There’s no two ways about it, yesterday was a really shit day for Chelsea.
Less than 48 hours after discussing how brilliantly things are coming together on the pitch, I feel obliged to review the content of the report that was issued by The FA yesterday, which honestly made Terry’s four game ban seem very lenient, and also plainly suggested our club secretary and left-back were liars and cover up artists.
I’ve been very frustrated and disappointed to see accusations of indifference being aimed at Chelsea by journalists this past week. The club couldn’t have been much clearer about how they intended to wait until after the verdict of the courts and then The FA and then possibly an appeal had been given, before commenting. It’s almost like people would prefer Chelsea to show the same rashness and indiscretion in criticising its own players, that others have shown during this whole saga and then been taken down for it.
No one can judge the stance Chelsea have taken because they haven’t taken one, and until the outcome of an appeal is known, it would be inappropriate and stupid for them to do so.
Talking of inappropriate and stupid, Ashley Cole’s reaction to being called a liar by the organisation he’s served for free and outstandingly over the last 10 years, probably wasn’t the smartest. He shouldn’t have said what he did, (no doubt he’ll receive a fine for violating the club’s social media policy) but my biggest disappointment of the episode was the fact he didn’t quit England there and then. If he feels insulted to the point of labelling the FA a “bunch of twats”, I don’t know why he’d want to represent them the following week. However, I suppose it is respectable that he isn’t going to let this prevent him from playing for England if that’s what he wants to do.
The only other real disappointment is that in a weekend with the ‘Classico’ in Spain and the Milanese Derby and PSG vs Marseille, I’m gonna have to trawl through articles about how Ashley Cole said a swear word – which shamefully is the sort of occurrence football writers seem more interested in these days (as opposed to actual games of football).
The only real thing Chelsea fans can take some sort of pride in from yesterday was the interview given by Roberto di Matteo. The man is just composure personified. He offers Chelsea fans a very comforting reassurance that he’s only ever going to say what’s appropriate and PC in front of live cameras. Yes, the arrogance and bluntness of Mourinho’s conferences was fun to watch and Villas-Boas’ long and wordy analyses of games were fun to try and decipher, but ultimately I suppose di Matteo is the sort of manager you want – in that respect at least.
In my opinion the most sensible comment given yesterday was from di Matteo after he was repeatedly asked if he thought it was acceptable to use the word ‘black’ in an insult. Our manager said, “Sometimes when you are pushed to the edge of your abilities, you might react in a way you wouldn’t expect. Even people who are rational and composed, can lose their composure a little bit during a game. We have to improve on respecting each other in general. It’s a deeper issue, not just with footballers”.
Very eloquently put and completely true, but I get the impression it’s not what he really wanted to say. I certainly don’t want to put words in our manager’s mouth but I think maybe he’d have preferred to answer the question like this:
“NO OF COURSE IT ISN’T ACCEPTABLE. It isn’t acceptable to abuse another human, FULL STOP. And yet it happens in every minute of every football match and it happens thousands of times every second, everywhere around the world. If John wore a wire under a shirt for a season, he could probably spend the entire summer taking a hundred different players to court for verbal harassment, but he wouldn’t, because he isn’t an impressionable, susceptible, sensitive idiot who thinks it matters when he gets offended. “Black” isn’t an offensive word, there’s no dark cultural significance behind the word ‘black’, if you choose to let it offend you then so what? Nothing happens. Get offended, get over it, and move on. Bigots are always going to exist and bigotry is always going to exist in the world, you certainly aren’t going to limit it by making examples of clearly unprejudiced men like John Terry and Luis Suarez.
Who the hell do you think I am to sit here and say which forms of abuse are acceptable and which aren’t? No form of abuse is acceptable and no one can say which forms are worse than others because what classifies as offensive is a completely personal thing. Until we’ve reached a situation where footballers can all walk onto a pitch without fear of being abused in any way whatsoever, then I don’t see why any manager should be asked to condone or acknowledge anything that his obviously unprejudiced players might have said. This whole thing is a joke. A joke made worse by everyone involved”.
… well that’s what I’d have said anyway.
Back to what matters – football. Chelsea head into the international break still top of the table after hammering Norwich City, 4-1. Even with my stream of the match all blurry and grainy and stopping to buffer every 10 seconds, this was brilliant to watch. Every one moved the ball quickly, made good decisions and worked hard for the team and the result was some of the best football Stamford Bridge has seen in a long time.
We didn’t make a great start, going behind early to a Grant Holt strike, but Torres equalised quickly heading in an Ivanovic cross, before Frank Lampard gave us the lead with the most typical Frank Lampard goal you could imagine. Eden Hazard then effectively ended the contest; finishing well first time after Juan Mata made a brilliant forward run and played a perfect through ball to him. Mata was once again imperious, practically running the game on his own. And now he has another two week break away from international duty, to stay sharp and rested ahead of some tough upcoming fixtures. Branislav Ivanovic scored our final goal with a powerful volley from inside the area.
5 wins and 2 draws in 21 days is a job well done, I think. Top of the league, top of the CL group, everyone pretty much fit and in-form. All set for our reunion with Andre Villas-Boas in two weeks time.