So, here we are at the season’s end, and I have a problem. So I thought I’d put quill to parchment to put a few words out there and see what you, the goodly lords and ladies who follow our fine club, think.
My problem is that I appear to have a different perspective on things to the majority of observers I see who comment on these matters. Specifically; on the title race, on Carlo, and on Salomon Kalou.
The title race first; It is not over.
Okay, all bar the shouting maybe, but there is still a lot of shouting to do. I am most definitely not one of the hysterical idiots who are yelling about our season being a failure. I may, however, be an idiot for thinking there is still a glimmer of hope left, pale and feeble though it is.
Maybe it’s because I’ve followed Chelsea through the 70’s and 80’s when hope was all we had. Hope and a debt, anyway. But let me explain my thinking.
United have to go to Blackburn on Saturday. Blackburn need the points, perhaps even more desperately than United. Blackburn have only conceded two goals in their last three League games, and they haven’t lost for two games. And it’s a lunchtime kick-off. And yes, I’m clutching at straws!
But at least those straws are still there to be clutched.
So, to continue: a poor performance from a United side who think the title is theirs and Blackburn luck it with a 1-0 win.
And United’s next match? The mighty Blackpool. Okay, maybe not so mighty, but a few days before the European Championship Final? I’m willing to suggest even Ebbw Vale Town FC could appear a bit on the mighty side a few days before having to play in the game which is the real pinnacle of club football.
Add into the equation: players fearful of injuries, extra pressure because we’ve beaten Newcastle, and maybe a deliberately weakened United. So lightening strikes twice, and Blackpool win.
It’s not likely, but it’s not impossible. And while it remains possible, it remains time to keep on shouting. Because as we all know, anything can happen over two games.
Secondly; In praise of Don Carletto.
We’ve heard and read the arguments for and against keeping him so many times already. I don’t want to go into them all yet again, because no doubt this will continue until the club say something definitive.
Suffice to say, I think we are all agreed that our “bad moment” cost us domestically. So, I want to have a quick look at the two main reasons why our bad moment was so bad.
Two significant issues contributed to it: too many injuries, and the Wilkins situation.
You cant do much about a run of injuries (and illnesses) to key players, on a scale that happens only once every few seasons apart from maintaining a big squad. The board had already decided that was not an option. Finances dictated that the squad size needed to be reduced and so experienced players were let go.
It is entirely possible that a Ballack or a fit Benayoun would have been enough to turn the tide during that period. That’s all conjecture though, and hindsight is as wonderful as it is useless. In fairness the board couldn’t have foreseen the spate of injuries, but by the same token they cannot now blame Carlo for that either.
Injuries are part of football. We get through them with total support from all parts of the club, and that’s where the club failed. Whereas injuries are unavoidable, turning a bad moment into a horrific time was most certainly avoidable.
At a time when the team is struggling for form, fitness and players, the club decided to shoot itself in the foot by firing Ray Wilkins.
This disgraceful piece of inept boardroom mismanagement could have, and should have, been avoided. A more ludicrously stupid decision I have never seen; a more pitifully managed scenario you could not hope to witness.
After everything that Carlo, Roman, the players, the fans and those in the boardroom themselves have done over the last 18 months to promote a better image for the club, they managed to undo most of that work in a single phone call. Not to mention the effect on team morale, the silence at board level after the event was deafening in the way it spoke volumes about the character and nature of those who govern our club.
Pathetic and incompetent – whatever the cause or the reasoning behind it, the handling of the situation was truly, shockingly, and risibly inept.
Rant over. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes (I don’t make a habit of criticising the club, but I think in this instance it is justified). My point is that Carlo cannot be blamed for the sacking, or for the abject team displays that followed it. You cannot sh*t and p*ss on an artists’ paints and brushes and then say to him “Now go and paint a masterpiece”.
I would argue then that Carlo was not responsible for the two primary factors that caused us to miss out on the title this time around. How then, can we dismiss the man who bought us the double last year?
Finally; Kalou and Spurs.
Did you see his face when he scored against them? The way he brushed off Ashley Cole’s exuberant celebration? The way he left the pitch at the final whistle?
Most observers are suggesting that his behaviour was throwing his toys out of the pram after being relegated to the bench. Yes, I know it is frustrating when you don’t start a game, but would it really affect him so much that he behaved in a way that is so totally out of character?
Surely he is used to being benched. He’s gone through this scenario many times before and he’s surely used to it. This has been the story of his career at Chelsea – sad, but true, because the boy has so much skill, so much potential, and perhaps the club are getting tired of waiting for that potential to come to fruition.
Why should he suddenly turn into an overgrown child a spoilt brat, a Le Sulk, as he has been branded in some quarters. It doesn’t add up and I don’t buy it. But maybe, just maybe, his time is up. Personally I would be sad to see him go, but the club could be looking to revamp. Maybe he is gone. The question is, where to?
Settled in London, doesn’t want to leave the city or the Premier League, once wooed by Arsene Wenger (no, surely not!!), he is most certainly Uncle Harry’s type of player. Maybe it’s already been sorted. A deal at White Hart Lane anyone?
His goal, the one that knocked the stuffing out of Spurs may also have stopped our Sal playing Champions League football next season. At least, that how it could have looked at the time. It’s that which, to me at least, could well explain the out-of-character behaviour.
There are a lot of “maybes” here, aren’t there? I must admit that I’m surprised no one else has thought of this; when I saw his muted celebration it all became obvious to me.
So, am I making two and two into four, or 21? Is it Bye Bye Salomon? What do you folks think?