Monday 12 April
Juliano Belletti announced he is leaving Chelsea in the summer when his contract is up. He made the announcement through Twitter (not realising how naff that is) he wrote: “FA Cup Final: Chelsea v Portsmouth, 15 May at Wembley. Maybe my last game for Chelsea” and then added: “My contract ends in June and I still have not decided where to go.” And finally: “Still not thinking about retiring. I will try to reach my goal of 1,000 games. Stuck near 950.”
Juliano is very fondly regarded by most Chelsea fans he has a special knack of making himself popular wherever he goes (thirty-yard bazookas against Spurs don’t hurt).
Belletti will be 34 in June when his contract expires and was linked with a return to Brazil with Flamengo in January.
Tuesday 13 April
Chelsea 1:0 Bolton Wanderers
Blood, sweat and tears move us four points clear at the top but this was a closer game than nerves could stand.
Alex Ferguson got the reaction he wanted from the Wanderers players. He described this as an easy game for Chelsea and clearly the Bolton players were determined to prove him wrong.
We dominated the early possession but with an unbalanced attacking three with Anelka and Kalou coming in for Cole and Malouda, we found little penetration.
One Bolton free-kick, played early and chased by Davies appeared to draw a handball from Drogba who’d tracked the striker’s run. Appeared to because on closer inspection Davies bundles Didier’s arm toward the ball. The linesman and ref didn’t see it but Owen Coyle was livid afterwards.
We were getting closer but moves kept breaking down. In fact the blood came before we’d had a chance. Zhirkov headed away a dangerous cross only for a charging Davies to head him square on the back of the head. The nippy Russian stayed down for three or four minutes while his head was bandaged.
Shortly after Drogba fired in a free-kick and Kalou deflected the rebound harmlessly wide.
Blood continued to flow down Zhirkov’s face. After having it wiped away a couple of times he disappeared down the tunnel only to reappear without his mummified headgear and almost immediately set up a goal. His run inside allowed Drogba to swing wide and cross for Anelka to head in. 1-0. His first goal since Didier came back from Angola.
The strike came right on half-time and probably saved the players a bollocking in Italian. As it was we looked sluggish again after the break but Bolton failed to capitalise. Another cross appeared to hit and arm, this time Terry’s, but the linesman was adamant he had seen it hit his chest. Coyle was, once again, furious.
Cole and Malouda came on and we had better shape but still had to cope with two Bolton attacking substitutions in Elmander and Klasnic but both couldn’t use the half chances that came their way. Frank Lampard had a shot come back off the post as time dwindled to a walking pace as the clock seemed to stand still. We eventually saw out the game with Joe Cole looking lively but he managed to stand on the ball in front of an open net. Finally, Jaaskelainen fumbled behind for a last minute corner that probably saved our bacon. The final whistle brought further danger, this time to the planet as 42,000 people breathed out at the same time.
Let us hope that Bolton at home is early next year because the cause us so much anxiety year after year.
The match was Roman Abramovich’s 200th as owner.
Early news was that Chris Foy will referee the Cup Final. We don’t readily recall him actually doing us ill so we’ll just be thankful it is not Mike Dean.
Elsewhere Darlington achieved the rare feat of beating the league leaders away from home and being relegated from the league at the same time. Talking of ups and downs we forgot to mention that, as of Saturday, Roberto Di Matteo and West Bromwich Albion will be back in the Premiership next season. It is presumably good news for the yoyo industry or anyone who doesn’t find Adrian Chiles extremely smug. Well, you’d be a bit irritating if your job involved sitting on a sofa.
Wednesday 14 April
Chelsea’s accounts for last term have emerged at Companies House. Headlines will be about the value of the squad dropping nearly £40m from £287.1m to £247.5m. The figure is not much to worry about, it is essentially an accountant’s guesstimate of what the players are worth on the transfer market.
Wages come out at an eye watering £142.6m, which sets a record for Manchester City to aim for next year. The actually total is higher still but a big slice of that went in paying off Scolari. In all we’ve spent £35.7m paying off managers and coaches in the past two financial years – almost half a Ronaldo.
Spurs beat Arsenal at the lane 2-1in quite emphatic style, leaving us a six-point lead over the Gooners who languish in third.
Thursday 15 April
The new kit has been unveiled and while it is a good cut the idiots have added a red neck to an otherwise ok shirt. They are unaware of the years of drift under Bates with a flash of red in the kit. Bates’s, rather idiotic, reason for introducing red in the first place was to turn us from the blues to the red, white and blues; presumably to align us more closely with the BNP.
New kit and new ticket prices: for the first time in five years the non-hospitality tickets are going up and the rises are quite steep – east lower seats go up to £40 for members (£45 for the unwashed), east upper to £55 (£60 non-members). FA Cup games will be £25, £12 for kids and League cup games remain the best value at £20 and £10 respectively.
Didier Drogba has been nominated for PFA player of the year alongside messrs Rooney, Tevez and Fabregas. Rooney will probably win unless the voting is online as anyone who has tried to vote for our player or goal of the season will testify, repeat after me: “there is something wrong with you email address or password, please try again.”
Finally, we won the coin toss with Portsmouth and will play the cup final in our new home shirts.
Friday 16 April
Ashley Cole has been passed fit for the weekend’s clash with Spurts. He is a week ahead of schedule.
We have been allocated a derisory 25,017 tickets for the cup final, which, as always, means that many loyal blues will miss the big day. If neither hook nor crook work for you put the telly in the garden and have a barbeque.
Portsmouth average attendance is nearly 5,000 souls below our allocation so perhaps they’ll have a few returns.
Aston Villa beat Newcastle United in the second leg of their youth cup winning 0-1 at St James’ Park. Tony McAndrew manages the young Villa side who will play us home and away starting at Villa park at the end of April and at the Bridge May 4.
Saturday 17 April
Tottenham Hotspur 2:1 Chelsea
When a referee wants to punish you they will. This game was transfigured by a ref who saw the ball hit John Terry’s chest and gave a penalty for handball. He had clearly been watching highlights from Tuesday’s game and had decided to penalise us for being let off the hook in that game. With it he skewed the title race and the race for fourth place.
Let’s be straight: to give a penalty a referee has to be sure that a player has handled and that it was deliberately done. Phil Dowd saw a fierce ball hit John Terry on the chest and concluded that he had deliberately handballed. The ref could also have been influenced by their screams for two earlier penalty shouts which were both absurd. Firstly they thought Terry had fouled Defoe but the were both wrestling and it was clearly in the D not the box. Then Obi John appeared at the last moment to clear behind for a corner. He did collide with the Tottenham man but after he’d played the ball. If the ref allowed either of these incidents to influence his decision to hand the initiative to the home team, then he is weak as well as incompetent.
Their second was at least well taken by Gareth Bale but resulted from us committing too many in attack in an angry attempt to make up for the penalty. 1-0.
The referee was not content with the penalty decided to give every free-kick to Spurs. Well, he favoured them by two to one. One second-half incident saw him not even bothering to look impartial when Drogba and Huddleston went shoulder to shoulder for a 50/50 ball both fell, and of course Dowd awarded the free-kick to Spurs.
In the first half an eagle-eyed linesman spotted that Malouda was offside when he struck what appeared to be a legitimate equaliser, replays reveal that Joe Cole was blocking his line of sight and he should have given the benefit of the doubt. The same linesman allowed Tottenham to break clear time after time with the player leading the break clearly offside on almost every occasion.
With all the injustice we failed to keep our shape or composure and that failing has to be down to the manager. We didn’t look like we’d drilled on how to play with 10-men so when Dowd used his excuse to send of John Terry for two weak yellow cards, for both of which Terry got the ball, we floundered.
Just like midweek against Bolton we lacked shape and determination. The covering in midfield was completely absent, as Modric and Huddleston easily controlled the battle supposedly against three opponents.
Obi John limped out in the first-half and hopefully we’ll use it as an excuse to play someone in there better suited to the role.
Frank Lampard stole in to score his 23rd of the season for what should have been the equaliser late into injury time but by then they had turned up several chances to make it a cricket score. 1-1.
We should take stock, we still lead the table by one point but the performances have been so woeful it is difficult to see where the next one is going to come from.
Spurs play at Old Trafford next weekend but they will just lie down and hand United the points, they always do.
We have been quick to criticise Ancelotti but here again he turned down the opportunity to speak up for his players refusing to comment on the penalty or the sending off. Alex Ferguson protects his players by exaggerating the injustice done to them. Tackles that would be yellow anywhere else are straight reds against Arsenal because Wenger spends his time planting the idea in everyone’s mind that his team are unfairly targeted. Ancelotti remains silent.
Leicester City youth 3:2 Chelsea youth
Actually a good showing despite the score, as a very inexperienced youth team fought back to level at 2-2 before a controversial late winner. Only the goalkeeper, Sam Walker, from the youth cup side played.
Congratulations today to Notts County and Rochdale both promoted from the fourth division. Rochdale’s is their first elevation since 1969 and only the second time in the club’s history they have gone up. Norwich City are back from the third to the second after one season down.
Sunday 18 April
Ah, Wigan against Arsenal, simple three points would you say? Anybody leaving ten minutes early from this one missed the punch line as Wigan stormed back from 0-2 down to equalise and then with a last kick lash from Charles N’Zogbia won it 3-2. It means that Arsenal are now pretty much out of it and we just have United to worry about.