Monday 28 January
Didier Drogba ended his time in China and signed for Galatasaray in Turkey. Didier is currently in South Africa at the cup of nations and has now guaranteed that we will be drawn in a group with the Turks.Tuesday 29 January
Ajax U19 3:3 Chelsea U19
We let slip a 1-3 lead with goals from Alex Kiwomya and a brace from Islam Feruz rocked our Ditch hosts they came back to square despite a late penalty shout. Dermot Drummy was pleased with his team, who have now been drawn to face Barcelona.Meanwhile, Victor Moses ensured Nigeria progressed in South Africa with two penalties calmly slotted after he’d been felled twice against Ethiopia. They will now play Ivory Coast and Didier and Salomon and all in the next round.
Wednesday 30 January
Reading 2:2 Chelsea
Benitez declared himself perplexed as to how we threw away another winning position to draw this game. That is right; the man employed to understand the team, organise it, train it and prepare it for matches doesn’t understand how this could happen. He has as good as announced that he is not competent to run a football team. Perhaps he should be sacked.
For the record: Benitez again went with Torres ahead of Demba Ba and left John Terry on the bench. We started poorly but another fine goal for Mata put a gloss on the first-half and a towering header from Frank Lampard leaves him just six goals shy of the record and takes him to double figures for ten years in a row. 2-0 up – what could possibly go wrong. Oscar contrived to make and miss a hat-trick of chances before … Benitez watched his side fold – again.
This is not to say that Roberto Di Matteo’s team would have won any of the points that Benitez has thrown away but a greatly detested manager of a rival team has come in and made us worse. Why he still sits in the dugout is a mystery.
Earlier in the day it emerged that we have written to the FA contesting any exaggerated ban for Eden Hazard. Pointing out, presumably, that three games is too harsh in the first place and it would be absurd to ban him for any longer – the FA have it in for this club and are going to try for more.
Just a thought but Coral have stopped taking bets on Gus Poyet becoming Chelsea boss after cutting his odds from 25s down to 3-1.
Thursday 31 January
Eden will not have his ban extended beyond Saturday. The independent panel for once laughed the FA out of court. The ballboy’s apology, self confessed time wasting and a precedent last season where the player was only yellow carded all mitigated against the hang ’em and flog ’em FA.
Busy transfer deadline day elsewhere. For us it just saw Patrick Bamford go on loan to Milton Keynes for the rest of the season. His first spell there started brilliantly and then he was injured. Hopefully he’ll have a better shot at things this time round.
Friday 1 February
Neil Bath had the unpleasant task of letting five of the U21s leave. James Ashton, Conor Clifford, Ben Gordon, Rohan Ince and Adam Philip have all had their contracts paid up now to enable them to find a new club before the summer scramble. It goes, almost, without saying that we wish them all well and will continue to follow their careers.
Saturday 2 February
Newcastle United 3:2 Chelsea
Again. Benitez was left publicly scratching his head. Good goals from Frank Lampard and Juan Mata were not enough as he left the defence open and uncovered. JT needs more time to get his match fitness back but in the meantime Ivanovic looks a better bet inside than full-back. The midfield is unbalanced and he is not using his strikers well. He finally started with Ba but lost him to injury so resorted to the lacklustre Torres.
The goals scored against us were all simple to defend. The goals we plundered needed to be worked for and that is the simple difference between us and the top two. They don’t surrender too many goals and score more.
If Benitez cannot hold on a lead against Brentford, Southampton, Reading or Newcastle when is he going to get the sack. He did have a point about Ba being kicked square in the face but doesn’t have that excuse for any of the other results. The players are simply not playing for him and he demonstrates no tactical innovation – he was a long term failure at Liverpool, stank at Inter and is taking us backwards. Steve Holland, your time has come.
Chelsea U18 1:1 Manchester United U18
A creditable draw might even be a bit of a disappointment for the Chelsea squad. We had drafted in more youngsters as many have progressed to the U21s but a strike from Jesse Starkey was enough for a share of the points.
Sunday 3 February
Chelsea U21 1:0 Sunderland U21
A third win in a row for the U21s as Islam Feruz scored late to press for a place on the first-team bench.
Victor Moses and Obi John will be missing for a while longer as they beat perennial Africa cup of nations favourites Cote d’Ivoire 2-1. Didier and Salomon may have just missed their last chance to win the thing. But Chelsea have found a new star; alongside Victor and John is Kenneth Omeruo who looked the part against Drogba as a centre-back for Nigeria. Ken plays at right-back on loan for ADO Den Haag who missed him in a 7-0 shellacking by PSV this weekend.
After another bad week it is a pleasure to report that Nathaniel Chalobah was named as England’s youth player of the year. On loan at Watford and making incredible strides, Nat is a dominant player and personality. He is a readymade John Terry replacement.