‘We’re going to Moscow, we’re going to Moscow … f*ck your history … we’re going to Moscow’. If Johnny Cash were alive today, I’m sure he would have endorsed the darkly comic lyrical re-working of ‘I want to go home’ a traditional West Indies folk song which appeared on his sixth album ‘Songs of Our Soil’ originally released in 1959. In a different guise as ‘Sloop John B’, ‘I want to go home’ was re-recorded by the Beach Boys and found its way into the higher reaches of the Billboard chart in 1966. Several decades later those scallywags from the Anfield Kop got hold of it and the rest as they love to remind the world at large is history.Much to the chagrin of our red adversaries, Chelsea have set about re-writing the history books in recent seasons … ‘We’re going to Moscow, we’re going to Moscow … f*ck your history … we’re going to Moscow’. I bet you’re whistling it now. It’s infernally catchy isn’t it? You whistle it and the person next to you will start humming it and then someone nearby will break into song and before you know it there’s a full throaty Chelsea chorus … ‘We’re going to Moscow, we’re going to Moscow … f*ck your history … we’re going to Moscow’.
The Moscow chant, a true Blue in-your-Scouse-face version of the dreadfully monotonous ‘We’ve won it five times’ dirge, gained momentum on that fabulous evening at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea finally laid the grim spectre of those painful Champions League semi-final defeats at the hands of the Hubcap Thieves to rest.
The Scousers love a bit of Johnny Cash. Oh how the world has grown tired of the nasal whine of ‘In Istanbul we won it five times’ or worse still the ‘Der Der Der Der Der Der Der Der’ crucifixion of Johnny’s most famous contribution to modern popular music ‘Ring of Fire’. Thanks to Avram Grant’s Blue and White Army the ‘Ring of Fire’ has been extinguished for this season. Goodbye Rafa, goodbye Liverpool … bring on the Devilish Reds of Manchester.
The destination of the Premiership trophy has now been decided. It was beyond the realms of gloriously unpredictable possibility that humble Wigan Athletic could have jack-knifed the United juggernaut on the final day of the season. In the end, it didn’t matter, Chelsea failed to destroy Bolton Wanderers by a humongous score-line … in fact the Blues failed to win. Ahh if only we hadn’t squandered that 3-1 lead against Rottenham Dropspur at the venue we used to call Three Point Lane when Avram Grant was still at a stage of trial and error with his tactical substitutions.
Despite the Premiership crown remaining at Old Trafford for another season, there can few Blues fans, particularly those amongst the sparse crowd at the Bridge on that fateful night back in September when Jose’s colourful trophy-laden reign came to an acrimonious end, who would have believed that come 3pm on Sunday May 11th 2008 Chelsea would find themselves at the summit of the Premiership level on points with Manchester United … let alone in the final of the Champions League!
So who can we thank for the spectacular change in fortune which has evolved during the course of the season? Avram Grant? The players? Steve Clarke and the rest of the coaching staff? Or did Chelsea just get lucky? It’s a question that’s consistently guaranteed to provoke fierce debate. Everyone has an opinion, and these opinions have changed as regularly as night follows day, more often than not mirroring the Blues results.
Personally, I’m just glad to see that some semblance of order has been restored at Stamford Bridge. People are slowly beginning to focus once more on the football that Chelsea play rather than the Machiavellian off-field shenanigans that blighted the recent past. I loved Jose Mourinho for what the Blues achieved under the first two years of his stewardship but the megalomania that followed soured my sweetness towards the man and there was only ever going to be one ending given the autocratic regime of our true saviour Mr Abramovich.
Avram Grant, by virtue of his non-descript footballing pedigree, his lugubrious demeanour and the fact that more often than not in his early media appearances he appeared to be as happy as a leper contemplating a day of high winds, has faced an uphill battle to establish his credibility. Even now, there are those who will argue until they are Chelsea Blue in the face that when the team wins it’s down to the players and when they lose it’s down to Avram Grant.
Openly vilified by many, the Israeli has stuck doggedly at his task, bouncing back from the nadir represented by that Wembley defeat at the hands of Sp*rs, and the ‘shock’ FA Cup defeat at the hands of mighty Barnsley, the man dubbed Average Grant, when all seemed lost, conjured up an inspired suite of substitutions which saw Chelsea dramatically overhaul ‘the’ Arsenal in that pivotal league match at the Bridge on March 23rd.
It would take the consecutive victories over Manchester United in the Premiership and Liverpool in the Champions League coupled with
his sensitive handling of the tragedy surrounding the death of Frank Lampard’s mother to finally mute Mr Grant’s vociferous detractors who have hastily been retracting the vile epithets they had bestowed on him when all was not rosy in the SW6 garden. Well it’s all blooming marvellous now.
‘I am a little embarrassed by what I did on the pitch,’ quipped the mild mannered Israeli in response to his uncharacteristically jubilant celebration of Chelsea’s victory over Liverpool which had seen him sink to his knees on the soaking wet Stamford Bridge turf … arms aloft, fists clenched, head raised to the heavens. Praise Be to God? Don’t worry about it Mr Grant, you’re only human just like the rest of us. And do you know what? That’s what I’ve always liked about the man.
‘Shut up Avram. Stop singing that song,’ cried Mrs Grant in the small hours of the morning that followed the Champions League victory over the hub-cap thieves. You can almost imagine it can’t you? Avram Grant shuffling around his living room, too happy to go to bed, treating himself to another glass of wine and chirruping away to himself. ‘We’re going to Moscow … we’re going to Moscow oh oh … f*ck your history we’re going to Moscow.’
Whether or not he remains at the helm next season may well be determined by the outcome of the Champions League Final and no doubt we can look forward to a summer of frenzied speculation unless an official statement is forthcoming from the Club with some degree of immediacy following the game.
Personally, I believe that Avram Grant is deserving of a position at the Chelsea Football Club. Whether that is as manager or Director of Football is not for me to say, it will be up to Mr Abramovich to decide. In the meantime … ‘We’re going to Moscow … we’re going to Moscow … F*ck your history we’re going to Moscow.’ Cheers Avram!
See you at the game!
Mark Worrall is the author of cult terrace classics ‘Over Land and Sea’ and ‘Blue Murder … Chelsea till I die’, his new book ‘One Man Went to Mow’ is out now. Copies are available to buy with a discount of 30% and free postage within the UK at http://www.overlandandsea.net/