Chelsea 2 Sheffield United 2
Saturday 30th August 2019 15:00
I warn you. I’ve been on the rum. Dead Man’s Fingers. AWESOME. I’ve also started adding disclaimers for the PC watchdogs out there who have no lives and presumably approve of smug veganism and hoity-toity road-hogging cyclists in all their horror.
Naaarwich 2 Chelsea 3: Just your average, run of the mill VAR CLUSTERF*CK. I was moaning enough about it before it screwed us. Nevertheless, we picked up our first victory. Despite the best efforts of Pukki and his farmyard posse. I sh*t you not, I watched this on my phone, in part, with a WW2 contingent of American servicemen stationed in the far east and eating Pringles. In Kent. It’s as bonkers as it sounds. They were dressy-up people. But they get the raging hump if you don’t call them “living historians.” Tammy came to life, Mason was notable, so was Jorginho. Losing Kante so late and Pedro Pony in the warm up was less than ideal, but we battled through it, and thats all I really ask for at this stage. We’re not looking at the finished team. We’re doing the best we can in the face of a new style, the loss of our best player, a new management team, a transfer ban, and a pile of significant injuries.
In the News: Frank is thrilled for Jorginho in the wake of his new popularity. He’s earned it, and as Frank points out, “he never hid” despite the criticism he received in his first season. Let’s face it, he was saddled to Sarri, whether he liked it or not. This must have been like the kid who sh*ts his pants at school and eats his own bogies telling everyone he’s your best mate. But he’s come through the other side. Good for him. I said it on the Fancast this week, as far as I’m concerned, him and Kovacic get a fresh start this season. Mason Mount has got an England call up, though Tammy is coming into form just a little too late for this round of international dirge. Rudi hustled his way through 90 minutes for the U23s last night. Huzzah. Apparently, new boy Pulisic rejected a move to United on the basis of his dad not being able to stand Chequebook Pulis and not believing that he would get a chance to actually play football. Zappacosta has been loaned out to Roma, paving the way for Reece James to make a play for a first team spot. We’ve blocked Bakayoko going back to Monaco temporarily though, because we’re worried about not recouping the £40m we paid for him. Sorry, but the only way we’d ever recoup that is if we chopped him up and sold his organs off on eBay, and even then he‘d have to have a blood type as rare as Unicorn p*ss.
More streams of vile, racist abuse on twitter. Especially after Kurt’s own goal today. What on earth gives these people the right? Actually, what gives Facebook and Twitter and their ilk the right to let it happen? Oliver Holt thinks clubs must do more to stop the scapegoating of black players. What? Firstly. What are you talking about, you hairband wearing fool? You are giving pond scum far too much credit. This is not what is happening, what is happening, is morons with the intellectual capacity of your average amoeba seeing a black person miss a penalty, or scoring an own goal, flapping away at a smartphone because they have no comprehension about the social connotations or impropriety of what they are doing. The clubs are not letting systematic and preventable abuse happen. There is no strategic thought behind it such as Holt insinuates, they are not capable of such a thing. At fault are the social media twats themselves for letting these a*seholes use their apps. They make BILLIONS as a result of providing these platforms. Therefore there is no argument in which it should not be their responsibility to safeguard users against this kind of sh*t, and all the other negatives that come with their great fortune. Anyone who says otherwise is a c*nt. So there. In the words of the prophet, Christopher Reeve: What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely.” Read that and weep, Twitter bitches.
In the world of the Virtual A*sehole Rampage, apparently referees are now being dissuaded from checking screens after a tumultuous introduction to the Premier League. Sure. Because that will make everything ok. Apparently Lukaku was bored at United. Might have been less so if he’d taken the revolutionary step of attempting to earn his wages. He reckons he’s lost half a stone already under Antonio’s revolutionary regime at Inter: Move off the spot once in a while and stop eating like a fat b*stard. Someone should patent that. Podgettino rueing the fact that he rejected swapping Eriksen for Dybala and now it looks like he will end up with neither. Oh well, what a shame. The wisdom of Eric Cantona: As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. Even allowing for the fact that he’s French, there has to be a screw loose there.
*I have lots of French friends who think he’s barking and are laughing at that, before anyone contacts the Daily Mail.
Lineker apparently being probed after mean comments about bald pundits. Do give over. In such situations, can we not just send the archive footage of him sh*tting his pants in front of the whole world round on TV? Far more satisfying. Mind you this is the BBC, who are so frightened of offending anyone, ever, that they will literally steal your work if they can give it to a disabled, LGBTWTF alien to present on camera so they can crow about how inclusive they are. Yack.
*You can’t have a go at me. It’s fact. They’ve GENUINELY done it to me enough times.
More to the point, that big-eared chump, who is about as fun as period pains during a prolonged Nandos with Michael Owen, in which he leaves you to go and get the cutlery and place the order, gets paid nearly £2m a year. And some of it is MY money. I’m going to find something to kick.
*I have no defence for mocking big-eared people. I’m just a bad person.
The definitive argument on Brexit came from Ian Holloway on the subject of the continent’s butt-monkey, f*ckwit ruling on handballs. You can suspend all of the bad feeling, the squabbling and the uncertainty. Because the oracle has spoken: “I hope we get out, Brexit… because you cannot have someone telling us how to do our own game.” I’m drunk. And even I know this is ridiculous. And RIP Bury. I’d like to type a heartfelt missive about the plight of lower league clubs in today’s game. But I’m half cut. And I don’t even know where Bury is. Still, sad.
The Others: The Daily Fail are doing their utmost to award the Scouse the title IN AUGUST. Apparently it will be the first time since Maggie Thatcher resigned, since Klopp played in front of 5,000 people and Baggio smashed the transfer record at £8m. Excuse me while I choke on my own vomit. They realise we’ve play FOUR GAMES. Right? Since believing that they were going to win the treble after their first game, United have come crashing down to earth faster than a space shuttle with a lawnmower engine for a booster. Firstly, former blue Van Aanholt sank them at Old Trafford, and today, they couldn’t beat Southampton. Teehee. Not sure we could at the moment, but that’s not the point. Also, they are paying £16m this season just to make Sanchez go away. Sp*rs lost to Newcastle. See, we’re not the only ones. We had the lameness of Atkinson last week, and what is his punishment for a truly f*cking atrocious performance at Carrow Road? He gets the North London Derby tomorrow. Jesus wept. Speaking of which, apparently we were disgracefully behaved up there. One John Conway complained that he witnessed Chelsea fans singing about Canaries having six fingers, and that when he asked them to stop, they threw a steak pie at his head. The only travesty of that is that is sounds like a waste of a decent pie. Apparently it was very hot and he had pastry in his eyeball. Which I think is a lie, because last time I checked eyeballs weren’t permeable. Certainly not at the hands of shortcrust. Oh and VAR made a tit of itself. Again.
Us: Frank was always going to give Tomori a shot, but he couldn’t let them all of the leash at once, and arguably Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham play in more stretched positions, or had performed better in preseason. We’d been leaking goals, so a change wasn’t out of the realms of possibility. It could have been either or, so far as Christensen and Zouma are concerned for me, so not a slap in the face for either. Our bench looked pretty thin, in terms of midfield, as was to become painfully evident. Once again we took our youngest ever starting lineup last week, and went even younger.
Gonzo (Muppet alias) would like it told, that he has a one hundred percent record of being in his seat before kick off. I told him we’d only played two games at home so far, but he was determined not to let anyone p*ss on his parade. Tyler (Sitcom alias) was seen rapidly cramming a pie in his face in order to be ready to take him on in the four-pint-challenge at halftime. He was duly mocked. In the meantime, Alf Garnett was chipper as you like. This was not to last.
The usual pacy start. Barkley looked desperate to impress. A little too desperate perhaps. Tammy was in on five minutes, but it got away from him under pressure from two defenders. A minute later Ross was heading it into the six yard box, but nobody claimed it, before Mount wrestled the ball away from them to run at goal; only to be pulled up for a foul. We’d been much the more proactive in the opening ten minutes, and yet chances had been slim on the ground. There followed a lull, in which Tyler regaled us as to his wedding plans, before on 18 minutes we broke out. Pulisic made it, cross in from Dave, Tammy’s header was weak, but Henderson spilled it and Tammy was there to make good. 1-0. Maybe. Life has been forever ruined for the match going fan, for although we get up and applaud, we stand looking at the referee waiting for confirmation, by which time the heat of the moment has passed, along with the instant jubilation of seeing the ball hit the back of the net. F*ck VAR. And f*ck the Premier League for inflicting it on us every week, for not giving a damn about the people who pay to go to the games, and for lying abut the extent of the impact it would have.
We needed to be sensible, for Sheffield were already proving that they were far from pushovers. There was an elaborate amount of showmanship over the ball from Emerson and Barkley, who hit the free kick in the end. Straight at the wall. Another ball in from Abraham went through to Kovacic, who just shanked it wide across the face of goal. In return, we were very nearly undone in two balls on 38. The only hair raising moment of the half, and luckily Callum Robinson missed the diving header. Big inquest by the United defence after they ballsed it up and gave Abraham another chance. Another great goal from Tammy, he’s taking chances that require composure and skill, which is all good going forward. We could even get the goal difference back to zero, said Alf Garnett with a big grin. Mason Mount found himself in before halftime, but it deflected on its way towards goal and out for a corner. We may not have been frantically attacking for the whole game, but rarely did we look troubled at the back either. But. And it’s a big but.
We came out dozing. Again. They came out very perky. Not surprised given our record of being half asleep after the break. And what happens? They score in seconds. Dave done, Kurt done. Their one single effort on target so far. Sorry Alf. Very evenly spread game going forward now. They had a lot more actual attacking intent about them, and grew in confidence. That said, an outstanding flick almost led to a hatrick for Tammy. Then it was back up the other end and it looked like we’d been carved open, but Tomori was there to clean up. Not the only time today.
Alf: “We’ve only got to hold on for any other 35 minutes.” It would have been funny if it wasn’t so accurate. It looked like we had got our sh*t together, but still we squandered our chances and there is that worrying tendency of giving the ball away. If we could not strive to be as beneficent as Mother Theresa on a guilt trip on a weekly basis, it would be appreciated. Willian on for Barkley on 60. Please be better, I said. Or at least look like you’re interested, quipped Alf Jr. To be fair he played an outstanding ball through to Tammy straight away, but the latter took his eye off it. Kovacic sprung forth again on 62, but Abraham couldn’t play it out to Willian without clipping the defender and another chance went to waste. An emphatic block from Zouma on 68 as they ran in on goal, and he smacked it into the ad boards. They were still looking for something from this game. Jorginho continues to impress with his do over, and the adulation that followed after he dug the ball out on the edge of the box was deserved.
We had looked better since Willian came on at that point, I’ll give him that, but we still couldn’t get back on top of this game. From a lovely summer day we’d ended up with floodlights on in August and pouring rain. Said it all, as the match deteriorated from our point of view. Fair play to them, it’s becoming clear to opposing teams that if you stay in touch, you can hope to get something out of the game. We badly needed to change up the midfield, but we couldn’t. Not effectively, because every first team choice not on the pitch was injured. Come to think of it, Kovacic was on the pitch AND injured. Frank was either going to have to play Christensen out of position and lock it down, or bring on an actual midfielder: Billy Gilmour, who turned 18 a few weeks ago.
Corner headed just over the bar by Zouma and then they came back at us. Come on Chelsea sang the crowd, which is code for please don’t f*ck this up. On 87 they looked in again, after the Batman gave ball away high up, but there was Tomori steaming in once more. He did well today overall. Then an own goal from Kurt. Harsh on him. He’ll become the whipping boy again, when in actual fact he wasn’t sh*t today. People streaming out. Not on. Where is this solidarity and this emotional investment in a new era, one we’ve proclaimed to want? Sadly, when JK said on the Fancast this week that he thought there was plenty of snarkiness simmering beneath the surface regarding this “free pass” for Frank this season, it doesn’t appear that he was wrong. 2-2 and for some, it seemed, it was the end of the world.
So: It was the hardest result to take so far, I’ll give you that. But, to be fair to Frank, he went for the option you should at home: to win the game, not cling on against a newly promoted side. The Batman came on, as did Gilmour, the teenager. Who wasn’t even listed on the programme. He’s little, unlike the size of Frank’s balls. He made Mason Mount look old, and yet Frank wouldn’t have put him out there if he thought he was incapable. People have pointed to this as the reason we conceded, but actually, it had nothing to do with the debutant. We were under the cosh the entire half, and it was the only midfield option Frank had. Sheffield United had plenty of opportunities to take something from this game that had nothing to do with our substitutions. I didn’t have a problem with it. “Play the yoof,” people have proclaimed for several seasons. “F*ck all these prima donnas, let the kids have a go. We’ll finish 10th but we’ll have our Chelsea back.” Well, we did. We are, we might, and we have. And yet certain fans don’t seem to be able to comprehend that the price you pay is a lack of experience, a lack of composure, the inability to close games out and the chance that you might have to live with a dip in the results that you have become accustomed to, especially when half the experienced players are out injured and others: Dave. Willian, are well below par. Some people don’t seem to be able to marry one with the other. Added to that, this is categorically, unless there is an outbreak of bubonic plague, the weakest our squad will be: ALL. SEASON. Was today disappointing? Of course, we led by two goals. Is it the end of the world? No. Six goals so far and all of them from Mount or Abraham. How’s that for yoof? I think we should just do what Gerrard did his whole career and fake niggly ingrowing toenails and fake injuries so nobody goes on international duty. These next couple of weeks are really important for Frank and his team. Rudi and Kante we need back desperately to be able to shut teams out. The likes of Pedro Pony, Ruben and CHO coming back will give us infinitely more options going forward. Then maybe we can all calm the f*ck down.
Chelsea 1 Leicester 1
Sunday 18th August 2019 16:30
You’d have been forgiven for forgetting that there was a football game on today, and assuming that this was a vast gathering of the Super Frank Appreciation Society. Which is fine with me as a one-off.
In the News: F*cking VAR, VAR, VAR. The Virtual A*sehole Rampage. The first talking point for every Premier League game now is computers. Not the football. I’m all for things like the goal line technology. Did it cross the line or didn’t it. Simple. But this is an outrage. To quote someone slightly less sweary than me: “The refs or linesman didn’t always get it right but it was part of the game day experience and post match. Now like so much in society football is being “sanitised” to make it “too pc” like everything else in life. To err is human in any aspect of life FFS.” Amen. This f*ckwitted pursuit of perfection has fundamentally changed, nay, RUINED the league overnight.
It’s about how I react and keep my head up, said Tammy. Showing maturity beyond his years after his penalty miss. Same can’t be said for some of the a*seholes on social media. His girlfriend was eloquent too, although one of the technophobes being me asked today “what’s being a vlogger?” You make videos of yourself talking and put them on the internet. And if enough people give a sh*t someone might pay you.“ I get that much, he says, but what does it mean?” Honestly, I replied, it probably means she hasn’t got a real job and Tammy pays for everything. Jan Vertonghen dropped for a lack of fitness. Dick. And Sp*rs are trying to bribe Eriksen to stay for £200k a week. I wouldn’t spend my time in Seven Sisters for that. Additionally, Kolasinac and Ozil supposedly now caught up in all out gang warfare. North London never was a happy place. David Moyes says he would consider managing Beckham’s new side. Isn’t that big of him. He’d consider moving to Miami for an easy life after making a tit of himself all over Europe. I bet the other David is really excited. Wilfrid Bony is training with Newport because no club wants him, United still can’t find anyone that wants to give Sanchez £560k a week. “Paul can’t do everything at United” says his brother, as the European window drags on. They either misheard him and he said “anything” or his brother has been sniffing the same funny substance as his big-headed brother. Oh and Eden has spent £10m on the ugliest new age mansion you can imagine in Madrid. It looks like a Stasi holding pen from the outside and Dirk Diggler’s 70s porn hub within.
The Others: Pep VARdiola is outraged. Day that ends in a Y so Sp*rs must have been given something for nothing by some mug sitting at a computer in Stockley Park. The Scouse were PLUNGED into an injury crisis when one of their own fans invaded the pitch after penalties in Istanbul and broke Adrian. Little did they know they’d have been better off if they’d plunged him into the Mersey with rocks tied to his ankles themselves. Because he did play, and nearly gifted a spirited Southampton a way back into the game.
Us: I don’t have any problem with the ability of either Christensen or Zouma. Together, though, I’m not convinced. Leaders and followers, that’s what it’s about. There needs to be a gobby centre back in charge, the leader, and for me both of them are playing like followers, which makes us frail. Bound to be rotation after such a long midweek slog. Mount started, so did Kante. Bench for Kovacic and Willian.
Them: So blinded by their hideous kit I couldn’t tell you. Although I did chuckle at Vardy running about in it. I took pleasure in his pain.
The inevitable Frank love in; which was nice. A real buzz around the Bridge today before the game. It’s quite amusing to watch us lot wandering about wondering what to moan about, for we do love a good whinge. Here’s something: Card only at the Kiosks. All checked by VAR too says Boycie, too. Reckons he waited 25 minutes for them to confirm his coffee.
Fast start - so fast Pedro Unicorn had hit the side netting before a minute was up. Then we had a save from a Mount shot and a follow up from Pulisic that led to a corner. Behold, an open goal, but nobody was there to prod it in. Rabid atmosphere inside the ground, players fired up, fans fired up. At this point we’d come out and punched Leicester in the face. 99% possession They’d only managed to claw that back to 4% in their favour when Mason smashed home a goal six mins into his home debut. Not heard the Bridge this loud since Napoli at home in 2012. Pedro Unicorn had been like a train. We had been relentless for ten minutes before Leicester finally started to get into the game. As in touched the ball. Then it settled down, though we still had our chances.
Almost two for us on 20 when Mount had a free header, but he nutted it weakly and straight at Schmeichel; but doesn’t he always seem to be in the right place at the moment? Then the Kante twins came from nowhere like little roadrunners to stab it wide on 25. When are we going to take a decent corner? We’ve been asking for at least a decade. Now, is the answer, provided their are at the feet of Mason Mount. Back away, Willian. Back. Away. The fact that Zouma was playing left wing and taking three Powerpuff Girls at a time shows you how much defending he’s had to do. Not for want of trying, but Leicester had achieved nothing to far. On 27 Kante was away again but nobody managed to get a shot, then they may have got in. Kepa had a Courtoisesque brainfart on 29, but we got away with it and they still hadn’t managed to fashion a shot on target.
The way we are hurtling out of the blocks at the moment: If you can steal early goals it can cover a variety of deficiencies later on and change the way that opposition approach the game entirely. Smart. But you have to have made the most of the energy expenditure and we hadn’t. Naughty foul from Jorginho on 36. This is where VAR almost awarded Sp*rs a penalty. The free kick from them went unmolested across the face of the goal. 35 minutes in and they’d played their way fully into it. Curses. But still they hadn’t exactly missed any sitters and we’d defended solidly enough. Zouma in particular continued to build on his midweek performance. So. Let’s get in for half time without fucking it up. Corner for us to round things off thanks to some f*ckwttery from Schmeichel, but the shot from Jorginho that we eventually got was way over. That’ll do. But work to do in the second half.
Leicester threw the kitchen sink at us as soon as the whistle went for the second half. And effectively. Some timely defending to back up Kepa on 49 kept them out, just, but the fact that we let ourselves get into that position was stupid. If Vardy wasn’t a cockwomble they could have scored by now. He squandered many a gilt-edged chance today. Five minutes in and they’d got a bit of an inkling about what might happen if possession turned over with them so high up, i.e. they’d get mauled like we did at Old Trafford. I appreciated Zouma out sprinting ratface. That was satisfying. Good to see him stretch his legs like that and get there first, for I still remember the scream when he went down with that knee injury. Speaking of, a break for the Unicorn to get some treatment. During which, even Maddison had to laugh when we were singing Who's the w*nker in the pink, at him as he waited to take a corner, and Your kit is sh*t. Good job they’ve got a sense of humour about it, because they will get that abuse at 18 other away games this season. And deservedly so. Choudhury looked like a Neapolitan ice cream when you added his big, luxuriant chocolate afro and his yellow boots. Wolf whistles abounded all afternoon.
Half an hour to go and it was going to be time for Tammy. Different prospect for the defenders. Huge reception for him as expected. Another shocking effort from them on 60. It had more chance of going in the net at Craven Cottage. Tammy had got straight into the game with a very determined look on his face. Already we were creating more, and on 63 the Kante twins broke through, but we faffed trying to get a shot it of it. Then we had some neat interplay between Tammy, Mason Mount and Emerson to break out on 64, before it bounced off the striker’s foot at the other end and went haywire. But still we looked fragile, and our whole defence was stationary for their goal. Free header for a dodo. That’s what auto spell does to Ndidi’s name and I can live with that. To be honest it had been coming for a while. Over to you, Frank. Plenty of time to fix this, but we looked like a team that played 120 minutes three days ago. Obviously not as tired as the poor Scouse though. A shocking miss from Maddison on 72 when he should have given them the lead, but it was all a bit shambolic from us. Some very tired legs out there and after Kovacic and Willian replaced Jorginho and Pulisic, Pedro Pony and Dave were going to have to last the 90 when they already looked utterly w*nkered.
Another criminal miss from Vardy this time as they played Christensen out of it with ease. Ref/Varwatch: Jesus wept. Look at what football has become. In the quest for perfection, which Chelsea fans alone have lived without for 114 years, the game has lost the plot and VAR has become a weekly inclusion. It was going to be Graham Scott on the pitch, but he got lost, or wanted to watch the cricket and didn’t turn up till kick off, so it was Oliver Langfield. Whoever he is. Doesn’t know what a foul is. Cards are evidently still in Scott’s pocket because he couldn’t find them. VAR was led by Mike Dean and thankfully did nothing to f*ck up the game, for once. 76 Willian was in, but hit the side netting. Any result was possible at this point, because the ball was just up and down the pitch. The fresh legs perked us up, but we would have needed three more pairs of them to really replace everyone who was lagging. Another excellent ball was squandered by Dave, who was one of them. Off we went up the other end, and then it was our turn to attack again. Both teams were riddled with silly mistakes at this point.
A free kick from Mount well over on 82, and our attacking intent was now well and truly back, but it had been lacking for too large a portion of this game. Leathered by Mason on 84 and that was as close as we came to the win, but it deflected out as it headed for the top corner. Dear Leicester. His name might be Mount but it’s not a f*cking invitation. Stop climbing all over him. Great stop by Kepa on 88, Zouma wasn’t far off moments later, but he shouldn’t really have had a go. There were better options. As four minutes of injury time started, Tammy did really well but it came off his foot all wrong. Not impressed with Willian giving it away and then standing there while Mount tracked back like a beast to win it back for him. Wake up Willy. By this time Dave was so bollocksed he couldn’t even jog the length of the pitch, and we were lucky it didn’t cost us. Vardy kicked the ball away like the petulant twat he is at the last, and that was that.
So: Welcome to our reality this season. Leicester were never going to be pushovers. We have exactly the same points from these two fixtures as we got out of them last season. There was no utter capitulation, more a general degradation of what we were trying to do as the game went on and the almost-heroics of Istanbul caught up with too many players. The opening spell was brilliant, and we need to get better at not tapering off. When you have got someone so void of ideas as Sarri, there is no hope. Frank is full of ideas, but lacking in experience, and needs time to establish which of them work best. So there is always hope. Unless he turns into a dribbling lunatic like Chequebook Pulis and starts sleeping in laundry hampers and chucking his pet chihuahua over the garden wall. Individually Pedro Pony’s effort was commendable. Ran his legs off.
Mount refuses to be bullied off the ball, and his delivery into the box on set plays is also arguably the best we’ve had for a long while. More good signs from Pulisic, who already looks to be settling in with far more ease than the likes of Ramires ever did. Zouma was excellent today for the most part. He improved again after Turkey, and dare I say looked more like a leader. Lots of pivotal interventions today but the burst of speed against a half-whippet (explains the nose) like Vardy was extremely encouraging. A couple of days off now, I imagine, and a chance to recharge again before we really will be looking for three points up at Norwich.
Many thanks to all those who contributed to the summer party at the domestic violence refuge this week - it was a huge success. Unless you were one of the mums who had to clean up after it. The generosity of our Chelsea family (and beyond) continues to astound all involved. We’ve also provided a new bike for one of the kids who had his stolen, some free professional tax advice for one mum and are looking at some vocational training for another. Not long till I start hounding you all for their Christmas present money!
If you like what you read and want to contribute towards the cost of keeping me at cup /European games or sozzled on enough gin to be amusing, I have a Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/girlwholikesballs
Poor Tired Red Scouse 2 Chelsea 2 (Gits win 5-4 on penalties)
European Super Cup
Wednesday 14th August 2019 20:00
Victor Meldrew (Sitcom alias) went. Can we all stand and give a round of applause to the group of fans that acquiesced to spend their time and money on a pointless game two days after a car crash at Old Trafford. Only to surrounded by 50,000 scousers, most of them plastic.
In the News: A load of dull sh*t talking about the European transfer nonsense, how the Armageddon is night, complete with Aerosmith power ballad, at Stamford Bridge and probably handing the Scouse the title already yawn.
Them: Made some changes. Because they were sooooooooo tired. In case you failed to have that hammered into your brain last night.
Us: Interesting team selection. Frank said he had to freshen it up because we only played on Sunday. He also had an eye on giving a shot to the guys who got us there, such as The Beard. Tammy and Mason dropped to the bench, Kante twins not only ready to come back into the starting line up, but ended up running round like a boss for about four hours, and so recently injured, looked fitter than half of theirs. More of the good stuff from Sunday please. Same positivity and daring, but more awake on the counter for a start. It needed to be more constrained. More sensible. And it was.
A high octane start, Scouse playing a high line and risking the wrath of Pedro Unicorn and Pulisic getting in behind. On 5 minutes we defended a corner and got to the ball first. Boom. Progress. In fact we defended well at the beginning full stop. Kepa was also decisive in the opening spell, especially on 15 when some little Egyptian bloke I’ve never heard of was away. Then it was our turn. The Beard broke straight afterwards. If only he was fast, as it was he saw his opportunity closing out, took the shot to early and shanked it. Great play from him though. Another good ball, this time from Kovacic to The Unicorn on 20 but barged off it by the defender. Best chance of the game yet and he was involved again, playing a 1-2 with The Beard. Off the crossbar. Fecking woodwork is getting on my tits this week.
It was not as harebrained as the start of Sunday, but still really positive. A bicycle kick from The Beard was not on target, but not embarrassing either. Perfect choice of our three strikers to go up against van Dyke because he was giving him no quarter. Mane unmarked on 29 but luckily his header was sh*t. Goalkeeper denied Kovacic shortly afterwards. Apparently we might see more of him surging forward this year now he’s not constrained by Sarri rules. Hopefully he’s been practicing his shooting. Better team so far by a mile. Though that meant nothing at Old Trafford. Possession was even, but all of theirs had been at the back. Then BOOM!!! Kante twins had been the difference compared to Sunday. His ball forward after shaking off the Vermin led Pulisic to play a perfect assist through to The Beard and we were ahead. The youngster scored himself straight after, with a cut across and corner shot that was 100% Hazard, but he was offside. The Scouse were switching sides all over the place trying to change it up and get a foothold. That said, at some point surely it was going to show that they had had two more days rest, right?
It certainly looked that way as soon as the whistle went for the second half and they immediately equalised. Shot wide from them, then a save from Kepa once again on 50. Christensen and Zouma had reverted back to Sunday’s latter stages. Too vulnerable on the counter. Firminho had come on and taken a massive dump on their evening. Time to act like grown ups. Don’t collapse, hold firm and weather the storm, because even with two days extra to prepare they couldn’t keep this pace up. And we did just that. Dropped much deeper, tried to settle down again and then predictably they went off the boil. Then we started to make inroads. Great ball in to Pulisic but they got a foot in on it 64. Mount and Abraham were ready to come on, and Firminho looked bollocksed after 25 mins. How are they collectively more tired than us? They’ve had a lot of high profile games says Jermaine Penis. Charity Shield. Norwich at home. This. Some other friendly wank. So no more than us. Because one was against Norwich. Only high profile there is Milner’s forehead.
Kepa kept us in it on 74 with a stunning double save. First one despite everyone’s legs in the way and the reaction time for the second was stellar. Tammy back and defending right on top of both of those too. Good work. Courtois would have still been trying to get down for the first one come the weekend. Promising chance from the Unicorn on 81, but it went straight at VD. This is my nickname for Virgil, because Mr Ballon D’or (Bitch please) is about as welcome as a dose of that in my world.
We were back on top now and would remain so, though this waiting to raise the flag for offside in Europe is about as welcome as Wayne Rooney running at your nan with his todger out. Total dross. Also sh*t for the players in terms of wasting energy. Poor Mason saw his effort disallowed, but he was doing really well since his introduction. Criminal miss from Mane on 8 but the flag was up again. Did I mention how much I welcome this delayed flag waving in Europe? Course we were hearing now about how tired their little legs are. Aw. Then it’s because the poor Scouse lambs have got to play on Saturday. Klopp’s spindly scarecrow hand was forced personnel wise otherwise they would have walked this. No mention of the fact we’d left the pitch at Old Trafford and had to get straight into the plane. Zouma once again first to a corner at their end. He’s doing well at that so far, he’s like a runaway rhino but he is struggling to aim those headers at the moment. Little less rhino, more finesse is a job for him in the coming weeks.
Extra time it was after they faffed a ball going across the face of goal right at the end. Flaccid comeback from “The Ox” after they made a massive deal out of it on BT. Forgot he was there. Don’t even know when he went off. Don’t care. On 97 minutes Abraham was running toe to toe with VD, but Adrian got in the way. Not being thrashed off the ball though by a brutal centre back, which is really good. Then their makeshift keeper went and brought down Tammy. Penalty from the referee. She was pretty adamant and VAR couldn’t overrule her as she hadn’t made a “clear and obvious error.” Good. Refwatch: Why should I mention that they were all girls? In a patronising tone about how well they did. Game flowed, not fussy at all. Behold how the world did not end with boobs on the pitch. Mind you Allardyce has ensured that that’s not exactly new. It was no different to having blokes in charge, she was certainly fitter than Phil Dowd ever was in terms of being up with play. One dodgy corner was all you could level at the officials. I forgot they even had vaginas. Which is probably the best compliment you could pay them.
I’ve neglected to mention they’d scored a goal at some point and gone ahead, because I hate them. Anyway, Jorginho booed by the whole stadium as he lay the ball down for the spot kick. Basically rolled it in whilst sticking his finger up at the keeper. Now the commentators really wouldn’t shut up about how poor Liverpool have got to play on Saturday. Jermaine Penis apparently sitting down in the commentary box because he was tired too. About as much stamina as he had as a player.
Abraham a gnats fart away from giving us the lead back on 103, but everyone looking proper ragged now with fifteen minutes left to play. Emerson lying on the floor grabbing his junk, cramp issues for others. On 112 Mount forced a reaction save from Adrian after a killer ball from Jorginho started us off. Seconds later the Unicorn was inches away. 114 we were in miles of space with Emerson on the ball, but the best he could manage was a corner after insisting on a shot and denying Tammy a crack at it in the box. Unlucky not to have finished them off tonight.
Off we go then on the lottery of penalties.
Firminho: Sends Kepa the wrong way
Jorginho: Does exactly the same to Adrian
Fabinho: (Who was pretending he couldn’t walk two minutes ago) Kepa doesn’t move
Barkley: Smashed home
Origi: Kepa got there but it goes under him. Surprised Origi could see the goal with that stupid fringe
Mason Mount: Never in doubt - top corner
Alexander-Arnold: Kepa knew he was going right, we knew he was going right, yet agin somehow it wriggles in
Emerson: Right down the middle in response to Adrian yelling at him
Salah: Sends Kepa the wrong way
All down to Tammy Abraham: and it was a poor effort. Indecisive. Oh well. I think everyone will agree that that was much, much better than we were expecting.
So: Hell of a learning curve from Frank & Co. after Old Trafford with no time to prepare for this and it was approached in style. Some exciting individual showings. Remember Sunday was Zouma’s first start for us since May 2017. He did much, much better, as did Christensen. The difference with the twins on the pitch is palpable, especially where those two are concerned. Kovacic had a good game, and Kepa was outstanding at times and was close to being the difference in the shootout. He is really growing into that price tag for me. Not pressing so high, more measured and the result was that but for a twenty minute blast at the beginning of the second half, we were the better side all night long. I’m more than happy with how we acquitted ourselves. Many had us down to take a pasting. Time to get down to proper business now with three points against Leicester on Sunday.
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Manchester United 4 Chelsea 0
Sunday 11th August 2019 16:30
Me and my epic toothache went all the way to Manchester and all we got as this lousy referee who doesn’t know what a head injury looks like. A reality check, but nowhere near worthy of soiling ourselves over.
In the News: Not much since the previews. Just some Blue Squirrel on Luiz, who says he went to L’Arse to win trophies. Had become utterly dominant in the dressing room. Also, you think Jorginho was the biggest Sarri advocate in there? Think again. Add that to the fact that things have never been comfortable between He and Frank, and it was a no brainer.
The Others: Sheldon (Sitcom alias) reckons the Red Scouse keepers sound like a middle aged couple. Adrian and Allison. We’ve decided they live in Hemel Hempstead and go on caravan holidays to Wales. First goal of the season was scored by the opposition. Imagine my surprise. Same applies to how lucky Sp*rs got to get back in against Villa. L’Arse inspired nobody. VAR ran amok this weekend, and frankly there is much more I’d rather do with my life every week than reanalyse every decision. One thing is certain, even after sitting through that official Premier League brainwashing session. Even I didn’t grasp how much football will never be the same again. And that makes me sad. Granted we were at one of the only ridiculous, wank grounds that is unable to properly engage the crowd with VAR because they won’t buy a television, but I honestly feel like my long term future as a match going fan is longer a given.
Us: What a start for Mount to negotiate. Same for Tammy. Youngest Chelsea starting eleven since the last time Allardyce managed to notch his belt.
Never seen such a comparative lack of home shirts in the Chelsea end. Probably because it’s wank.
Emerson left them for dust in the opening minutes but couldn’t hold it up long enough to play the ball in, Kovacic managed that, but it floated way too long and into De Gea’s hands. Then it was Mason’s turn to burst free. Then Tammy hit the post. A really positive start. Five minutes in and they’d not been out of their own half once. They couldn’t retain the ball for sh*t.
Barkley’s turn next but he ran into trouble. A few wayward balls, but the determination to win the it back was notable from the very beginning. Across the face of goal on nine minutes, so close for Tammy again. Long rang shot from Mount went straight into De Gea’s hands, and conversely, fifteen minutes and they’ve not had anything resembling a shot.
We did, however, resemble the Red Scouse when Klopp first arrived. We ran about like head-cases for the opening twenty. If we had scored, great, but we didn’t. And much like them, when we didn’t get that early goal, we then started to slow down and they got a proper foothold in the game while we had knackered ourselves for nothing.
Penalty. Zouma caught out. Not that we got to see the replay because the richest club in the world are too f*cking tight to buy a tv. Surely in 2019 and with the onset of this technology it should be f*cking mandatory? Although it’s not like we were in any doubt about whether the Premier League give a toss about the match going fan.
Never was a lead less deserved. Never was “we forgot that you were here” more relevant. Plastic bastards. Set play defending wobbly on 21, but decisive from Christensen on the corner that followed. We were clearly shaken by that travesty. Anthony Taylor making Manc friends by ignoring head injuries and then pulling it back after they’d almost capitalised on Christensen leaving a gap in the defence by being semi-conscious.
Couldn’t get a hold back in the game at this point. Apart from when we gave the game up as lost, this was the only time they looked like the better side. Zouma looked more nervous than Lukaku turning up for his Slimming World weekly weigh in. Half an hour and we had a couple of opportunities to whack it in their box, but failed. Then Tammy was in with Ross but couldn’t quite poke it through to him. Bit if inexperience showing, perhaps, from some of the little’uns. Must be clinical.
Checking Goal said VAR with their offside effort. What f*cking goal? Not even Stevie f*cking Wonder would have had that reviewed. Peasants. Then Zouma finally gets a tackle in and climbs back on the horse, and Taylor books him. Twat.
Shot from Ross saved on 39, pile driver follow up from Pedro Pony blocked. Then underside of the crossbar from Emerson a minute later. But for a splinter of wood or a bit of luck we could have converted any one of five attempts in the opening half.
Two minutes added on. We had the ball for all of it and barely got a shot off. That was the first time today where I thought “I miss Eden,” but lots to be positive about. They, on the other hand, were disgustingly fortunate. Felt like the introduction of any one of Kante, The Beard, possibly Pusilic could swing the play fully in our favour.
Corner straight off on the restart, Zouma almost got his big head on it but not quite. They must have fast tracked Slab’ead through his induction because he’s already got the odious whining red Manc thing down pat.
Refwatch: Anthony Taylor. In case you hadn’t noticed. VAR doesn’t make me want to bitch slap his overly shiny head any less. In case you hadn’t noticed. Another biased yellow on Jorginho five minutes into the second half. No free kicks for us when we get flattened, half the challenge immediately after and we get pulled. They even check it for a red card. Ludicrous. Use of VAR today was baffling, didn’t tie in with things we were told at Stockley Park. Not helped by fact that Taylor is a same snivelling little dog-nonce. Sorry, forgot, snivelling little dog-nonce FROM GREATER MANCHESTER. A computer intervention is not going to improve my opinion of this fool’s contribution to the refereeing world. It would take a miracle. And hard drugs.
Shot from them blocked soon afterwards, couldn’t get it away until Ross finally dug it out and booted it upfield. Palmed away by De Gea on 55. No card for trying to kill Pulisic. No free kick for Tammy being pulled down either. In fact, I guarantee you they conveniently decided that it wasn’t even classed as being in the same “phase of play” as the goal that immediately followed at the other end and therefore they ignored it when they did the mandatory review of the f*cking thing. Even if they wouldn’t have crossed the hallway line without committing it. Then a minute later it was three. Utter smash and grab by a team that have been second best for all but fifteen minutes.
The Beard on. Then a short while later Kante for Jorginho, who was on that pathetic yellow. Taylor predictably started to actually officiate the game now they were three clear. At this point my painkillers started to wear off. And I still had twenty minutes of this wank-puffin’s refereeing to endure. Pusilic did well on his debut considering the state of the game, Mount I thought was better in the second half. A lot more confident on the ball. They were actually singing Chequebook Pulis’s name like rampant hypocrites when yet another break occurred because Taylor ignored our centre back lying prone on the floor. Almost a goal for Mount on 84 but that was about as good as it got.
So: They were not remotely four goals better than us today. Plus including Taylor there were twelve of them. Poor Frank. But really? I honestly don’t think he’ll lose that much sleep over a game that could quite easily have gone the complete opposite way. Rarely will we be so utterly luckless in a game. Suck it up and move on.
Problems include: Taking our chances. Harsh lesson in that for a young side today. Silly errors. Naïveté on the field, you cannot bomb around like that and give the ball away constantly and hope to win Premier League games. This was not just the “yoot.” Dave gave it away 22 times, more than anyone else. Defending needs much work. Especially on set pieces. Tammy isn’t ready. Not to the extent that Mount is. If we had been able to buy a striker he’d be out on loan somewhere in the lower half of the league this season as part of his development. That showed. Don’t expect miracles from him.
Poor Kurt was a car crash today. I don’t doubt he can play better than that, but his pace is a concern for me. He will play, but not in fixtures like yesterday’s if Frank can help if. We need Rudi back ASAP. All that said, not bad at all for a large portion of the game. Kante still to come back in properly, then Rudi, Ruben, CHO. This will arguably be as weak as our squad is this season. Fixtures against the top six are just coming too soon for us. Our season starts on Sunday, with a run again Leicester, Norwich and Sheffield United. That is when we will get a proper measure of the work Frank has done so far.
On the funny side, this will give the Manc bellends a massively inflated sense of hope about this season, which will be all the more hilarious when they do f*ck all again. More holes in their game than a pair of TCW's skanky discarded old fishnets. The amount of chances they gave us? Remember that fight scene in Gladiator, where Russell Crowe shoved one sword in a guy, then another. Yanked them out and decapitated him in one crossover move? That’s what the likes of City are going to do to them.
The rest of the footballing world is forgetting how many Chelsea fans remember when we were categorically, undisputedly shit. We’re hardier in the stands than you think, and we are in no way shit. Time for everyone to put their money where their mouth is in terms of accepting that this is a very different kind of season for us. Frank has been in charge a month, and he’s set a complete revolution in motion. A revolution people begged for from the club. In the words of Take That. Just have a little patience. As for some of the newer breed, who start defecating and screaming at YouTube every time we drop a point, when they decide Lampard is out of his depth by Thursday morning, they can do one. Because we’ve got precisely 48 before Istanbul. Never was a match a more pointless barometer of his, or his players’ ability at a given place in time. Well played Premier League, well played.
Let’s start with Summer’s Top Ten Funniest Moments:
10. South Korean fans are threatening to sue after Ronaldo didn’t play in a friendly. They say they were promised at least 45 minutes of his presence. Billable hours through the roof for his legal team of late.
9. Nobody wants Coutinho anymore. Not a single bid. There’s a lesson in there for players being groomed by their agents and grabbing these new super money moves. Farca couldn’t even get rid of him on loan in the end.
8. Same goes for Neymar, so far. Scrabbling about trying to find a way out the bed he made for himself by going to France in the first place. Go figure. Barcelona have signed Frodo Griezmann instead. PSG have even offered to drop the price by £110m, apparently, still not tempting anyone. Possibly because he’s a monumental dick.
7. Platini was arrested. Presumably as well as being bent there is a charge in there for the placing of that wildly inaccurate and misleading memorial on the Western Front that he managed to put his name on fifty times.
6. Daniel Sturridge had his Pomeranian dognapped in LA. Proof of life, ransom, the works. Luckily he doesn’t have any actual football to concentrate on. I have no sympathy for anyone who spent in excess of £30k on a f*cking Pomeranian in the first place. That’s the universe’s way of telling you to give your head a wobble.
5. The Gareth Bale saga is as hilarious as him trying to hide his burgeoning bald patch with a topknot that looks worse. The most reviled man in the white half of Madrid, despite thirteen trophies, and scoring in two Champions League finals. Even more hilariously, Bale has scored more than double the amount of goals that the man who hates him, Zidane, ever did. But then he’s managed to build replicas of famous golf holes in his back garden, and yet not learned three words of Spanish in six years. Even funnier, he was said to be so devastated when his Chinese deal was blocked he refused to go to work. Too distressed. Now it looks like he will stay, because Real Madrid is that fickle that if he hangs around another week he might actually outlast the manager.
4. In a stunning instance of “woe the f*ck is me” Zaha has had a good whinge about his pain at United. All alone he was. So sad. “They hadn’t given me a car, like every other player. Nothing. I’m living in this hell by myself.” Hell? REALLY? Firstly, you big drama queen, the were paying you a seven figure salary. Secondly, you are a two and a half hour train ride from Euston. Thirdly, IT’S NOT FORBIDDEN FOR YOU TO LEAVE YOUR LUXURY ABODE. And also, what part of you is that thick that it can’t comprehend using some of your exorbitant salary to puzzle your way around buying your own car? Actually, scratch that, because the idea of him being behind the wheel of even a bumper car with such a lack of intelligence is terrifying.
3. “I am sorry, I had drunk too much.” This was, Clinton N’Jie’s, (formerly of Sp*rs) excuse after he accidentally streamed himself having sex online.
2. Diego. Don’t ever change. He scored four of seven against Real then got sent off in a 22 man brawl.
1. Kolasinac beating off car-jackers as Ozil stood by like a damsel in distress. There are so many hilarious connotations but my favourite was this. “Emery is concerned about Ozil’s mental state after the attempted car-jacking.” AFTER. He’d seen his mental state before, right? Because he was a fair few sandwiches short of a picnic before anyone threatened to steal his diamanté studded earrings.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS
A.I. Boffins predict that City will win the title, United and Sp*rs will fight out the Europa League final and Frank Lampard to be top a Xmas. Their wording, not mine.
Top Six Contenders - You’d think with a transfer ban they’d have all stretched away from us, but it’s like they’ve gone out of their way to keep us in it.
Arsenal - This is going to be hilarious.
Ozil apparently squeaked: “I swear - you’re not a coach” in Turkish when he was subbed over the summer. Ironic. Considering he is not a footballer 98% of the time. In the understatement of the century, Torreira “thinks life might have been better in Italy.” Then we had the “Five-Captain Farce. ”Ramsey and Cech had left, Ozil and Xhaka are a joke. So as usual nobody is in charge at Arsenal, because Koscielny went AWOL and refused to travel pre-season too. L’Arse had less shots than Palace, Southampton, not to mention eight other clubs last season. Their new star man? “Chelsea… it's the club that makes me dream.” Pepe captured on video saying we’re the only London club he’d ever want to play for.
They might actually do better than last season, but not without giving us all plenty to laugh at. Their away form was pathetic last time out, and while they’ve got a shiny new striker on finance, they are relying on a combination of Mustafi, Luiz and Xhaka to keep teams out at the other end. This after every attempt to sign a defender they actually wanted failed and they suddenly sprang for Sideshow Bob instead. The only one with a brain, Koscielny, did his runner in the end. The only surprise there being that it took him so long to flee. The rest of their signings lack the real wow-factor, and they’ve lost Ramsey on a free (criminally negligent) Cech, and Iwobi as well as Koscielny. Is it me or should they be crapping themselves at the depth of their goalkeepers too? On balance, they seem much the same to me, and surely we’ve still got enough to finish above these clowns.
Man Utd - No better off than last year.
Solskjaer was said to be wanting rid of 14 at the beginning of the summer. Reportedly the club were using Mourinho’s transfer wish list seven months after sacking him. Which doesn’t surprise me. The Dybala deal has been going back and forth most of the summer. Woodward apparently went weeks without even contacting Maguire, who they desperately wanted. Eriksen gave up on them saying the club lacked ambition. This is Manchester United. And he plays for T*ttenham. If ever there was a punch in the face. Maradona was insisting that if he took over he could make them win trophies again. Jesus. Perhaps if his liver could be guaranteed for another nine months. But most of the news revolved around the fact that Old Trafford turned out to be Ungrateful Turd Central this summer. Pogba. There is literally no link between perception and reality as far as this thunderc*nt is concerned. He’s special. He says. “Not happy with being the highest earner and wants to win Ballon D’Or.” You do realise you actually have to be good at something other than TALKING for that to be feasible, right? Just didn’t turn up to fly to Cardiff. Pause. FLY TO CARDIFF. Jesus wept. He went nowhere in the end. Which is what the snake deserves. His agent also got what he deserved too. As in not a f*cking penny. Raiola and his ilk are the scourge of football. Looks like a cheap extra from the sopranos. He’s a poor man’s Luca Brasi. Warrants no more than an early death scene choking on a poisoned meatball, and nobody remembers who he was half an hour after the film has finished. Then there was Lukaku bitching about how hard done by he is. Says an overweight, under-motivated embarrassment of an £85m signing. Inter have apparently paid nearly that again for him, finally. Obviously paying by the pound.
So when it all came out in the wash, they offloaded the (not inconsiderable) bulk of Lukaku, released Valencia and lost Herrera to PSG. In exchange, they’ve got two squad players in James and Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. Slabhead, saviour of the mighty Manchester United and worthy of £150m of investment. Lot to put on the shoulders of a central defender who isn’t worth much more than £30m, tops. If I was a Manc I wouldn’t be getting too excited about their prospects. Might be tight between us and them, but I’d fancy us, on the basis that the longer Solskjaer is there, the more he is going to get found out if Ferguson isn’t actually just calling all the shots for him like he did during his opening spell.
City - Still the ones to beat.
Their biggest worry is living with that lemon yellow and peach kit all season. Looks like one of those sweaty change colour t-shirts we kids all had in the 90s. That and the fact that Pep might have fallen on his shiny head over the summer. He thinks Phil Foden is the most talented player he has EVER seen.
They didn’t need to go on a shopping spree. That said they’ve broken their club record still, and strengthened again. The fact that their nearest rivals from last season have not, and that the rest of the top six are either banned from signing (ahem) or just haven’t done enough to bridge the gap makes me believe that it’s entirely in their hands. Yes Kompany has gone, as he’s a big name with a long association, but in reality his on-pitch influence has been on the wane for a while. If St. Pep and his minions don’t completely f*ck it up, the league is theirs.
Red Scouse - Could have done with some strengthening.
The Press Plebs were handing Liverpool the league on 15th July after a pre-season win against Bradford. Then they lost four games in a row and all Klopp has done since is moan about how tired his players are going to be. Before he turned his attentions to whining about a Friday kick off against Norwich. Which gives his players two more days to recover in time to play us in Istanbul. Joker. He has Oxlade-Chamberlain back, though he has a calf problem. He’s also relying on the return of Lallana and Keita to make the difference, and I don’t see it.
Because all told, they spent next to nothing, including bringing in a 16 year old and two blokes nobody has heard of. It isn’t going to cut it, no matter how much dead weight they’ve cut loose. Yes, they scored 97 points last season, and all of their tedious plebs cried like little bitch-babies because they didn’t get a special trophy, but they both need to replicate that this season and hope that an even stronger City squad implodes. It would take an act of god (a very un-benevolent one so far as the rest of us are concerned) to see them win the league.
Sp*rs - Still not done enough to challenge for the title.
Trippier has gone to Atletico. Eriksen, with one year left on his contract, has been clawing at the door like Bertie my Feline Overlord trying to get to a cupboard full of Dreamies. “I’m at a place were I want to try something new.” He says. Yes. Like winning. Before he dies of old age. Still not convinced he’ll be around come the closing of the window in Europe. “I am just a coach, not manager” Podgettino bemoaned at the lack of transfer activity. To be fair to Levy, he’s had to lay out seven figures on renovations at the new stadium, because the WAGs all complained that their five star lounge wasn’t good enough. Maybe they can swap with the cheese room.
They might have sprung into action with a club record signing and grabbing a couple of others with five minutes to go, but their last two signings came from Notts County and Leeds. Isn’t going to alter their prospects for this season. They will still, in my opinion, be batting around in the race for second or third at best. Certainly haven’t done enough to catch City. If they don’t win a trophy this season surely more will run for the exit.
The Also-Rans - As in teams who wouldn’t expect to be dicing with relegation at any point this season, but will be doing really well if they are in with a shout of the Europa League.
Everton spent most of the summer trying to prise Zaha away from Palace, and failing. Despite trying to leverage the deal using half their squad. In fact they failed at a few of the ones they wanted. That said, Iwobi and Delph should be good signings for them, and they have had a good clear out. Can’t see them being in any danger, but likewise can’t see them setting the league alight either. Same with Leicester City. Spent the money from the Maguire deal, and if they really perform well they could be sniffing around the top end of this group. Best bit of business Palace did was keeping hold of Zaha, despite his handing in a transfer request. He’s said to be severely p*ssed off. Hodgson was also fuming at the end of July about a lack of transfer business and says he knew nothing about Everton’s Zaha bid. Presumably he hasn’t worked out the internet then. They tried to ponce Reece James off of us. We rejected a bid of £25m for a player who hasn’t got a single appearance in the Premier League. In the end they did add Cahill, Ayew and McCarthy to their ranks, and I’d be surprised if they are in trouble come next spring. Watford should be fine - they won (or didn’t, perhaps) the Danny Welbeck Lottery after the crocked halfwit spent most of the summer limping up and down the country with his agent demanding a £5m signing on fee and £100,000 a week. They’ve bought in bodies in, though, very cash-efficiently which probably offsets that stupidity. Same with Wolves, who really impressed last time out. Carried on the Portuguese theme this summer, but have also brought in players from PSG, Real and AC Milan.
The Touch and Gos - Not necessarily in any danger, but not completely immune either.
Villa have spent a fortune. I think they’ve spent it far more wisely than, for instance, Fulham, last season but it’s always a worry trying to bed that many players in at once while so many have gone the other way. I always hope for Bournemouth, but they’ve just lost Brookes to a nasty injury. Fingers crossed for them, but it could be dicey. Slapped a £75m price tag on Ake to keep Leicester away, but it never really looked like happening. Burnley’s shiniest signing is arguably relieving us of having Danny Drinkwater clutter up Stamford Bridge again this season. Few bodies in, a few out, can’t see their lot changing much. Norwich, if they do well, won’t be sh*tting their pants come May, because they’ve added experience. Rather a lot of changes in personnel, like Villa they will need most of them to click for things go to plan. Southampton won’t be immune to panic either, I don’t think, but on paper they shouldn’t go down, still angers me that they just continue to go backwards. Could be close with West Ham in terms of whether they look like facing a battle of avoid the drop. I am inclined to think that with Pellegrini’s experience he should see them through. You thought we were sh*t at strikers, West Ham have used THIRTY since 2010 and they’ve scored 147 on 705 games. Higuain was apparently the answer at one stage. Then obviously someone got a slap and that went away.
The Relegation Scrap - This lot will be doing well to avoid the drop.
Was close last time, and despite the business they’ve done this summer, Brighton will probably be looking at another fight this time round. That said, less of a changeover in personnel, I think, so there is more stability there. Newcastle continue free-falling into the realms of the dancing f*cking acid elephants in Dumbo thanks to Ashley. Rafa was off, Chequebook Pulis apparently wanted the job, but only if it was under another owner. In the end, the whole fan base chucked their toys out of the pram when Steve f*cking Bruce was appointed. Nothing says a lack of ambition like this appointment. That and when you were not in a good place before, and you’ve sold one of your better players, and your replacements are coming from places like bankrupt Bolton and Ligue 2 Amiens, and include bringing Carroll the Wonderhorse back on a pay as you play basis; as the person in charge of this club you don’t deserve any better than facing oblivion. Sadly, the fans do. Newcomers Sheffield United will do well to stay up. Not saying they categorically won’t, but it’s going to be a baptism of fire.
So: Take all of this, Chuck in VAR, shake the living hell out of it and spring the lid and you’ve got ten months of carnage, controversy, joy and pain to come, whoever you support. Top Four, maybe last 16 or even last 8 in the Champions League would be outstanding for us if the draws are favourable. Maybe we’ll get a really decent run in one of the domestic cups. If you want to put money on anything, make it this: By November Sam Allardyce will be slinking around the fringes like a vulture waiting for someone to get canned so that he can come in and bore the living daylights out of us all. Till then you can find him quaffing Big Macs in your local and watching it all on TV like the rest of us. Where he belongs…
Welcome to the Twilight Zone. No, not sh*t looking metrosexual vampires and the most god awful plot, script and acting that the world has ever seen; but a world where Chelsea fans have very little to complain about. Not that this will stop various nappy sh*tting contingents, I’m sure.
One thing we will have to live without in 2019/20 is Eden Hazard. We all knew it was coming, and quite frankly anyone who hates him for going needs a good pimp-slapping. He got his life-long dream move to Real to play for his childhood hero. And he signed off with class. “Leaving Chelsea is the biggest and toughest decision in my career,” he said. He would not have left us for any other club, that much is true. “I gave my life, my legs, my buttocks, everything,” he apparently said to Aubameyang at the Europa League final. No prizes for guessing which one I will miss the most. He wasn’t always perfect, but he was a kid when he signed for us. Notably he ate himself into semi-oblivion one summer under Chequebook Pulis and contributed to his demise. But he was still thinner than Costa and let’s be honest, he wasn’t the only player on strike and the biggest architect of of said demise was the arch lunatic himself. 352 games 110 goals 81 assists and 6 trophies. I will miss him so much, not only his phenomenal talent but his cheeky sense of humour (comedy dig at Sarri on the way out, apologising for being a sh*t defender) and the best a*se in football to boot. But life moves on.
I did have to chuckle at Conktois: “Welcome to the best club in the world.” Get it in quick mate, you won’t be there much longer. Eden’s unveiling in the Spanish capital took in more fans than four of Real’s league games last season. A few weeks later Zidane is teetering on the edge and everyone is fat shaming the new signing. The boy had earned a f*cking quarter pounder or two over the summer. I’ve just seen a video of him trying on a new suit and he looks pretty damn good to me. He’s probably already hankering after the comparative lack of hysteria at Chelsea. And that’s saying something.
One departure we weren’t so sorry about: Sarri. In the one single instance of him showing any professional or indeed social awareness during his entire tenure in London, he buggered off. We didn’t like him. We didn’t want to sit through that sh*t again this season. And yet how could we sack him when he’s just won a European trophy? I’m willing to bet that Bruce Buck verily chewed his nicotine stained hand off and offered to let him pluck the £7m out of his g-string waistband when he turned up offering his resignation. Pretty evident he was hankering over a move to Juve, and by mid-June he was finally gone. Thus making everyone’s life easier and along with another loon manager we’ve recently seen the back of, causing chaos across Serie A. It is going to be a clusterf*ck of hysteria and Ill-tempered skulduggery next season. Conte has broken Juve hearts by going to Inter, and Napoli fans are tearing down Sarri plaques and drafting death threats. Icardi is just baffled that he woke up one morning to find that he’s no longer the most hated w*nk-puffin in Italy.
Side note: On Sarri’s departure Zola was offered and turned down an ambassadorial role. He leaves with no egg on his face or anywhere else, untainted. Mainly because I don’t think Sarri said more than four words (probably “where’s my fag butt?”) to him all season.
Cue the Press Plebs making up a lot of nonsense who might be our manager this coming season. Javi Gracia, Steve Holland, Chequebook effin’ Pulis (If I was an editor I’d have refused point blank to pay anyone for submitting that) Allegri, Vierra (WTF?) the Wolves manager with the Uncle Albert beard whose head is stuck on upside down. Even Ralf Rangnick - whoever that is. He sounds like a dodgy villain out of yet another sh*t Marvel film.
But one name dominated the list from the very beginning. Frank - they wouldn’t, would they? Is it not too soon? Or is it perfect because we’re banned from shopping and the weight of expectation will be as low as it has been for fifteen years?! I was halfway up a mountain in Utah when they confirmed he was coming home. Hurrah. But it was not just Frank, and this is why I’m excited:
Jodi - a fantastic four year spell with the youth. Those last two years? Seven trophies. 4th and 5th successive FA Youth Cups and a quadruple to end. Not to mention assistant manager for Frank last season. His affinity with Chelsea is priceless. He came through our ranks himself and all those players we’ll have to look at because of the transfer embargo? He knows them. So does Joe Edwards, who Frank tried to take to Derby too. He has been promoted. If that means more to see of him, then huzzah. He’s fit. Chris Jones did go to Derby, after 12 years with us and he’s come back too. We have a young, vibrant management team who love our club. This has to be a good thing. Eddie is still about too, and the club have FINALLY addressed the void between boardroom and pitch left when the much-maligned pantomime villain, Emanalo, departed. Petr Cech has also come home, as an advisor to Marina and Makalele is back too as a youth mentor. Leaders we’ve missed in the dressing room so much over the last couple of years are back at the club.
Well if you wanted to know how invested in Frank and his new regime the club are, you have only to look at the last 24 hours of the transfer window. We’re on a ban. We have our best centre back out till at least September. We’d just broken our cardinal rule of no more than a year on a contract for an over 30 for David Luiz. And yet in the space of one day the sh*t has hit the fan, and we’ve drop kicked him out the door and let him join a “rival.” (It’s Arsenal, I can’t quite say that with a straight face after the last twenty years) The two had never been close. The arch-professional who takes his football dead seriously and the class clown, but it happened quickly and it’s a huge statement of intent going forward. You cannot have a former teammate undermine the new manager, and the speed with which he was dispensed suggests that it might have been a concern.
You never know what was simmering in the background, but it baffled them as much as us. My one Gooner friend is predicting that each game will be won/lost 10-9 and Emery and Kronke will be in the centre of the pitch screaming “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?” This is a player they’ve mocked us for for a number of years, and suddenly he’s their problem. Another Gooner was heard lamenting that he’d rather they’d taken Cahill. On a ten year deal. Another quip? Rare you see a transfer where both teams are made instantly better for it. Let’s also not forget that off-loading Luiz has enabled us to cut one of those foreign players we were over our quota on. On a serious note, whilst his football could be erratic, his class as a human being was not. He actually gave a sh*t about the connection between the players and the fans. And there’s a long affiliation, including, of course, Munich. Thanks for the memories, on and off the field, old chum. God Speed, you bonkers lunatic. I won’t be booing you when we run into each other again. If you get a moment, look at some of the very recent reviews of his restaurant and have a giggle. Well played, Chelsealand.
Cahill went to Palace, Rob Green retired, and deals were done to get rid of Fankaty Dabo, (Coventry) Ola Aina, (Torino) Jay Dasilva, (Bristol City) Tomas Kalas, (Bristol City) and Kasey Palmer. (Bristol City) Those last three netted us nearly £15m. We released Todd Kane, Eduardo and Kyle Scott, and Baba Rahman and Marco Van Ginkel are floating about in the ether somewhere. The latter whilst recovering from long term injury.
Which brings us to the Chelsea Loan Army. Manpower that Haig would have wept with joy over if he’d been presented with those numbers in early 1918. Morata “lifted the lid on his Chelsea hell” this summer. Didn’t “feel loved by the club or the fans.” And here was me thinking he was as thick as pig sh*t as well as a whinge-bag of epically vomit-inducing proportions. Who knew that the message was actually getting through all the time? Oh, “and his team mates did not trust him.” No sh*t, Sherlock. Every time they have you the ball you either lost it, sat down on the pitch and cried, were offside or got booked. We wanted rid of him so badly this summer we tried to strong arm Atletico into actually paying up for him, threatening to recall him from loan. Then when it looked like we might have to have him back we quickly bent over and let them shaft us financially. They’ve promised to buy him at the end of this coming season, apparently. If I was them, that would be a lie.
Ampadu to Leipzig the most important loan so far as the future is concerned, carrying out the same strategy that has been so successful with Christensen. Here’s where the music stopped for everyone else:
Nathan Baxter (Ross County)
Richard Nartey (Burton Albion)
Mario Pasalic (Atalanta)
Charly Musonda (Vitesse Arnhem)
Nathan (Atletico Mineiro)
Daishawn Redan (Hertha Berlin)
Jake Clarke-Salter (Birmingham City)
Matt Miazga (Reading)
Lewis Baker (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Dujon Sterling (Wigan Athletic)
Conor Gallagher (Charlton Athletic)
Jacob Maddox (Tranmere Rovers)
Trevor Chalobah (Huddersfield Town)
Danny Drinkwater (Burnley)
Josh Grant (Plymouth)
Izzy Brown (Luton Town)
Victor Moses (Fenerbahce)
Luke McCormick (Shrewsbury Town)
Ike Ugbo (Roda JC)
We may be banned from signing players, but in a rare show of sensible adulting, the club did tie down Pulisic at the beginning of the year, and he finally arrived, so we do have a new face. With the ban, though, the most important thing was to tie down the players we have. Mason Mount has signed a long term deal. Hurrah. Ruben’s dad has been having a moan. Said if he played under Podgettino he’d have had 80-90 league appearances by now. I put in a call to Childline. What kind of parenting is that? Wilfully talking about your boy being a Sp*d? “I only want to play for Chelsea,” replied Ruben, also putting his name to a new contract. In the most shameful display of tapping up the world of football has ever seen, Bayern still wouldn’t f*ck off with regard to Hudson-Odoi. First it was said to be a pathetic £22m. Then it went up to nearly £50m. Frank was apparently given the final say on Willian and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t extend his contract. We’ve dispensed with having a veritable grandad as our third goalkeeping choice too, which had become a habit. Jamie Cumming has a new deal and he will be the third choice keeper. So youth at the forefront again. Reece James is another one we’ll be looking at giving a new contract too. Unsurprisingly, we did nothing to try and retain the services (she says laughing) of Higuain. We did, however, secure Kovacic on a permanent deal. I didn’t really have a problem with this, he’s the new Mikel. Ok he will never score a goal or do anything magical but that isn’t what he’s there for. I didn’t object, especially in light of our current transfer predicament, but there were many loud protestations on the world of Twitter, which is always a good barometer for sensible opinion. (Ahem) Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy??!!? they shrieked.
Let me tell you why. Picture a woman with her husband’s credit card. Chelsea is that woman. The shops are about to shut, and the tight-fisted bugger never treats her like this. She has got five minutes to make a purchase otherwise it will likely be a year before her stingy husband offers her his card again. Now, in the shop they only have one pair of shoes in her size. It’s a slightly bland pair of shoes that don’t exactly fill her heart with a joy, but it’s her last chance to own new shoes before the window of opportunity shuts. The woman buys the shoes. Every. Time. Knowing that they are probably ugly and knowing that in a year they might well be forgotten about and gathering dust at the back of her wardrobe. Kovacic is a slightly boring pair of shoes that happened to fit. I can live with that. Because he might well go with more outfits than the woman anticipated. If not, she has lost nothing and in a year when the card is offered again she will just go and buy two pairs of really shiny shoes to make up for it.
And so we came to pre-season.
1-1 against Bohemians. Press plebs having a field day, until we then beat St Patricks 0-4. Goals for Mount, Emerson, and two for The Beard. A sponsorship deal with Yokohama meant we were bound to have to pitch up in Japan eventually. Whilst there we lost to something that sounded like a slightly dodgy retro moped, but beat Barcelona. Let’s be honest, none of those really mattered result wise, for they were all about everyone trickling back and trying to build their fitness up. Reading constituted another workout and would be the last game with wholesale nonsense changes before we start seriously getting ready for the upcoming fixtures. They looked like a side only a few days from their opening league encounter, i.e. more ready than us. A bit of luck to help them ahead, but the finish deserved it. Wiped out bu a stunning free kick from Barkley. Kenedy scored. More surprisingly, he had managed to get out of the Far East this time without offending several million people. The Salzburg game, against a team whose season had already begin, was another goalfest. Pulisic and Barkley dismantled them in five minutes. Then carried on bitchslapping them. The American might not be Eden - but two goals and winning a penalty in less than ten minutes was pretty sexual. Not as much so as Pedro Unicorn, who has already scored the goal of the season, with a filthy flick that came from nowhere after he outran the pass from Barkley. We rounded of our preparations for the United game by clawing our way back from 2-0 in Germany thanks to penalties from Barkley and Tammy Abraham.
So: It feels like my football club again, is the general refrain across West London at the moment. It promises to be a bold new era, if the club sticks with it. That said, any of this nonsense about Lampard being the first manager to go is irrelevant. It would take a Luiz-style turnaround. My feeling? Frank is safe for this season no matter what happens.
Youth will get a chance. We have no choice. The average age of our squads, give or take:
2016/17: 27 years and 10 months
2017/18: 27 years old.
This time last year: 26 years and 8 months.
This time around? Currently 26 years and 1 month. Largely held up that high now by Big Willy being 37 now.
One important thing Sideshow Bob did say before he went bombing out of the door though: “You have to think about opening the door - not the door opening for you.” Still no room for complacency amongst the younger ranks. This is a narrow window of opportunity, and they have to grab it with both hands if it is to be a launchpad for the rest of their careers.
Entertainment Value. One thing that is already apparent if pre-season is anything to go by, is that the turgid days of watching Sarri do the same thing, week in, week out, are a thing of the past. This goes for formation as well as personnel. Don’t forget, Lampard has seen more of the managing elite (obviously not AVB or Scolari) than most players get to in their careers, to make up somewhat for his lack of experience as a manager. He’s had a front row seat to observe what does, and does not work. At Chelsea.
Ones to Watch. “I grew up watching Lampard… it feels amazing to be here,” says Pulisic, and this kind of enthusiasm seems rife throughout the ranks. He’s promising to deliver speed and creativity. Can’t help but wonder how that would have worked out under Sarri. Anyhow, we saw some flashes of brilliance in pre-season. He’s a kid. He’s-not going to give us everything we’ve lost in Eden this season, but he’s certainly going to give us something. Jorginho is doomed! Everyone screamed as soon as his dad left the building. “I might ask different things of Jorginho,” says Frank. In the meantime, the player who was singled out for all the faults of the manager in his first season has a chance to start again, to some extent. And we should given him that chance. “He has left and I have stayed here and I need to do a job for my team at Chelsea.” He’s got four more years on his contract and is excited to crack on. Frank will give him more space and of course, a chance to use an ounce of creativity not based on an elaborate flow chart of boredom. He also thinks he is more aggressive now and ready to make a bigger impact in the Premier League. Massively excited to see what Mason Mount does this season, but equally, I think Barkley really is the one to watch. Not only does he look like a serious athlete at Chelsea, not only did he have a banging pre-season, but dare I say he’s starting to emerge as a bit of a leader on the field. He’s playing for his footballing idol now, which can only be a good thing, seeing as he’s the closest thing to Lampard we’ve had since Lampard left. If Tammy gets 15 goals, Cundy will consider it a huge success. I like to think he’d do a bit better than than, even if I do suspect we’ll see more of Giroud. God knows with Batshuayi, the mad little bugger is a law unto himself. It’s like trying to predict the weather in Iceland.
But let’s be realistic. We’ve lost our best player. Eden is irreplaceable in terms of a one out, new one in scenario. Ruben is still injured, as is Hudson-Odoi. You can basically write off the first half of the season for both of them in terms of any real impact. With luck we’ll have Rudi back in September, but that’s a number of key players not running out for us come this weekend. Still some work to be done after pre-season too. We continued to be really vulnerable on corners throughout, never getting to the ball first. But the pressure is off, somewhat. I ran a poll and it turned out, as fans our expectations haven’t changed that much. Most people said they wanted top four, but I fall in with the second large group, who basically said top six - any European place would be an achievement this time out. We’ve got to accept that as a club we’ve changed tack quite brutally since we last kicked a ball in anger, and that it won’t all be smooth sailing. But then, it’s not like we ever have a season without drama, is it?
Certainly a fan’s guide to VAR, but perhaps more accurately what the Premier League WANT you to know.
Yesterday a number of club reps were invited to VAR HQ at Stockley Park for a conflab about how it’s going to work in the league this season, what it will involve and how they will approach issues. Along with two typically humourless lower tier journalists. But one of those was Sp*rs, so he’s arguably got nothing to smile about anyway. Ostensibly we all turned up because they promised to let us play with the system ourselves at the end.
There was a slight concern that I was being lured into a trap, that PGMOL had seen everything I’ve ever written about their match officials and that I’d end up being guarded in a dungeon under Stockley Park by Ade Edmundson doing a slightly historically inaccurate impression of the Red Baron. Or Hugh Laurie in the role of Prince Ludwig the Indestructible.
Let me say this now. If they can convince me, they can convince anyone.
What is VAR so far as the league is concerned?
The principle of VAR is laid down by IFAB, the International Football Association Board, who set the rules of the game worldwide. That said, despite this international authority, there is wiggle room, subjective interpretation within their framework that has been invoked.
So to begin with, it was up to the Premier League to decide how they were going to bring in VAR and what standards they were going to set. And after two and a half years of testing and investigation, they were ready to tell us in very polished and well-rehearsed format where they are at on the eve of it being implemented at every game in the league this season.
What you are about to read has apparently been preached ad nauseam to clubs and their players. They say that they have had a revolving procession of fans, journalists, officials, and “stakeholders” (this is why I quit working in an office, terms like this) coming in in an attempt to make the move to VAR as transparent as possible. In other words there is a massive drive on education. Although the biggest flaw I foresee is that Alan Shearer is the star of the video. Mr. Charisma. I’d be chewing my own wrists open after five minutes.
I asked who the VAR officials are. The 18 Select Group One referees, they say. And five Select Group Two. So a pool of 23 highly functioning officials. Not to mention all of the Assistant Referees who will carry out the roll of AVAR (Assistant VAR) alongside them. They like acronyms. “Assistant” is literally one more syllable and it’s an actual word, but go figure. I have a slight concern with this. Presumably the massive increase in referee workload on any given set of fixtures is costing them a fortune if you have to call in the likes of Michael Oliver the day after a fixture he has overseen to sit and watch another on TV. More importantly, though, Select Group Two was only introduced a few years ago. They are Championship referees. Who will now have a large stake in how your team’s day is panning out on a much higher level. “The games are usually spread out” was the response to my query on this, which was given as a reassurance as to the standard of the available referees in control of the VAR console, which I’m not sure I was entirely appeased by. My worry is they are diluting the pool to make the numbers up, but I suppose time will tell.
When will it be invoked during a game?
The Premier League were insistent that in the implementation of VAR they have been at pains to make it as minimally invasive as possible, with the maintenance of the speed and intensity of the PL a distinct and primary objective. They claim that their match incident accuracy is at present 82%, and that expect this to go up with VAR. However, They have no expectation that they will reach 100% accuracy.
Their tagline is MINIMUM INTERVENTION, MAXIMUM BENEFIT. In an ideal world, you wont even know it is there, they say. “Minimising inconsistency” was the bullet point given to us by the delightful PGMOL rep. It is only for “TOP LINE INTERVENTION:” that is for CLEAR AND OBVIOUS transgressions on the part of the match officials at the ground with respect of certain important events in a game, and AT ALL TIMES THE FINAL DECISION IS TO REST WITH THE REFEREE ON THE PITCH.
If there is doubt in his mind about what he is being told, the referee can enter the RRA. The Referee Review Area with the screen and sh*t on the side of the pitch. There were contradictions straight away. They have been told they can use it whenever they want.
For example for things they categorically did not see or for if they think they disagree with the review coming in via their headset. They can go and have a look to shut up the competing benches too, if they deem it necessary. But conversely the league want it used sparingly. More potential additional subjective opinion. One referee’s justified quick look is another’s panic stricken conviction that it’s all dragging on too long.
This next one was an important one for me, and I like the answer: THERE IS NO SCOPE FOR THE REFEREE TO STOP AND PHONE A FRIEND. As always, the referee must make a decision in the midst of the game. Only if that decision falls under clear and obvious, will it will be pulled by the VAR official at Stockley. If it does not, the game moves on.
So what are the important things that a VAR official in the plush match centre at Stockley Park can interfere with? (Forget the spectre of that awful trailer last season with ten people crammed in it, that was a one off and the Premier League is minted)
The Premier League refers to them as KMIs (yay, more acronyms) or KEY MATCH INCIDENTS.
There are four:
EVERY SINGLE GOAL IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE IS GOING TO BE CHECKED. Last season the officials cocked up 41 on/offside calls. 31 of those occurred when the score was level or one goal difference. This they want to fix. Primarily, I expect, to shut Sean Dyche up after Burnley had that goal disallowed against Watford.
This was my biggest bone of contention in the course of these sessions so far as the match-going fan is concerned. The Premier League claim that is takes an average of sixty seconds for a group of fans to celebrate a goal. During those sixty seconds, without fail, the match centre is going to select the “phase of play,” (we’ll get to that later) rewatch it and decide if there was anything wrong with it. “95% of the goals are fine.” I was not appeased by that. These checks will not come up on the screen. Unless you know this is the case, you will not know the check is going on, because it will not be advertised. You will get all the way to the end of the hypothetical and precise sixty second celebration, the ball will be back in the centre circle, and then in one in twenty instances now, which is what? A couple of times a season for each team? You will then be told the goal doesn’t stand. Their response? Tough. “You will probably know there was something wrong with the goal in the first place.” I know myself, that nagging doubt is going to be at the back of my mind now, every time.
The giving and not giving of. VAR will check these and advise the referee. I asked about fouling in the box and how much people get away with it, especially defenders, and asked if there was a directive on quashing this as part of the implementation of VAR. The answer was a flippant anti-Chelsea jibe declared “off the record." We’ll take that as a no then. We’ll also take that as an admission that Premier League Relations makes no distinction between “blocking” and Peter Crouch spending seven years trying to mate with Gary Cahill in the box.
VAR will also monitor every penalty taken, looking for things like Vertonghen encroaching, missing the goalkeeper doing anything naughty, double touch and feigning. So once again, whenever a penalty goes in, its not going to be quite definitive until it has been reviewed. But you can kill the time by celebrating on the off chance.
Direct Red Cards (Not second yellows)
Obvious one. And yes, THE APPEALS PROCESS WILL STILL EXIST OF A RED CARD IS GIVEN VIA VAR. However, because it will have been utilised, the Premier League thinks that going forward the bar will be much higher for getting a decision overturned.
And then there is Mistaken identity, which is pretty self explanatory.
Offsides are an oddity that is going to at least take a while to evolve. Not because you cant tell if they are on or not, but because you are fundamentally asking referees and assistants to complete rethink the way they approach them.
WHEN IT IS A CLEAR AND IMMEDIATE GOALSCORING CHANCE the assistant is now being told to HOLD HIS FLAG. The referee is being told NOT TO BLOW HIS WHISTLE. VAR will sort it out. First couple of match days that will go tits up, guarantee you. It goes against all of their training. On a positive note, after the whole Harry F*cking Kane debacle in the cup semi final, from which the Sp*rs journalist clearly still hasn’t recovered, they will be employing 3D lines to ascertain the decision at all times.
Now this is where VAR is going to really make the sh*t hit the fan:
There will be no faffing with throw ins, corners, yellow cards. THERE WILL BE NO INTERVENTION FOR SIMULATION UNLESS IT INVOLVES A PENALTY BEING AWARDED OR A RED CARD. Salah will be pleased. And, if this is to be taken literally, VAR WILL NOT INTERVENE IN OFF THE BALL SPITTING, SCRAPPING, STAMPING, MELEES ETC. UNLESS THE VAR OFFICIAL THINKS SOMEONE SHOULD BE SENT OFF AND WASN’T or vice versa. Which considering how many players warrant a yellow in these circumstances that may latterly effect the game, I think they are missing a trick. What I am trying to say is, that although in principle minimal intervention is laudable, there are going to be untold scenarios throughout the season when you will be screaming for the common sense of a review, and it wont be happening because it cant be pigeonholed into your four categories.
VAR is categorically NOT to be used in the Premier League for the re-refereeing of games. Unless the referee has cocked it up in fine style, there will be NO AMENDING OF SUBJECTIVE DECISIONS on his part. So far as the “CLEAR AND OBVIOUS” is concerned, they claim that their benchmark is higher than you will have seen before, namely handballs in the Champions League, but once again, that is going to be a subjective decision on the part of the second referee sitting at Stockley as to whether it qualifies.
The Premier League have no expectation that VAR will solve all subjective decisions. Kompany against the Scouse last season was a case study with his tackle on Salah. The referee gave a yellow, and there was not enough video evidence to imply that the referee had made a “clear and obvious” error by not sending him off. Therefore with VAR, the decision was subjective, and the referees call is what stands, even if the VAR official personally disagrees with it.
More layers of subjectivity equal more opportunities for people to disagree and scream at each other, and this kind of thing is undoubtedly where the main controversy will come from with VAR.
Which incidentally, is not a dignified procedure. We heard a few checks throughout the afternoon. It constitutes four, perhaps five people all shouting over the top of each other at the same time. Remember that one of them will still be trying to officiate a live football match while they hash out a check. Will he be able to concentrate in the midst of all this? It all comes down to whether he can hear it all, in other words, to what extent the VAR official is leaning on the red button whilst its all going on. Not entirely reassuring.
PGMOL do not think VAR will hugely increase the amount of time added on, especially as the process becomes more streamlined. Once again, they are determined to avoid faffery. However, the most controversial point of the afternoon, which turned into an existential and highly confusing physical debate, is the issue of whether or not you will get all the time back spent on it.
Now, ostensibly the referee will do what he has always done, and record the time lost on the pitch to substitutions, celebrations, time-wasting etc. The AVAR will record the time spent actually checking VAR decisions. The two will be added together and will go up on the board, as if it is ever quite that simple.
However. Consider this:
Azpilicueta is hacked down two footed by someone horrible, let’s say Herrera, on the edge of our box on 50:00
The referee didn’t see it.
The game continues to 50:15 before the VAR official has the chance to watch delayed footage and decides that a review is in order.
The mandate says that the window for the check is the next restart of play, or if the ball is out of play, the second restart.
On the pitch, the ball pings around substantially before Lukaku air kicks it and it goes out of play.
Michael Oliver finally invokes this on 51:30 and the AVAR starts his clock because the game has stopped.
What has happened to that minute and thirty seconds? It wasn’t recorded as lost because it could have simply ended up being part of the game if we play on.
But if Herrera gets sent off as a result of the check, then it is a minute and thirty seconds that has effectively been wiped out. Because we should have been back there sending him off and all the pinging about was irrelevant.
They don’t go back in time to 50:00 after it has been established that a transgression has occurred and account for it. It is a is a big grey area, that cannot be regulated with any consistency and in complete honesty, we were told by PGMOL that you can’t guarantee you’re going to get back all that time. The stat is that in any given game, the ball is in play, the game is on, for about 55 minutes. This could go down with VAR. They just hope it will be a rarity.
How are the players to be moderated with the influx of VAR?
They are not allowed to:
Enter the RRA (apparently they’ve been told, so that’s that. I give it till October before there is ruck in front of one of the screens)
They are not allowed to interfere with the referee’s communications either.
Crowding the referee is not allowed anyway, so that will not be a problem. (Cue fan laughter)
And then there are the two hilarious ones:
Excessive use of the “VAR symbol” (drawing a box with your fingers) is not allowed. Now, the referees have been told not to book absolutely everyone that does it and to be lenient. Apparently there is a line somewhere, probably all to do with the wrist action, that turns it from inquisitive to dissent and then they will get booked. So that’s nicely clear then. Which brings us on to players and managers not being allowed to question the integrity of VAR. Just where the line is between disagreeing with it and doing that is, nobody at the Premier League knows. Ask the FA, they said. So presumably it maintains enough vaguery so that everyone will get penalised apart from the Red Scouse, United and Arsenal. Nothing has changed there then.
MOST IMPORTANTLY - WHAT WILL THE EXPERIENCE OF THE MATCH-GOING FAN BE?
Apparently this is what the clubs have said they want, and so it will be:
VAR logo comes up on the screen and it tells you that a check is occurring and why.
Then the decision comes up.
They are also planning to show a definitive clip, that shows you the best angle of how the VAR official has come to the decision. This will be accompanied by a “definitive” PA announcement. Remember those one in twenty goals that will be suddenly disallowed? I asked if we’d get clips of them too. We were told yes, we will.
You might think it would be nice to get the same view as the people at home? Who will be getting multiple angles as the decision is made and can form their own opinions and feel included.
Not allowed. IFAB apparently. Nonsense.
And at no point have any cheapskates like the Red Scouse, or the Mancs, who don’t have a screen, been compelled to get one. You’ll get the graphics on the scoreboard telling you that there is a review and that’s it. So your experience of VAR and just how inclusive it is to the match-going fan all depend on where you are too.
So how are PGMOL approaching all of this?
Then we got technical, with an excellent Q&A with the poor chap whose job it is to manage all of the Premier League referees on a weekly basis which explained how they have approached this innovation. Key is the fact that they are determined to faff less than we’ve seen across the globe with other implementations. The biggest surprise is that it seems the referees actually do work for a living beyond match day. Therapeutic windows and calibrating decisions and all kinds of scientific sh*t. Who knew! Michael Oliver sounds nothing like you’d expect, and apparently Jon Moss is actually nice. Our referees are a pleasure to work with so far as the technicians are concerned, who spend a lot of time out with FIFA and the Champions League too.
My first question - this handball sh*t we saw in the Champions League. Where if your thumb so much as twitched the other side got a penalty. Not happening, so far as the Premier League is concerned, they promise.
Then we got to have a go
So we got to pretend to be a VAR official in the suite. This is broadly what happens:
You have a top screen showing you the game in real time. Always.
And there is a bottom screen. Everything on that is running on a three second delay to give the official time to clock something in real time, then look down to watch it again from multiple angles.
Those angles are determined by Hawk-Eye technicians sitting next to them, who have access to between 12 and 20-odd cameras depending on whether or not a game is being televised. If it's the latter end, there are two of them. They’re incredibly switched on, and mostly know what a VAR man is going to want pulled as they watch the game too, but the official has a green button that he can punch to bookmark a point that they can immediately jump back to for him. He also has a red button which sadly does not power a comedy ejector seat, but patches him through to the match referee’s headset.
If he punches green, the first thing the technicians give the VAR official is the clip at normal speed so that he can gauge the intensity. Then come the slow-mos. There’s a joke about men and multitasking in here somewhere, but while all of this is going on, the AVAR man is still watching real time in case any MORE incidents take place.
I had numerous shots at working with David, a Blue technician, in pulling out incidents and running them. Including this 3D offside thing, which he pulled off in nine seconds and definitely (unfortunately) placed Mane onside in one of the Scouse games last season. Note. David will never be allowed to work on a Chelsea game. Just like the officials, the technicians are not allowed to work on their own clubs. Life in the hub is fast paced, it’s a team effort, and it requires a phenomenal level of concentration. Sometimes David gets to the end of a game and he’s been so focused on the technical process of monitoring for discrepancies and running them for the VAR official, that he doesn’t know what the score is.
One thing that became apparent is that you are not going to remove the spontaneous, subjective human aspect from the football. In fact, you are adding multiple layers of subjectivity to the fray. Up to four more people. Because in the heat of the moment you have the VAR official, one, or two technicians depending on the number of cameras at a game, as well as the AVAR all ascertaining in their own opinion, as a team, whether or not, for sentence, the referee’s actions constitute “clear and obvious” errors. Not only that, but quickly and without time for second thought, at the console I had to declare where I thought the passage of play started that led to my chosen incident. To be nice and vague, phase of play determinations include any combination or instance of: gaining possession, ability of the defence to re-set, immediacy, and the defence gaining possession. This is another thing I predict controversy on. Just how far back do you go?
VAR, to my mind, is basically a new way of doing things that utilises technology, but it isn’t going to fix football’s issues. In my opinion, at least at the beginning it is just going to create new ones. We don’t have the lackadaisical luxury of cricket, and the Premier League simply aren’t willing to operate matches at the speed of the egg-chasers. It is going to be an immense learning curve for absolutely every “stakeholder” in the game. That said, PGMOL and the Premier League are as ready as they will ever be. You can’t say that a monumental amount of thought, investigation, training, not to mention money has gone into it. One thing is for sure, the next few weeks are going to be bumpy while it beds in, and they know that. I expect I’ll hate it when it goes against us, and love it when it doesn’t. Just like every fan out there. Either way, I don’t think we’ll be able to judge VAR’s worth on a week in, week out basis in the league before Christmas. For me, still concerned about a number of things that threaten to impact my enjoyment at the stadium.
Chelsea 4 Arsenal 1
Europa League Final, 29th/30th May (seeing as it was played in the middle of the night) 2019
Calling from f*cking Baku. How can you top the most ludicrous season in recent years? I know let’s get sent all the way past the f*cking Middle East, via every city in between to watch a game between us and L’Arse at a cost of thousands. You could not make this sh*t up. Unless you’re UEFA, and your heads are collectively so far up your own a*ses that they’re threatening to swallow your own tonsils.
In the News: Juventus players have allegedly already been told that Sarri will be managing them next season. We’ve canned so many managers, is it really so out of the question that one of them would eventually turn around and do it to us? But this leaves Napoli raging, and demanding they sack Carlo and have him back. Can we just do a job swap? If he goes I think it will be his decision, or a mutual agreement, not a sacking. He’s an oddball, but then we’re an oddball of a club too, so who are we to judge. He stomped out of training the day before the game, allegedly because Luiz and Higuain had a ruck, but actually because he wanted to practise all 40 of his set plays and the press wouldn’t f*ck off. Which sounds pretty likely. And if you saw our first free kick last night, you’ll understand why he was so p*ssed off. Hudson-Odoi set to be offered the No.10 shirt, as we appear to gearing up for life under a transfer ban by extending contracts. Big Willy and The Beard have already added their names to a list which features David Luiz. We played a friendly. In Boston. Before a final. Ruben is now out for months because the plastic pitch was sh*t. As I said on Twitter, we sacrificed him for nigh on a year to end hatred worldwide, and as a result I hate New England Revolution and their pitch, and I hate the idea of post-season friendlies even more that I did before it happened. So that was worth it.
JT came out the winner against Frank in the richest game in football. So Villa are back in the Premier League. Personally, I think it’s too early to consider either of them managing at Chelsea - but then, we’ve done crazier. Scolari springs to mind, (god he makes Sarri look debonaire) and AVB. (A veritable bellend) I just don’t want to see their standing at the club damaged by rushing one of them back before they are ready. Best part of the result? “kingkopite” tweeting: “So Villa finish fifth in the league with 76 points and get a trophy. We finish 2nd in a more difficult league with 97 points and get nothing. Absolute disgrace!” Oh, King Kopite, don’t ever change. Your kind are the House Lannister of football, for those who’ve seen Game of Thrones. Convinced of your own greatness, yet more than a bit scabby underneath, badly behaved and walking about wearing a lot of gold that someone else paid for, insisting that everyone owes you their allegiance while you enjoy questionable relations with your sisters. Prince William and Carew celebrating in their box was not nearly as heart-warming as Mike Dean going absolutely bonkers over Tranmere Rovers in the crowd as they gained promotion to League One. The most human showing I’ve ever seen from a referee. They have feelings. Who knew?
There appears to be some match coming up this weekend. Kudos to Chequebook Pulis, who is clearly bored out of his mind, because he’s stuck his head about ground just long enough to say he was desperate to work, but mainly to remind Klippity Klopp that he will look like a c*nt if he loses a third CL final. God willing it doesn’t happen. God it makes me shudder writing that. But footage of Harry F*cking Kane dribbling into ol’ big ears might actually end me. Kompany has left City after eleven years , bowing out after the slaughtered Watford in the FA Cup final. I’ve got a new one for Deeney - as well as kebab face. “He looks like a lasagne that’s been punched.” I had to giggle at the City fan who got into the press box at Wembley after the match and laid down an expletive-ridden rant about their red bias that made me look positively f*cking angelic.
Solskjaer cancelled his post-season briefing. Because hauling every in to remind them that they were pathetic on the run in was presumably deemed too cruel. Rashford is holding off on contract renewal because he is not happy with the direction that the club are taking under Solskjaer. They’ve been careening, Thelma and Louise style, towards the edge of a cliff ever since Moyes arrived, so what’s given him this sudden epiphany, who knows? Apparently Fergie is upset that he’s been sidelined in making major decisions. He remembers that he retired, right? And you do have to feel slightly for Rashford and Lingard, who have been blasted as arrogant for marking their place in the 0.012% of players who make it in the Premier League on social media. Yes, how dare they be proud of this. Thus hurting the feelings of the 99.988% who don’t. Politically correct w*nk. Do f*ck off. Arsenal may not be the only team contemplating life away from the Champions League, as City’s astronomical spending appears to be catching up with them. Barca faffed their domestic treble by losing to Valencia in the Spanish cup final. Hurrah. And Joey Barton’s stag do spiralled into “extreme violence” on a Cornish beach. If I had read you the headline without mentioning whose stag do it was, you would have pinned that on him before anyone else in football.
Transfer Bollocks: Yes, it has descended on us.
Higuain apparently set to be sent back to Italy after thieving a medal last night. Apparently we can sign Kovacic though.
Batistuta, who looks half human after a good haircut, has apparently expressed a desire to manage Boro. Makes you wonder if they performed a lobotomy with the little scissors while they were at it
Bale is being ousted by Real. Don’t get me wrong. He’s a knob and I couldn’t care less. But you’ve got to some kind of w*nkers to sh*t on a player that’s helped you to three consecutive Champions League wins.
The Pointless Clutching At Straws
Podgettino’s cousin says he is interested in going to Juve. Surely they can’t be that desperate for news already?
Hughton sacked by Brighton. Have a f*cking word. Replaced him with Graham Potter, who has precisely one season in the Championship behind him managing in this country, and bossing a Swedish side before that. Which strikes me as not only massively ungrateful but singularly stupid.
The Downright Hilarious
Morata says he wants to stay at Atletico forever and everever. Will do “everything in his power.” Don’t bother, douche, I’ve already planted some dubious fundamentalist literature in your London flat and tipped off the Home Office. Now let’s hope that they don’t realise you can’t read…
Why This Was a Stupid F*cking Idea: I’m not letting this go without another rant. 200 plus times we’ve played these bellends. And never has the setup be so ridiculous. Let me start by saying that I don’t hate Baku, or Azerbaijan, I hate UEFA for inflicting a totally mis-organised and ill-considered farce on two sets of fans who had spent a fortune following their clubs in this bloody competition all season and had zero chance of enjoying the final they had earned as much as their team. Neither of the paltry, insulting allocations were sold. For a EUROPEAN FINAL. In fact there were barely 6,000 fans travelling via the clubs combined. Let’s point out that this is not people from London. This is all the two clubs could muster in selling to any of their members etc. ANYWHERE.
UEFA said, and I quote, it would be “utterly unfair to exclude a venue on the basis of its decentralised location.” This was despite the fact that their OWN REPORT said it was a bad, bad idea. It’s also utterly unfair to hold it in a place that is nigh on impossible to get to, without the logistical infrastructure to get people into the country, which is arguably not even in Europe, where one of the players had to STAY AT HOME because his personal safety was not assured. They swore it would be. Then the police proceeded to stop every fan so much as wearing a shirt with Mikhitarian’s name on it. All of these things should have been considered by the game’s governing body and walked through to the only sensible conclusion. Those who did go had to part with at least four figures, take nigh on a week off and sit surrounded by locals wearing Scouse and United shirts or, even worse, not even half and half scarves but three fold f*ckwittery. Us, L’Arse and UEFA. People were literally wandering about the stadium trying to find other travelling fans, whether they be red or blue, to avoid the complete carpeting of plasticdom that inevitably represented the non-capacity crowd at this game when they ruled out a location that would enable the real fans to go there. The resulting atmosphere, at best, resembled a friendly, not anything like the occasion it should have been. They have learned literally nothing from this fiasco. Euros next year - a group is being played in Baku. The other venue for those poor teams? F*cking Rome.
And yet there was a game to be played. And I will write about it. Unfortunately for all of us BT Sport managed to get there. At least they levelled, well, bulldozed their playing field and actually came up with a balanced panel. Well, nearly. Keown. Urgh. Eidur, and Cesc. Who they wanted you to believe was a neutral representative and desperately tried to convince the viewing public of such, before he was reminded that he was going to get a medal if Chelsea won. What broke Arsenal’s supremacy over Chelsea c.2005? They asked. Keown needled with a comment about Roman’s money, and someone buy Eidur a drink for his response: Well, its also when we bought Didier, who took care of Arsenal after that.
Us: Kepa in a final in his first European season, Hazard’s first final, in his last game, and Sarri, but was it his last game too? Kante played, very risky, with injections. Martin Keown says that said injections are painful and that it is not a comfortable experience. An allergic reaction to one might be the explanation for his face. Pedro Pony feeling something nasty in his hamstring according to Cesc, but he too started. The Beard, as was right and holy, got the nod ahead of Higuain.
Them: Mistakeland-Niles was the only English players starting on either side, in an all-English final. He didn’t scare me, but theoretically their attack was more potent than ours. More potent than Randolph Churchill in the latter stages of syphillis rambling in the House of Lords if you listen to BT.
So, we had a manager who’d never won a trophy, and it was Eden Hazard’s last game in a Chelsea shirt. Bigger stakes for them. They’d be consigned to this dross for another season unless they won, and they’d have trouble signing top players. Waxwork Corpse had won this three times. And Petr Cech was to bow out and retire after an exemplary career. I had literally no idea, and the only prediction I made pre-game was that it would be over in normal time. Huge booing for the sh*t anthem. Good. VAR was being used, heaven help us. And Italian officials. Here’s hoping that some rampant, biased nationalism doing us some favours. Robbie f*cking Savage was on the commentary team. Was that seriously the best you could do?
An 11pm kick off, yet another reason choosing a venue on the Caspian Sea was thick. Early long ball from David Luiz across to Pedro Pony, trying to get behind Kolasinac, and Monreal, and Monreal’s Massive Nose. Familiar, but effective. Sounded like a naff International friendly in the stadium. Rubbish. The teams had claimed 61 goals between them so far in this competition, so of course there were none in the first half. They squandered a good chance early on when Kepa made a ridiculous short range punch, but Aubameyang hit it like a dick. A little limp one. Ten minutes gone and still nothing to raise my interest above a pastry and cheese induced stupor, sitting in Calais watching this as I wait to do D-Day 75 stuff. The Beard doing a retro Hollywood cowboy slow motion death after Sokratis trod on him made me smile though. Free kick. Nobody moved to try and intercept the ball that Eden put into the box. Which was odd.
Our defenders were sleeping seconds later, and Dave was called into action to put it out for a corner. They had a daft penalty shout, which unsurprisingly Robbie Savage with his sh*t hair and lack of general wisdom said they should have been given. If he goes down from that touch that’s nobody’s problem but his own. Pussy. Twenty minutes gone and no shots on target, dead even possession. Five minutes later we suddenly burst out. Kante was away, showing no signs of his injury and putting it in to The Beard; but under much pressure his fellow Frenchman got it all wrong and fluffed his lines.
Xhaka just about clipped the bar after Dave had bailed us out once again. L’Arse had the slight edge and the Waxwork Corpse was padding back and forth on the touchline like a partially embalmed tabby. However the best chance yet fell to Emerson shortly afterwards. He went for the far corner but Sokratis threw himself into its path and put it out for the corner. Moments later, on the half hour, an attempted one-two involving Hazard, who had been quiet so far, just failed and went behind the Belgian in the box. 33 and it was Emerson again, this time beaten away comprehensively by Cech, but it was our brightest spell so far. Punch away by Kepa at the other end on 36. Robbie Savage criticising his goal keeping decisions. Couldn’t even play his own position, so should f*ck off. Then we had an even better chance. It fell to The Beard, but was met by a one handed save by Cech, who went down quicker than Sam Allardyce flinging himself onto an abandoned picnic blanket. Not quite enough in it, panicked a bit for me, and they beat us to the second ball; but we were getting closer. Pedro Pony hit another straight after, which deflected out for a corner. A pretty even first half, poised for an act of greatness from someone to really set the game in motion.
The match resumed past midnight local time. Waxwork Corpse needs to join The Beard in a 1950s western. Walks like a stereotypical cheesy cowboy. Or like he’s shat himself. But anyway, on the pitch Eden was ready to amp it up. He sprung forth, only to be bodychecked by Monreal. Nothing given though The Beard did get a shot off. Naff corner from Eden on the follow up. One man in particular deserved to put us ahead in this final, after being the poster boy for the competition all season, and seconds later when a slightly dodgy ball came in from Emerson, The Beard’s outrageously muscular neck did the work at an awkward height and enabled him to somehow flick it on target. Subdued celebration - but you could see what it meant to him on his face. Officially the top scorer in this competition too. Sarri also resisted the urge to be happy and promptly started scribbling in his notebook. I recognise not one Chelsea fan they have shown on TV tonight. That never happens. Gooners looking depressed. No fan should have had to do this f*cking journey to go home empty handed. Oh well. I’ll get over it. For the next twenty minutes L’Arse capitulated like a French army forced to choose between a fight and the worlds biggest lump of stinky cheese.
Hazard was off again on 52, with a swagger in that bum now, then Pedro Unicorn (for he was excellent) was away. Sh*t or bust for Arsenal, as The Beard tried to break his own crotch. They had to come out. Torreira smashed it, on the rebound Aubameyang was halfway into a bicycle kick, but had the sportsmanship to stop when he saw Christensen’s face come flying into the frame and he realised it was going to be in the way. The ball was instantly back up the other end. Hazard to Pedro Unicorn, who left poor Pete no chance when he swung his leg across and stuck it in the opposite corner. Koscielny had failed to replicate Christensen’s bravery at the other end and 2-0 it was. The Goons had half an hour to try and turn it around. And if they had any sense they wouldn’t be giving up yet, because as we have proved so many times this season, we can’t be trusted not to do something reeealllllly stupid.
But lo and behold, the stupidity was all theirs tonight. Kovacic in, Pedro Unicorn to The Beard. Mistakeland-Niles gets on completely the wrong side of him and brings him down. Not only that, but f*ck me, we get given a penalty. Wonders never cease. Up saunters Eden to poke in his 109th goal for the club. 3-0. They were doing an impression of us. Utterly baffled on the sideline, Dracula’s cousin, watching his mob inexplicably crumble, prepared to send on Iwobi and Guendouzi to salvage something. If possible the atmosphere was even flatter than before, with their mob silenced. But they clawed one back. Banging volley from Iwobi seconds after his introduction, not a chance for Kepa as it went barrelling into the net. This is us. You didn’t think it would be easy did you?
Pedro Unicorn off for Willian. We needn’t have worried about a Goon comeback. Hazard seemed determined to give us a parting gift. Eden to The Beard, back to Eden who slammed it into the bottom corner. Four goals in 23 minutes. He finishes his career with us on 110. Their heads had really dropped now. Hazard almost grabbed a third on 74, but Cech had the time to sort that out. Back up the other end it went, but Aubameyang’s shot was pretty pathetic, Barkley coming on for Kovacic - who along with Jorginho and Kante absolutely bossed this game in the second half. Conversely, off shuffled Ozil, looking more defeated than the Kaiser making a run for Holland in 1918. Shameful, spineless individual.
Little Willy ran the length of the pitch and almost scored, but once again Cech was equal to the effort. He was the only Goon entitled to hold his head up. Willian was in again on 79, but Sokratis put it out. They were deader in the water than submarine with the sun roof open. Dave could have scored on 80, and it had become mostly about not conceding a fifth for them. They couldn’t even score in front of a goal with no Kepa in it on 82, and Aubameyang was offside anyway. Willock surely in on 83, put it wide. Their subs had made a difference, but too little too late. No hatrick for Eden, but off on 88 for a standing ovation. Bingo! The crying Arsenal kid! My night was complete. Lacazette and Aubameyang’s Laurel and Hardy coming together on 90 minutes summed up the night for those two.
So: Europa league for them next season. Their travelling fans didn’t deserve that damning result. Neither did the Waxwork Corpse after they inexplicably fell apart in the second half. Bellerin deserves to be miserable for his dangly earrings. For once they all looked as deflated and beaten as Ozil. What is wrong with that fool? Is it psychological? In the studio Cesc didn’t think so. “I just think some players have it, some don’t.” He was talking about the ability to inspire. He didn’t call him a terrible footballer, but he said he was made to look better than he perhaps is when he was surrounded by greatness at Real. He isn’t the source of that greatness, and he doesn’t have it in him to be the main man. He also needs to play in a team that dominates possession, and he just doesn’t see the slant he did in Spain. There’s been much talk about “letting Ramsey leave.” Arguably he’s running screaming from a setup that is doomed to fail for several years to come. Emery has already bled the maximum out of that group of players.
But who cares about them? Two defeats in our last 19 games. We are the only club ever to win this competition unbeaten, and yet I’ve never seen such understated celebrations at a European win. Because there was no proper crowd to celebrate with. Thanks to UEFA. Rudi at least had a shirt on over his suit that set off his crutches nicely, tho he was piggy backed round for much of the festivities. Pedro Unicorn is the first player to win World Cup, European Championship. Premier League, Champions League and the Europa League, and he looked justifiably smug about it with the trophy slung over his shoulder. If you’re wondering why Dave and Cahill almost dropped it - the base is made of f*cking lead. Weighs a ton. Speaking of Cahill, I’m not sure why he couldn’t have a few minutes at the end by way of a send off. It irked me. At least he got to jointly attempt to lift the trophy. The media prised a comment out of Eden like the scavenging little b*stards they are. He was plying the party line “tonight is all about this win” but they kept on pushing. And we all knew it was on the way. Rob Green - European winner. Love it. Wonder how Conktois feels about that? Well done Christensen too, who apparently didn’t miss a single minute in this cup campaign. Gary Neville was moaning about Kepa, who was understandably nervy at the beginning of his first European final. What? “Can’t accept him.” Well its a good job he’s winning trophies with Chelsea instead of having been at Valencia for that two week spell you were in charge. Bellend.
As for Sarri, he crossed the white lines. F*ck a duck. Drank his orange juice with a cigar ready to go in his pocket. He may not have our love, but surely he deserves a modicum of respect for what he has achieved in one season in English football, however turgid it was at times. If you didn’t feel a bit of warmth for him as he turned that medal over in his hands with a little grin on his face, his first, then your heart is colder than a witch’s tit. That was a dream coming true for him, and if he buggers off and takes nothing else but the lingering smell of nicotine with him, he deserves that much.
The book will be out in the next few days, as soon as I’ve written a tribute to Eden and finished editing it. It’ll also have the “missing” blogs and exclusive season reviews. It’s been a blast, at least some of the time. Other times I’ve wanted to don a jetpack and blast my way clear of the weirdest display of up and down I’ve ever seen from us in a single term. Peace out. See you next season, bitches.
Leicester City 0 Chelsea 0
Sunday 12th May 2019 15:00
This is a big deal. Regulars will remember that not only is Sexpest really old. (You might recall the virginity story about the woman born in the reign of Queen Victoria, or the accidental Facebook spamming that made him look like he was trying to groom 214 of his fourteen year old granddaughter’s friends) He’s so old school he went to his first Chelsea game in 1953, but he is currently scrapping with two types of cancer and a dickie heart. So it was damn good to see him today, as his outings have been all too rare of late.
In the News: Literally every move Hazard makes is recorded and scrutinised by the press plebs. Last week he shook his head when someone hollered through his car window at a red light and asked him to stay. Or, in the world of what actually happened he was looking at the road, turned to face them when they shouted and then he was checking to see if the lights had changed. Because that’s what you do when you’re driving.
Ovrebo has given an interview slathered in self pity ten years on from THAT game. “I became the biggest fool in world football.” Well, you earned it. Also bemoaning that that game cost him a place officiating at the World Cup in South Africa. Boo f*cking hoo. Police gave him an escort to the plane. That should remind you just how bad it was. Four penalties and a Barcelona red card. I remember my brother letting out a hulk roar and chucking his free flag on the pitch along with several hundred other people by the time Ballack was chasing the Norwegian up the pitch towards The Shed threatening to rip his balls off and shove them down his throat. Never have I been to a football game, other than that, when you just turn to each other and say: “It doesn’t matter what we do, this guy has decided we are not going to win this game.” One of his remarks was that he struggled to stay calm when Ballack was going off at him. I’m not surprised. I think I’d rather have a Panzer tank run over my foot. He says he got to the dressing room at full time and thought “OK Tom Henning, this has not been your best night.” Astute f*cker wasn’t he? Just not on the pitch. Unless the penny finally dropped when Drogba screamed “it’s a f*cking disgrace” at the TV cameras. Ive got angry again just writing about it. Unsurprisingly, UEFA told him not to talk about it because they just wanted to sweep the whole controversy under the rug. Dicks.
Latest appeal against transfer ban fails. Now we got to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Apparently we are looking at leaving Stamford Bridge to cut costs. Though this comes from the same “Sports Newspaper of the Year” that claimed we’d been knocked out of the Europa League on penalties this week. We’ve busted our usual over 30s transfer policy to offer Luiz a two year deal. This made me all nostalgic. Do you remember when he first signed and he only knew “Come on Chelsea” and “Geezer” in English? Apparently we are set to bring Zouma back from loan. News indeed. Like we do with 99.9% of loanees at the end of a season. Oh and we’re the only club dumb enough to be trying to buy Coutinho right now. Because nothing gives Chelsea a boner more than a goal scorer who can’t score goals. Granville (sitcom alias) wants us to sell Willian. Says he’d rather spend the money on Cup-a-Soups and Monster Munch than keep him. Morata wishes Gary Cahill a happy retirement. Only for Alonso to have to point out he’s not retiring. Dumba*se. Is it in any wonder Atletico are baulking at the thought of paying for the privilege of having him pout and Instagram his way through life at theirs next season? Tag is £15m. If they’re stropping at that, how do they think we feel?!
I have nothing against Baku, I’d like to visit one day. But urgh. Here we go. UEFA. Here’s some maths for you which illustrates how utterly corrupt the b*stards are. 1,000 is about the minimum number of pounds it will cost you to get to the final. 5,700 is the return distance in miles. LONDON IS CLOSER TO BAGHDAD. But you’ll have to travel further than that, because there are no direct flights. 8 is the number of miles that separate Stamford Bridge and The Emirates, for those who like their ranting with a dose of irony. Even if you wanted to do all of this, there are only 5,800 tickets for each set of fans in a 70,000 seater stadium. UEFA put out a statement about this that basically says “we aren’t giving you any tickets because you can’t get there.” That showed zero remorse for having picked a f*cking stupid venue for a European final. In Asia. 19 is the number of days you have to sort a visa out, because there is no Moscow-style waiver setup. And it’s on a f*cking Wednesday. Added to that, there are security concerns. Oh and Mikhitarian is Armenian, so he can’t play. If a player cant get there… The Azerbaijan government are wiling to let him in, but realistically it’s going to be the equivalent of a christian walking into the coliseum to find Russell Crowe grinning at him with a whopping great big sword in his hand.
Madrid set to freeze Bale out. What, because they’ve been so warm and friendly to him this season? Inter and Juve apparently chasing Sanchez. What the f*ck for? I can only assume that he owes them money, because it certainly can’t be because they want him to play football.
The Others: None of us have to emigrate. Huzzah! 97 points, 89 goals, only one defeat, and no trophy. Glorious. They had a chance for a ten point lead at one stage. Klippity and Co. were gracious in defeat, but it will always be their fans that make it such an overwhelmingly gratifying moment when the hope dissolves and they realise that once again it’s not their year. Not the instant gratification of the Demba Ba moment, I grant you; but a slow motion, gradual face plant in a pungent, toxic, red cloud of delusion and self-aggrandisement that led to fantasy scenes of pubs full of Scousers celebrating one moment and then clocking Aguero’s equaliser, realising that it was slipping out of their grasp and actually being speechless for the first time in the much yapped about history of their gagworthy football club.
Don’t shoot Vinny! No!!! Thank f*ck he did. Because he saved us from global Armageddon last Monday against Leicester. A petition was launched by the Red Scouse to investigate Iheanacho’s miss. Probably. Kompany’s goal deserved to win that game, no matter how nervy they were. "A moment like Barcelona was worth more than silverware,” said Klippity Klopp prior to today. He’s obviously being shot up with whatever delusional anti-truth serum gets pumped into everyone’s veins the second they arrive they for a medical. Either that or Michael Owen awaits every new arrival with a bloody effective crash course in how to become an instant tedious b*stard. On the coach we were debating whether he has sex with his missus like he presents football. We surmised she counts the cracks in the ceiling while he drones on about his glory days or his racehorses in that monotonous voice until the memory of that goal against Argentina in 1998 makes him spunk a little damp puff of air and then she can get on with the housework.
Though I like the fact that there was a podium at Anfailed just in case. And fake winners medals. I hope they nick them all only to find they’re made of chocolate. Their tedious fans were declaring that they deserved a trophy for finishing second. I can fashion something out of a Bertie dump if they like. From his litter tray to their trophy cabinet. Can’t say it better than Shankly. If you’re first, you’re first. If you’re second you’re nothing. Mwhahahahahhahaha. (Evil panto laugh)
United are on the scrap heap. They have to qualify for the Europa League. Cardiff’s first goals at Old Trafford since Sp*rs weren’t famous for being Sp*rsy, like, a century ago. Sacked in the morning they were singing. The defending for the second Welsh goal was so bad that it was like watching half a dozen Carry On films rolled into one. Pogba was channelling Diego today, but without being scary. Apart from the awarding of a permanent contract to the Norwegian God of Bullsh*t (new alias) the Mancs turned down De Ligt, one of the Ajax starlets. Because his dad is fat. Their players are so embarrassed by themselves that they didn’t want to go to their own awards dinner. The answer to their defensive woes is Slabhead from Leicester apparently, though they’ve got to fight off clubs who aren’t staring down the barrel of a lit 32lb cannon. Out of the whole world of football. Slabhead. They might as well have just bloody kept Jonny Evans for all the chance they’ve got of pulling that off. Sancho reportedly p*ssed himself laughing when he found out they seriously wanted him to go there. NGoB has already declared that anybody who isn’t fit for pre-season doesn’t get to go on tour. Does that mean he’ll have to be fit to do his job too?
In other teams that finished below us, fancy having to go all the way to a dump like Turf Moor on the last day when nothing you do will make a difference or improve upon your general failure. Shame. Granit Xhaka thinks that all of the top six should get into the Champions League. He does realise that in that case L’Arse would just finish 7th? And Granville pointed out that based on all the nonsense Sp*rs hysteria in January, we were in the title race after all! Who came fourth in a three horse race?
Them: I met Foxy. Foxy is a dead fox that one of their fans wears on his head. This actually looks much better than it sounds. The stuffed head sits on his cap and then the rest of him flops down the back like a Davy Crockett hat - he wears a little shirt and everything. Very cute. It’s 60 years old so he predates Sp*rs’s last title win, which was a long, long, LONG time ago, when people weren’t so tree huggy. Secondly it's a fox, and they’re b*stards anyway. Judging by the expression on his face he went out fighting, anyway. And now he’s famous. Like a dead impressionist who nobody heard of when they were breathing.
Us: Caballero, Luiz, Dave, Zappacosta, Alonso, Jorginho, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Pedro Pony, Higuain. Which is my way of saying: lots of changes.
Before they thanked their own fans, we got a lovely reception and congratulations from the club and the home support for making the Europa League final. They weren’t loving us so much on two minutes when Slabhead nodded off, Barkley whipped round the back of the defence and got a shot off. There was a little flurry from them at the start but then we started to get into it. Willian was particularly spritely with a European final on the horizon. It was like watching Malouda when he realised his contract was about to expire. Let's not be cynical though. There was a chance for a few to make an impression with Baku looming.
Low shot from Little Willy on 13 minutes, but not enough on it and it went straight to the keeper. While they took it back off for another go at us, both ends of the ground were in last day party mode. The away support was having a merry time bantering with the yokels, sorry, locals. Curse We’ve won it all ditty, to which they responded You’ve never won League One. My point exactly. 17 and Jorginho played a neat ball out to Pedro Pony with the outside of his foot, but his attempt at a volley was scuffed and then they whacked the side netting. In truth we were all more interested in what everybody else was doing.
City still 0-0 and the Scouse were ahead. Certain quarters at Anfailed were getting a little ahead of themselves. Edgy moments in the away end back at the King Power. And a fair bit of the home crowd too. Won’t someone come and deliver us from this nightmare before it’s too late? Big cheer for Cardiff winning at Old Trafford, as attentions turned to Loftus-Cheek.
(To Push It, but Salt & Pepa)
Been Chelsea since youth - but couldn’t get a game
On loan at Palace - it just wasnt the same
In centre-mid now - he’s playing every week
Lewisham Ballack - it’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Du du du du du du it’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Du du du du du du it’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Hang on. Stop everything. BRIGHTON WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING?!
Bugger our game, now everyone is singing Come on Citeh and We hate Scousers
We only had to wait a few minutes for Pep and his minions to get their sh*t together. In came Aguero to bitchslap Scouse celebrations in the face. It’ was like this script was being written by an Evertonian with a chip on his shoulder big enough to defeat Sam Allardyce’s appetite. Rapturous celebrations from us and plenty of Leicester, followed by much gloating in the shape of the Demba Ba ditty and Have you ever seen Gerrard win the league?
Pretty much zero attention being paid to our game until we celebrated a Vardy effort being headed right at Big Willy. Hard cheese rat face, but really we should have been concentrating, because, after all, the Sp*ds were winning and we wanted to finish third. It was dead even at the moment, but not entertaining. They weren’t matching each other, just cancelling each other out. Just over from Pedro Pony, then quick reactions from Zappacosta in the box on 36 to deny them a close range chance.
At Brighton, Laporte had cannoned out of nowhere and headed the ball downwards into the net. Bet 365 pinged me, so where we were stood, we were already singing when the City goal went up on the screen. Back to the top they went. Get in. Vardy in on 44. Off he sprinted, then he played one of the worst f*cking crosses you’ve ever seen and in the end Big Willy lay dry humping the ball and somehow we still weren’t losing. In the meantime Ruben had come close again, before in injury time, Barkley played the ball through to Higuain for a sitter. Which he missed. As they walked off the pitch there was a rampant chorus of Oh Tammy Tammy, Tammy Tammy Tammy Tammy Abraham.
Do you know what we don’t get any credit from the Daily Fail and other sh*trags of its ilk for as Chelsea fans? The complete ease and open mindedness with which we have embraced the idea of gender fluid toilets. Every game I go to a game there are random chaps wandering round the ladies, and it’s just become as accepted by all involved. Nobody even bats an eyelid anymore.
The second half began with a long range effort leathered by Tielemans, but it was a choppy start to the second half, and the crowd needed to get going again. Lots of niggly fouls from them. Barkley shanked one just wide on 52, while we got big love from most of our end for Hazard as he came out to warm up. If they loved him that much they might have collectively noticed that it was in fact Kovacic running up and down. Yeah, we’d know that a*se anywhere, and that was not it. Nonetheless there were the needy chants of We want you to stay, they came back with He’s off to Madrid, to which they got back Eden Hazard, he won you the league and so on. That got a round of applause. Then the real Eden actually did come out to warm up. Another one off the line from Zappacosta. That’s two in a week. We could have maybe had a chance on 59 if our striker had you know, tried to strike the ball in the box instead of watching it rolling out of play until the fans screamed at him. At which point he began a derogatory jog.
You know the song, Love Will Tear Us Apart? Joy Division?
Sp*rs, Sp*rs are falling apart again.
They were winning. Then not winning. Then losing. Then not losing. Either way, if Everton hung on to a draw, we would finish above the jobbers even if we didn’t score. And frankly, by this point Sexpest had a better chance of scoring than any player out there on either side.
We were still having a go, but it was very shoddy in the final third and we’d lost interest in the stands. Well, I had. Clearance by Slabhead on 81. Lame penalty shout by us on 82. Then it was Operation Sexpest. He’s on wheels at the moment, and I had to go and find him as the clock ticked down in order to deliver him back to his coach. There he was basking in the sunshine in his chair, close enough to the pitch that Higuain would have heard his brutal opinion when he let the ball roll out. He’d made a friend too. She’s been going to Chelsea since 1959 and thus reserves the right to tell any player she likes that he is being a dickhead. She exercised this right on half the team in the last five minutes. This was after the stewards at Leicester (who were very nice to our disabled fans today by the way) tried to inform her that we were out of wheelchair spaces, that she’d have to sit with the home fans and not cheer if we scored. She told them to f*ck off. The fact that she was kitted head to toe in Chelsea gear, as was her mobility thingy, probably made the argument ever so slightly redundant. Anyway, they had a fab time together, and with the stewards. On the final whistle I decided to wheel Sexpest as close to the pitch as possible, in the hope that a player would pay attention to him. Thank you David Luiz and Marcos Alonso, for making him feel special and ensuring that he got a shirt from the former. Being the weirdo perv that he is, the first thing he did was sniff it. Then he made me sniff it. Our number 30 smells remarkably un-offensive at the end of a game of football.
So: I’ll dissect our season properly in the book of the blog, after Baku, but suffice to say on the plus side, we were never going to beat the top two after what they spent, with a new manager when theirs have had a few years to acclimatise to the Premier League. They were the only two that finished ahead of us. And we made two finals, might possibly take a European trophy. Glass half full, though Smutbuddy on the Fancast is going to literally soil himself out of rage when he sees that I’ve written that. In miserable bugger mode, Sarri hinted that catching the Scouse or City is basically impossible. We could discuss everything bad there is about him now, and what’s been wrong with us this season, but I’m too busy p*ssing myself laughing at the Scouse and it’s a buzz kill. Soon my pretties, soon.
On to Baku we go. Well, half a dozen or so fans might make it. This is a conversation with my one Gooner friend:
“I don’t want Hazard having a good leaving party!!"
“Don’t worry, we’re going to have to try and keep him off the burgers for seventeen days.”
"I’m on Deliveroo sorting him out now!”
As for Sexpest, we delivered him home safe and sound. Actually thrilled and chirping away like an excited kid about his day out. He even ended up with two of us briefly in his bedroom, so he was happy. He’s determined that he’s going to be walking in and out of games next season, so channel your best wishes, pray for him, send him dirty pictures or some Scouse bashing memes; whatever, anything you can to keep his spirits up and restore him to full filthy git mode. Because he’s adamant that he’s not going to be beaten. And we love him and we want him back.
Chelsea 1 (2) Eintracht Frankfurt 1 (2) (Chelsea win 4-3 on penalties)
Thursday 9th May 2019 20:00
I could not have put it better myself. The credit, however, goes to the mad bloke jumping and down behind me when the last penalty went in.
In the News: I’ll get back to the usual mockery at the weekend, but I want to say something about what hasn’t been in the footballing press of late. A creditable apology. Earlier this season Colin Wing was accused of making a racist remark against Raheem Sterling. He always insisted that he called him a “Manc c***.” In the context of the game this was shortly after Sterling had dumped one of our players on the floor. Mean response, maybe. But the simple fact is that if you removed every fan who said something horrible to a player in the heat of the moment from a match, grounds up and down the country would be empty. Some people do it, some people don’t, but if you’re a match going fan, it is not new to you. It is an environment you willingly enter. The press even hired their own lip-readers who backed Mr. Wing’s claim, and not even the player was able to claim that he heard anyone racially abusing him.
We need to do everything we can to kick all forms of discrimination out of football. It revolts me. It should revolt everybody. Nobody should be expected to work in an environment where they get that thrown at them. I know I would walk off the job. I am an ethnic minority myself, and I have not one single ounce of compassion for what happens to people who are guilty of these offences, no matter which club they support. That said, they must ACTUALLY be guilty. It is for the police, victims, witnesses and the courts, with the help of the clubs, to work out who is. Not the press. Or the FA, who allegedly offered the Met money to convict. I’d be really interested to know if a transaction like this has actually been carried through at any point and at whose expense.
At no point was Mr. Wing ever cautioned, charged or prosecuted for a crime, and yet his life is in ruins. It was a witch hunt using keyboards instead of pitch forks. It made Salem look restrained. To quote a Fancast regular, Joe Tweedie: “Trial by social media is one of the worst things about today. It's so real time that companies feel compelled to act because if they don't they're being "cancelled" or harbouring "racists". No one has time for the due diligence to occur. And when social media is wrong, as it often is, there are no repercussions. People just move onto the next outrage. The next person to cancel.”
Colin Wing was charged, brutally prosecuted, he and his family vilified, before he was hung out to dry as a racist within 48 hours by the media. They produced pictures of his house. They harassed his neighbours in the middle of the night. This is wrong. It’s terrifying, in fact, the force with which this whirlwind of indignation destroyed a man whom the authorities and the alleged victim (in this case, I don’t for one second belittle abuse that Sterling or anyone else has suffered at other times) never saw fit to accuse of a crime, and then moved on to the next story leaving carnage behind.
I liken all this to submarine warfare in WW1. You had all this established practice about seizing enemy ships and giving passengers and crew time to evacuate safely before you ran off with the spoils from the time of Henry VIII. It allowed for a reasonable and balanced process where people didn’t get hurt and the perpetrators were encouraged not to act like a*seholes. Then along comes this technology that makes it possible to obliterate an enemy ship in minutes without all of this pesky humanity and touchy feely sh*t and it flies in the face of it to surface and give them a warning as to what is coming. So this technology sucks the responsibility out of their actions for those who have access to it. You’re not going to stop people using this invention, because it’s shiny and effective and somehow people are willing to overlook the fact that this new practice is outrageous and casts the established rules aside and causes mass casualties by its appalling behaviour. They’re going to blow you to sh*t and carry on with their day because it’s possible to do so. And that is what has happened to Colin Wing. He didn’t get his due process, and when finally it came out in the wash that he wasn’t guilty, nobody gave a sh*t. Who is regulating these morons who evidently can’t moderate themselves? Since the case was dropped in its entirety, the lack of remorse on the part of these supposed journalists has been non-existent.
Another Churchill once said something about great power coming with great responsibility. In this case the power comes with great numbers of followers, a great reach in the world of social media. The people manipulating them, because that is what is is, do have a duty to act responsibly, and in this case, they did the opposite. And now the law has proved them incorrect they should acknowledge it. Matthew Syed, you can go first.
The Others: Epic games involving English clubs this week. Chelsea women won 0-8 at Yeovil on Tuesday night and the following evening Everton U23s seized a narrow victory over Newcastle’s youth in what was a pulsating game. Probably.
Ok. I will pick these bits out because you know the press would if it was us... Nothing but respect, we were told as the Red Scouse gargled along to that god awful song before kick off. Yes look at the darlings. I wonder which were the ones setting off the fireworks so respectfully outside the Farca hotel the night before the game? Not enough media spunk to go round with Scouse and Messi in the same game. The following night was equally as sickening. We had Jermaine Penis waffling on about the Diving Little Sh*t and his reformed character. His matureness. Is this fool on crack? Ali tried to start a pinch up in the first leg?
Us: Hudson-Odoi outside in his pyjamas eclipsed anything involving personnel on the pitch. The Beard up front, and yes, Hazard started.
Them: They wore white and their flags were made out of bin liners. I was too nervous to notice anything else, except for the fact that despite how raucous they were in the ground, I was in Fulham from about 3pm and their behaviour appeared to be impeccable.
Last home game of the season. Firm start from us, not the hideous stuttering we’ve borne witness to on occasion this term. I wondered if they would try and conserve energy after the faded so badly last week, but it didn’t look like it. Slightly less of a headless chicken approach, but the difference was negligible. First shot from them in the shape of a header, but it was a comfortable save from Kepa. 10 minutes gone and a penalty shout. Looked more hapless than malicious, but it did seem that he just fell over Ruben and took him down. Nothing doing. Another couple of close calls but on twenty minutes and we still hadn’t had a clear shot. On 23 minutes, after much faffing on a free kick we finally took it and I was sure Luiz had flicked it on, but somehow they managed to scramble it clear. Gits.
In the opening half an hour, 99% of our crosses into the box so far had been toss, but it you are going to trust any player right now to take matters into his own hands it’s Ruben. We were in a direct line with it in The Shed and you could see it was going in as soon as it left his foot. BOOM. 1-0. He was almost in again straight afterwards, and moving on there wasn’t a lot coming from Frankfurt that looked like it was actually going to get them a goal. When they did look scary on 36 minutes, Luiz came to our rescue. Willian tried to pick a fight with Falette after a sh*tty tackle. Good job the referee intervened, otherwise Little Willy was getting knocked into the ground like a tent peg by that beast. Gilt edged chance for Ruben to get his second on 39, but it was deflected out. All in all a very satisfactory half of football. Didn’t trust us. Obviously saving up all the batsh*t crazy drama for after the break.
Great block by Dave to start the second half. They were screaming for a penalty on 48 minutes, then again on 49. Neither of them were, because I say so, but it’s ok, we were feeling benevolent so we let them have an away goal anyway. That seemed to give us a boot up the a*se. The ball was flicked back to The Beard by Hazard on 50, but he socked it wide. We couldn’t quite get a proper grip on the game. Nothing The Beard tried paid off up front, no real magic from Eden so far either. In fairness to Sarri, he did, actually, look tired. Familiar territory. Our season in a nutshell, but it was a measure of Ruben’s strength that they’d just taken to kicking him because they couldn’t handle him. They were all over us. On 58 minutes Kepa was required to punch it clear, but then like the loveably(ish) incompetent, bonkers lunatics that we’ve become this season, we were straight up the other end and trying to scrap it in. Willian off on 61 for Pedro Pony. No offence Willy, but I feel much better with him chipping in at the back with the pressure were under now. All of which is if our own making.
First corner of the second half for us on 69 minutes. Typically sh*t. A thumping long range shot from Luiz was off target. We were a man down shortly afterwards with Christensen’s forced departure. Instead of bringing Cahill on, Sarri moved Dave in there and brought Zappacosta on on the right. If this was to go tits up now he was really going to get it from the fans. Perhaps he didn’t think Cahill had 45 minutes in his legs if it went to extra time. Bearing in mind he’s ignored him all season. Free kick on 75 minutes. Get everyone up. And then do nothing. Urgh. The football gods wept at the state of that. Ruben dug us out of a hole straight afterwards and the result was a long shot that needed prompt attention from the Frankfurt keeper. But no cigar.
We just looked utterly cagey with the ball now, terrified of f*cking it up. Ruben defending like a boss with ten minutes ago. And he needed to, because we kept giving the sodding ball away. Why have we always got to be the problem child? Everyone one else has got the job done and taken their place in the finals and here we were. Dave was almost sent off on 83, because he was playing in the wrong bloody position. The one he got away with after his yellow resulted in a dangerous free kick. An actual dangerous free kick, not when Bet365 tells you it is and the opposition are still in their own half. Luiz’s face put the block in. He was becoming more and more dominant in the box.
Pandemonium then when Sarri decided to take Ruben off for Barkley. Outraged boos as our best player tonight walked off to a chorus of “f*ck Sarriball.” On 87 Ross did drive us forward for The Beard to have a rare stab at goal, but it was straight at the keeper. Total inability to pass the ball to each other as the seconds ticked down. Dave was marking someone a foot and a half taller, two foot wider than him and he was on a yellow. Excellent game management boss. If we were going to make it through this, it was arguably in spite of the game plan, not because of it, but do we have to give him the benefit of the doubt for knowing better than we do what shape each tired individual is in at the end of a long season?
Five minutes added on. Free kick on 90. God love the guy behind me. THIS IS THE ONE, he shouted. Christ knows where he managed to find any positivity after this half. But it was us doing the pressing. Corner. Taken slowly. Nobody attacking it and it sailed into the keeper’s hands. Then the game rolled over and died. If you were us. Attempting to just pass it around and not lose. Ended up giving a free kick away. Luiz to the rescue again. They were even less enthusiastic about taking a corner. I’ve seen Sam Allardyce move faster after a trip to an all you can eat buffet.
Oh goodie. Extra time. Can we bring Ruben back on? Sliding save from them as we began the first half. Lots of Chelsea players shouting at each other, apart from Ross who was concentrating on trying to bury it in the top corner. Close. We looked somewhat rejuvenated, they looked like they were wasting time to get to penalties. The Beard, who’d been sadly ineffectual all night, went off after five minutes for Higuain. Somewhere Sheldon (sitcom alias) was screaming at his TV. They sloppily gave it straight to Hazard, but then we couldn’t get our sh*t together in the box. Just sloppy football end to end now. Panic stations.We nearly cocked it right up after ten minutes, lucky not to be out. Their keeper was making Ben Foster look like a whippet every time he had to put the ball back into play. Hurrah for Ross, who was at least trying to kick the ball at the goal when he got it. Lots of oafish, late and very tired tackles coming in from them by now. If only we were sensible enough to take advantage of their exhaustion.
Fifteen minutes left for us to get our sh*t together. Another crucial save from Luiz’s face. It didn’t look like either team could be particularly a*sed by now if I’m honest. We had a minute wiped off the clock by someone tying their bootlace. Nobody wanted to win, they were just terrified of losing. Emerson tried to win it single-handedly on twenty minutes. Nearly did it, sadly also nearly killed himself in the process. Really well held up by Barkley to win us a corner when play restarted. Best shot in ages on 24 from Zappacosta but tipped away.
Goal? No. Free kick to them. This is purgatory. It’s Lost and we’re destined to live this game on a loop for all eternity not knowing if we’re going to win it. Remember how we all lasted six years watching that programme and then realised that it was in actual fact a pointless waste of time? This is where this semi-final is headed. 29 minutes and up we go again. Pedro Pony lined one up. It it was deflected early. Zappacosta booked for kicking the ball away as they broke. Couldn’t blame him at that point. I’d have made the most of it and kicked it at someone’s face. Luiz with the clearance again. Whatever happened from here he’d played this like a final. He’d left absolutely everything out there.
Penalties against Germans. My favourite thing ever. After drinking battery acid and watching anything that involves Alan Carr. We got penalties at the shed end for once. Here’s a vote for you - was it
A) because Mark Worrall moved to The Shed for the night or
B) Because they are running away from Mowgli who had gone down to the MH?
Them first: Easy along the ground
Ross: Emphatic and smashed in
Them: Kepa right way, just under his body
Dave: Low and to the corner, too slow. His body language telegraphed where he was sending it.
Them: I had to run for a pee. Not a clue.
Jorginho: Go on, everyone has got to say something nice after tonight. Total opposite of Dave, no hint at which way he was going.
Them: Best penalty stop ever. One knee from Kepa, killed it dead.
Luiz: Belted it.
Them: Saved! Atchung bitches! Proper save this time. Tonight’s hero.
Hazard: Fate. Not been that confident since The Drog walked up in Munich.
So: We had the chance to bury them in the first leg. We didn’t. We had the chance to bury them in the first half. We didn’t. At all other times they chucked everything at us. But all of that is forgotten. Ruben was outstanding again, Luiz grew into the game like the warrior he has been for us since the CL campaign in 2012. Kepa may have the least scary face in football, even when he’s gobbing off before a spot kick, but he still managed to fend off the opposition when it mattered in the shootout. Verily, we have slain the best that Europe has to offer. Ahem. We have chewed a path so far through the continent that we’ve actually come out the other side. For a final in Asia. F*ck sake. And with quite probably his last kick of a football at Stamford Bridge, Eden, we never doubted you.