Sunday 18 January
Rumours that Roman is looking for a buyer, emerge from the Sunday Times, who, it has to be said are not the most reliable source. In fact the club announced defamation proceedings will start on Monday against the publishers of the Sunday Times, who, of course, own Sky. Expect fewer live games between now and the end of the season.
John Terry will be fit for next Saturday’s FA Cup game with Ipswich according to rumour.
Monday 19 January
Reserves off, again. You could get a season ticket for the Waterloo to Brentford run and still save a packet. Waterlogged pitch is today’s excuse.
Any day that starts with the involvement of the Queen’s Bench division of the high court in London is not going to be a good one and John Waples isn’t having a good few days. John is the business editor of the Sunday Times and wrote the article suggesting Roman had “taken soundings” about selling to, whoever else, Gulf royalty. Legal proceedings started today.
Tuesday 20 January
Avram Grant turns down the vacant Bulgaria job. The president of the Bulgar FA said wage demands had been a problem with a few potential managers since the post became available last month.
Meanwhile Morten Nielsen could be on his way to Celtic after a few days on trial. Morton, you’ll remember, has only just graduate to reserve level and played a big part in the FA Youth Cup run last season, so don’t expect any fee to be in the millions. His dad is Benny Nielsen. (Oh, look, Anderlecht in the late seventies. Really, some of you just aren’t old enough.)
Thought he was going to Inter? Think again, Didier Drogba told a French newspaper it is his former club Olympique Marseille he lusts after: “it’s hard to find the words to express the relationship which exists between the supporters, the Marseillais and myself. I still love this club … I have unfinished business there. The difficulty is knowing if we will finally be able to write the last few chapters”.
Wednesday 21 January
Chelsea reserves 3:0 QPR reserves
QPR turned up for a friendly at short notice just to keep the stiffs ticking over after Monday’s postponement. Frank Nouble, Nikki Ahamed and Lee Sawyer scored the goals.
Plenty going on elsewhere but not Cudicini to Spurs according to the usual sources. The press probably make up a string of stories on Monday morning and, because they know the tales are fiction, they can rubbish them themselves come Wednesday without having to bother either club supposedly involved. They give out prestigious awards for journalism, you know.
Manchester United’s sponsorship deal with AIG (it took near collapse for anyone to work out who they were) is to finish, so the ‘biggest club in the world’ will be free to try to find a new sponsor in troubled times. We don’t expect a West Ham style fiasco but it would make us happy.
Scolari has been told he can spend the money from Wayne Bridge but he is unlikely to bid for Robinho who flew home unexpectedly yesterday from Man City’s training camp in Tenerife, nor will it be on Wilson Palacios who signed for Tottenham Hotspur this morning. It is not quite Woolworths on the final day but we all wait with bated breath to see which players are left on the shelf.
Thursday 22 January
Michael Essien is making progress. He started training outdoors this week and the club are talking about an early March return from, the now familiar, anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Muppet alert – Holger Haims, talking about a possible Swiss equity group bid for Chelsea, said: “I don’t believe anything is not for sale if you come up with the right price”. It seems a complex international consortium called Falcon Equity are seeking publicity for themselves by saying they are considering a bid.
Sadly Mr Haims seems to know precisely nothing about the game. “It’s not about trying about to buy a football club but about a business”, chirruped Haims, “you don’t make money because eleven guys run around the pitch, you make money because of all the other commercial aspects that go with a football club, particularly real estate and television rights.” Er, are you going to explain it to him or are we?
We’ve just realised this could be regarded as a letter of resignation should the bid prove successful, perhaps he was misquoted, but the naked greed and ignorance displayed in that statement is staggering. We cannot allow Chelsea to be taken over by someone so intent on exploiting our real estate (we’ve been there before) and television rights, while being so dismissive of the eleven players who make it possible.
Meanwhile in the real world – oh, no actually its Manchester City – Branislav Ivanovic’s agent, Vlado Borozan, said that Mark Hughes wanted to buy his client but the sums being talked about will be eye watering because “Chelsea already refused a £15m offer from AC Milan”. If Bridge was good value deal then we suggest Ivanovic would be too.
Saturday 24 January
Chelsea 3:1 Ipswich Town
On the day we found out that big clubs can agree to extra-time instead of a replay in FA Cup games thankfully we needed neither. It wasn’t pretty, we conceded the now customary goal from a set-play but the sum of Chelsea’s parts today wasn’t anywhere near a whole.
We started nervously, a few passes going astray, as if the pressure of another home tie weighed on every mind. Most of the crowd seemed anxious from the off so the players could hardly be faulted.
Everything should have clicked into place after just 16-minutes when a sumptuous ball from Lampard found Ashley Cole, who cut back for Ballack to slide home. Sadly the team seemed to ease off and concentrate on possession and trying to score from 20/25 yards.
Ipswich set out in a brave 4-4-2, and kept causing problems. Loose tackles eventually undid us as Ipswich floated a ball in and both Ballack and Carvalho failed to clear. Alex Bruce pinged in the equaliser.
That we won was ultimately down to two very special free-kicks of our own. Just before the hour Didier Drogba marched back into action, played Anelka in and from the resulting free-kick Ballack scooped one into the top corner.
There was time for Carvalho to go off with a hamstring and Ipswich to make a couple of half chances before Lampard decided to out do his German colleague by slamming another free-kick in from all of 35-yards. The goal was a moment of class in an otherwise workman like effort. We are still joint favourites for this cup but performances like that don’t suggest an easy ride. We’ll see tomorrow what the next round brings but with Setanta and ITV champing at the bit for big ties to pay the bills don’t be surprised if two of the ‘big four’ find themselves drawn together.
The good news today was undoubtedly Michael Ballack finding his groove. He struggled to make an impact early in the last two campaigns but put in world-class performances through out the spring. We can only hope he is going to do it again. Florent Malouda’s return will ease some of the midfield width problems. We are not going to pretend he holds all the answers but our form when he is missing has been poor.
Bad news, aside from the lacklustre display has to be Carvalho’s tendon problems, the club are hopeful that this one will not be serious, but Mancienne nonce again stayed on the bench while Ivanovic saw out the win. How long can we keep a prospect like Michel if he never gets a game?