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Reflections and Perceptions

Eton Blue at the Chelsea Megastore

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Seeing last night’s game for the first time only a few hours ago my initial reaction was one of shock, at the way we defended, and relief, that as per usual we were nowhere near as bad as Sky Sports News would have the world believe us to be. Of course, I only have the SSN second half claptrap to go by, as the youth team game was on my viewing agenda until then and that match not only lived up to expectations, but surpassed them with flying colours. So this post is all about perception on both performances - mine, biased as it is, and Sky’s, self-servingly selective as it always will be.

Let’s start with the youngsters - terrific, gutsy, full of flair, we played all the football on the night while Villa looked to reproduce a standard, typically English style of play drawn from any of the previous three decades you care to pick. I’m not being derogatory to Villa, because they have genuine talent in Delfouneso and Forrester, while Albright is as tricky a wide player as Mirsolav Stoch is for us. It’s just that Paul Clement has instilled a real passing game into our lads which, it seems, no amount of ‘roll yer sleeves up football’ fazes. Gael Kakuta epitomises the style and was once again irresistible, whether out wide or playing in the hole, and this leads to my main observation…

Clement was refreshingly proactive in his tactics throughout, utilising an attack-minded Mellis in defence to counteract the speed and guile of Delfouneso from the off and, when things didn’t look right in defence, reverting to the Jeffrey Bruma/Patrick van Aanholt pairing. This meant subbing Mellis for Gordon to play at LB and shifting Kakuta into a more central role to compensate for the loss of the Mellis breaks from the back, both decisions being made to look seamless by the players concerned - excellent stuff from the coach! A win-clinching goal duly arrived from Adam Phillip after he was introduced to add some pace up front with twenty or so minutes to go and that was in itself another impressive tactical substitution.

Admittedly, you wouldn’t expect such saddo, patriotic coverage from the SSN, but I did expect a little more than the muted reception our victory received, albeit in larger font size than the usual bottom of the screen result reporting. Doubtless had Forrester’s two goals seen the Villa home he would have been hailed as the next Michael Owen and interviewed afterwards surrounded by jubilant fans (who, incidentally, ungraciously booed us off the pitch). Totally diverse perceptions I know, but, trust me, if you didn‘t see it, football was most definitely the winner on the night on all counts, except Lee Sawyer’s red carded tackle. Sadly for him, he may well be a Steven Gerrard look alike, but he has yet to receive the same divine absolution when going in for the ball - ask Jeff Winter.

On second thoughts, don’t bother because he is still the same prat he was when he was dressed in black and trying to be a proper referee. How do I know? Well, after thinking for many a month that he was dead, he returned to the SSN screen today to crucify the club’s players in general and Ashley Cole in particular for his tackle on Hutton. No mention of the Zokora tackle on Essien by the way, which isn’t surprising, bearing in mind that, if you foul the Bison, the SSN will always think he deserved it, as he wears a Chelsea shirt. Think that’s harsh? Well, I suggest you wade through the endless showing of Ronaldo’s free kick goal against Bolton and wait to see the current debate they’re wilfully generating by pleading for e-mails on the Cole incident. Sad, but true and a reflection on the type of Sky bias that employees like Martin Tyler continue to deny exists.

This brings me full circle to the marvellous advert for Premiership football that was last night’s game. Not described as such by SSN, as the match didn’t involve ManU or Ronaldo and arrived in our living room five days earlier than Sky ordered. Hence the wall to wall coverage of the over the wall Ronaldo free kick (bit of a warm up for the Super-duper, Hyper-diaper (in case you wet yourself with excitement) Sunday. For the neutral our 4-4 draw with Spurs had everything, but for Sky there has to be something better and you have to be watching it at the weekend, so their perception of this particular goal-fest admirably proves my point regarding Sky selectivity.

All that’s left is my own perception on two points lost, no footballing friends gained (with Sky in charge we NEVER will have any) and a widening gap at the top of the Premiership table. As I’ve got this far without Grant bashing, I could be compassionate on this occasion and desist, so I will, except to say that his performance was about as reactive as Clement’s was proactive and therefore nowhere near as effective. Still, at least we have a fantastic youth team to look forward to and, you never know, in the years to come they could mature into a great team with a great manager - whoever that may be. I'll stop now, before nostalgia sets in and I start going on about the Doc's 'little diamonds'...

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our youth teams display last night was nothing short of magnificent. and as you so elequently put it, paul clement and his coaching staff deserve all the plaudits. some of the attacking football we played was exquisite. and as mr clemetn said in the interview after the game, he believes we can outplay any team and were finally getting the character and guts to out battle teams too. the future most definately looks good. on the spurs game, i cant believe some of the over the top comments on this forum today. i understand people are upset at the way we threw the game away (i was as gutted as anyone) but a point away to spurs at the moment isnt such a bad result. people seemed to build this game up as an easy 3 points, but it was never gonna be that. watching the sky commentary it seemed to me we were constantly on the back foot, and lucky to be 3-1 up. watching the highlights and reading the reviews painted an entirely different picture. strange that.

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Excellent as ever Dorset.

The YT's victory last night did ease the pain slightly and its great to see them doing well. Generally, you get one or two members of such sides progressing to the first team (West Ham's 1998 [1999?] winning side being a prime example).

I havent watched SSN since the game and I dont really plan to, their bias doesnt surprise me.

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