Newcastle United 1 Chelsea 2
Sunday 26th August 2018 16:00
Having only arrived back from Club Tropicana (the island of Stromboli) in the early hours of this morning, with some form of rabies inherited on a BA Airbus 330, I had about as much inclination to go to Newcastle as the United squad has to spend another night in a hotel with Chequebook Pulis whilst he has access to things like room service cutlery and plug sockets in the bathroom.
In the News: When you are a World Cup winning footballer, how have you not got enough hangers on and sycophants in your wake that you can ring one of them up when you’ve had a skinful and get them to drive you home? I told you all that Lloris looked like a wino. Pip Squeakiola was complaining that his poor little lambs are tired. After three games. Do p*ss off you tedious tart. And Ozil said that he didn’t want to play this weekend because he had a cold. Jesus wept. We have an apparently happy camp at Cobham - relaxed rules on food and now later starts, visits from the likes of Di Matteo this week. Quite the opposite at Wait Hart Lane, where now water pipes are bursting and flooding live electrics. Ha. Chequebook’s demise continues as he snaps at journalists, if he talks to them at all. Four minutes and thirteen seconds his press conference lasted, and he started it early, as in before the journalists got there. Hilariously, Bailly has accused Gary Neville of ruining the morale of United players with his negative comments. Nothing to do with the batsh*t crazy manager then. Wenger had a bodyguard apparently, for the last two years he was at Arsenal. The idea that he needed physical protection from the likes of the illiterate fools at ATV makes me chuckle, because my feline overlord Bertie could take him in a fight with one ginger paw. Karius has moved to Turkey, where I anticipate with those luscious blond locks they don’t want him to be a goalkeeper at all, they want to swap him for a princely camel settlement. Mignolet is moaning because Brigitte Neilsen was allowed to go on loan and not him. I’d be unhappy if they made me stay in the land of Scouse too. Useless stat of week? Milner has never lost a Premier League match in which he’s scored in IN SIXTEEN YEARS. This might be impressive, but how many times has he scored in sixteen years? Twice? On the subject of games being played abroad, La Liga divas are threatening to go on strike. Messi is in on it, and Ramos is “enraged.” I don’t think anyone wants to deal with angry bull Ramos. So anticipate this not happening. Bobby Madley has moved to Norway. Not because they have lapsed rules on how to show affection for your puppy, but because this was in fact a really boring story all along. But if you thought he had it bad, spare a moment to consider the UFC fighter who tore his scrotum in half this week
The Others: City got screwed, which sadly does not earn them extra points or stop everyone from being a little bit in love with Wolves this weekend. Fulham have arrived, it seems, and Arsenal spoiled everyone’s fun by winning, but at least in doing so they consigned West Ham to the bottom of the pile. We’d all enjoy another Chequebook meltdown tomorrow night, but hopefully Lloris will be so p*ssed that he’ll let in a hat full, because nobody wants to see them win. I know it’s like choosing between herpes and gonorrhoea, but I’d rather the Mancs take the points.
Them: They were without Kenedy, who is about as memorable as Andrew Ridgeley in the world of Chelsea, but matters to those of the barcode persuasion. Not that that made a difference last season when we were flailing about like morons and getting stuffed whilst Antonio stood there with his arms crossed in total silence.
Us: Kovacic and Hazard come into the side - so practically the team that finished the Arsenal game. Willian dropped out, but to be fair Pesto (bugger of autospell, I'm too ill) has earned his place. Not even room for the likes of Moses, Cahill etc. on the bench, but as Sarri has pointed out, when we come back from this thoroughly pointless international break that is about as welcome of a policeman about to do a spot check on a public toilet in the world of George Michael, we will be playing a ridiculous amount of games and there will be games for all.
It took less than forty seconds for one of them to rake Hazard's ankle. Classy. Sadly, this was to be a recurring theme throughout the afternoon. The first ten minutes was pretty even. The first shot came from the home side, as they made the most of George Michael (he can have the nickname back, on account of the exquisite mullet he’s cultivating) not tracking back. Murphy was particularly instrumental in trying to sp*r them on, but after a quarter of an hour we had begin to build a bit of pressure. However, there was a bit of a scramble on the box revolving around Rudi, we had not actually fashioned a meaningful attempt.
Eden was down again on 19 minutes when someone stamped on his leg, which was a fair reflection on just how much trouble he was causing the barcodes. His long range shot shortly afterwards, whilst he was still limping, was our first effort though it was always going wide. Morata and Dave had contrived to get into the box by the time our talisman was cynically fouled again, by which time Captain Dave was having a pointed word with the referee. Any of these three incidents could have been a booking, if the official was not a bellend. Having this pointed out to him did little good. A minute later Eden was on the deck again after some rather unnecessary follow through that went unnoticed. Or ignored. Hazard had his angry face on now.
Newcastle had accomplished 68 passes in the first half hour, compared to our 320. We’d had 75% possession. Do you know what this proves? That statistics are wank. Because though the home side had faded completely out of the game, and put ten of their eleven men in their own box, we hadn’t had a shot on target. They got the odd break. Rondon headed wide on 33, shortly before some outstanding play from Hazard to play Pesto in across the box. He placed it perfectly towards the far corner but the Keeper pounced on it like half the planet on every new, tired, boringly formatted Dan Brown book that pollutes the market.
It will not shock you to learn that Kovacic was booked for a tame foul after half their team had tried to remove Hazard's legs from his body. Half time was approaching and we had nothing to show for our dominance. A good free kick from Hazard on 42 minutes was put out for a corner that Rudiger sent flying towards Kovacic, but he couldn't get there. There was more scuffling in the box on 44, but still no cigar. Eden had been the stand out performer, and appears to just have the “freeeeeedoooom” to go where he likes under the new boss. He was all over the ball again in the closing moments of the half, but we did everything but put it in the net. Sigh.
As you were up here then. The home side clinging on, only really making an effort when it came to defending in large numbers, but doing it well. All we could do was pray that act two wasn’t the norm, i.e. the part when they nick one, we fall apart, and end up getting stamped on like the misguided fool that tries to nick a chip off of Allardyce's plate when they think he isn’t looking.
Even Rondon was fifteen yards the wrong side of the halfway line after half time. Uncle Albert (Sitcom alias) quipped that they should just print Condom on the back of his shirt, as the opposition is so safe when he is around. We managed a great move forward on 49. Dave endeavoured to place it so carefully that there wasn't any real ferocity on it as it flew towards the keepers near side and he claimed it easily. Nobody was playing badly, we were just being frustrated by a determined effort at defence from the barcodes. Morata had a good day today. Clever play, industrious play, the only thing missing from him was a goal as he drew a foul out by the sideline approaching the hour mark. He had his chance shortly afterwards, but the ball was loose and never quite sat up for him and all he could do was try and poke it. You know that if he hadn’t stood up today, I would say so, but the two times when I was about to fume “MAN UP YOU BELLEND!” I didn’t actually need to, because he did.
Kepa had had nothing to do since he safely claimed that one shot on target about an hour ago, and the 27% possession they had supposedly had was in the first ten minutes. We were constantly pressing, giving them no chance to catch their breath, so they manufactured a breather on 61 when they didn't so much as get booked for a red card challenge on Dave. Who needs to worry about finding the ball when you just throw your entire body at your opponent’s ankles. Not even a yellow. In fact not a single one of them had been booked, even taking into account their Hazard vendetta. Morata and Dave almost pulled their double act off, but by now Willian and The Beard were warming up. Pesto was hooked for Little Willy and Morata for The Beard. I don’t think any of the substitutions had any negative reflection on those that got hooked today. The barcodes were proving difficult to break down and it was time to try something different. Is this not what substitutes are for? Fresh legs, new ideas.
Speaking of, on 64 minutes one of them finally got a yellow card. Schar. Huzzah. We now had about half an hour to make this utter supremacy count, but like a slumbering and not very agile grizzly bear who had been in hibernation since 16:10 this afternoon, they were starting to think that might be able to eek something out of this game now and started actually playing football. Well, and continuing to foul people, because on 69 minutes Jorginho was body slammed. Instantly afterwards Ritchie escaped with a yellow card for ignoring the ball completely and ploughing into Hazard like Sam Allardyce if he saw our burger-loving little Belgian taunting him with a Whopper.
It was looking like we might have to exchange humiliation for frustration, which is a step up on most of our forays to this place. Which is cold, wet, they all talk funny and they lie, because there is no castle. Rudi had had enough and cracked the cross bar from about 30 yards out. He's not even the same ethnicity as George Michael, but I swear his shot was so good I thought it had to be the Spaniard.
And speaking of him, whenever we are backed into a corner he seems to pop up, this object of so much ridicule when we signed him for peanuts and he was only familiar to English people because he’d played for Bolton. In all his years, (more than 50 at Stamford Bridge) Uncle Albert reckons that only Ivanovic comes close in terms of another defender with such tunnel vision when he gets in the box and it comes to sticking it in the net. The idea of Ritchie screaming about injustice when we were awarded a penalty. Hilarous. Bellend was lucky to be on the pitch. George was yanked, pulled and finally fell over, at which point the defender finally touched the ball. In the words of a nearby Newcastle fan, this is all acceptable, because when it’s Chelsea, and you’re Newcastle, the only thing you can do is bring them down and you shouldn’t be penalised for it.
“No f*cking about that one,” said Uncle Albert as Eden smashed it home. No shimmies, no comedy, just decisively buried, which is what you want from your star man. What you don’t then want, however, is a ludicrous scenario in which your whole defence stops because one of the opposition has tried to kill your mate and a barcode equalises. You play to the whistle. Yes. But when one of your chums gets flattened you have a right to be expecting some kind of intervention from the officials. If not for the beard getting in the way, The Beard would certainly have been decapitated. There would have been a French head rolling across the pitch up there in a manner that the world has forgotten since the Bastille was on fire and there was a guillotine on every corner in Paris.
Which brings me to Refwatch. Paul Tierney. We'd never had him before but 80% of the games he'd done for them, in the bleak wastes of the Championship, they had lost. Send him back there. Not good enough at this level. Let a lot of stuff go, but not consistently, so managed the Anthony-Tayloresque feat of having both sets of fans want to kill him. Woefully out of his depth.
Now they were trying to win it. Obviously Rafa’s masterplan had been for all of their attackers to conserve energy until 5:30 and then try and overrun us. But they didn’t bank on George Michael again, for there he was to punt the ball towards goal, skimming some hapless twat who probably should have been sent off an hour ago. 1-2. Five minutes. The only time in your life you have ever seen an adequate amount of stoppage time given. Perez might have nicked something back on 92 but his long range shot was high and we were over the line.
So: They got what they deserved and I'm not having any of it. Rafa should give his players more credit. They looked ten times more likely to be a threat to this result when they actually played football, as opposed to all standing in their own box waiting for us to make a mistake. This could have been a weekend of refereeing f*ckwittery at the top which contrived to work entirely in the Red Scouse's favour. Colour me not in the least bit surprised. But in the face of adversity, justice and right half-prevailed, in our favour, not City’s. So hurrah. Stick that in your yack-worthy Amazon documentary and smoke it Pepalicious. What a performance from Hazard, while we’re talking about adversity. And George Michael. More general observations? Looking more organised every time I see us, and ten times more motivated in all quarters than in this fixture last season. What I like most about Sarri so far is that we aren't always last to every 50/50 by ten yards. And I like his hippy approach. Apparently Sarri told the defenders to ignore their opponents; ostensibly because Condom wasn’t very good. It’s a novel approach, but it just about worked today. Also, why buy a house when you can just live at the training ground? Why buy clothes when you can live in your complimentary tracksuits? More money to spend on fags, init.
*Picture of Hazard trying not to look at the mullet comes from Chelsea's official site.
Chelsea 3 Arsenal 2
Saturday 18th August 2018 17:30
They all made some sort of appearance in my football world this week. Some were more welcome than others.
In the News: Madley. Oh dear God did this make me laugh my socks off. Firstly, the reality was boring from a tabloid perspective. His marriage ended. Secondly, we had a hilarious and fascinating insight into the car crash that is the British bored-man-at-his-computer psyche. For a woman never would have dreamt this up. When the announcement about Madley's departure from PGMOL was vague, someone sat in front of their computer and thought... what's the worst possible thing I can think of that might have happened... then they went to Google to look for a video. Within an hour, as far as the internet was concerned, Bobby Madley was a dog nonce. A f*cking dog nonce. What goes on in the minds of these people? When someone says "Something bad has happened to X but we don't know what" my brain does not immediately make the leap to "clearly X has been trying to have sex with a Jack Russell." Almost as amusing were the revelations that PGMOL considered him their brightest hope, a future World Cup referee, the future of English refereeing. All of which means that nobody there had noticed he was sh*t.
Playing games abroad. F*ck. and off.
The Rooney Renaissance. Sweet baby Jesus this made me sick in my mouth. Let's set this straight. First one paper touted him as an England legend. Turning up for work and achieving nothing for ten years because the country sadly has no alternative does not a legend make. Especially when you've consistently been a stone overweight and your fingers smell of granny. Secondly, with the best will in the world, a 70 yard sprint in the MLS, which is what he is supposed to have done, is basically the Premier League equivalent of Ozil making a run. Pitiful, like a dog, without the use of its back legs dragging itself down the pitch with its front paws, that may or may not have had an encounter with Bobby Madley, depending on how screwed up your brain is.
Sarri has relaxed Conte's regime. The players now longer have to live in his weird Hansel and Gretel house (the Chelsea Harbour Hotel) before home games so they can be stared at, and force fed on meal option and random nuts and seeds. They do, however, have to put up with the cigarette smoke coming out from under the door of his office in the dressing room. God help us if any fixture goes to extra time and he needs a fix.
We've now got more than thirty players out on loan. Someone at Chelsea has spent this week walking ground with a wallpaper scraper and a face like thunder removing Bakayoko off of multiple ad boards. He's gone to AC (Milan, not me, unless he wants to do my washing then I'll take him) £35-40m to make it permanent apparently. If he harboured any hopes of remaining, sadly as this was being discussed videos emerged revealing the fact that Jorginho's mum has a better touch that he does. Though to be fair based on what I've seen Courtois is lucky he'd already signed his deal with Real because she'd kick his a*se too. Ola Aina has gone to Torino, Kenneth Omeruo to Leganes, Matt Miazga to Nantes and Ruben Sammut to Falkirk. I don't even know who that is. Rumours that RLC will got to Schalke for the season are so far unsubstantiated.
De Bruyne is out for three months apparently. So anticipate him coming on as a sub this weekend. Arsenal Fan TV have had to take the Arsenal out of the their name, because the club have finally figured out that it's an embarrassment. Chequebook Pulis's volatile relationship with Prince Pogba continues. "There are things I cannot say because I will get fined." Paul, mate, it's fine, nobody needs to articulate the fact that your boss is a raging sociopathic egomaniac. Though I’m not sure he could say either of those words. He thanked everyone and his dog after they somewhat unfairly turned Leicester over last week, but not CP. Despite this, by the end of the week the United boss was declaring his undying love for the Frenchman. It's like Den and Angie all over again. CP is Angie. In the meantime Zidane has apparently got his eye on our favourite managerial lunatic's job.
Sp*rs won a trophy this week. The International Champions Cup, whatever that is. Well it will have a cabinet all to itself at Wait Hart Lane. If it ever gets finished. Possibly not before 2019. Shame. "Critical safety issues." They issued a desperate plea for ten electricians. I can't tell you how tempting it is for me to photoshop electrician qualifications for me and nine of my friends and go and sabotage the place so it catches fire when they do a test of the light switches. They did want to make a tribute to the riots after all.
The Others: Total yackfest after the Scouse game last week. Might as well hand them the league trophy already. Going on about Allison's "impressive start" to life there. I'm pretty sure his sum contribution to the game was to bend down and pick the ball up once. Though Thibaut probably would have punched it, I'm pretty sure even Karius the Clown could have managed that. Today Vardy got sent off for a tackle that belonged in the 70's, little rat. It was about as subtle as Allardyce attempting to bring down a wildebeest when he hasn't eaten for four days, but Leicester still won. Wolves were unlucky. At Wembley the Mitrovic equaliser was a brilliant demonstration that has been trademarked as "the flapping goldfish" but then Trippier ruined everyone's fun.
Harry f*cking Kane (try saying it without swearing) scored a goal in August - they'll probably bring out a DVD. He took almost as long as Morata to put one away. West Ham seem to have been passing a bottle of peroxide round the dressing room and doing 90s retro nonsense to their hair. The fumes might be an explanation as to why they're so clueless. But let's not ponder on the why, let's just bask in the glory that they've spent a hundred million, sacked off Moyes, and they're still sh*t. Their defending was even more hilarious than ours.
Us: Fabregas has a mystery knee injury. It seems destined to remain a a mystery, like the question of why Germans appear to be seizing ownership of the doner kebab all over London, but almost certainly has nothing to do with dog noncing. Sarri reckons it will take four weeks to get the players up to speed on the way he wants to play. With that in mind he went for the same line up as last week, but we all hoped that Hazard would be fit for more than the 15/20 minutes he played at Huddersfield. Nice sub to bring on.
Them: "I don't know what he's been doing for the last five or six weeks," said Tony Adams after the City game. Emery set up a desperate friendly with Palace midweek to fix things. I won't lie. He weirds me out. This is what happens when you dye your hair utterly black instead of something sensible when you’re pasty. He looks like a corpse with a wig on, or something out of Madame Tussaud's. Anyway the Waxwork Gigolo (that's going to be my nickname for him) has set Aubameyang the challenge of winning the golden boot. Having seen his shooting today I now give pause so that you can all p*ss yourself laughing...
A bright start, great atmosphere, for we have yet (if at all) to be jaded by nine months of watching Chelsea pass the ball incessantly sideways as eleven players search for a clue and the manager stands with his arms crossed looking disinterested. Pesto (yawn autospell) picked up skipping about where he left of his last week in the opening two minutes, and shortly after that Jorginho played a great ball through to Barkley, but not even with his phenomenal backside could he stretch his leg far enough to quite bring it down. Arsenal had been out of their own half once that I could recall in the opening minutes and we absolutely carved them open for the first goal. Just a couple of passes was all it took to absolutely rip them open, again with a killer ball from Jorginho. Cue a chorus of Arsene Wenger, he left cos’ you’re sh*t. We could have doubled our lead shortly afterwards when Kante laid it back to Barkley, but his shot was just over. The visiting side were shocking. This was the worse Arsenal side I could remember. They were absolutely woeful off the ball. Are you Wenger in disguise, we sang to the Waxwork Gigolo. Willian was on form, and he put another ball through to Pesto but Cech dived onto it to spare the Goon blushes.
On 19 minutes they slipped through and Aubameyang found himself five and half yards from goal with the ball at his feet. Golden boot my a*se, for he clunked their first chance of note about twenty feet over the bar. They were punished for their wastefulness, for on 23 minutes Morata was off, and not only did he stay on his feet, but he finally got the break he’s been waiting for after winding his way past the defenders and slotting the ball into the net. Cue a load of love heart celebrations, kisses and a mime of painting his wife’s toenails. That was three minutes of injury time alone. But 2-0 up. Behind me the guys had their feet up, lighting cigars. They worked their way in again on the half hour, but Mkhitaryan’s shot was even worse than the last one and we breathed a sigh of relief.
But those of us that have supported Chelsea for more than five minutes know that this is where the fun starts. Just when you start to relax. Because then we entered the f*cking twilight zone for twenty minutes. We appeared to stop attempting to prevent the opposition from running at our goal. As we fell apart at the back, Arsenal, f*cking ARSENAL, came back from 2-0 down to level the game. I swear to God we were that bad that this time tomorrow our entire back line will be under investigation for match-fixing. Somewhere in South America a distant relative of David Luiz is banking several hundred thousand Brazilian Real from a bet on that one. Rudiger’s mum has just bought herself a lake house somewhere in Germany. Alonso has booked himself in to have an op to relocate his nipples to the right place. (Don’t go looking if you can help it) I can’t tell you how miserable it is to go from laughing at sad Eeyore Arsenal fans to having them jump up and down like they have won the league. They could even have gone ahead when a shot scraped agonisingly wide past the post on 43 minutes. Gonzo (muppet alias) had had enough. “I never do this, going downstairs before half time” he said with a cheeky glint in his eye as he went in search of beer. Gonzo lies.
After a two minute flurry after half time from them, normal service was somewhat resumed as far as all the possession was concerned, but we remained f*cking terrifying at the back and lacking a decisive force going forward. I wanted Hazard on 60. I know he’s not a robot like the Kante Twins and he’s only been back 12 days but please let him be ready to do half an hour. The jokers behind were rolling out the commentator cliches. The next goal is crucial. Whoever scores next could win the game. Still we couldn’t make it happen, despite pinning them in their half. Barkley came close on 58, and then huzzah - as the clock reached 60 on came Eden to rapturous applause. Willian went off, as did our adopted Scouser in favour of Kovacic. And my, what a difference the two made. We looked immediately stronger - they weren't seeing any of the ball. They hooked Ozil, who I hadn’t noticed at all until that point. As he plodded off at the speed of Allardyce after a Sunday afternoon session at a local carvery, it was still the fastest anyone had seen him move.
We were desperately in search of a winner now. Hazard sent it across the face of goal on 69. They hadn’t been out of their half for fifteen minutes at this point. He was brought down cynically on 72 on the edge of the box. The foul deserved a card. Luiz smashed it. but Cech was up to the save. Were we going to labour our way to a draw having been two up? Giroud came on for Morata with fifteen minutes to spare, just before Kepa spilled the ball but atoned for his clumsiness by flinging himself face first in to reclaim it. Kante headed over on 77 before finally, with less than ten minutes to go, Alonso put away the winner. Boom. We saw nothing of it but a flailing of arms and legs and the ball bobble over the line. We waited a moment to see if the Matthew Harding were celebrating, then the Shed went bonkers. Any chance they might have had of coming good seemed to have disappeared with our double substitution. Eden is Eden, but Kovacic looked good. A similar build to our number 10, he also has the same gait, the same low centre of gravity and its twice as confusing when you've had gin and he’s also wearing Eden’s old number. By now Pesto was playing the cramp card. Good boy. He was on his feet again soon afterwards to put in a brutal tackle, even managing to win the thrown in. Apart form the twenty minute interlude where we were inexplicably sh*t, he was a boss today. Also, any concerns about Alonso playing a more traditional left back role? Not valid against Arsenal. We could have had one more when Kovacic dinked the ball over to Alonso on 86, but Cech’s save was stunning. A deceptive one from them on 89 bounced onto the top of the net, but we were safe. Thank f*ck.
Refwatch: Atkinson - barely noticed him. Apart from to laugh at his bed hair. Hurrah.
So: Better than the Huddersfield game going forward but as evident by the twenty minute clusterf*ck, FUBAR section in the middle, by no means the finished article. They could have been 4-2 up at half time if they weren’t morons when it came to shooting in the six yard box, but I suppose equally by the end of it, Cech had had to pull of at least three super saves to keep our tally down. One conundrum - Kante isn’t there to save the day if he’s up the pitch. I expect this at the moment, good progress interspersed with mad lapses as everyone adapts to doing something completely different. It didn’t do us any harm today. In fact we’re top of the league, and we have condemned Arsenal to 17th. Mwhahahahaha. Banana skin dodged. Just. I’ll take it, in the hope that Sarri will analyse the sh*t out of this in the coming week and we’ll have moved on again by the time we have to go to Newcastle.
I’m now going to try and pack a suitcase. Drunk.
Huddersfield Town 0 Chelsea 3
Saturday 11th August 2018 15:00
I am most definitely not match fit. My right arse cheek is cramping from standing up for so long.
The Others: Chequebook Pulis and his muppets were fortunate on Friday night, fortunate that Amaty is a bellend and that Andre Marriner is a f*cktard. Fulham got off to a sad start at home to Palace, Bournemouth are only 37 points from safety! Boom! Watford beat Brighton and some a*seholes from a favela in North London beat Newcastle. Most of the juicy stuff happens tomorrow, when I hope West Ham kick the Scouse to pieces. I took the p*ss out if Carroll yesterday and said he is out through injury because he tripped over a kebab. Today I hear a rumour that he actually did. There was a step involved as well. And alcohol apparently. There is a moral to this story. Whenever you think you've discovered the full extent of Andy Carroll's stupidity and mocked it, keep going. Pause. Laugh. And then keep going some more.
Them: Not a clue.
Us: We were eighth at kick off. F*ck this. I blame the board. And Torres. No place for CHO even on the bench - picked up a knock apparently. Kepa started in goal, and they'd just about managed to get his whole surname on the back of his shirt. Kante being Kante went right into the side after fifteen minutes of training.
So, a sunny afternoon in Huddersfield, which was in Yorkshire, so I'm told (Probably still is, unless it's moved since the game) I overslept for this one last year, remember. So. Reflections on the John Smith's Stadium:
Naming rights make it sound like an international gravy swimming venue. Shoot person who agreed this at club in foot.
Also shoot person who thought it was a good idea to label a stand "The Fantastic Fantastic Fantastic Stand” in foot.
Shoot the drummer. In both feet.
I'm now about 60% excited about the start of the season. I'm self healing after the club attempted to destroy me this summer. This was mostly fuelled by winning, and by seeing everybody again, even if I did have to leave the radius of the M25 and even if it nearly resulted in me wrestling the man mountain that is TCW (Special alias) to the ground.
Reflections on what has changed since that f*cking catastrophe at Newcastle in May:
Kepa looks little compared to the legend (in his own mind) that was Tibo. I'm taking this as a positive. Maybe it won't take as long for a message to get from his brain to his legs to tell them to close before a ball goes flying through them. (I'm not ready to stop ripping it out of that clown yet. He ruined my 100% record of liking every Belgian I have ever met.)
Already Kante is playing much, much higher.
Things happen faster.
Kepa, Dave, Luiz and Jorginho are obsessed with pushing our line up.
We broke nicely in the third minute, but were marginally offside. Two minutes further in and the crowd had launched into a tribute to our new keeper:
"Kepa - you knooooooooow, he's better than F*cking Thibaut" to the tune of Daddy Cool.
After being swamped in the opening minutes the home side settled down a bit. A great bit of play from Willian in the tenth minute played us in, but the cross ultimately drifted into the arms of the keeper. The fast break Sarri was looking for came immediately afterwards, but died at Morata’s feet on the edge of the box. It's the opening day of the season, so I'll zip my mouth shut on that one. The likes of Dave, Kante and Pesto (F*ck off autospell) were trying really hard to implement this quick, one/two touch passing and to drive the game forward - I'm not saying the others weren't, but this trio were noticeably industrious.
In a blissful moment when the drummer’s arms got tired, Kepa had to deal with their first shot on target, but it went straight at him and he caught it with ease. F*ck £72m, Rob Green was free and he would have saved that tame effort. One thing we quickly noticed about our new No.1, his accuracy when kicking the ball out. Courtois was sh*t at this. I love Petr Cech, but he wasn't great at it either, so this excites me. Barkley was having a great game, and on 24 he surged through at the other end. Remarkably, it took Janice (original muppet alias) and I this long to notice his phenomenal rear end. We are surely losing our touch. It's like Ivanovic Mk.II. He literally could not have stuffed any more awesomeness into those tiny yellow shorts if he had tried. £15m. That’s £7.5m per cheek. Well worth it.
We looked a bit wayward now, and Janice and I kept repeatedly asking each other “Who the f*ck is number 29?” But Kepa had still not really been tested and we were still managing to break. Another flurry with Willian on the end of it came on the half hour. Then Pesto got tired of faffing and seized the game by the b*llocks, charging through the middle. Played it to Willian who put the cross in. It flew right by Morata and somehow bobbled in off of the Kante twins. We thought it would go over the bar, and so did he apparently because his squidgy, smiley little face was a picture of bafflement. I was going to tweet the deafening rendition of his song that followed, but there was no internet. In fact, technology was so primitive today that I’m pretty sure I saw two hairy Huddersfield fans rubbing two sticks together to try and make fire in the back of a wagon with square wheels in the car park.
Kepa was done once today, at his right hand post in the run up to half time. The ball was headed across the goal and he was stranded, but luck was with us and it struck the post and came back out. No arguments about the penalty surely? A very stupid tackle on Alonso, who has not graced us with a dye-job tribute to Wham this year. Sad times. Despite it being his league debut, Jorginho was massively cocky in slotting it casually along the floor. 0-2 at the break. They probably didn't deserve this scoreline. F*cking shame.
It was as you were after the break. I don't think I ever believed they were going to trouble the result once they were two down, but this is us, I suppose. We did aid them by giving the ball away a bit today, but I am OK with this, because it's coming as a result of trying to learn how to do something new and constructive, it's not like last season when it was just clueless, depressing ineptitude.
Refwatch: Chris Kavanagh. I had not a bad word to say about him before the game. Because I'd never heard of him. Mostly let the game flow in the first half. Some dubious moments, like letting half the Huddersfield team mount Barkley just before half time. Penalty call was absolutely right. Started losing it a bit around the hour mark and giving them free kicks every time they fell over, but overall he was fine. Better than most of the sh*t we endured last year from those with far more experience.
Huddersfield were trying to get forward but they have a distinct lack of quality in the final third, and they kept accidentally punting the ball out of play, or we’d snatch it and run at them. We very nearly had a third on 56 and again a moment later. They were looking a bit bereft, whilst we had found both a measure of comfort on the pitch and our collective voice in the crowd. Morata won a free kick on the edge of the box just after the hour and I'm sorry to say it was the most impressive thing he'd done so far. Ruben was jumping up and down waiting to come on.
"The arse is going off then," says Janice.
"To be honest I'm not sure how much more if it my hormones can take," said I.
Poor Alvaro gave away a silly free kick on 71 which left Kepa trying to tap it over the bar, but thankfully it was already out of play. If the replay says otherwise, I'm right, because I'm a girl, and the camera was probably operated by a man.
There then followed one decision they wanted not going their way, and the whole ground jumped to their feet with "you don't know what you're doing." A tad harsh, but they were fired up now, and take note, they were getting much more of the ball since Barkley and his bum had departed. We kept letting some bald bloke (let's call him Fat Shelvey) cross the ball, which was frustrating, but their best chance of the second half came on 75 minutes and they smacked it ten feet over the bar. Enter Hazard for Willian, to a huge ovation that rang with undertones of "I never thought I'd sing this song again," and "Thank you for not leaving us you beautiful little Belgian man." Finally a break for Morata - but it came to nothing. One player who did absolutely deserve some glory today was Pesto, who was played in by Hazard in the closing minutes to kill the game off once and for all with our third. There followed a slightly odd but sweet little display of man love by way of a celebration. Our work on the pitch done, we turned our attention to mockery of the home support, in particular the drummer. They had one last corner after Alonso's bouffant hair put the ball out, but it went out for a throw in. Summed up their day.
So: I've laughed my head off on the way home. Sex Pest (Special alias) has been telling us why he is scared of Facebook. One day, his fourteen year old granddaughter queried why he was never logged onto it and told him how to add her. Several hours later he'd accidentally added 240 of her friends too, and received half as many emails accusing him of being a pervert.
Huddersfield weren’t actually that terrible, but nothing went for them today. They did their best, they were hanging out of their a*ses at the end, but they didn’t look equipped to make a storming comeback. Don't be surprised if Sarri makes Jorginho captain. He's acting like one already, really impressive today. But actually three or four players were taking the initiative and acting like leaders and this was really positive to see after so much rudderless cockmuppetry last season under Antonio. Six take ons from Hazard, six completed. More than anyone else this weekend so far. He was only on the pitch 14 minutes. Very promising all round, with the exception of Morata who will need to do better next week, but still so much work to do. And we won 3-0, so let’s not dig him out just yet. There were patches when if they had been a better attacking force we would probably have conceded in the first half, so nose to the grindstone next week, interesting to see how we match up against the Goons at this early stage.
I’ll be collecting for greatwar100.online in aid of veterans with PTSD outside the Bridge next weekend. Come and give me your money. Speaking of… the book of last season is out, if you want to relive just how bonkers that was:
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW PART II.
Since I wrote part one we’ve offloaded Michy. Ouch. Tammy is homegrown and Sarri has seen more of him in preseason. But ouch.
But onto the others: transfer deadline day. Goody. I like to think they put a 5pm deadline on it to spare us from six more hours worth of Scouse Sports News repeating themselves. Their trump punditry card for the last hour? F*cking Allardyce slouching in his chair like a slob and imparting bits of non-wisdom that pretty much show why he has no job. And I don’t mean no job in football, I mean anywhere. There was still the bi-annual entertainment fest of Sky minions battling rain, lawnmowers, workmen and Patrick van Aanholt as they sought to bring us bits of non information, but in truth, the fact that they had no choice but to water it down was a f*cking relief to all. There was very little drama to be had at Chelsea, for once, seeing as our club hankers after it like Norma Desmond clawing away for one last shot in Hollywood. But fear not, because what is more entertaining than Mount Mourinho, regular as clockwork every three seasons, going into full eruption? Especially when it is at someone else’s expense for once.
Here’s a little ditty I like to call The Ballad of a Broken Man. I can’t wait to see the reaction of United fans this season, who went from despising every fibre of his being, to cheering his name, only to now be faced with the inevitable: Chequebook Pulis going batsh*t crazy in his third season. All the signs are there. He’s barely talking to Woodward, if at all, apparently; he can’t be bothered to groom himself anymore, he’s wittering away, imparting utter nonsense. Finishing second was one of the greatest achievements of his career, he says. After he had had hundreds of millions spent on him. In the last three seasons Leicester have won the league with carthorse Wes Morgan in their side. Conte won the league at the first attempt with ten players and Victor Moses. You’ve got nothing to complain about.
As of 29th July he was already the bookies’ favourite to be the first manager sacked. He’d flown off to America with his available squad, all except Sanchez, who no-one thought to check wouldn’t be allowed in the country on account of being a criminal in Spain. It mattered little. Nobody turned up to the first game. He said matches were “killing my brave boys.” If playing football puts your footballers’ lives at risk, CP, potentially they are in the wrong line of work. The next day, in true Chequebook Pulis style, he was blaming the players for his plight. Martial got so fed up with his transcontinental moaning that he had his girlfriend quaff down six curries a day till she went into labour so that he could escape. The 100,000 who turned out to watch the club in Michigan needn’t have bothered, it seems. “If I was them I wouldn’t have come… I wouldn’t have spent my money.” Serious sentiment from a man who’ll once again be getting paid several million just to f*ck off in the near future if this traditional form continues.
He was still moaning when he got off the plane, resembling a freed hostage emerging from 20 years in underground captivity. But who have they signed? Dalot for £17.5m and Fred. They both happened early. And some bloke from Stoke. In the meantime, CP carried on p*ssing off the players he has already got. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive on laughing at Pogba, but the guy won the World Cup, which in the first instance made Chequebook look like a dick because he gets nothing out of him, but he exacerbated this by remaining completely incapable of saying anything nice about him. Resulting in Pogba wanting to leave, apparently. F*cking idiots. Pogba doesn't make any decisions on his own. He can’t even be trusted to get a haircut. His agent smelt money. Yes,
Raoila, scum of the football world, decided that the £80m odd he's already made from shuffling Pogba around Europe isn’t enough for all the Jacamo catalogue bills he has run up and started to press for a move to Barcelona.
CP was getting desperate now. He needed bodies, and from the outside, it just kept getting funnier and funnier. Kovacic sacked off United because he didn’t want to play Pulis football. As for the desperately needed central defenders to replace Smalling the Clown and Phil Slothface Jones (Thanks again, for the FA Cup by the way) he allegedly submitted five names. Boateng and Alderweireld came to nothing. When they tried to buy Harry Maguire, the Leicester manager mocked them. Mina picked Everton over United and then finally, the coup de grace. Godin’s agent called Manchester, said he might want to sign for them. Yes, they were desperate now to be chasing after a guy who looks old enough to be Phil Jones’s dad. Except, Godin was never going to move to Manchester. (and who can blame him) Within the hour his agent had used United’s interest to get a better deal from Atletico. United fans incensed. Turns out there’s a football agent who is a knob. Who knew? Things got so bad they resorted to trying to get Zouma on loan from us. It was basically role reversal with us last season, shades of Antonio from CP. “I would like to have two more players.. I think I am not going to have two… My CEO knows what I want.” Three United fans with southern accents proclaimed that it was: “Christmas Eve shopping and we feel like we are going to end up with socks.” Worse. They basically got a lump of coal. United were busy securing a whisky partnership instead of any centre backs. Shame. I’m predicting October for the explosion. Though some think United won’t pull the trigger…
Here’s the space I left to talk about Sp*rs signings:
No but seriously.
Ok. I’m done. They’ve not had any departures to speak of, but could they really expect to sit still and do nothing while everyone else (except United mwhahahaha - evil panto laugh) strengthened? Let’s hope not. They weathered some anxiety early on, when Podgettino shunned Real Madrid to stay and Kane signed a £90m six year deal to remain dribbling (in more ways than one) in North London. But aside from some paltry efforts to sign Grealish for £20m odd (£25m would be the bare minimum once you plonk the tax for being homegrown on I would have thought) they don’t really seem to have even tried to get anyone through the door. They do have a new stadium though. Or will have at some point this season. They’re going to make a nod “to London Riots during opening ceremony of new stadium.” What are they going to do? Set fire to it? But if all of this didn’t make them a big enough laughing stock, along comes their fan representative on Sky’s Transfer Deadline Day. “Expressions Oozing,” he calls himself. What little I understood of his North London slum vernacular was b*llocks. He actually managed to make Robbie from Arse TV look capable of making a constructive argument. Someone might have wanted to vet him to make sure he could speak first, or at least invoked subtitles so viewers could understand what he was going on about. Part of me wants to make it my mission to destroy him this season. But then I’d have to pay attention to him.
City had Toure depart inciting a race row which ended with his agent threatening Pep with an “African curse.” Well obviously it won’t be his hair falling out. The Spoiled One didn’t need to a do a lot after last season. They’ve brought in four - Mahrez of note. But then having spent 12 billion in the last 18 months that wasn’t really required. They let nobody go, unsurprisingly, apart from Hart who had both gloves out the door a year ago along, with his dignity, when he went to West Ham.
I’ve seen coastlines erode quicker than it takes the Goons to do anything, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Emery doesn’t really get going this year. Robbie thinks they are going to challenge, they’re looking good. He thinks their signings are exactly what they need. Litchsteiner is going to challenge Bellerin for a place, he says. Presumably he walked face first into a deftly swung wrench before going on air. Their signings are not good enough. They are squad players. If they are lucky, they will maintain sixth. But that will be a massive achievement. Elsewhere this summer the fools launched a partnership with BYD that was signed off by someone pretending to work with the Chinese company. Put it all over the internet. Lol. Germany has breathed a sigh of relief on Ozil’s international retirement. “Ozil has been shit for years” and “last won a tackle before the 2014 world cup”. Says the Bayern President. No doubt there is an idiot element, but I’d wager that for the most part they don’t hate him because he is Turkish in origin, they hate him because his demeanour says “I couldn't give a sh*t about playing for my country.”
The Scouse are still whining about the Champions League Final. “Ramos is ruthless and brutal… I hold him responsible” says Wurzel Kloppage. I’m sure Sergio gives precisely zero fucks when he’s sitting there polishing his fourth winners medal. Karius feels sorry for us all, for laughing at him. Not as sorry as we all felt for him after they signed Allison. Not only that, but if you thought Brigitte Neilsen was going to have it hard this year, what about Mignolet, remember him? He’s now become sh*t Karius. He’s probably spent the summer eating copious amounts of chips covered in mayonnaise and crying into a bottle of 9% beer. Or searching a playing field somewhere in Scouseland looking for the sad remnants of his career.
They did they business early. Fabinho from Monaco, Keita, Shaqiri and Alisson. They’ve let no big names go, and dare I say it, I am marginally terrified that we might have to witness a repeat of 2013/14 where they started printing up t-shirts and genuinely having cause to bleat on about it being their year. If we go there, as soon as it looks like it might be possible, I’m getting the f*ck out of here. Preferably to somewhere that has no internet, television or radio. Like Scotland.
Behind the Top Six Burnley won’t have wanted to rock the boat too much after a good showing last year. Four in, including Hart, who arguably they don’t need and Vydra. A few departures, but nothing that should unsettle the side too much. No reason why they can’t do well again but it all depends on their home form. More interesting is this insight into life at Burnley. During the week Sean Dyche and his assistant Ian Woan apparently share a flat which resembles The Young Ones. “A Couch, a big screen, two beds - done.” They go out and drink wine together on Thursday nights but otherwise just eat at the training ground. I shudder to think when the last time was that either of them cleaned the bath. Does anybody wash up? Do they just brush their teeth using the water in the toiler? Mowgli is going to be reading this and twitching. That revelation that Dyche has a gravelly voice because he eats worms makes more sense now. Everton have spent £400m in the last couple of years, and offloaded a hell of a lot dead weight, including the not insubstantial weight of Wayne Rooney - and still haven’t really got any better. Somehow they’ve spent £40m on a player who has had one good season for Watford. Massive amount of pressure for them. If they aren’t pushing for the Europa League this season they have failed. Likewise, though Mahrez has gone, Leicester will expect to be up there. They’ve had six come in. In the never-ending, annual roulette of where the f*ck will Jonny Evans end up, it is Leicester this time. And they’ve survived the Harry Maguire saga - well, if it was ever a saga at all. United wanted him. But did he ever want to leave? Leicester certainly never gave any inclination that they wanted to sell him. Well played Claud. Arguably the dullest man in the Premier League made a funny. “Harry is going to Manchester… But only for a couple of hours on Friday night.” Chequebook Pulis is getting mocked by a guy who has never cracked a joke in his life. And West Ham have got no excuse to not be pressing for a European spot. They’ve bought a number of players in who are arguably out of their league, as well as Pellegrini to replace Moyes. One player they won’t be relying on? Andy Carroll has started the season as he means to go on by getting injured for three months, probably by tripping over a doner kebab. My favourite summer moment? Wilshere getting punked by Creswell and Noble, who had an imposter pretend he was there to interview England’s great hope for Betway. The guy referred to him as John Wilshere, and as he progressively fumed asked if he was looking forward to going back to Arsenal and whether he going to try and get back in the Ireland team.
In the category of “Should Be OK” Zaha ended up going nowhere, which was the best thing that could have happened to Crystal Palace and Uncle Woy. Kouyate in from West Ham and Ayew from Swansea isn’t going to set the league alight, but it should arguably be enough to keep them well out of trouble providing they don’t start like they did last season, by failing to score for 12 years. (And then thumping us) Newcastle should have cobbled together enough bodies to keep their head above water, but on account of being a selfish away traveller I won’t lose any sleep if they go down and I will once again be boycotting going all the way up there to suffer the worst view in the league. I expect more of the same, but for them to survive.
There are three sides who arguably have had a great summer but I just hope (because they are all easy grounds to get to) that they haven’t Tried to do Too Much?
Fulham have spent some £100m, and picked up several players like Schurrle, Mitrovic, Mawson and Calum Chambers with Premier League experience. Another eight have come in on loan or permanently too, so hopefully it’s not overload. But the omens are good. On paper Wolves have had a fantastic summer, adopting half of Portugal. They have as many Portuguese players now as Porto. They’ve got Moutinho, and even flirted with Pepe. (who has hair now but still looks like he might kill you in your sleep) If it works out, they should be nowhere near the relegation battle. Brighton I am less confident about. They have gone loopy this summer. A colossal 16 players in, from every continent and 18 out. Surely there has to be an element of quantity over quality. Here’s hoping enough of them click into place or they could be royally screwed.
In the sad category of Potentially Buggered sit Bournemouth. Only three bodies in, and a few out. I worry for them, I really do. If I did’t want to pimp slap anyone who used the phrase “second team,” I would say they were my second team. Cardiff can’t possibly have done enough to outrun a battle with relegation. They’ve taken a couple in on loan, but no real quality has come in to kick them on at this level. They’ve come from Norwich, Preston, QPR, and Bristol City. Huddersfield too have had a big exodus, with not half as an coming in, and a lot of them need to settle in England. On a lot of people’s lists to go down, and now I‘ve said that watch them wipe the floor with us on Saturday. Southampton are another concern. Not least because I like that away day. Tadic going to Ajax is a blow. Incomings include a crocked Scouser and a City reject - so not inspired with confidence. Worse, am completely uninspired by Mark f*cking Hughes being at the helm. Could be a rocky season, which makes me sad. Watford find themselves in this category because they’ve had a few departures, including the apparently world class Richarlison and not so many come in. If they can get anywhere near mid-table I’d be surprised. Also, I’ve put them here because some of their fans were mean to me.
So here we are again, on the threshold of more madness and excitement, hours on the road, fun times, whiny times, meet-ups with overseas brethren at the Bridge and wasteful consumption of celery. (Not to mention bottles and bottles of gin) Bosses can get yellow cards now, the MLS have experimented with sticking a microphone to a goalkeeper so that he could talk to commentators. He got confused and let the ball in the net. Jesus wept. Thank the Lord this twattery is coming nowhere near us. And players and staff can now watch replays in dugouts as the FA have relaxed rules on mobiles and tablets. Those who abuse this, presumably by watching Netflix, or porn, can be sent off. VAR is gone, for now. Hurrah, and Carragher has returned, having promised not to get into any more scraps with teenage girls. Outside of the Premier League we will all have one eye on Frank at Derby, where Mount has already scored for our legend. I’ll also have one eye on Gerrard, laughing if he fails. “I don’t think we ever get anything go for us” he complained after one single match. “They didn’t have any idea… we showed were a class above.” Sadly for Rangers he has taken his Scouse brand of self-pity and delusion with him across the border. But he’s not as bonkers as Sir Joseph of Barton, who classes himself in a managerial group with the two above. At Fleetwood. God help Fleetwood. Maybe this weekend he can bet on himself not to turn up to work in last nights’ clothes. Apparently, but for a twist of fate AVB could have got the Real Madrid job. (My a*se) Here’s hoping that Diego attempts to rip Courtois oversized conk off his face in that local derby. Oh, and Samir Nasri had been banned for doping. Well whadda you know? And here was me thinking he sprouted tits because he got fat.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW PART I.
Usually, about now, I’d be climbing the walls with glee about setting off for Huddersfield, of all places, tomorrow morning. I’m about 20% excited, at most. It’s coming, but slowly. Because Chelsea Football Club verily broke me this summer. Not because I nappy shat my way through June and July complaining about the fact that we should have been spending half a billion on players and boo-hooing because we weren’t in for Ronaldo; but because the corporate f*ckwittery finally became too much to bear as they made a pig’s ear of offloading a manager that everyone knew was leaving by about February, and compounded everything from the lack of interest in the club’s key fan base (i.e. the ones that pay to go to the matches) to the Nikefication of our lovably cheesy megastore and installation of their rancid, half-nonsensical and arrogant advertising slogans plastered all over the Bridge. (‘Thrilling’ us all, and ‘We Are the Pride’) I have a pair of Nike trainers I know refuse to wear on principle.
But anyway. F*ck it. The reality is, are we going to go and support another club? No. They have us hooked and they know it. So at least there is now actual football we can concentrate on again, and I can go about rediscovering my love for watching Chelsea play, which (though elements in their swanky West Stand offices seem to have forgotten) is the point of this now global enterprise and the reason we all fell in love with the club in the first place. (Not because of the promise of an on-site shoeshop where middle aged men would have the opportunity to spend £200 on a pair of Nike football boots. A necessary addition. I’m sure.)
So after all this cockwombling through the act of replacing Antonio like also-rans who didn’t make the final cut to appear on The Apprentice: Huzzah! Sarri finally arrived, coach number fourteen of the Abramovich age; bringing a supposedly maverick style of football and 10,000 Rothman’s with him. And, bringing Zola too, double hurrah! The new boss was a banker, not a footballer, and coaching was a hobby. He puffed his way up through the various tiers of Italian football, (I should point out that Mowgli - special alias - has declared that the second he sees the boss light up inside the bridge, all the stewards in the land won’t stop him from having a fag) and has only had four seasons in top flight management, where he over-achieved with Napoli but ultimately failed to dethrone Juventus.
But. He brings with him this fabled attacking football. Let’s lay this out, if anyone uses the expression “Sarriball” within earshot of me, I make no apologies for slapping you with a match programme. Or any solid object to hand. Because it makes us sound c*nty and Scouse-like with their propensity for dreaming up sh*t nicknames. (Hendo - case in point) He plays a 4-3-3 as standard, and advocates one or two touches and no more. All going forward. Poor Mikel’s head would have exploded if he was still here. Early videos have shown him drilling players again and again as they rocket from one end of the pitch to another in a matter of seconds. So strikers love him, and he favours players with technical ability, disciplined, not to mention obedient. He’s a workaholic, and in return he’s demanding, like Conte, but there was no fun under him, he was exhausting without respite. Sarri has the ability to lighten up, apparently. He’s a superstitious chap. He has been known to fly drones over his own training sessions for analysis, (I’d be so tempted to just dive-bomb players) and he has his men practice a full game in one half to get them used to tight spaces. In the sixth tier of Italian football he drilled 33 different coded set piece routines with men’s names. Apparently it is more like 40 now. He said he’s not at all interested in the transfer window. Music to our ears after listening to Antonio bleat his way through every press conference like a spoiled brat as the season wore on. Sarri is not interested in PR niceties either. He wears what the f*ck he wants and there is no angry code to him wearing a tracksuit instead of Armani. (We’ve had Scolari, who looked like a minor sex offender so anything goes on that score really) He says what he wants too, which has got him into shit, but then we’ve dealt with worse. Do I care if he turns out not to be the kind of bloke I want to adopt as my dad? No. Not if he is good at his job. In the minus column? He’s not won anything. I went on my Eddie Howe crusade over the summer. I’m sick of diva managers and taking one from further down the pecking order and giving him a chance to shine is fine with me. He moves on rapidly - which cynics should say will suit us fine. It will make the press plebs happy, at least.
And so a new manager gets new players, and the club get the chance to redress the balance after falling a bit short in the transfer window last summer. It was worth bumping the homegrown quota and picking up Rob Green on a free just to watch the nappy sh*tting contingent reel. Twitter went into actual Chelsea meltdown. But in addition to this, we needed a top class, first choice keeper. Everyone was touted to replace him. I’m pretty sure if my mum put on a pair of gloves the Daily Fail would have linked her to Chelsea. Butland, Cillessen, Pickford, Oblak, Donnarumma, Cech, Hart. And all along we’d been bidding on Bob (or Rodney, or Dave II) for weeks. Which tells you exactly how much the Red Swarm knew all along. Colour me surprised. They made it all up. In comes a £72m, record breaking signing in the shape of Kepa, on a bumper seven-year deal with a lot of potential to live up to and a name that makes Azpilicueta look like Smith.
We tried to bolster the centre-backs, but Juve held out on Rugani, and there were other positions that needed more prompt attention. Unsurprisingly, after a less than inspiring debut season, Morata was linked with a move away. Though using the fact that he was seen wandering Spain, where he was born, or Italy, where his in-laws are, to link him all over the place was particularly sloppy journalism. We wanted Lewandowski, they said. But we’d need to fork out £100. Plus £9.99 for a baseball bat to slug him over his head. Because why he’d step down to the Europa League and a club who didn’t have a manager, or worse still had a bunny boiler still at the helm at the time is anybody’s guess. Then it was all about Higuain, who opted to remain in Italy. They went for the usual ploy too of linking everyone with a similar passport as potentially following Sarri to England. Insigne said he’d be happy to follow along with half of Italy if you believe the media. But in the event, no new strikers have arrived. Which currently leaves us with Batshuayi, Abraham, Giroud and Morata; and nowhere to hide for the Spaniard this season. He was wet, to say the least last time out. My perception of him has not been aided by a photograph of him blowdrying his wife’s hair. He is so in touch with his feminine side to me now he might as well have a face like Rooney for how attractive he is to me. I hope he succeeds, I really do. Because he can;t have become sh*t overnight and if he doesn’t, we’re screwed.
Most of our attention was on the midfield as the summer progressed. Hazard is not going anywhere, and THAT is the best bit of business we did, whether it be because we asked for £200m, or whether it’s a case of convincing the player to “give it one more season and see how you get on with Sarri.” Who cares, I’ll take it. Our position with regard to a transfer fee won’t be any weaker next summer. And we kept Willian too, who was scurrying for the exit like a rat from a sinking ship with inappropriate emoji-itis under Conte. He practically had his tongue in Chequebook Pulis’s ear at the FA Cup Final. “Mourinho is the best manager I’ve ever worked with,” blah, blah, blah. Chelsea can’t be daft enough to sell another first teamer to a rival can they? Of course they can, but they resisted, probably aided, if there was any truth in it, by the fact that United allegedly refused to let us have a sniff of Martial. There was an inexplicable few weeks when UEFAlona, Real Madrid, literally everyone and his dog tried to sign a thirty year midfielder that can’t always get into our first team, but even though he might have tried to set fire to his passport in an attempt to stave off his return, return he now has, apparently with every intention of behaving like a grown up.
Thus we could afford not to hound every available attacking midfielder on the planet. What we did need to do was ensure that unlike last season, we weren’t having to use Fabregas in a more defensive position, because against the better sides, with the best will in the world he isn’t good enough to do it. Kante, of course, is sublime. But Bakayoko is not, yet, if he is ever going to be. Others are untested. And so in comes Jorginho, a blinding bit of business. He played more passes than anyone in Europe last season, which seems like a good thing based on what we’ll be doing, and he knows all there is to know about working for Sarri and employing his methods. If he has the personality to impart that on his new teammates, and it looks like he does, then he is invaluable. In comes Mateo Kovacic in from Madrid on loan too, hopefully with an option to buy clause at the end of the season. Very promising outlook in that part of the field. Giroud says he and Hazard also tried to have a word with Fekir this summer. Apparently he got all the way to the end of talks with the Scouse. Presumably he then actually went there and that’s why that fell apart.
And finally (and this is dedicated to Chicago) THE NOSE GOES. Sarri appears to have had very little interest in spending any effort on Courtois. Good. Ive never given less of a sh*t about a first team player leaving the club. There goes possibly the most ungrateful sod ever to wear the shirt. I’m not wasting any more ink on a man whose own ego far outweighs his worth as a player. I advocated sympathy with him last season because of his personal situation. Then he kept right on talking. My favourite part was when his agent was implying that big bad Chelsea were keeping a man from his children. Considering that the circumstances leading his then-pregnant partner to relocate back to Madrid revolved entirely around his inability to keep it in his trousers, perhaps he deserved to learn the hard way what happens when you don’t pay any regard to your family.
But bugger his private woes. We paid him to play football. He went from being promising, to meh-worthy because of his propensity to talk utter sh*t without running it through his brain, thus offending people, to being about as likeable as a dose of herpes. Not a pleasant man, and with his departure there is no need for Chelsea fans to zip it on the subject anymore. It isn’t bitterness because he’s gone, it’s annoyance that all he ever did was whinge about being made a multi-millionaire when actually, he wasn’t that great when it mattered. There were many and various hilarious remarks when photos were released of his medical. Searching for brains, finding that he speaks out of his arse, inability to close his legs, no backbone, lack of a heart, and so the list went on. Like the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow all rolled into one with a giant fake beak attached, it seems. Madrid “presented” him. All the bells and whistles couldn’t make up for the fact that he has no personality. Then there was the hilarity of his little photo shoot. “Usually they do keepy uppies” said Sky. Behold, Real, how you just spent £35m on a bloke who can’t use his feet. So he settled for dribbling on the badge instead. I wonder if when he was snogging it the Real fans were pondering on all the nasty stuff he’d said about them before. Atletico fans certainly noticed. They are raiding Spanish Ikea for little stuffed toy rats to bombard his goal with on account of him being a traitorous hypocrite in their eyes. Excellent. He’s already yapping about enticing Hazard to join him. So he may have left the country but I still want to nut him. The rats are one euro each, and I’m going to settle for donating a novelty collection pot to fund some on Marco’s stall for Arsenal instead.
And of course it wouldn’t be summer if Chelsea weren’t pimping out half the contents of Cobham on loan. More will depart; there is talk of Bakayoko to AC Milan and Everton submitted the paperwork to take Kurt Zouma on time. Worse ideas for him. For now this is where our little blue birds have flown to…
Lewis Baker and Jamal Blackman have gone to Leeds. They’ll be popular.
Reece James to Wigan
Dujon Sterling to Coventry
Nathan Baxter to Yeovil
Trevor Chalobah to Ipswich
Jacob Maddox to Cheltenham
Charlie Colkett to Shrewsbury
Todd Kane to Hull
Danilo Pantic to Partizan
Jhoao Rodriguez to Tenerife
Mario Pasalic to Atalanta
Nathan to Atletico Mineiro
Victorien Angban to Metz
Kenedy to Newcastle
Kasey Palmer to Blackburn
Kyle Scott to Telstar
Eduardo and Jake Clarke-Salter to Vitesse
and Mason Mount has gone to Frank at Derby
Preseason literally had no bearing on what is to come this season, so I went on holiday instead of paying much attention to it. That said, firstly nobody appears to have gone on a Edenesque c.2015 Summer Burger Binge, which was a good enough omen for me. Perth flapped about a bit at the beginning but settled down and made life more difficult. Considering they had had no time at all to learn how to do Sarri’s bidding, the hugely depleted squad that went all the way to Australia didn’t look like headless chickens, which was satisfactory enough for me. Hudson-Odoi began a mini rampage to prove his worth for the new manager, which was carried over to the Inter game, where Bakayoko cost us an equaliser, and beyond. Against Arsenal, RLC took a wayward penalty in the shootout but Hazard has called for his presence at the Bridge this season. I’d be surprised if he was going to go abroad, but perhaps if he hasn’t had any football by January they may rethink the situation about a domestic loan. Barkley has also looked sharp and appears to be enjoying life under Sarri in the early stages. Green was the shootout hero against Lyon, well, for the 12 people that went to watch. No, we didn’t come close to beating City, but we didn’t get mauled either . With half a side playing a completely new philosophy of football I can accept that at this stage - 38 set plays - remember? Lots of positivity coming out of others to. Morata says he never want to leave. Nay! The press made it up? Perish the thought? After 181 days out of the picture, Luiz arrived back in the side at Wembley and Giroud is all for fighting for his place, he says.
Prospects are good - do not forget that our unbeaten run that led to the title in Conte’s first season did not start until October. And we had to get mauled by ARSENAL first. Patience, people, patience. Top four and a decent run in the Europa League will do for me.
Rejoin me for part II later on, where we’ll laugh at Arsenal, United and Sp*rs.
*Picture of a Chelsea Manager actually smiling at a press conference (yes, really) comes from the club's official site.
Chelsea 0 Manchester City 2
Sunday 5th August 2018 15:00 Community Shield
...Mr Sarri, but it's your job to make me love my club again after a pretty f*cking turbulent summer that has left me rocking in a corner, hugging my cat and stuffing chocolate in my face. Good luck.
This doesn't feel like the beginning of - new season at all with half the side still on holiday. They fielded a much stronger team than us. Nobody who progressed further than the group stages on the World Cup started for the Blues but there was a welcome return for Luiz. Debuts - Mahrez for them - a truly horrific warm up shirt for us, as well as Jorginho. Hudson-Odoi got the start he so richly deserves after his showing so far in pre-season. They were closer to full strength so it would be a good marker to see how Sarri is getting on when he is pitched against a side that were dominant champions a few months ago. Although at least Sarri looked like a coach. Pep looked like he has been taking style tips from Joey f*cking Barton - who turned up to Fleetwood's opener looking like he was going for a night out at his local Wetherspoon's and rightly got two points docked for his sartorial whimsy.
The first half-chance fell to Sane on two minutes after Morata gave the ball away. I was more interested in watching Luiz and Aguero, because even if the football was sh*t we would be entertained Gladiator style, with them pulling each other's limbs off and using them as clubs. We were already notably trying to push the ball around, everyone trying to off the ball in two touches or less. And forward. Mikel's head would have literally exploded. It all looked very new though, and certainly not sharp yet. There were some sparks though, Barkley looked out to impress and Hudson-Odoi was the font of all promising attempts to bust through their half. We were not pinned to the wall, but they'd had much more possession. We were a little wasteful in giving the ball away and it bit us in the a*se inside the first fifteen minutes. We just failed completely to shut Aguero down, nowhere near tight enough at all and their first goal notably came through the spot where you'd usually be expecting the Kante twins to have worked their magic. Sarri was making a copious amount of notes, which is what you want to see at this stage. As the half wore on we started to build up some time on the ball, but much of it was still sloppy. Yet they kept breaking and we'd yet to fashion a shot on or off target. Problem number one with this setup. If a side shuts this philosophy down and doesn't let you play this dynamic attacking football then it leaves us bereft. It's going to make it even more imperative that we seize every chance we get instead of wasting 90% of them like we did last season. On the half hour mark CHO (I can't keep typing this out for the next decade) cut inside and it was about as close as we'd come, but still a good way high. He came much, much closer by running through on 33 and leaving the City defence for dust, but it was stopped by the keeper. He had looked the best going forward by miles for us so far. More possession than most of the rest of combined. Morata had been anonymous. If I have noticed him, it had been because he had been giving the ball away. We'd just started to find our feet a bit as the half entered the final stages, but the danger was always there. Luiz had to bail out Alonso on 35. Christ knows where the left back was as City broke. He nearly atoned two minutes later with a looping ball across to the far corner, but the keeper was alive to the threat. He clumsily let it bounce over his head in injury time, but he got out of jail. So at the break we've not seen any evidence of this dynamic attacking football, but let's be fair, it is going to take more than three weeks to learn how to play it. CHO had done more than anyone to claim a start next week so far.
On 47 minutes Morata was in, but what manifested itself was a really limp attempt at driving past the two defenders. As in none whatsoever.
Somehow Aguero only hit the side netting when he was one on one with Big Willy. Dave deserves credit for arriving in the nick of time to push him wide too. Everything they do was coming down our left hand side. Our midfield was being overrun, and no pressure was being applied by the front three collectively, with only HO holding the ball up. Added to that this wasn't dynamic at all, there was no tempo. On 57 the ball was given away cheaply up front and within ten seconds they've gone down the other end and scored. I feel for the defence today. Massive pressure on Luiz and Rudi all afternoon. Dave was commendable but Alonso had been violated all afternoon on the left flank. You can't afford to gift City possession anywhere on the pitch, and we kept doing it, so time to experiment with something different. Willian and Drinkwater poised to come on for CHO and Fabregas, who had been hanging out of his a*se since the half hour mark. Within seconds Pesto (updated my iPhone operating system over the summer - autospell is still sh*t) was limping but he managed to run off knock by the 64th minute when he hit a shot with all the conviction of Bertie the kitten pushing his empty food bowl around the floor and hoping that a pouch of gourmet Felix will appear in it.
Refwatch: Jonathon Moss. After Bobby Madley last year the FA continued their habit of awarding the Community Shield to a complete f*cktard. That said I barely noticed the chump was there. If only it could be so every time his podgy face emerges.
The new boss continued to ring the changes. Tammy Abraham came on on 69 for Morata, but we looked ragged and as if we are running out of steam. It was a big ask to expect him to turn it all around. St. Pep sacrificed Aguero for Kompany to see out the result, and enter Moses stage left for Pesto on 79. He looked spritely, almost breaking through on 84, but Chelsea fans were already streaming out of the ground. I don't know how the f*ck he missed on 88 minutes. Another half chance that might have turned this into a match, but failed to materialise. There had been a few.
So: If Kante is even 15% match fit for Huddersfield he'll start. I was already confident that Fabregas will be a bit part player this season and nothing happened to convince me otherwise today. Not only that but Jorginho's afternoon was hampered by covering for him, and he was much helped when Tenacious Double D came on. More promise from CHO, no improvement from Morata yet, David Luiz making Conte look like a mug by slotting straight back in the side next to Rudi. Concerns over Alonso in a more traditional left back role for me, not so for Dave on the other side. Nothing special from Pesto and a bit of a dud game for the subs to come on and make a play for a starting berth next week. I don't think Caballero was at fault for either goal, but none the less all eyes will be on what's happening with Courtois in the run up to the close of the transfer window. I'm of a mind now that we make him stay and he can do what the hell he wants as a free agent in the summer. Rather that than us end up short.
This was a reality check for all those who thought Sarri might turn up with his famed relentless attacking and we'd surmount the thirty odd point gap to the top of the table last season in the blink of an eye. It is just another pre-season friendly, let's be honest. Albeit with a lot of bells and whistles attached. Lots to work on. Sh*t gets serious tomorrow when everyone else returns from holiday. Just get through Huddersfield without a disaster and then for me our season really begins with Arsenal, when the damn window has been shut for fortnight and everyone has had time to settle down more. This was by no means as hilarious and exciting as I anticipate the bonkers end to the transfer window to be - At which point I will be back to mock it all.
You can now purchase the book of last season. Huzzah! A version for phone and tablet etc. is to follow in the next 24 hours or so:
*Photo of Alonso pulling a face that summed up his day is from Chelsea's official website