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Dorset

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Friends of Roman, countrymen, fellow Shed-Enders, proof has at last arrived! As of now we can all say with certainty that Tammy Wynette got it right when she made that hit record and dedicated it to Avram Grant! No, Callista, you can relax, because I’m not referring to D.I.V.O.R.C.E. and before you-know-who chippy’s in with a chorus or two of Stand By Your Man, it’s not that one either. Although the actual song title escapes me for the moment, those opening lines about him are as true today as they no doubt were when he schmoozed his way into the recording studio back in the early Nineties and inspired the disc - he still feels justified after an ill-conceived team selection: he looked as ancient as the hills when it came to rapid response substitutions and, if he drives an ice cream van, Tammy’s got him just about bang to rights as far as I’m concerned.

That summary may be far too surreal for many of you, but surreal is how it is for me at the moment and, even after a night’s sleep, I don’t feel any better. It’s surreal because nobody in the real world invests a fortune in a football club, sets up a long term strategic business plan, incorporates within it experts in every field and then employs a catalyst of a manager to make it all work in an instant, do they? And if they did, nobody in the real world would let all that good work go to waste by getting rid of the catalyst and putting a spanner in the works instead, even if it was a glib, glad-handing one, would they? And even if they did, nobody in the real world would then, after hearing the odd rattle of discontent and sensing that there might be a screw loose somewhere, give the spanner a four year contract, would they, WOULD THEY?

Answer those questions and you’ll see why I’m finding it so difficult to get a grip on the reality that is Chelsea FC these days. When Jose left, the pursuit of a more entertaining style of play was said to be our aim. In reality, we have not achieved that aim, nor remotely looked like doing so. Another realistic aim was a less confrontational style of management, which in turn would improve the atmosphere around the club and be beneficial to the players. In reality, the atmosphere does appear to have changed, but as a result the players may well have moved from an ever ready and winning war zone footing under Jose into an all too often losing (but graciously) comfort zone under Avram, broken only by the odd element of surprise - Joe not selected after being teacher’s pet for a while, Anelka looking all at sea on the left wing and SWP in the side and on the other wing of a 4-3-3 that, even to the most inept of tacticians, cried out to be a bog standard 4-4-2. It’s a different atmosphere all right, but so rarefied it’s not going to inspire much confidence for those three now, is it? They don’t quite know where they are and in my current state of mind neither do I. For instance, are we allowed to judge Avram yet? Or is he still to get a free crack of the whip (as if he’d use it if he got it) until the end of the season when, we are told by his supporters, he’ll be able to ’bring in his own players’?

Now there’s a surreal thought to take me full circle - Avram’s players coming in and performing better than those we’ve got already. I suppose it could happen, if you believe the talk of Frank and Didier being bound for Mour Mour Land, cos that seems justified, it’s ancient [rumour], it could be part of Roman’s master plan (there you are, I knew all the hook lines would come to me eventually) and, whether that ‘land’ be a promised one, a settlement just outside Milan, a little reservation down in sunny Barcelona, it’s got to be a viable alternative to impending chaos and confusion around here. Just in time to finish the topic with additional lyrics and full song title…to the Bridge, to the Bridge…

Justified and Ancient (Stand by Avram?)

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For instance, are we allowed to judge Avram yet? Or is he still to get a free crack of the whip (as if he’d use it if he got it) until the end of the season when, we are told by his supporters, he’ll be able to ’bring in his own players’?

End of the season? Most of the Avi-Brigade think he should have until the end of NEXT season! By then we will have undone all the work put in by Ranieri and Jose. My fear is Roman punishing us by leaving Avi in charge, as punishment for the ungrateful response to the appointment of his mate.

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For instance, are we allowed to judge Avram yet? Or is he still to get a free crack of the whip (as if he’d use it if he got it) until the end of the season when, we are told by his supporters, he’ll be able to ’bring in his own players’?

End of the season? Most of the Avi-Brigade think he should have until the end of NEXT season! By then we will have undone all the work put in by Ranieri and Jose. My fear is Roman punishing us by leaving Avi in charge, as punishment for the ungrateful response to the appointment of his mate.

Is Jokanovic still at the club? We must be told.... 541.gif

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The thing is, when all is said and done, Roman calls the shots.

If he wants this plonker in charge for another season, then it’s he we shall have!? What can we do about it?

Not alot I’m thinking!

Certainly can do nothing if we don't express displeasure to club. No, you don't have to write to Santa Claus, but it's a good start.

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You probably got it just about right Dorset, i dont like it when clubs blame managers for a string of bad results and go and sack them, but this is a very different situation.

Avram has been (and probably will all season) been hiding behind results and league positions, with a little sprinkling of injuries he has got away with it so far.

But yesterday was the first day that i can say 'hand on heart', he isnt capable of managering a premiership club, never mind a top 4 prem club.

The injuried and African players have returned, were back to full strength, so cant use that excuse no more. I can see the next excuse being that he needs time to gel the players back together after all the injuries and the African cup.

The league looks to have slipped away over the last 3-4 weeks, weve lost the Carling cup, were only 1 away goal from going out of the champions league, thank God we only got Barnsley in the FA cup.

Things have looked rosey as far as results go, up until now, whats worrying is i cannot see Roman backing down at all on this one. Weve got lots of worldclass players, who will grind out results most weeks, but with no managment to inspire them and no creative coaching, weve ended up with a 3 point tunnel vision team with no flare or creativity.

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Great post Dorset.

But as Elliott said Roman calls the shots and as long as he believes Grant is the right man for the job then what you, I or anyone else believe is a sad irrelevance no matter how valid the opinion my be.

We can only hope that this loss was a warning shot across the bows to Kenyon, Buck, Roman and yes Grant that the celebratory back slapping recently about the bright shiny new Chelsea - which I must admit I had not seen much evidence of - is a mirage.

Yes, things around the club in terms of the media are far quieter, less controversy, less angst as Kenyon attested - how could they be anything else with Grant's press conferences as "fodder" for the press pack to get indigestion on? But I agree that the down side of all this happy clappy we're all calm and quiet now is that you wonder if it actually has a detrimental effect if it goes too far in the other direction amongst the players. That "war footing" you talk about is something Fergie engenders too and it's no surprise that Mourinho followed that similar pattern.

As for criticising Grant I don't see why he can't be held to account - he's been in the job 5 months now surely the honeymoon period is over? He wanted this job, he took it when offered, you do that and you accept the fact you are going to be under enormous pressure and will get criticised if things go wrong. He's meant to be as very smart guy apparently, so he can't hide behing the idea that he didn't realise what he was getting into. That said, I don't see any point in lambasting the guy for what it seemed clear to me months ago he was - an average coach, from a backwater league (Israel), with no renowned attacking credentials, who had no experience of coaching a big team of superstars but critically with many powerful friends in very high places.

That's what I thought when he was appointed, what I continued to think when we thrashed Man City 6-0 and everyone seemed to be wetting their knickers over it and what I still thought when we did well over Christmas and into the New Year.

He's not a bad coach, he does not appear to be a bad person but I don't think he's good enough to manage Chelsea long term and I stick by that assessment. But equally, I'll continue to support him despite my deep reservations to the end of the season.

I think he needs to be given the season and as for next who the hell knows what Roman is thinking - he never talks to the fans so it's just guess work isn't it?

I think it depends how much Grant has managed to persuade Roman that with a few extra players and another £100 million spent he could turn Chelsea next season into a London version of Barcelona, or that if he only had a Sports Director in place to take the strain off him he'd be laughing.

And most importantly it depends how we do in the champions league - that's the key I think. We've already won the league and FA Cup and I sense the one thing that would make Roman forgive anything is getting his hands on that CL trophy.

If he gets us to the final and God help us actually wins it then what happened yesterday will mean little. If we go out again then I think Roman may well finally realise that appointing a manager on the basis that they're your mate and you like them and they don't cause controversy is just not a good enough reason.

Right now, I'm doing a Tammy Wynette and standing by my man. Although I have taken a precaution of purchasing a flak jacket in a fetching Chelsea away yellow in case I cop any of the fall out if he f**ks up again.

Actually standing behind my man might be safer.

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