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The Emergence Of Honest Appraisal At Last?

Eton Blue at the Chelsea Megastore

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“At the summit, Mourinho is showing Premier League clubs how to advance and retreat as a single fighting force. Chelsea are in another galaxy to the rest. Premier League campaigns are not meant to be over by Christmas – but this one threatens to be.â€


Paul Hayward (The Daily Telegraph, 11th November, 2014)


Scales of such magnitude, falling from the so-called expert eye, were first recorded way back and assumed biblical proportion. Saul was his name, the event leading to the return of his sight, and nothing quite like it has happened since - until now that is, when, in that parallel religious world known as Premiership football, suddenly without warning, everyone starts to understand and appreciate Jose Mourinho’s philosophy on how the game should be played and why, if played well, adoption of it breeds success. Even Paul Hayward, generous by current quote, but blinkered by past contradiction (remember his blithe interpretation of all this ‘advance and retreat’ stuff as mere manoeuvre before the parking of a bus?) is now finding himself, like a latter-day Jimmy Cliff, seeing clearly now. No doubt about it, Paul is no longer blinded and seemingly on the road to nowhere, but off to Stamford Bridge, his ‘damascene moment’ having duly arrived!


“Look at the season and Chelsea are on course for 105 points.â€


Arsene Wenger (10th November, 2014)


Okay, this Wengerian decree is more Le Prophecy than outright visitation, but in truth it comes at a time when support for his own philosophy on the game has dwindled to the sporadic and half-hearted utterances of a few diehard disciples who still maintain that he knows - it’s just that they are not quite sure how much, or if it will ever include tactical substitutions made when and where appropriate. It has been left to Paul Merson to give Arsenal the first of their last rites, by calling the once all-knowing one ’clueless’ in his approach. Personally, I think that ‘approach’ is overflowing with clues all pointing damningly in Arsene’s direction and leaving him bang to those rites on grounds of stubbornness in the extreme. The mere fact that he not only pontificates on our final Premiership points total, but also portrays it as an inevitability, getting clean away unquestioned as to why his side will be well short of eighty, let alone the hundred mark, says it all really with regards to his epiphany - Arsene knows alright, he just likes to scale the scaling downwards and as Jonathan Liew, another Daily Telegraph journalist, so succinctly puts it, the Frenchman’s great fear is not of being misunderstood, but of being understood too well.


“The potential of the team is there, but there is no critical evaluation of mistakes and they need to be acknowledged. Because no genius can retain the same level of genius if they do not acknowledge mistakes. It’s only when you admit your mistakes that you can get rid of them.†


Alisher Usmanov (Arsenal Shareholder, 24th November, 2014)


To be fair to the billionaire oligarch, his words have no direct link to the genius of the Special One, nor realisation of it, but you don’t have to read between these three lines to realises what, exactly, he’s getting at, and to which mistake in particular the Russian is alluding to. Clues seem to be the order of the day in this piece, so I’ll give you a few to be going on with… he plays next to Nemanja Matic, interchanges with Oscar, has 13 assists in the Premiership and Champions League, has recorded the most touches (174) against WBA, most final third passes (72) and most successful passes in the final third (64) by any player in a league game this season. If you’re still none the wiser (much like Messrs van Gaal, Rodgers and Wenger) you too would have missed out on the bargain buy of the summer, at £27m from Barcelona, although I’ll credit all Chelsea fans with more sense than to have competed with these three wise men to sign the costlier Mesut Ozil, Adam Lallana or Anders Herrera instead.   


So there you have it, three examples of acceptance, albeit grudging, curt and coded, of Chelsea’s perceived emergence from ugly chrysalis into what will hopefully be the warm glow of genuine appreciation in the months to come - Poyet style bus parking permitting. Of course, if butterfly movement in attack can ever be called ’ruthless’ purely because it threatens a Costa sting on deadly completion, then it will continue to be described as such for the rest of the season and there is nothing much we can do about it. But please, no more talk of the relentless machine, the workmanlike approach, or the boring play - it’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s complete codswallop. 


This team, this manager, this club deserve better than that, not just for combining their skills to create on a potentially dynastic scale, but for doing so against a media backdrop that has, until now, always tried to veil our club’s good intentions in a concocted controversy. Cryptic clues suggest enlightenment on a grand scale is just around the corner, although I’m sure that any opposition fan reading this will still be quick to grasp that customary straw of last resort on these occasions - claiming it to be borne of typical arrant smugness, over-confidence and sense of entitlement that all Chelsea fans have. 


A clueless response or fair comment on my Clue-doh summation? Trophies and the telling of this season’s tale will ultimately confirm either way, but in the meantime I think we can say with some degree of certainty that eyes are beginning to be opened.    


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. But please, no more talk of the relentless machine, the workmanlike approach, or the boring play - it’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s complete codswallop. 



That really winds me up, given the football we've played so far.

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