NERVES? What nerves? It’s a good job that the players do not suffer from the kind of disposition that has ensured that I have not had a proper night’s sleep in the last two weeks!
In the run up to the Wigan game, I had gone through every permutation of events in my head – each more elaborately negative than the next, which had left me a gibbering wreck. Deep down I knew we were better than them, I knew that we should beat them convincingly and that psychologically we were ready, but I had wound myself up into such a state, that I even considered not going into the ground at one point. As it was I watched the first 32 minutes through my fingers, but as soon as the Lampard penalty went in, I finally knew we were there.
The tension just drained out of my body and I was able to enjoy what was an amazing game followed by frenzied celebrations. Even Drogba’s petulant episode following the penalty award could not get me riled, as a Chelsea determined to win the title in style simply ran riot.
I will bet Martinez wishes he hadn’t been quite so gobby in the lead up – still I should thank him as he probably went some way to doing Ancelotti’s team talk for him.
And so to Ancelotti – the apology that I hoped I would have to write.
About this time last season, the Stamford Bridge faithful were telling Roman Abramovich exactly where he could stick Carlo Ancelotti. Bet we all feel a bit silly now eh? I know I do.
I wasn’t enamoured with the appointment for a number of reasons and thought on more than one occasion that we had blown it, but it’s a good job that Ancelotti and the players had a bit more faith than me. You cannot argue with what this man has achieved in his first season in English football – the records we have broken, the new lease of life he has given to what had been labelled an ageing team past its prime.
Add to that the furore that followed the Terry, and then the Cole, revelations and he could have been at the helm of a team ready to implode. But in his quiet unassuming manner he has bought the title back to Stamford Bridge and we find ourselves on the cusp of the Double – achieve that and the ghost of Mourinho will have been well and truly exorcised.
He did not have the advantage of bringing players who he was familiar with, but instead set about working with the squad he had inherited and after an initial stubborn period with the diamond perfected different ways of playing which suited the squad. He also managed the team excellently through some pretty major long-term injuries and some bouts of poor form. Carlo Ancelotti – welcome to legend status.
While I am handing out apologies, I think I also owe one to Frank Arnesen as his work with the youth set up at Chelsea is beginning to bear fruit with the youngsters winning the Youth Cup after getting close in the last couple of years. Being lucky enough to see a few of the games it is evident that there is some real talent in that team and hopefully they will make that magic cross-over into the first team some time soon to prove that Chelsea do have a youth policy and its coming on well.
But back to the first team. Yesterday’s celebrations as ever celebrated everyone that is involved with the team – each being recognised and sharing in the success – from fitness coaches to masseurs, interpreters to kit-men – they all had their moment in the sun.
Mention should also go to Abramovich who continually refuses to “get bored and sell up” much to the annoyance of all those that have predicted this since he first became involved with Chelsea. Last Sunday TV pictures caught him biting his nails, heading every ball, flinching at every tackle and clapping along to Harry J and the Allstar’s Liquidator – i.e. just like every other Chelsea fan (just with a bigger wedge in his pocket and a bodyguard or five).
I wonder whether Capello, who was at the Bridge last Sunday, was regretting his decision to strip Terry of the captaincy? With Ferdinand 50/50 to even make the World Cup he is left with a dejected player in poor form to lead the team out – rather than the Premiership and possibly Double winning captain. What do they say, act in haste and repent at leisure?
SO one last push next Saturday for Chelsea immortality – the Double.
Hopefully the stress of the tightly-contested title race will have all subsided and we can play with free abandon just as we did after Lampard scored the penalty on Sunday. It’s been an amazing title race which has made me plough the deepest depths of despair and at the same time given me some of the greatest highs ever. It has also taught me a valuable lesson in patience and hasty judgements.
So here is to King Carlo and our team of Champions.
Trizia is Joint Chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group. Visit the CSG website to find out more information.