Monday 30 January
Kevin De Bruyne is having a medical this afternoon. Rumour has it that he’ll be on loan next season as well as the rest of this so don’t expect to actually lay eyes on him for a while.
We forgot to congratulate Ben Gordon and Kilmarnock on reaching the Scottish League Cup final. They left it late with a strike deep in extra-time to beat Ayr United. They play Glasgow Celtic in the final next month.
Tuesday 31 January
Swansea City 1:1 Chelsea
At least with Carlo Ancelotti you were never sure what kind of performance you’d get. Sometimes we’d dominate, sometimes stagnate but there was little indication before kick-off which team would turn up. This season seems to have developed a pattern of dire first-half displays, better in the second period but unable to muster many goals.
This time they dominated the first-half almost completely and opened the scoring when Scott Sinclair hooked in a poor clearing header from Bosingwa. 1-0.
Bosingwa was on the pitch at right-back because John Terry is injured so Branislav Ivanovic moved inside to partner Luiz. Gary Cahill sat on the bench with a puzzled expression. Why spend £7m on a player you are not going to use.
We started to hold the ball better in the second-half but with Torres still a passenger and Sturridge struggling to recapture his early form we tried to funnel everything through Juan Mata and he has been feeling the pressure.
Ashley Cole couldn’t stand the strain and picked up two yellows. He will be suspended from the visit of Manchester United at the weekend.
The get out of jail card was played in stoppage time when Bosingwa’s cross deflected in. 1-1. It was ill deserved and for once it looked like Sinclair and Brendan Rodgers might be about extract some revenge for how we squandered their talents.
In other news the transfer window closed with a dull thud. Kevin De Bruyne did sign and there were a couple of late surprises. De Bruyne signed for five years at a cost of around £6.7 when all the extras have been added on.
Philipp Prosenik has signed for AC Milan. It is hard to stand in the way of a young player when someone as glamorous as Milan bat their eyelids but it is a surprise. Philipp has been injured for most of the three years he has been working up through the youth and reserve ladder. We wish him well.
Patrick Bamford signed from Nottingham Forest for about £1.5m with add-ons, &, etc. Patrick has only two first-team games but has been prolific in the FA youth cup.
Rhys Taylor has made such an impression with the Millers that he’ll now stay on loan with Rotherham until the end of the season. After a great 3-0 win in his first game Rotherham have lost three on the trot and are having a miserable season.
Lastly, on a good night to bury bad news, Chelsea announced their results from the last financial year – a £67m loss. That is down on last term and turnover is up but a few factors kept us in the black. Firstly compensation to Carlo and his staff combined with £15m to Porto for permission to steal their boss makes up a fair size chunk of that loss. The wage bill was much smaller with Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and others no longer on the books. That figure will reduce even further now that Anelka and Alex have gone. We have to get used to a future of developing young players and selling them on to bigger clubs to break even if we are to meet the restrictions on losses introduced by Uefa. Without a naming rights deal the size of Manchester City’s ludicrous contract with their state airline or a new stadium, we will slump into the second tier of European clubs.
Wednesday 1 February
John Terry got the worst possible result from the court today as his trial for his much publicised racially aggravated public order offence has been put off until July. Normally we’d be in court in a few weeks look at the tapes with a lip reading expert and go home. But Ron Gourlay waded in and asked for a delay because they intend to call other players as character witnesses and that might interfere with training and then in the summer we have Euro 2012. So John has to wait nearly ten-months to clear his name when the explanation he gave at the time has yet to be contradicted.
The FA Cup game against a rampant Birmingham City will be the lunchtime game on Saturday 18 February.
Thursday 2 February
Not everyone is freezing their nads off in Blighty. Three of Chelsea’s youngest and brightest are in Portugal where England U17 beat the hosts of the Algarve trophy 2-1. John Swift and Jordan Houghton played from the start, while Alistair Gordon played the closing stages.
Friday 3 February
Acting on the principle that British subjects are guilty until proven innocent the FA removed John Terry from his role as England captain, again. It is no doubt a difficult situation for the FA but the principle they are abusing is a fairly fundamental one and their solution doesn’t seem to alter the situation. If John is unfit to be captain because someone didn’t hear any abuse directed at him but complained a week later after everyone said it had happened, then he shouldn’t be in the squad. This half-way of removing the captain’s armband but leaving him in the team suits nobody.
Still, John usually responds to this kind of absurdity by playing out of his skin. What are the odds he’ll score the winner on Sunday having out jumped Rio Ferdinand?
Saturday 4 February
John Terry will not be out-jumping anyone tomorrow; he has a problem with a knee. As if he didn’t have enough problems AVB had to spend half his press conference denying that Jose Mourinho was going to return to Chelsea. Some journalist got a join the dots book of football scandal for Christmas and was just trying it out.
Gary Cahill might finally get a game. AVB’s reluctance to use him at Swansea – to the extent that he moved Ivanovic in to the middle and gave the walking disaster Jose Bosingwa another game to throw away – suggests that Cahill is another player that was a target for the club not the manager. We’ll see what he does about Cole’s suspension. Bringing in Bertrand would be the obvious progression but AVB is likely to be short sighted and play Ferreira instead.
Didier Drogba scored twice as the Ivory Coast finally started looking like a team by beating co-hosts Equatorial Guinea. Sadly it means that we’ll be without our Ivorian pair for at least another week.
Sunday 5 February
Chelsea 3:3 Manchester United
Judging from the general grumbling before the kick-off a point would have been a positive outcome – judging by the general grumbling after the final whistle this felt more like a defeat than a draw.
The bad news from the team sheets came in the form of Jose Bosingwa at left-back instead of Ryan Bertrand and with Florent Malouda ahead of him it was clear we were not getting any attacking momentum down the left.
This squad looked really thin; with Terry, Cole, Lampard, Ramires and Drogba all absent for one reason or another Lucas Piazon was named among the subs.
After some bright Chelsea pressure and a couple of corners United wanted a penalty when Young wriggled into the area and flung himself to the ground. Possibly mindful that they only beat Stoke City midweek with the help of a couple of penalties United’s tactic for the rest of the season is clear: dive on sight.
Then a couple of minutes later Welbeck is played in and Cahill slides in, takes the ball off his toe and brings him down. United want another penalty and a red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Denying a goal by robbing the player of the ball is still ok with Howard Webb who noted that contact was outside the area. Still, if they keep asking eventually he’ll give one.
We didn’t look capable of anything, Torres kept fluffing the ball back to United and if it wasn’t for Mata and the impressive Essien we’d have nothing. As this mostly nothing was going on the ball fell to Sturridge who cut to the byline and played a wall pass off Jonny Evans and in. 1-0.
It will be classed as an own goal by Sturridge’s intention was clear.
They forced one save from Cech before the break when Young cut inside and Rooney nearly had a tap in form Cech’s save.
The second-half had barely started when blam – Mata sticks it into the top corner on the volley. What a goal, we have been starved of those special moments for a while but this was a cracking goal, we have come to rely on the little Spaniard for inspiration but this was above and beyond. The break started in fairly ordinary way but when Ivanovic won the ball back and fed Torres the cross was fizzed, the marking nowhere, the volley precise. 2-0.
We didn’t have to wait for a third Sturridge again skinned Evra and from the free-kick David Luiz headed goalwards, the ball looped in from Ferdinand’s shoulder – 3-0 and general delirium.
That positive feeling didn’t last. It seems we don’t yet have confidence in AVB’s sides’ ability to hold out, there having been one too many last minute equalisers this term.
Their fight back came when Evra ran into the box and ran across Sturridge looking for contact. Naively Daniel tried to win the ball and Evra was delighted to fall over it. For once Wayne Rooney didn’t flop it into the ’keeper or fire wide. 3-1.
The second penalty a few minutes on is a disgrace. Danny Welbeck dived because United were trailing and, as so often in the past, it worked. Until retrospective bans are handed out to stop cheating like this United will keep doing it. It is very hard to consistently come up with play that opens up defences and as the season drags into the business end of winter it is so much easier to fall to the ground and have the referee do the job for you. Webb couldn’t be blamed because from his angle the con looked convincing but Welbeck knows he is a cheat and a fraud. 3-2.
And you knew what was coming, AVB’s sides cannot hold the ball obviously don’t train for this situation, as soon as we should be getting tight and closing the game down we go hell for leather in the opposite direction. It is naïve in the extreme to play suicide football against Wolves or Genk but for god sake realise there is virtue in scruffy wins.
This time Andre Villas-Boas took off Sturridge for Romeu and the whole thing fell apart. He moved Mata out wide from his drifting role and all cohesion disappeared from both attacking and defending. We sat with our pants round our ankles and invited United on.
The sickening equaliser came surprisingly early as Rooney’s shot was parried by Cech, Ivanovic didn’t close down the cross and Luiz stood still and watched as Hernandez headed in unmarked. 3-3.
We have watched too much of this kind of shit this season. All the while we’ve been cutting AVB slack because it is a new league for him and a rebuilding job, obviously it would be unfair to expect miracles but signs of improvement, effort or imagination would help.
Torres had time to be played in seven-yards out only to cut inside and get in a tangle and lose the ball when even the United defenders had been waiting for him to shoot. Fernando, is it better to belt that effort wide or at the ’keeper rather than attempt to cut back and fumble the chance. Have some self-respect and put your laces through the thing.
Mata’s late free-kick was brilliantly turned round by their flaky ’keeper completely lacking in confidence, so that is another favour we’ve done them and the newly revived stickman also parried a late Cahill drive to keep the scores level.
You could, if you were a blind optimist, say that this was a good point won with the spine of our team absent and that they had to cheat to get back into it. But that would be to ignore the fact that this is a woeful United side that gets by on reputation and soft penalties and this just keeps happening to us. We’d be joint top if Mourinho was in charge of the side for the last ten-minutes of each game this season. Every time AVB brings on a player to shore things up defensively we ship a goal because whatever defensive shape we had usually goes out the window.
What is even more sickening is that those wankers in the media and their sad echoes in public bars the length of the land have another log to put on the pitiable whine that it is never over against United.