Monday 25 February
Rafael Benitez is a … this morning he called the players together for a meeting before training where they told him exactly what they thought of his management. His intention was to tell them off for a poor performance away at City. Instead they reminded him that he is the idiot who picked the team.
Given that both fans and players are united in wanting him gone can he last the week? The players’ motivation and application on Wednesday will be key. If they look like they don’t care against Middlesbrough then Benitez will have to go.
Tottenham Hotspur are now in third after beating West Ham. Arsenal are now only two points further back. A measure of how successful Benitez has been Arsenal were 11 points behind us in January.
Wednesday 27 February
Middlesbrough 0:2 Chelsea
Nathan Ake made his full debut for Chelsea tonight but a host of changes led to a poor first-half that was rescued by Eden Hazard’s buzzing performance and goals from Ramires and Moses, after a really slick bit of football, papered over the cracks.
Nathan Ake deserves a paragraph above the rest of the night’s news because his was a mature and confident introduction to the team. Sitting in front of the defence Ake grew into the role and is a bright prospect.
Sadly the night was marred by a blustering rant from the man calling himself our manager. First we were plastic and now we are wasting our time, Rafael Benitez went the extra mile to insult Chelsea’s fans again but he chipped in a few barbs at the club board as well:
“They [he means us] have to support the team instead of wasting time doing banners or singing songs … If they continue singing and talking and talking then I think they are not making any favours. They have to support the players, they have to support the team … If they want to carry on wasting time with these things because they have an agenda, they have to take responsibility if something is wrong … If not then next year they can carry on singing but we will be in the Europa League so they have to realise that they are not making any favour.”
Benitez appears to be passing the buck to us – if his Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League it will be the fault of the fans that want him out. This wasn’t even a few spiteful words spat out in anger; he actually carried on when he went to talk to the print journalists.
He added an insult for the people who hired him:
“They gave me the title of interim manager, it’s a massive mistake. I am the manager and I will manage the team until the end, every single minute.” By which he means that nobody in European football had offered him a job in two years, he was so desperate he took a job with a club he had previously insulted with a job title he doesn’t like.
There was a positive note:
“At the end of the season, I will leave. They don’t need to be worrying about me.”
Bets on him reaching the end of the season are still open but it is reassuring to know that the least liked Chelsea manager in a generation will not be with us a moment beyond his current contract. Although as he said he would never take this job in the first place can we trust him to leave in the summer – we’ll be opening a poll.
Thursday 28 February
The level of delusion drip ever deeper; today Benitez has been telling anyone who will listen that he has a good relationship with the board and the players and the majority of the fans.
It is notable how many of all those groups stepped forward to back him. Er, nobody, so far not even trolls in chat rooms have suggested they are on his side. None of the fans we have talked to or read the opinion of have backed him all the way. The players have been silent as have the board.
Tomorrow’s press conference will be interesting as will Saturday 3pm when he takes his seat in the dug out.
Never has a football manager been so gone and not realised it.
If the anger and bile directed at Benitez is harming the team surely either the crowd has to go or, well, you get it.
Seamus O’Connell one of our first champions in 1955 passed away in Spain at the age of 83. Seamus remained an amateur while winning the league for us and was one of those who were honoured on 05 as we finally won the league again.
George Saville has joined Millwall until the end of the season. The midfielder looks to have matured this season as captain of the second-string. We expect him to make an impact at the Den.
Friday 1 March
Fulham U21 1:0 Chelsea U21
We seem to play Fulham every other week this season and we are not winning. This time a very young U21 squad was narrowly beaten.
FA youth cup draw gives us a trip to Derby County’s Pride Park next Friday night
Saturday 2 March
Chelsea 1:0 West Bromwich Albion
Not a truly convincing scoreline but enough to keep us in touch against a resilient WBA.
The real story was at kick-off as moaning Myrtle took her seat the chorus of boos was diminished. In contrast Steve Clarke got a rousing cheer to recognise his long service and our desire for someone else to fill our dugout. Many are just tired of the whole thing but the performance helped as a good selection created plenty of chances for Oscar to miss – he will develop into one of the best we’ve ever had – and everyone worked for each other in defence.
Oscar should have opened the scoring after only three minutes but Foster in the West Brom goal was right behind the shot. Of all the grim stories and pantomime crap that has been flying this season Oscar has been one of the truly promising things around. He has been bright, intelligent and fitted in as almost the finished article. We expect great things next season.
As for this season it was his cross that was headed back by Luiz for Demba Ba to open the scoring just on the half hour. 1-0.
The floodgates should have opened but a combination of Ben Foster and wayward finishing denied us a more comfortable result. Oscar really could have had a hat-trick.
The wobbles at the end as Cech was forced into a smart save from Odemwingie and then from Azpilicueta’s touch from a corner were the only real scares on a comfortable afternoon.
Chelsea U 18 1:3 Southampton U18
A disappointing result for the U18 team who had stormed the early season. In reality this was a team of schoolboys up against young men and it showed but it will have been good experience the U21 side ahs adopted many of the youth team that had been so successful. Progression it is called. A late goal from Ambrose Gnahore wasn’t enough on the night.