Monday 15 March
The special one is back in town and the media are in a frenzy of adulation. Sky sports news covered almost every minute of his press conference, in which he tried to sound humble but ended up saying that since he left he had moved on, Chelsea had moved on, “Life goes on, I keep winning important things … They win … something … the FA Cup.”
Carlo Ancelotti in his own press conference didn’t grip his audience in quite the same way, he mumbled something about having confidence in Turnbull and insisted that the game was played between the teams not the managers.
Tuesday 16 March
Chelsea 0-1 Internazionale
Mugged. Quite simply Inter came to foul us out of the game and Wolfgang Stark let them. Mourinho had learnt from watching Liverpool’s tactics against his side in two semi-finals and applied it to his own team: foul until the ref stops you and keep going if he does nothing. The oversights were just as blatant as last year, both Ivanovic and Drogba were rugby tackled from corners under the referee’s nose and he did nothing. Not once but in Drogba’s case repeatedly. From the first whistle Inter body checked and kicked, tripped and pushed their way through the Chelsea side and Chelsea could not cope.
Unsurprisingly, with the persistent fouling from Inter, it was Chelsea players who picked up bookings, until finally Didier Drogba was sent off. Why he was sent off will remain a mystery, secret only to the referee and his employers because TV replays revealed no observable offence. There is a suggestion that he stamped on Thiago Motta but replay showed slight and accidental contact. Drogba later said that he trod on him. There is a difference between an accidental contact and a stamp but not one that interested Stark who swallowed Motta’s playacting and dismissed the Ivorian. That Motta fouled Drogba in the same incident, in the box again and no penalty was given, again, will have had no bearing on Stark’s decision.
Ancelotti made mistakes; taking off Ballack instead of Obi Mikel unbalanced the midfield and allowed Inter more time and space that ultimately led to their goal.
We had our chances towards the end of the first-half and at the beginning of the second but frantic blocking as well as wrestling and tripping prevented any score.
John Terry was the latest Chelsea player filmed swearing about the outcome of a match – he mouthed “fucking shit” at the fourth official on his way down the tunnel. John should watch out, he is not Steven Gerrard and so cannot expect automatic exoneration.
Ultimately, as the Inter fans sang “bye-bye, Carletto”, Ancelotti will have to find a way of lifting the side before the trip to Blackburn. He didn’t seem to have the fight for it tonight. As Mourinho shouted at and cajoled his players, Carlo was silent and sullen. He will not last long if we don’t win the Premiership.
Speaking afterwards Jose Mourinho recognised our pain: “This is a team that lost a semi-final with a goal that was not a goal, lost a semi-final on penalties, lost a final on penalties, lost a semi-final in a game that they should have won 3-0 with three penalties that were not given. This is the story of this club and the story of these players. This is their history – one of frustration”.
Wednesday 17 March
Happy St Patrick’s to all who want to drown their sorrows. JT might be among the revellers tonight to drown out the news that he ran over a security guard on his way out of the ground last night. He was only travelling at 1-2 miles and hour but there was such a scrum of photographers and fans that he didn’t notice a security man’s leg had slipped under his wheel. It never rains but it pours.
Mourinho’s powers of suggestion mean that most of today’s match reports state quite boldly that Inter were far the better team but, as last season, if a team is allowed to foul their opponents in the box without fear of a penalty, how are the other team supposed to compete.
If Uefa are still punishing us for Anders Frisk surely, the decisions should have been going in our favour because Frisk’s problems stemmed from Mourinho’s comments.
Didier Drogba can expect Uefa to increase his suffering by applying the suspended two-game ban hanging over from the disgrace last season. Uefa were cruel to inflict any punishment on the big striker for his comments to Ovrebro after the Barcelona game but will seek to add punishment with glee. They meet on the matter in a few days.
Wednesday 18 March
Blackburn Rovers youth 0:1 Chelsea youth
A spirited performance from the young blues to cope with the travel and determined opponents showed maturity. The only score came from a first-half own-goal as Tom Hitchcock (son of Kevin) deflected in a corner.
Sadly a bout of youthful pushing and shoving resulted in Kaby being sent off along with one of theirs. Boy will be boys and Kaby will be missing the return fixture on Monday.
Roman Abramovich does not have a gambling problem that is threatening his marriage. That is the firm conclusion of a libel trial he has just won against the Italian paper La Repubblica
Chelsea reserves 3:2 Charlton Athletic reserves
A training ground friendly which backfired as Carl Magnay picked up a full-house of knee injuries at the same time. Reserve manager Steve Holland explains: “he has damaged his anterior cruciate ligament … there is damage to the medial collateral ligament, and an issue with a cracked kneecap also”.
Jacob Mellis scored one and Fabio Borini got two.
Sunday 22 March
Blackburn Rovers 1:1 Chelsea
Old, out of touch and unable to influence events around him: last year it was Scolari struggling for motivation for a flagging team this year it is Ancelotti. Both seem to sit in the dugout looking forlorn and wonder openly after the game why things are not going right. If they don’t know, they are in the wrong job.
It started before kick-off as Ancelotti decided against trusting Joe Cole, with Ballack injured he selected Salomon Kalou.
This was another stark example of how Ancelotti’s team plays and why they are so vulnerable. Attractive and dominant in the first-half, scored a well-crafted goal when Anelka squared for Drogba to side-foot home. 0-1. But too easily intimidated in the second-half as Blackburn became more physical and poor defending and goalkeeping led to a simple headed equaliser. 1-1.
The truth is that under Mourinho we would have drilled all week in holding a slender lead and seeing off the threat. Under Hiddink we would have had the organisation to start with and the tactical nous to make changes from the bench. Ancelotti had neither. His substitutions, when they came, were confusing: Deco came on for Kalou just after they scored. Hands up anyone who remembers when the aging Portuguese playmaker last had a game? He looked rusty and, as he punted a forward pass hopelessly long for a goal-kick when we needed to exert pressure, you started to wonder if Ancelotti is the man for the job.
He didn’t feel the need for another substitution until Sturridge replaced Anelka on 90-minutes.
We have been shipping points away from home to nothing more than physical and determined opponents all season and Carlo Ancelotti and Ray Wilkins have been powerless to prevent it. Avram Grant collected more away wins in his few months in charge than Ancelotti can now amass in his first season. Manchester United are going to win this league because we handed it to them without understanding what was happening. The style going forward if fine; we are scoring goals and entertaining. But winning the Premiership is as much about defence and you cannot argue that Wilkins/Ancelotti have made us more difficult to beat. Carlo’s only seeming concession to defence is to persist with Obi Mikel as a defensive shield even as the young Nigerian looks more and more marginalised. Surely it is the coaches’ job to improve players or to try alternatives, but there is Obi John week after week.
Carlo Ancelotti will continue into next season with some new faces but we predict now that the team will falter at exactly the same time and in the same circumstances because Wilkins/Ancelotti do not appear to understand what is needed to win this league. Managerial stability is a laudable aim but if your manager cannot adapt to the situation he is in and make meaningful changes to results as his side face the same threat then he is the wrong man for the job. Carlo has been scratching his head and wondering where it all went wrong since the Wigan game and he hasn’t been able to do anything about it.
Chelsea are third in the table this morning four points behind Manchester United. We have a game in-hand but there is no guarantee of points even from a trip to Portsmouth. We are third on merit and have by far the hardest run in of the teams involved in the title.
We stuck with Claudio Ranieri for years and he managed a slight improvement, we could wait for Ancelotti to move us from third to second over the next three years or we could appoint a new manager.
Who? Guus Hiddink has a job with Turkey but we might be able to buy out his contract. Anyone got any other ideas?