Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea’

“Modern football fans are less likely to sing than the ones they squeezed out.”

by David Chidgey.

‘Atmosphere’ was a great track by Joy Division – gloomy and downbeat with references to “walking in silence”. It seems that Jose Mourinho has taken his cue from Ian Curtis in openly criticising Chelsea Supporters for their lack of ‘atmosphere’.

Jose Mourinho Chelsea vs Liverpool 20132014

Jose’s criticisms are merely a symptom of a bigger problem with modern football

Mourinho has been criticsed for breaking an unwritten rule by criticising supporters who pay their hard earned money week in week out to back him and the team. I was there on Saturday, and in truth, the atmosphere was all right in the first half, albeit fairly quiet in the second (no doubt as a result of nerves and frustration after QPR had equalised). It seems odd therefore that Mourinho has chosen this particular match to come out with this veiled attack on his own supporters.

And therein lies the truth perhaps, in that the master deflector was taking attention away from what he considered to be a poor performance by the team. It certainly worked as the press and social media have been talking about nothing else since! As it happens, I don’t think Chelsea played as badly as Mourinho clearly thought they did, which makes this attack even stranger.

The reaction amongst Chelsea supporters has been equally critical. In fact I have seldom heard Mourinho so heavily criticised by his own supporters – the very same supporters who clamoured for his return having had to endure a manager (Rafa Benitez) for whom they had nothing but hatred.

They have a point. It seems that Mourinho (unusually for him) is showing little empathy for the long-suffering supporter and even less understanding.

The reality is that atmosphere at Chelsea and most big Premier League clubs is a patch on what it used to be – look at Old Trafford when Manchester United played Chelsea. Even the fabled Anfield was like a morgue on one of their ‘famous European nights’ against Real Madrid the other week. The bottom line is that poor atmospheres are endemic at big clubs in modern football.

Chelsea have a particularly aggressive stewarding policy where ‘persistent standing’ is met with letters threatening to remove your season ticket and a hot-line to ‘grass up’ anyone deemed to be behaving unacceptably. 99.9% of football supporters will tell you that it is much easier to sing, chant and generally make a noise when you have supporters collectively standing.

When faced with stewarding of this type (backed up and reinforced, it must be said, by local council regulations, police influence and threats of reduced capacity) is it surprising that it kills the atmosphere? It is no surprise that away supporters, and Chelsea’s in particular, are far more vocal as they literally stand and sing as one.

Ironically Mourinho has contributed to the dearth of atmosphere at Stamford Bridge in his first stint as manager, by moving the often vociferous away support (of course no sanctions for standing are applied to them!) away from his dug out in the East Stand and into the sacred Shed End – cutting one of our most vocal areas in half as a result. He would do well to remember that.

But there are many, many more reasons why atmosphere is getting worse at Stamford Bridge and elsewhere, some of which I discussed in an interview with Danny Kelly’s ‘Season Ticket’ show on talkSPORT on Saturday night. The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, of which I am a Board member, conducts an annual survey of its members, and the issue of ‘Atmosphere’ is consistently mentioned as an area for concern and indeed for improvement.

In reality the atmosphere will not improve unless substantial change is made and the club’s strategies in how it deals with supporters is fundamentally re-thought. Many of us believe that the key to improving match day atmosphere is to introduce ‘Safe Standing’ areas as championed by the excellent Jon Darch of the Football Supporters Federation. This is the model that German football has adopted and is exemplified by the ‘yellow wall’ at Borussia Dortmund with thousands of vocal supporters standing in one impressive stand.

Fans of Dortmund are renowned for their atmosphere

Fans of Dortmund are renowned for their atmosphere

Another measure we must adopt from German football is the recognition that ticket prices are just too expensive. In Germany, legislation ensures that a proportion of tickets are sold at a price affordable to the ‘working man’. In my view the systematic increase in ticket prices in the Premier League is the root cause of the problems we now have with lack of atmosphere.

The ‘working man’ and the teenage supporter (16-25 year olds in particular) have historically been the bedrock of vocal support at football grounds. However, it is no longer their game. Over the last 20 years they have been systematically priced out. Football has become gentrified or some might say ‘civilised’ as a result – certainly at Stamford Bridge.

The newer football fans who have replaced them are less likely to sing (or know the songs) and those who can afford to pay £50 and upwards for a ticket are perhaps more likely to feel some sort of entitlement to be entertained, rather than see it as their responsibility to support. An ageing football demographic (largely as a result of the expense) does not help, as even those who screamed and shouted as teenage supporters may feel they no longer need to do so – believing that they have done their bit.

Ultimately the blame lies with the Premier League and the clubs themselves for disregarding their most loyal supporters in order to ‘market’ to a ‘customer’ base prepared to pay ever higher prices for tickets, merchandise and consumables. The amount of ‘tourists’ that turn up to Premier League games simply cannot help with the atmosphere.

Tourists (those who come to a game but with little or no knowledge of the game or the club, and are merely there to tick off another attraction on the list) are by definition neutral. If you want a decent atmosphere, there is no place for neutrals at a football match.

Instead of berating the very supporters who have had to put up with all of these issues over the last 20 years, and witness the game they know and love disappearing, Jose would be better advised to actually work with the supporters and take these issues to the people who are really to blame, and in doing so effect some real change.

Whilst I disagree with how Mourinho has handled this, it is true that there is a real, football-wide problem regarding atmosphere and the points he makes are valid. It may be that with Mourinho putting it foursquare on the agenda, supporters can pressurise the clubs and the Premier League to change things.

It would be a great help if Mourinho were to join us in doing so rather than criticising from the side-lines. The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has a board meeting in a couple of weeks’ time, and Jose is cordially invited to join us. We can perhaps educate him on the finer points on the issues around the lack of atmosphere and hopefully garner his support in challenging the club and Premier League to help us do something about it. And we’ll be happy to provide him with a nice bottle of red wine.

David ‘Stamford Chidge’ Chidgey presents the award winning Chelsea FanCast TV show and podcast which can be seen every Monday at 19.00 on chelseafancast.com or You Tube or heard at mixlr.com/chelsea-fancast/ or downloaded from ITunes. Follow them on twitter @StamfordChidge and @ChelseaFanCast

 

Chelsea Stars Swagger With Seventies Style

18th April 1973 Ian Hutchinson, Alan Hudson, Steve Kember and Bill Garner of Chelsea FC join with professional models to show off a collection of clothes from the Mr Freedom fashion boutique on the King's Road.

This Great Shot from 18th April 1973 sees Ian Hutchinson, Alan Hudson, Steve Kember and Bill Garner of Chelsea FC pose with professional models to show off a collection of clothes from the Mr Freedom fashion boutique on the King’s Road.

 

United v Chelsea Preview
PLUS: When Dixon ended Big Ron’s title hopes & Violett the hat-trick hero

by Karl Hofer.

For a club that has utterly dominated the domestic game in recent times, United’s home league record against Chelsea is not particularly impressive. In the modern Premier League era United have won eight, drawn eight and lost six against the Blues.

It’s fairly common knowledge that Chelsea have the best record of any other team in the Premier League against United, but this is seen as something of a modern phenomenon. It is not.

If you look at the results between the two clubs at Old Trafford, stretching back to the 1966-67 season, a quarter of a century before the Premier League era began, you’ll see something quite extraordinary;

United wins: one. Draws: eight. Chelsea wins: eight.

Kerry-Dixon-1

Dixon netted a brace to end United’s title hopes

Perhaps the most painful of those eight defeats for United – and bear in mind one of those was a 4-0 humping as the newly crowned European Champions in 1968 – was Chelsea’s 2-1 win in April of 1986. Despite Everton and Liverpool breaking away from the chasing pack, both clubs were still grimly hanging on in the title race but neither side were in any kind of form going into this meeting. Chelsea were squandering away the games they had in hand on the leaders, having just been slapped 4-0 at home by fellow contenders West Ham and (even more disastrously) 6-0 away to neighbours QPR.

United meanwhile were starting to resemble that depressed drunk guy at the end of a night out, now rambling to themselves in the corner with bottle in hand having initially arrived as the life and soul of the party. Having seen a 10 point lead at Christmas dissolve into nothing, Ron Atkinson’s side knew their long wait for the title would continue for sure unless they won this one. This was make or break for both clubs.

After a goalless first half, Kerry Dixon beat the offside trap to score his first goal for four months. United then equalised through a Jesper Olsen penalty, big Doug Rougvie doing what he did best; this time sending Hughes crashing to the floor in the area. But Dixon had the final say in the dying moments to knock United out of the title race and send the many thousands of travelling fans into delirium and the home fans into despair. The future looked bright momentarily for John Neal’s team but Chelsea would subsequently win only one of their last seven games to finish in sixth spot.

United’s poor form continued through the beginning of the following season, and with the club languishing at the foot of the table in November manager Ron Atkinson was dismissed – with Alex Ferguson and his assistant Archie Knox taking over that same day.

Without question the greatest match between the sides was an 11 goal thriller at Stamford Bridge back in October 1954. Ted Drake had taken over Chelsea in 1952 and had been busy trying to rid them of their image, one that saw them as the butt of many a comedian’s jokes in the music-halls up and down the land. Out went the nickname ‘The Pensioners’, replaced with the more respectable ‘Blues’. Also dispatched was the affable septuagenarian on the clubs crest. This was a new Chelsea, one that Drake was instilling with a winning mentality.

To that end Drake drafted in solid defenders Peter Sillett and future England boss Ron Greenwood, plus striker Roy Bentley. As a consequence the team established itself in the top flight and were no longer involved in relegation battles, but nobody expected more than a safe mid-table position when the 1954-55 season came round.

The favourites for the title were reigning champions Wolverhampton Wanderers and Matt Busby’s upcoming Manchester United side.

DennisViolett

Dennis Violett was a hat-trick hero

The game on October 16th was a glowing confirmation of the emergence of the attacking prowess of the ‘Busby’s Babes’. The visitors went 1-0 up with Dennis Viollet opening the scoring but a pair of unknown amateurs making their debuts returned fire as Seamus O’Connell equalized before the Thermos-flask seller Jim Lewis put the home side 2-1 up. Tommy Taylor and then Viollet put United back in front 2-3, a lead they held at half-time.

The same pair in the same order, Taylor and then Viollet (completing his hat-trick) seemed to have put Matt Busby’s side out of sight at 2-5 but then Ken Armstrong pulled one back for Chelsea. Jackie Blanchflower looked to have sealed the points when he made it 3-6, but cattle-farmer O’Connell then scored twice to record a famous debut hat-trick and set up a grandstand finish, but United’s shaky defence clung on for an extraordinary 5-6 triumph.

Chelsea lost their next two games – completing a run of six games without a win – to end October in 12th place, Wolves having taken over from United at the top. But then Drake’s Ducklings got their act together losing only four more games all season as they stormed up the table and, beating Wolves home and away, shocked the nation to win the title. Their last defeat of the season was at Old Trafford – but by then, the title, Chelsea’s first trophy in their 50 year history, had been won.

The Busby Babes would have to wait to make their mark on English football’s roll of honour.

The Odds

If you fancy a repeat of that scoreline then you’ll no doubt be delighted to hear that William Hill are offering a handsome 500-1 on it. Realistically the game is set to be a much tighter affair, United (15/8) will be keen to stifle Chelsea (7/5) early on, wary of the attacking threat they pose, before imposing their own game on the blues.

There will be a lot of mutual respect, both managers know each other extremely well having worked together previously at Barcelona and neither will want to concede an inch to the other – So Bobby’s Bets recommends a draw at 23/10. A 2-2 final scoreline is 14/1.

Diego Costa is sure to return to Chelsea’s starting line-up and is 7/2 to open the scoring. You can also get 7/1 on the in-form Eden Hazard to score first whilst Oscar and Fabregas are both 9/1.

If you think one of the home team will strike first then Robin van Persie is the favourite at  5/1 with Radamel Falcao. But we feel the best value in the goalscorer markets is with Angel Di Maria who is 9/1 to be the first scorer. If you fancy Juan Mata to do a ‘Frank Lampard’ then you can get 13/5 for the Spaniard as anytime goalscorer against his old club.

Bobby’s Bet of the Day: 8/1 for Chelsea to come from behind and win.

Odds courtesy of William Hill.

@KGHof

Chelsea v Arsenal Preview
PLUS: Fantastic Four – Classic Encounters From The Past

Wenger Has Done Well to Reach the 18th, But Will Arsenal Miss The Cut Yet Again..?

by Karl Hofer.

Chelsea  v  Arsenal, Stamford Bridge, Sunday October 5th  2014 – Live on Sky Sports, kickoff: 2.05pm

As Autumn sets in and Arsene Wenger celebrates his 18th year at the helm of Arsenal we’re all set for the first real test of the Gunners mettle in terms of challenging for the title this season. Wenger’s team was still in the mix at the top of the table before totally unraveling in a six-nil hammering at Stamford Bridge back in March. The question now must be: how far have they come since then..?

Whilst Chelsea seem to have addressed the weak points of their game from last season by bringing in a serious goal-scoring threat in Diego Costa and a midfielder who can unlock doors in former Gooner Cesc Fabregas, questions remain over Arsenal’s soft centre in defence and midfield.

In the summer Arsenal brought in former Barca play-maker Alexis Sanchez at great expense to add to a pool of creative talent that includes Ozil, Wilshere and Cazorla to name but three.  They did add young defender Calum Chambers, also at great expense, but bid farewell to Barca-bound Thomas Vermaelen, thereby swapping experience for potential.

No doubt they are both fine players, but you can’t help think that perhaps a pursuit of a defensive midfielder – like Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira for example – might have been a far more prudent way to spend the transfer kitty at the Emirates.

Wenger

Wenger has been celebrating more milestones than trophies of late

Remember; that humbling defeat back in March wasn’t the first time that Arsenal were overwhelmed by one of the big boys, similar things happened at the Etihad and at Anfield, and Arsenal’s inability to stem the tide was in evidence again in match week one of the Champions League when they escaped Dortmund with a rather flattering two-nil defeat that could have been a lot worse.

Wenger’s insistence on sending his full-backs deep into opposition territory with gay abandon, regardless of who they are playing and where they are playing, has bit him on his derrière too many times now. His persistence in doing so is not a case of him sticking to his footballing principles, it is downright pigheadedness and it is costing the team dearly.

Arsenals’ only recognised defensive midfielder is Mathieu Flamini who was brought back into the fold after being released on a free transfer by AC Milan and was recently caught napping in the North London derby for Tottenham’s opening goal.

He may not be the greatest protector of a back-four, but he’s essentially all Arsenal have for that role. That was proved beyond a shadow of doubt when Wenger chose to start Arteta instead of him last time out against Chelsea. Flamini was, somewhat inexplicably, keeping the bench warm whilst Nemanja Matic and David Luiz (in an all too rare outing in midfield) totally dominated proceedings. Chelsea’s midfield effectively tore Arsenal a new one in Wenger’s 1,000 game in charge, winning the game in the first 17 minutes as the Blues roared into a 3-0 lead with Matic in particular looking imperious.

It will be interesting to see how Wenger approaches the game on the back of that heavy defeat. Flamini must surely be in the starting line up this time but he cannot protect Arsenal’s defence all on his own, it will need to be a collective effort if they are to stand a chance of taking anything from the game.

It is well documented that Wenger has yet to taste success against Mourinho in any of their past encounters and it’s hard to see that changing this weekend as his side still look ill equipped to handle the more physical teams and Chelsea in particular.

Mourinho’s signing of Matic looks more and more like the soundest bit of business of the last 12 months. He is exactly the player Arsenal and United so desperately need, yet they both went for big name attackers like Sanchez and Di Maria instead – and whilst they have probably sold thousands more shirts as a result it is Mourinho and Chelsea who look best placed to cash-in in the hunt for silverware.

It’s not as if Wenger doesn’t know the value of having a powerful midfielder in his ranks, the first half of his Arsenal career was notable for the midfield presence of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit –  both key components of ‘The Invincibles’. Surely it’s no coincidence that the first 9 years of Wenger’s time at Arsenal brought unheralded success, whilst the last 9 years have yielded only a solitary FA Cup triumph.

Will it signal the autumn of Wenger’s tenure at the Emirates if Arsenal fail to be competitive in yet another key fixture..? Perhaps, certainly an increasing number of supporters are voicing their discontent with his seemingly stubborn ways and another one-sided defeat will add fuel to those flames.

Wenger can go a long way towards appeasing those doubters if he can demonstrate an ability to learn from past mistakes and put together a game plan that brings Arsenal something from this derby.

One piece of good news for Wenger is that Chelsea’s perennial tormentor of all things Arsenal, Didier Drogba, will miss out through injury. However, in Diego Costa the Blues have a striker who is capable of giving Arsenal’s defenders a whole new set of nightmares with the kind of physical play that’s been their undoing in the past.

Selected Odds

CHELSEA  4/6   DRAW   14/5   ARSENAL   4/1

First Goalscorer: Costa 10/3, Hazard 6/1, Fabregas 7/1, Welbeck 15/2, Sanchez 8/1

Correct Score: Che 1-0 Ars: 13/2, Che 6-0 Ars: 150/1, Che 1-1 Ars: 7/1, Che 1-2 Ars: 14/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Reverse Wincast – Welbeck to score anytime & Chelsea to win at 11/1

odds courtesy of William Hill.

 

FANTASTIC FOUR – CLASSIC CHELSEA v ARSENAL PAST ENCOUNTERS

Arsenal 2-4 Chelsea – March 1964

There was turmoil at The Bridge when Tommy Docherty took charge of Chelsea after Ted Drake was dismissed following a series of mid-table finishes and a woeful start to the 61-62 campaign, but he was unable to turn things around and at the end of the season Chelsea were relegated. But they bounced straight back with a side built around Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris, Terry Venables, and their young captain Bobby Tambling.

Their first season back with the big guns was magnificent for such a young team – the standout result being a 4-2 win at Highbury.

The Arsenal team was built around the attacking talents of George Eastham, Joe Baker and George Armstrong, and they still held faint hopes of maintaining a title challenge. But they were found wanting as Bobby Tambling scored all four Chelsea goals on a mudbath, capitalising on three mistakes by Ian Ure, the other a delightful lob.

Chelsea finished in fifth, three places ahead of Arsenal. Docherty’s side were anointed as one of the teams of the decade and went on to capture the League Cup a year later. Arsenal on the other hand descended into a dark period under Billy Wright, not only losing their way but also their white sleeves in the process.

Highbury1964

Bobby Tambling scored all four for Chelsea at a very muddy Highbury

 

Arsenal 5-2 Chelsea – April 1979

stapleton

Stapleton netted twice to help relegate the Blues

Both teams began the 70’s in fine style; Arsenal won the league and Cup Double in 1971, only to drift. Chelsea followed up their 1970 FA Cup win with the Cup Winners’ Cup a year later – and then decided to expand Stamford Bridge with a massive East Stand. Up went the stand, and down went Chelsea.

One of their stars of the 1960s Eddie McCreadie led Chelsea back up with a team built around Ray Wilkins. Boardroom unrest meant McCreadie was replaced by another star of the previous decade, Ken Shellito, before Danny Blanchflower was tasked with keeping the Blues in the top flight.

But in 1978-79, Chelsea won only five league games all season, the knockout blow being landed with a spectacular flourish by Arsenal. David O’Leary, Frank Stapleton (2), Alan Sunderland and David Price sent Chelsea down – with the west Londoners’ only relief coming from terrace favourites Clive Walker and Tommy Langley.

 

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal – February 1991

KDixon

Dixon scored the winner

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal went unbeaten in their title triumph of 2003/04 of course. But that achievement could have been old news had Chelsea not beaten George Graham’s Gunners in February of 1991, 23 years earlier, which proved to be their only league defeat of the season as they clinched the title by seven points.

In a tight match, Chelsea seized control in the second half thanks to Graham Stuart’s header into an almost unguarded net after Winterburn’s mistake, and late on the Arsenal defence was in tatters as Kerry Dixon tapped in after being set up by Damien Matthew to send The Shed into raptures.

Alan Smith’s smart finish pulled one back, but it came so late the away fans could barely muster a cheer. Invincibility would have to wait…

 

Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal – October 1999

Nwankwo Kanu is a curious character, the embodiment of unfulfilled possibilities some would say. Despite his frustrating, languid style and unspectacular goal scoring record he is a cult figure to Arsenal fans everywhere – thanks largely to this game.

Chelsea seemed to have the game all sewn up shortly after half time when Dan Petrescu added to Tore Andre Flo’s 39th minute strike. But Arsenal’s lanky Nigerian striker had other ideas, scoring an exquisite 15 minute hat-trick. His first two goals were all about his control and delicate touch, but it’s his 90th-minute winner that will really live long in the memory.

It looked like the chance had gone after he’d chased down Albert Ferrer’s stray clearance, but dribbling past a stranded Ed de Goey, Kanu whipped the ball over an array of Chelsea defenders into the far top corner from an impossible angle, sending Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler into a fits, screeching the famous line: “Can you believe it?!”

KanuHT

@KGHof

The Oil Firm Derby Preview
PLUS: Stunning Colin Bell Volley Earns Draw at The Bridge in 1970

gallery-colin-bell

Colin Bell

Manchester City v Chelsea, Premier League, Sunday 21st September, 4pm

Sunday’s clash between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad certainly feels like the Big Title Showdown Game of the campaign so far.

City, not quite the goal machine of last term, have got the job done for the most part so far. They are a team with an effortless grace about them which stems from the demeanour of manager Manuel Pelligrini.

Chelsea have evolved into a team Jose Mourinho now believes can go all the way. Last season’s mantra of steely concentration with the bite of cobras has made way for demolition with artistic licence.

Even if City have an owner even richer than Chelsea’s and consequently a bigger wage bill, Chelsea have spent prudently in this transfer window and have made a clear statement with their play that they won’t be blown out of water by anyone.

Money can’t buy success, eh? Oligarch Abramovich and Oil monarch Mansour have reshaped the football landscape with their billions.

It’s far from a two horse race yet… but these two clubs are now setting down a new power base.

Things can still go in cycles but the sheer sums of money would seem to protect these clubs from spiraling into decay rather like, well, Manchester City and Chelsea did by the end of the Seventies.

At the start of that decade the two clubs seemed poised to dominate for some time.

When Man City visited Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October 1970, City were holders of the European Cup winner’s Cup and Chelsea had just won the FA Cup, both hugely glamorous trophies back then for two very glamorous teams.

That particular game ended 1-1 and was most notable for a stunning long range volley by Colin Bell that is a reminder that those boys knew a thing or two about technique back then too.

THE ODDS

Would this new more audacious Chelsea settle for a similar result..? Quite possibly.

Man City go into their clash with Chelsea as favourites with Coral at 7/5. The draw is 5/2 with a Chelsea win 15/8.

Despite the goalscoring talent on display a 0-0 at 11/1 would not surprise – City are 17/2 to win 1-0; Chelsea 10/1 to repeat the 0-1 scoreline from last season.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: A draw this early in the season suits both teams, lump on at 5/2.

 Odds courtesy of William Hill.

The Master Plan!
How Chelsea’s Transfer Policy Has Moved From Rude to Shrewd

by Dave Chidgey.

Now the Sky Sports hyped Transfer Window has firmly shut, Chelsea supporters can rest easy and light up the proverbial cigar safe in the knowledge that this summer the club has played a blinder!

Torres (1)

Torres has finally been moved on

In the last few seasons, probably going back to signing Torres for £50m and Luiz for £20m, Chelsea’s dealings in the transfer market had seemed somewhat surreal at best, flawed at worst, buying flashy players with no clear strategy or plan beyond a desire to play a cavalier version of tika-taka.

Those days appear to have been consigned firmly to the dustbin of history. Last year Jose Mourinho stated clearly that Chelsea were not in a position to win the title. We were a few players short, not least up front, and we had a few problem players in problem areas. On the one hand he called Chelsea a little horse, on the other we were a club in transition.

The summer of 2014 may well prove to be as big a landmark in terms of Chelsea’s future success, as the summer of 2003. Jose, together with Michael Emenalo one presumes, has implemented a master plan for the next ten years of football domination.

The obvious hole up front has been plugged with the signing of Diego Costa, but do not underestimate how important the re-signing of Didier Drogba on a free will be in the dressing room. The long term problem of Fernando Torres has also been solved with his loan to AC Milan, getting a very high earner off the books in the process. Hopefully the move will be of huge benefit to both Chelsea and the player. It was also impressive how quickly Chelsea got the talented Loic Remy in to complete the striking triumvirate, for a mere £10.5m it must be said.

RemyChelsea

Remy: Smart business, quickly done.

In fact the departures from Chelsea are possibly more intriguing than the arrivals. Club legends Lampard and Cole have left, but any potential gaps left in the squad have been filled with the likes of Fabregas (who could prove to be the signing of the season) and Felipe Luis. Demba Ba, David Luiz, and Lukaku (for a staggering combined £82.7m) have been moved on, deemed not good enough for Mourinho’s Chelsea MkII. As a result of the ins and outs, Mourinho will be happy that he now has two high quality players for every position in that squad, a tried and tested strategy for the ‘shrewd one’.

Many commentators criticise Chelsea for the amount of players they have out on loan – 26 at the last count. However, I think in the light of this year’s transfer business, it can be seen as a very smart recruitment strategy and one that fits in well with the new reality of Financial Fair Play. Chelsea has worked hard to identify young talent, buying them relatively cheaply (Pasalic for £3m being a case in point). They are then loaned out so that Chelsea can monitor their development. If they prove good enough they get a chance to make the grade at Chelsea. If not, they are sold on, usually for a substantial profit. This profit is then re-invested in world class players when needed. Whilst some may see this as a sinister ‘hedge fund’ for youth development, the dividends for Chelsea are there for all to see.

The most intriguing aspect of Chelsea’s transfer window is the speed and efficiency with which they have concluded business, and to those who say our spending is the ruination of football, we have one of the lowest net spends in the Premier League this summer. That is positively Arsenal like!

Clearly Chelsea are adapting to the world of Financial Fair Play better than most.

David ‘Stamford Chidge’ Chidgey presents the award winning Chelsea FanCast TV show and podcast which can be seen every Monday at 19.00 on Chelsea FanCast TV or You Tube or heard at mixlr.com/chelsea-fancast/ or downloaded from ITunes. Follow him on twitter @StamfordChidge and @ChelseaFanCast

 

They Say Never Go Back!
Will Drogba buck the trend or follow in Osgood’s footsteps..?

DrogbaReturn

Return of the King (II)

by Roy Dalley.

History was the buzzword that accompanied Didier Drogba on his return to Chelsea, and it had little to do with the distressed denims and flatcap he wore while putting pen to paper on a new one-year contract with the club.

Certainly the Ivorian centre-forward has become a dab hand at signing his name into football’s history books. No less than 10 major titles during his first eight year spell at Chelsea is ample proof of that.

Manager Jose Mourinho dropped the H word a couple of times when welcoming Drogba back to the club, stressing: “He’s not protected by history or what he’s done for the club previously. He is coming with the mentality to make more history.”

Yet in another sense Chelsea fans of a certain vintage will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

retro_chelsea

Osgood returned to The Bridge in ’79 but couldn’t save the Blues from relegation

It is said one should never go back in love and in football; think Thierry Henry and Arsenal. Or Paul Scholes and Manchester United. Their returns only served to wipe away more than a little sheen from their glittering reputations.

Step back a few years and Chelsea fans will recall another comeback that hardly lived up to their hopes or expectations…

Peter Osgood was the original King of Stamford Bridge; quite an accolade when your rivals for the crown included Alan Hudson, Charlie Cooke, Bobby Tambling and Peter Bonetti.

And with good reason. During his first spell at the club Osgood scored 148 goals in 370 appearances, including strikes against (the then mighty) Leeds to help win the FA Cup and (the perennially mighty) Real Madrid to land the European Cup Winners Cup.

He also scored in the League Cup Final, though it wasn’t enough to prevent Stoke from winning what remains their only piece of silverware.

But goalscoring was only a part of what made Osgood great. Tall, lithe, two-footed and graceful in the era of muddy pitches and ruddy centre-halves, he played the game with a smile and even a wink for the ladies. Indeed his magnetism prompted Hollywood film star Raquel Welch to wear a T-shirt bearing his name after they were introduced on a matchday at Stamford Bridge.

Welch: without question the finest legs ever seen in Chelsea shorts

Welch: without question the finest legs ever seen in Chelsea shorts

The slogan said, rather succinctly: I scored with Osgood.

It was probably inevitable he would go west to America in the autumn of his career following spells at Southampton and Norwich after a highly publicised fall-out with former Chelsea boss Dave Sexton.

But the swagger had been reduced to a stagger when Osgood returned to Stamford Bridge from Philadelphia Fury in 1979. He was 32, four years younger than Drogba is now, and plainly unable to conjour any more magic, scoring just twice in 9 matches as Chelsea were relegated from the top flight.

Indeed just about the only significant aspect of Osgood’s return to Chelsea were the rather strange playing boots he brought back with him from the States. They didn’t have three stripes or a flash, rather a strange looking tick.

Yes, Osgood was the footballer who introduced Nike boots to the English game.

It remains to be seen which pair of Nikes Drogba will model when the new season kicks off, yet he will be hoping, and Mourinho will be demanding, he leaves rather more impressive footprints on his Second Coming.

Unlike Osgood, however, Drogba’s return has nothing to do with trying to reverse a sharp decline within the club. Indeed much of his most significant work will probably be conducted behind the scenes at the club’s Cobham training complex, where he be expected to fill the inspirational void vacated by Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.

He’s the player who has seen, done and won it all in a Chelsea shirt, and Mourinho will want his stardust to rub off onto his younger players. He’ll probably want a few goals too, though wisened Stamford Bridge supporters know it’ll never quite be the same.

The King is Dead (and, in Osgood’s case, his ashes are buried beneath the penalty spot at the Shed End), Long Live The King. Well, for one more season at least…

*********

We Two Kings

Osgood   –  Chelsea games 380, Goals 150, Winners medals 2, Statues at Stamford Bridge 1

Drogba   –  Chelsea games 341*, Goals 157*, Winners medals 10*, Statues at Stamford Bridge 0*

*Subject to change

 

@RoyDalley

The Case For The Defence
Not Keeping 3/4s of the Chelsea Defence Together Was Costly Error

by Roy Dalley.

Easy to be wise after the event, as they say, so I’ll begin by directing you toward a tweet I wrote before Roy Hodgson announced his squad for the World Cup.

You probably can’t be bothered to check so here’s an action replay;

“Hart (alas); Johnson, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling, Barkley, Rooney; Sturridge. Job done!”

Got most of them right, at one time or another. Alas it’s the two who didn’t make the cut, Terry and Cole, who might have made a difference. A rather big difference.

Evertonians will probably protest, of course; but how many others are also bemoaning the presence of Jagielka, in particular, in the England team? And Baines, for all his quality in his opponents’ half, is not an international full-back (the key word in the sentence being ‘back’).

Yes, Terry and Cole are both getting on a bit and had issues with the Football Association, not to mention almost everybody else. But… are they any good..?

john-terry-ashley-cole

Would Terry & Cole’s experience have made all the difference to England’s World Cup campaign..?

Well those boffins in the stats office reckon so. Chelsea had the best defensive record in the Premier League last season, again, with Terry seemingly rejuvenated by the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. Cole, of course, played less of a starring role, and there is no doubt he can no longer bomb-on past the halfway line.

But doesn’t it make sense to select three club mates for your international team..? Three guys who have been around the world together keeping clever, quick and sometimes downright nasty opponents at bay..?

Hodgson would have been forced to employ a low defensive line but, in doing so, would have played to England’s strengths both in defence and attack.

Hodgson felt he was in a dilemna; play to his instincts or play to the crowd. If he’d only played like Chelsea in the Champions League, he could have done both – sitting back and allowing our wonderfully exciting forward line the room to use its explosive breaking potential.

Rather they were stifled trying to break down ranks of experienced and disciplined Italians and Uruguayans.

Yeah I know my tweet suggests Rooney on the left but, in truth, I would have liked to have seen an interchangeable attitude between the front four.

Certainly I would have told Rooney he is no longer the Big Man, as he declared himself before the 2006 tournament in Germany.

He’d have to put in the yards just like the rest of ’em! And, if not, then let’s see what Lallana can do…

 Roy Dalley is a former Fleet Street sportswriter (@RoyDalley)

 

Chelsea v Spurs Preview
PLUS: Fantastic Four – Classic Games Between The Two Rivals

ChelseaSpurs

Chelsea battle with Spurs in 1994 with The Shed in the background

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur, Sat March 8th, 5.30pm

The North London derby between Spurs and Arsenal has historically been the deciding factor in dominance of the Capital, but the emergence of Chelsea in recent years as a force, not just in England but in Europe, has meant a certain realignment in what is meant by the ‘Big’ London derby.

Although contests between Arsenal and Chelsea have generally had an impact on who wins silverware, the games between Spurs and the Blues have carried a significant amount of extra spice about them – for numerous reasons.

Those reasons include; Abramovich supposedly choosing Chelsea ahead of Spurs as the club to lavish his millions on, Chelsea’s poaching of Frank Arnesen, trying to wrench Modric away from the Lane, the whole AVB thing, Chelsea’s marathon unbeaten run in the fixture, Mata’s ‘phantom’ goal in the semi-final at Wembley, the victory over Bayern that ousted Spurs from the following season’s Champion League tournament despite finishing 4th and, most recently, Willian’s snubbing of Spurs to join the Blues instead – all of which has ensured there is no shortage of animosity between the pair.

Chelsea have dominated in the modern era; of their 43 Premeir League encounters Spurs have been on the wrong end 23 times and won a mere 3, all of which were at White Hart Lane.

Not since Gary Lineker headed home Nayim’s cross at the far post on February 10, 1990, have Tottenham beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – a full two years before Christian Eriksen was born. Sinead O’Connor was number one at the time with ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’  – it was that long ago…

THE ODDS

CHELSEA  3/5    DRAW  11/4    TOTTENHAM  5/1

Correct Score:

Willian is 10/1 to score first against the team he snubbed

Willian is 10/1 to score first against the team he snubbed

Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham  6/1
Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham  7/1
Chelsea 3-0 Tottenham  11/1
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham  7/1
Chelsea 3-1 Tottenham  12/1
Chelsea 3-2 Tottenham  22/1

Draws- 0-0: 10/1, 1-1: 13/2, 2-2: 14/1, 3-3:  60/1

Chelsea 0-1 Tottenham  16/1
Chelsea 0-2 Tottenham  35/1
Chelsea 1-2 Tottenham  17/1
Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham  55/1
Chelsea 2-3 Tottenham  50/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY – Chelsea to come from behind to win: 8/1

First Goalscorer –

Eto’o 9/2
Torres 5/1
Schurle 11/2
Hazard 6/1
Lampard 13/2
Willian 10/1
Terry 25/1

Soldado 8/1
Adebayor 8/1
Townsend 12/1
Eriksen 14/1
Lennon 18/1
Pauinho 18/1

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.

 

THE FANTASTIC FOUR

There have been many memorable games in this derby, but here BOBBY takes a look back at four classic encounters between Chelsea and Tottenham…

1. Chelsea  4-3  Tottenham Hotspur  – February 27th 1994

Chelsea, then managed by former Tottenham hero Glenn Hoddle, went behind to two goals in a minute from Steve Sedgley and Jason Dozzell, but in a half of two halves the Blues, thanks to Mal Donaghy, Mark Stein and a belter from John Spencer, were leading 3-2 after 40 minutes, with Hoddle ecstatically high-fiving his players on the touchline.

The second half was all about penalties; Andy Gray’s spot-kick drew Ossie Ardiles’ side level on 72 minutes and he had the chance to repeat the feat from the spot again a few moments later, but Russian stopper Dimitri Kharine saved. Into injury time and a rash challenge from Dean Austin on Gavin Peacock gave Stein the opportunity to win the game and he made no mistake with his penalty to make it 4-3 at Stamford Bridge, which was being redeveloped at the time. It was the seventh straight league defeat for Spurs, who finished one place and six points behind Chelsea in 15th place at the end of the season.

Chelsea
Kharine, Donaghy, Johnsen, Clarke, Kjeldberg, Burley, Peacock, Wise, Newton, Stein, Spencer
Manager: Glenn Hoddle

Tottenham Hotspur
Walker, Sedgley, Scott, Austin, Mabbutt, Nethercott, Edinburgh, Samways, Anderton, Dozzell, Rosenthal
Manager: Ossie Ardiles

Att: 19,398

2. Tottenham  Hotspur  1-6  Chelsea  – December 6th 1997

Chelsea fans, not surprisingly, still like to remind their rivals of this demolition-derby from 1997 in the Premier League, where Chelsea recorded their biggest away win ever against London opposition. That wasn’t on the cards though at half-time with the score at one apiece, after Chelsea’s Tore-Andre Flo and Tottenham’s Ramon Vega had scored in quick succession, but after the break the Blues ran rings around their hosts, whose lack of spirit was perhaps best demonstrated by the fact not one Spurs player made it into the referee’s book all game.

Roberto Di Matteo, Dan Petrescu and Mark Nicholls all scored, while Flo completed his hat-trick to ensure that “We won 6-1, we won 6-1, we won 6-1 at the Lane!” will forever be heard when these two meet.

Tottehnam Hotspur
Walker, Carr, Scales, Vega, Calderwood, Wilson, Ginola, Fox, Nielsen, Sinton, Ferdinand
Subs:Edinburgh for Sinton, Anderton for Nielsen, Allen for Scales
Manager: Christian Gross

Chelsea
De Goey, Leboeuf, Sinclair, Duberry, Petrescu, Le Saux, Babayaro, Di Matteo, Wise, Flo, Zola
Sub: Nicholls for Babayaro
Manager: Ruud Gullit

Att: 28,476

OK, we all know that – a couple of recent exceptions aside – Spurs wins over Chelsea have been as rare as rocking-horse shit this last quarter of a century, so we’ve had to dig deep to unearth a couple for you in the interests of fair play, but they are good ones;

3. Chelsea  2-3  Tottenham Hotspur  – March 6th 1982

A pulsating FA Cup Sixth round tie saw Tottenham produce some quality play on a bumpy Stamford Bridge pitch on their way to Wembley back in ’82. Chelsea took the lead through a fine Mike Fillery free-kick just before half-time, but second half strikes by Archibald, Hoddle and Hazard in a ten minute spell proved decisive. Alan Mayes puled one back towards the end, but Tottenham, with Hoddle at his imperious best, held on to send the travelling fans home happy  – after dodging a hail of bottles and bricks back to the tube station.

Chelsea
Francis, Locke, Nutton, Chivers, Pates, Hutchings, Walker, Bumstead, Fillery,  Mayes, Rhoades-Brown
Manager: John Neal

Tottenham Hotspur
Clemence , Miller, Perryman, Price, Hughton , Galvin, Hoddle, Ardiles, Hazard, Crooks, Archibald
Manager: Keith Burkinshaw

Att: 42,557

4. Chelsea  1-2  Tottenham Hotspur  – FA Cup Final, May 20th 1967

After 95 years this was, surprisingly, the first ever all-London FA Cup final.  Spurs were favourites, and the match went according to form, as they effectively controlled the whole game from the very start.

Spurs went in front when Alan Mullery unleashed a shot from outside of the box that struck Ron Harris and fell perfectly for Jimmy Robertson, who fired his shot past Bonetti. Spurs doubled their advantage as goalscorer turned provider when Jimmy Robertson fed Frank Saul, who turned swiftly to score.

Chelsea pulled one back with four minutes remaining through Tambling, but it was too little too late and the 2-1 scoreline ultimately flattered Chelsea as the Cup headed back to White Hart Lane for a third time in the decade.

Chelsea
Bonetti, Harris, McCreadie, Hollins, Hinton, Harris, Cooke, Hateley, Baldwin, Tambling, Boyle.
Manager: Tommy Docherty

Tottenham Hotspur
Jennings, Kinnear, Knowles, Mullery, England, Mackay, Venables, Robertson, Gilzean, Greaves, Saul.
Manager: Bill Nicholson

Att: 100,000

 

96675114_Chelsea_217479c

Osgood scores a penalty for Chelsea past Pat Jennings of Spurs

Fulham Tell Ray To Get On His Bike…

WilkinsBike

Fulham FC continued to cement their position as the laughing stock of the Premier League with the dismissal of first team coaches Ray Wilkins and Alan Curbishley this week, both of whom had been with the club for a couple of months.

The Cottagers also announced that Tomas Oral and Werner Leuthard have arrived at the west London side to become first team coach and conditioning coach, respectively.

On Friday it was revealed that boss Rene Meulensteen, a veteren of 17 games, was being replaced by Wolfgang Felix Magath. Former Bayern Munich coach Magath signed an 18-week  sorry, 18-month contract with the Premier League’s bottom side last week.

Once we heard the ever affable Ray was on his bike we immediately thought of this Great Shot of him riding his new Raleigh Chopper around the Chelsea training ground back in 1975.

With his departure this week Ray may well be the first person to ever cycle off a sinking ship…