From the diary this month: Peter Kenyon’s gob, Didier Drobga’s bum, speed dating at the G14, Peter Bonetti World Cup winner, Energie Cottbus in autumnal sunlight.
Quotes of the month:
“Abramovich is ready to pay for every one of Modric’s kilos.” Tomislav Marcinko of Dinamo Zagreb, starts looking for his paying in book.
Thursday 1 November
Yorkshire rip, er, sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe (no, that was Peter wasn’t it) decided to liven up his staff by laying into Chelsea and Manchester United. He said the amount we paid John was obscene and that we are £250m in the red and running an unsustainable business. The club was very angry and said the minister had his figures wrong, that we are not £250m in debt because Roman pays the bills. Although the bills he pays are in the form of club borrowing that could be demand back if ever he leaves. If he does, which we hope he doesn’t, nah, couldn’t happen.
At the same time, we have been invited to a meeting with the G14 group of clubs with a view to joining. They may be courting us but it’ll be more speed dating because 39 other European teams will be there too.
Saturday 3 November
Wigan Athletic 0:2 Chelsea
Curious match which we won at a canter but Wigan in the first half were far the other side of awful.
Shaun Wright-Phillips tore them to bits in the first-half, and it was his cross onto Frank’s instep that provided the opener. Belletti then strode the entire length of the field to blast the second and the match was over after only 18-minutes.
Wigan could have had a penalty and did draw a save from Petr but were otherwise woeful. Avram seems to have told everyone to go gently through the motions second-half, to save energy for Wednesday. Joe even had the day off for the trip to Shalke.
We don’t know much about the new Drogba allegations, apparently, he didn’t want to leave Marseille and said talk of going to Chelsea was ‘disgusting’. So what? Wigan fans seemed to think they could get on his back about it, we don’t think he’d have noticed.
The balls out of a bag exercise for the Carling tied us at home to Liverpool in the quarter-final. Given the way they have been playing, they could be a banana skin.
Sunday 4 November
Have you noticed how quiet things are since Jose left? The Sundays would have been full of Chelsea stories a few months ago but now, apart from the odd paragraph injury update, you search in vain.
Monday 5 November
Peter Kenyon’s gob is open again. This time he said our turnover would top £200m. Arsenal announced a similar sum in their accounts for last season but they had a £51m profit, it will be interesting to see how big our loss is on top of this turnover. When you consider the 02/03 figure (back when Kenneth W roamed the Bridge) was £75m you get some idea of how far we have come. Keith Wyness, the Everton chief executive is apparently going to let his three-year-old let off fireworks in celebration. Which we are not sure is a good idea, from a safety standpoint.
It was a good solid win on Saturday, unfortunately it cost Chris Hutchings his job today. Wigan had been shocking but you have to feel for the former Blue. Chris was hoofing around when the diary got our first season ticket (the gloriously absurd season 79/80).
Tuesday 6 November
Schalke 04 0:0 Chelsea
Not many fans in this country will have heard of Energie Cottbus; Energie are a small club from the east of Germany, the former DDR, their tiny ground surrounded by oak trees is gloriously yellow at this time of year. What has this to do with us? On Saturday Energie Cottbus, bottom of the Bundesliga, outplayed and beat Schalke 04.
That Chelsea managed only two realistic chances against this failing, injury ravaged side is a disgrace. That our ‘manager’ put out a side so woefully unprepared is not a surprise, some of Jose’s didn’t function well from the start, the difference is that Avram seemed to have no idea what to do about it.
Didier could have scored one of his two chances (or squared the ball to Essien) but Manuel Neuer wasn’t in the mood to let the ball through his legs this week. The rest of the game the German side ran rings round us, literally. Belletti went missing and Cech had to turn away three decent chances for corners, which we seemed incapable of defending. That Schalke didn’t score was testament to their own weaknesses, that we didn’t create a single chance in the second-half is testament to Avram Grant’s weakness.
Cech was replaced at half-time with a calf strain but nobody seems to know how serious it will be.
Scott Sinclair is off to the hoops for a little over a month. The thinking might be that he will need hardening up if he is to make an impact while half the team are away at the African Cup of Nations. QPR fans have a right to wonder if their new owners are actually going to spend some money or just take loanees from others’ youth teams.
Oh, and to make your day, Frank Lampard has come out in support of David Cameron: as if self-interest, stupidity and greed weren’t all a young millionaire needed from a political party.
Wednesday 7 November
Reading reserves 1:0 Chelsea reserves
This narrow defeat will come as a relief for the reserves who were walloped 6-0 last time out at Villa. Reading were last season’s reserve champions and fielded an experienced team. Chelsea’s young side looked to be on another hammering early on but acquitted themselves well.
Apparently, the first team came in for a heavy training session as a punishment for last night’s performance.
Cech’s calf muscle will keep him out of the game with Everton and the club have asked the Czech national team to rest him for their next two internationals because they have already qualified for Euro 08.
There does appear to be a spooky similarity with last season when we entered this time of year without JT, Cech, Ashley Cole etc. Everton will have watched our game with Schalke on Tuesday and noted our defensive absentees.
Finally, on a very busy day, Ruud Gullit is his way to LA Galaxy.
Saturday 10 November
Chelsea youth 5:1 Charlton youth
Thumping good win against a poor Charlton side. It seems a few days off and two-weeks between fixtures has revived the youngsters.
Scott Sinclair scored his first league goal for QPR this afternoon in a 1-1 with Palace.
Sunday 11 November
Chelsea 1:1 Everton
Another afternoon of frustration under the new regime. You can’t fault the side going forward; we created enough chances for a better lead against a strong, in-form side. Perhaps the attacking moves will start to click soon; having Shaun Wright-Phillips, back in the line up helped. He seems the only one of our wide players with enough speed to trouble any defence.
The sight of Carvalho limping out with a back problem was another blow. This team is at its strongest when Terry and Carvalho play together and are fit with Cech behind them. The straight reflection of last season’s disruption should make us realistic about the next few fixtures; we will have to score more than our opponents rather than relying on keeping them out.
That said Avram didn’t make any serious moves toward shoring things up and securing the win after we went ahead.
Drogba’s goal should have meant the points. He simply lost his marker and powered in a corner. We’ll do him a favour and not dwell on the open goal he missed in the first half, well, the ball bobbled didn’t it.
Everton’s equaliser was a sickener, although a beautifully executed sickener, which leaves us five points behind Manchester United. In the past, you’d be able to say that they would slip at some stage and allow us back into it but both United and Arsenal seem to be relentless. If anything, we look more fragile and likely to slip further behind.
The Italian police gunned down another fan in the name of breaking up petty violence. The fan was shot by accident according to the Italian authorities, without addressing why police should be waving guns at football fans in the first place. Some matches were postponed after sporadic protest marches around the country and a few small-scale riots.
It just proves what we’ve always said, minor public order offences are always made worse by heavy-handed policing.
Monday 12 November
Ebbsfleet United have become the first team owned and managed by fans. The MyFootballClub concept hardly needs more promotion here, but if you want to own a football club, you should log on and pay your money. You could be voting on team selection and tactics for the conference side by the end of the year.
Wednesday 14 November
Our new goalkeeping coach will be Christophe Lollichon. He joins from the French club Rennes where he used to work with Petr Cech. Mark Beeney who has been in temporary charge, steps back down to the reserves with a glowing tribute from Cech.
Everyone thought yesterday that Carvalho would be out for eight weeks with his back problem. The club issued a statement today saying they didn’t want to speculate until the results of planned scans to be undertaken when Ricardo gets back from Portugal.
Thursday 15 November
Marco Pantelic from Hertha Berlin could be back on the shopping list for January. We tried to sign the Serb in the summer (he is 29 and would cost about two and a half) but now we look like we’re scrabbling around for cover for the African Cup of Nations at the last minute when we’ve known about this for two years. It brings into relief too, the relative stinginess of the summer’s transfer spending.
Friday 16 November
Chelsea youth 1:2 Fulham youth
Nana Ofori-Twumasi was sent off as a very young Chelsea squad lost to a last gasp Fulham goal. Ben Gordon should be congratulated on his first in blue.
With the youth team in shaky form, it must be youth cup time of year. Stevenage Borough or Oxford United will be performing the formality of knocking Chelsea out of the FA youth cup: a competition we have won twice (’60 and ’61) but last reached the semi-finals of in 1973.
Anthony Grant has joined Luton until January. Grant spent last season with Wycombe Wanderers picking up valuable experience but didn’t find himself any closer to the first team this season.
Saturday 17 November
Israel 2:1 Russia
We don’t often post the international results but this one means England will qualify for Euro 08 if we get a draw against Croatia at home; it also means we might be stuck with the lame duck McClaren for another year. Unless we can screw up against Croatia.
Ben Sahar and Ben Haim played blinders for Israel and had their mobiles ringing off the hook (if mobiles can be said to do that) with congratulations from Chelsea colleagues; Roman Abramovich’s feelings went undocumented.
It is a dilemma would you rather lose to the Croats, so England can have to appoint a competent manager and hope for the future, or would you miss the tournament too much. We think it is better to take the medicine of a failure to change the national set-up. If we do get to Austria and Switzerland, the best we could do would be to crash out at the quarter-finals on penalties.
Speaking of Croatia, there have been hints linking us with Luka Modric from Dinamo Zagreb over the weekend. Luka is the odd-looking midfielder with slopped shoulders and a nonchalant style. Check him out on Wednesday.
Wednesday 21 November
England 2:3 Croatia
England fans are robbed of the one chant that should be the right of all followers of the game: ‘sack the board’. It is not enough to blame McClaren for this but the system that appointed him. Something is wrong in the FA.
The bones of this performance are hardly worth repeating. Scott Carson fumbled them into a lead, Ivica Olic added a second after a period of blunt England pressure. Frank slotted a penalty after hardly being involved and Crouch headed us level before Petric sealed things from 25-yards. Croatia were simply head and shoulders better on the night, England poorly prepared. McClaren’s reign will end tomorrow and not before time and with a few months the FA should think carefully before appointing another manager. Perhaps Trevor Brooking could be caretaker until the right candidate can be found. Expect calls from Mourinho to be deafening, as if he would be so reckless.
Thursday 22 November
Steve McClaren has been handed his P45 and £2.5m. He’ll find it hard down at the social.
Saturday 24 November
Derby County 0:2 Chelsea
With Manchester United losing to Bolton we had a chance and took it with all the elan of somnambulists. Live on the telly for the first time in ages and we plodded around like a bunch of strangers; one good goal, one lucky one, one sending off and a disallowed equaliser was almost all that happened. All against the weakest team in the league.
The new football Avram has been promising seems as far away as ever, and while you can’t expect Derby to lose 5-0 at home every week, you could expect Chelsea to fashion five decent chances.
The ref sent off Michael Essien when his arm found Kenny Miller’s face. Much of the media agree that it should have been a straight red, but that is pathetic. Miller had been pushing him from behind and Michael had pushed out an arm twice to fend him off, the third time Miller had dropped back and caught a blow in the face. Clumsy but nothing more, Michael wasn’t looking at Miller and didn’t know that his arm would make contact. Given the Pizarro was caught in the face a few minutes earlier and the ref took no further action, you’d have to say Essien was unlucky. We lose him for three games, which pretty much takes him up to his trip to the African Cup of Nations.
Monday 26 November
Chelsea reserves 0:2 Birmingham City reserves
Michael Ballack lit up the first-half of this uninspired match. Birmingham won with two second-half goals against a Chelsea IX giving schoolboy Frank Nouble his first reserves start.
Michael Essien has appealed against the red card on Saturday. He won’t be successful but you have to try.
We are becoming a curse: Billy Davies was sacked by Derby after losing to us at the weekend; this follows Chris Hutchings losing his job after we’d played Wigan. Scanning our next few fixtures it is unlikely that Roy Keane or Arsène Wenger will be under threat if they lose to us, so we’ll have to target Rafael Benitez as our next victim.
As if Derby could do better, County have to admit that the problem was not with the manager but the level of investment.
Another busy day ends with the news that we have another World Cup winner; Peter Bonetti will get a medal for 1966, when only those who played got a gong. Since 1978, the whole squad received a medal and Fifa decided to award a medal to everyone in the winning squads before then, right back to 1930. For those of you old enough to be my uncle, it of course means that Jimmy Greaves gets one too.
Tuesday 27 November
We’ve been charged with failing to control our players again. It seems no other club in the league is ever guilty of complaining about a decision. Poor referees must be quaking in their boots at the thought of Shaun Wright-Phillips shouting rude words at them: it’s piteous.
We were fined £30,000 for complaining about Obi John’s dismissal at Man U, when all agreed that the card was absurd. Players have to be able to express themselves.
Michael lost his appeal, the FA don’t actually examine circumstances, they simply rubber stamp referee’s decision.
Wednesday 28 November
Rosenborg BK 0:4 Chelsea
Tonight was a good night for fat blokes standing in the snow with their shirts off. Nice night for finishing top of the group and maintaining your record of always making it out of the group, as well. Rosenborg were supposed to be the surprise package but an early Drogba blast opened up the game, as they chased and we picked up goals at regular intervals. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves even the Norwegian players who seemed eager to show what they could do even at 0-3 down.
Didier scored a cute second but hobbled around more alarmingly than usual. At one stage, receiving treatment on his lower back, he had to stop the physio yanking his shorts over his bum.
Alex blasted a free-kick that was missed by everyone in white until it settled in the corner of the net and Joe Cole poached the forth after Hirschfeld, tired from all the shots he had to stop, could only palm Essien’s effort into Joe’s path.
Joe Cole and Shaun ran them ragged on the wings; Essien and Lampard dominated the middle, although Michael’s distribution was patchy. If that makes it sound all one way the defence stood up to repeated thrusts from the Norwegians in what was an end-to-end game. Hopefully we’ll not be quite so cavalier in the knockouts.
We’ve got to find a better pub than the Hanover Arms in Vauxhall for European nights. So many pubs have closed or transformed into egg chasing gastro pubs, that you have to fear for the traditional local. We don’t mind travelling up to SW6, or getting a group of friends together for the big games, but your run-of-the-mill mid-week fixture should be in a local with enough opinionated drinkers to pass the time. Nobody said anything throughout the game last night, and don’t get us started on pubs showing two games at the same time…