ability to choke at the business end of the season is becoming almost as legendary as their red shirts. With the Gooner’s defeat at the Nou Camp as expected as the morning sunrise, CFCnet felt that the Independent’s subsequent feature on ‘Wenger’s run in and rants’ was one of the weekend’s lighter moments.
Finally, we mustn’t forget the great interview that Fernando Torres recently gave to the Spanish paper Marca. Coming across as intelligent and thoughtful, our Spanish superstar gave an insight into the superb atmosphere at Cobham alongside the excellent team spirit. As Torres says, “I expected (the atmosphere) to be more distant given that this has a name for being a superstar team…but there are better personal relations and more jokes between the players than at Liverpool.” Torres then adds, “winning trophies is all they care about and, for me, the Champions League is the dream – no doubt.” Us too, Fernando, us too.