The Last Leg

We’re now well into the home straight of the 2013/2014 football season.  With three Premier League games remaining, at the time of writing we still have a chance of winning the League, and next week we face Athletico Madrid in the Champions League Semi-Final second leg at Stamford Bridge.

The season hasn’t all been plain sailing.  Refereeing fiascos at Villa Park and at home to Sunderland last week have cost us dear.  Jose’s understandable and predictable response has led to FA charges on both occasions.  Late season injuries and suspensions could yet scupper any chance of silverware.  The press are already bigging up a Premier League win for the Scousers. Certain journalists remain implacable in their detestation of the Special One – as seen on Twitter tonight when one hack in particular used the tragic and untimely death of Tito Vilanova to score cheap points at Mourinho’s expense.  He has now deleted the tweet in question, but the words “I’m sorry” have yet to appear.

However, as far as Chelsea fans, who are the only ones whose opinion count, it’s still been a hugely positive season.  If supporters had been told last August we’d be in at the death in the league, and with a fighting chance of a second Champions League final in three years, 90% would probably have been happy.  And there have been some real bonuses along the way.  For me, notwithstanding the brilliance of Hazard, Willian is right up there for Player of The Season.  Matic’s return to Chelsea has given us a powerhouse in midfield.  And Mohammed Salah has shown genuine promise.  There are areas of concern, of course.  The lack of a genuine goalscorer has handicapped us in the goal difference stakes. And without wishing to be over-critical of Mark Schwarzer, who, whilst playing competently and well protected by his defence against Athletico Madrid, was heavily implicated in Sunderland’s equaliser last week, the injury to Petr Cech in the CL semi first leg again highlighted the need for a genuinely world class goalie to challenge the Czech for the keeper’s jersey.  I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere.

The word I’d use to describe this season is “pleasurable”.  There have been moments of disappointment – particularly at the Sewage Works, as Birmingham City supporting members of my family refer to it, on 15th March.  But some stunning highs – consecutive home league wins against our North London rivals particularly spring to mind, and of Jose Mourinho’s 77 unbeaten home league games, the extraordinary 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal, will probably go down as my favourite.  The subsequent hangover definitely won’t.

So, onward to Anfield on Sunday for the first of two season defining games.  This time next week, we could either be facing an empty season or one of untold riches.  However, the song remains the same.  Win or lose, up the Blues.

Around SW6

Safe Standing Roadshow

Terrracing returned to the Fulham Road on 19th April as the Chelsea Supporters Trust, in association with cfcuk, presented the Safe Standing Roadshow before the Sunderland game.  Huge thanks are due to Jon Darch of the Football Supporters Federation for bringing the roadshow down, giving hundreds of supporters the opportunity to inspect and try out the rail seats, and ask Jon myth-busting questions about the subject.

The Safe Standing Survey closes at midnight tonight (25th April), so if you haven’t yet completed it, this is your very last chance.  The results will be published once the data has been collated by the various supporters’ groups who have been running the survey.

Madrid – Incidents in Vicente Calderon Stadium

The Chelsea Supporters Trust would like to hear from any supporters who were unlucky enough to be the subject of unacceptable behaviour from Madrid police in and around the Vincente Calderon Stadium on Tuesday night, or from anyone who witnessed such incidents.  More information can be found on the CST website – please be assured that all information will be dealt with in strictest confidence.

Chelsea Charity Heroes News

Matthew Harding Lower season ticket holder Kim Youle (aka @StamfordBluez) is part of the Awesome Wells team undertaking the Three Peaks Challenge on 17th May. They will be raising money for the childrens’ charity React, which provides essential equipment and assistance to life-limited children cared for by financially disadvantaged families, and Asthma UK.  Kim is giving up her birthday to participate in this event, and any donations to this splendid effort would be hugely appreciated.

And Finally

Talking of fundraising, an intriguing project came to the attention of TheChels.Net last week, courtesy of Jason Cundy’s Twitter feed.  Readers of a certain age will recall that the 1990 World Cup Golden Boot was won by Italy’s Salvatore Schillaci, with six goals.  After that, his career went into decline, mainly due to injuries dating from just before Italia 90, and he retired in 1999.  Subsequently, he seems to have vanished.  Now, Steve, Greg, Alex & Rob from Portsmouth are heading to Italy to try and find him, in their documentary “Searching For Schillaci”.  The costs of the documentary itself are not high, but their biggest stumbling block is the money they need to pay to FIFA for the broadcast rights to show footage from Italia 90, which of course forms such an integral part of the story.  The team are trying to raise the cash via indiegogo, and even if everyone reading this could spare just a quid, that would be a huge boost for them.  Visit their home page  here.

I’ll be back over the next couple of week with an end of season review, and, fingers crossed, a Travels With The Chels from our last visit to the Stadium of Light (Lisbon, not Sunderland).  In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @BlueBaby67.