Last week I was still reeling from another multi-goal thriller at the Bridge featuring us and Aston Villa, nursing a feeling that yet again we had merely papered over some gaping cracks in this crumbling season. Still, three points from the Bolton game and the draw with Villa had kept us in reasonable touch with the pack leaders. So there we were, away to the bottom club knowing a win was vital to ensure it’s not game over for the title. I just couldn’t see us losing but I did at least expect a draw. I was trying to be positive to assuage my furrowed brow to contemplate what may be the worst defence of a title since last year when Mercedes bought the Brawn F1 team and invested enough to take them from the top to fourth. Coincidentally, fourth is now our minimum target.
The Wolves result was a shock because it had genuinely seemed we were on the way back. But when you watch the game back we were toothless and slow, rather like an old boxer who’s gone on just that little bit too long. My previous article drew the analogy between a finely tuned engine and us, and took the view that we were rebuilding the engine using our own produced parts rather than buying in expensive imports. Continuing with car analogies we have gone from being a Bugatti Veyron (powerful, expensive, fast, envied) to a TVR (broken down, living off a name, hoping to be rescued).
I had expected the forums and blogs to see a communal Chelsea fan hand wringing accompanied by catcalls for Ancelotti to be sacked. After all, that’s the easy bandwagon to jump on for the newer followers accustomed to nothing but constant success. Instead I saw an outbreak of that rarity in football, old fashioned Common Sense. Whether this is the influence of the more mature fans still able to argue cogently and therefore temper the uber-fickle nature of younger fans or whether Carlo has genuinely got the fans sympathy is undecided, and may never be known. What is nice to see is the general consensus that we want him to stay, with blame being apportioned mainly to the players, a little to the board, a little to the sacking of Ray Wilkins whilst a small minority seems to be genuinely anti-Ancelotti.
Sometimes fate conspires to work in your favour, and the weekend visit of a downwardly mobile Ipswich provided the perfect tonic for us. Scoring 7 is something we got quite used to last season and may just be the turning point we need to go on a long unbeaten run. Carlo seemingly responded to the wishes of the fans and gave starts to Mceachran, Sturridge and Van Aanholt. The misfiring Drogba, Malouda and Essien were rightly dropped to bench duty. One wonders how they must have felt to see those youngsters running at players with speed, playing forward passes and not seeing the ball hoofed long to Drogba. Anelka played better than he has for a while, even remembering how to score a goal. He’d have had 2 but for Kalou emulating David Nugent by knocking the ball over the line when it was 6 inches from doing so anyway. Ramires had his 4th good game on the bounce and is currently doing what Essien is supposed to do. Van Aanholt and Josh put in very decent turns and Sturridge finally showed that he has what it takes to be the next England striker. Kakuta came on and also acquitted himself well.
Lets hope the seniors see the competition for places coming through and finish this season with a flourish.
The futures bright. The futures Blue.
More ramblings can be found at http://www.chelseafcblog.com/