The Ego Monster Rumbles On

So the special one returns to Stamford Bridge this evening, with fresh digs at Chelsea about how he wins the important games and Chelsea [since his departure] wins something. Nice, okay, but not everybody has been upended by the bluster and forgotten that we didn’t actually win the Champions League under Jose.

We often played appallingly in the group stages, particularly away from home, and came closer under the match maligned Avram Grant. Or the somewhat tame exits from the Carling Cup or the fact that he lost to Inter’s greatest rivals recently. Apart from that, no.

Of course many will be glad to see him back at Stamford Bridge, not least of all the press who will have news to report – Jose ate all the Custard Creams in one sitting, etc. – rather than creating news, and many fans too will be pleased (elated, ecstatic, some might say) to see him back. But just remember, fanboydom makes you blind.

Goes without saying that although he’s much loved, there’s a bit of needle involved in this match and the players will have a point to prove on the pitch. They’d do well to avoid the papers for a few days because if we win it’ll be Jose’s team, if we lose it’ll be Jose the master tactician.

We all have to hope that they get their heads down, get on with the job and, above all, are very patient. If the chances come our way, we must take them but at the same time we must defend well, better than we’ve needed to for a long time. We’ll need to be extra vigilant about the tactics of some of the Inter players, too.

Make no mistake, there will be cheating. Jose knows our history in this competition because he wrote part of it, which means he knows very well the frustration and poor decisions we’ve had to suffer. Don’t think for one moment he won’t use that to his advantage.

We have the away goal, but if Inter score just one we’ll need to score three to prevent extra time. We’re capable of doing that, particularly in the dying minutes of a game, but the pressure would be immense.

Inter don’t travel well, though, with just one win to their name away from home in the last two months, and only two wins from seven home and away. This generally is when Inter dip out of the Champions League, having done so for the last three seasons. Let’s hope that trend continues.

Injury woes continue at Chelsea and tonight we play with our third choice keeper in goal. Far from pointing out his weaknesses, I think the best we can do is wish Ross Turnbull all the very best for this evening, and look to the experience of the players around him to provide the support he’s going to need.

We’ve been here before though. Ambrosio in 2004, and it’s doubtful many will have forgotten Hilario being thrown into the fray against Barcelona after the Reading thugs battered two keepers in one match.

Carvalho returns from injury and is available, so it’s a toss-up between him and Alex, who’s performed well in his last two games, but if Carvalho is truly match fit we can expect him to get the nod for this one.

Fans and players alike will need to be extraordinarily patient, and though most of us would take two or three nil lead after a frenetic 20 minutes of play, how many of us could stand to watch us defend that lead for another 70 minutes? Indeed, none of us.

A match free from controversy and the obvious attentions of Uefa would be nice, but nicer still would be to send Jose home with his tail between his legs so we can get on with our own business, thank you very much.

It’s going to be painful to watch at times. It’s going to be a long match. It’s going to be 3-1 to Chelsea.