I HAVE written about defining games before – the games that don’t decide anything, but have a feeling of finality anyway – as if the path is set for the eventual outcome. Tottenham felt like just such a game for me, and I imagine for many Chelsea fans.
Having just seen United snatch three points at the death at City, I already felt heart-sick and hoped that the team hadn’t been watching. But their performance betrayed them. I am not usually into apportioning blame, but at this point in the season, certain individuals need to be accountable for their actions. Chief amongst those is Ancelotti.
Did he actually watch the North London derby? Because if he did, he would have seen that one of the main reasons for Tottenham’s success against the Gunners was Gareth Bale. Everything went through him, so your number one task was to stop him.
So imagine the surprise when Ferreira was picked ahead of a now fit Ivanovic, one of the best players at Stamford Bridge this season.
Even if Ferreira had fully recuperated this would have been a big ask, but we all knew that he had been sick for three days. Mikel too had been 50/50. Ancelotti had alternatives so why didn’t he use them, especially for what was going to be a pivotal game.
As I have written before several times this season Terry, too, needs to take a long hard look at himself.
Whether the referee had a poor game or not, it is not the duty of the captain to exact revenge when he feels it is due. He should be as aware as the rest of us that the rare refereeing blunders which go in our favour have been blown up out of all proportion and Dowd was desperate to show that he was not going to provide more material for those in the media.
He was itching to give a penalty and we made it easy for him. As for the sending off, it was apparent that it was only a matter of time before a Blue was going to get his marching orders. It was the captain’s role to prevent the team losing their heads and he failed in that.
I thought the team as a whole were a disgrace and from the kick-off lacked passion, energy, and concentration.
There was no reaction to the goals and their whole attitude was found wanting. Not the attitude of champions for sure – they didn’t fight like United did against City. They gave up when the second goal went in. For a game that could have almost got us over the finishing line, it was unforgivable.
It’s a dark day when a team crammed with supposedly some of the best players in the world should look at Wigan for inspiration. Wigan understand that every game counts now and that this is not a time for the faint-hearted.
I am glad that none of the players had the guts to face the cameras after the match, because none of us want to hear the usual guff that they always come out with after deplorable displays like last Saturdays.
They’ll convince themselves that it was simply a bad day at the office, just one of those things, not their fault. Someone needs to tell them it was gutless and shameful and that it spoke volumes about the character of the majority of our players.
There’s a famous picture of the Stamford Bridge crowd in the late 80s holding up a banner which urged the team to “fight like your fans.” Perhaps it’s time to run up a few more of those rather than the current crop of flags which laud players to the skies. What was it Andres Iniesta said a few weeks ago? “Praise makes you weak.”
The fact that the title race is still in our own hands (just) gives me no comfort whatsoever. I don’t trust this team, nor the manager to achieve anything.
Even Arsenal’s capitulation to Wigan and the news that Torres will be missing for Liverpool in a fortnight could not rouse me from this feeling of malaise. The nature of our loss makes you question why you spend so much time, money and energy devoted to following your team up and down the country, week in week out, across Europe and beyond.
Do modern players have any inkling of how a result like that against Tottenham can ruin your whole week? Of course the answer is no. They are cocooned in their little bubble where they no longer come into contact with fans. They are surrounded with people that tell them how brilliant they are and of course to them it’s just another game. They’ll make the right noises in front of the TV cameras, in the home programme and carry on as if nothing has happened.
And do you know what’s worse? Mugs like us will just accept and keep going. Keep giving them our loyalty and support and unquestioned allegiance – and money obviously.
Fans can take losing if we see that the team have given everything they’ve got. Chelsea last Saturday (and in a number of other games this season) evidently did not. That is unacceptable.
So we have three games to try and not throw the league away this season for the third and final time. Only those involved know whether they have the wherewithal to do it. The fans will be there as usual, but no more excuses.
Come on Chelsea… please!
Trizia is Joint Chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group. Visit the CSG website to find out more information.