ll those vacating the away end tonight might want to mind out not to get run over by the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
In the News: Before I say anything: I don’t perceive our board to be infallible. I’m not saying that they have not failed to keep promises that were made to the manager, or that behind closed doors they have supported him to the best of their ability. Because I don’t know enough to form an opinion. All I know is that our current manager does not believe this to be the case. I also don’t believe that as a supporter I have the right to know the intimate detail of what goes on in the board room. I do believe that when I arrive at a ground that the manager should be as invested in victory as I am. I do not believe this to be the case right now.
So. I like Antonio Conte. I’ve met him more than once, and not only do I like him as a manager, but he’s a nice bloke too. I have never wanted him to leave us. I’ve never advocated his getting fired. But he’s making it very difficult. Another day, another dollar, another cringeworthy flow of quotes that make you want to duck tape his mouth shut. Conte wants a public display of support from the club. I’d say there is probably no more public display of support than selling one of your best players (even if he is a lunatic) because your manager demanded that he wanted him gone. If Chelsea respond to this plea, they look idiotic because they are indulging the idea of having this conversation in public. And if they don’t respond they look like a*seholes and Conte looks idiotic. Who wins? You also can’t put your employers in this position when the faith and the respect is not reciprocated. You can’t make statements about how we should have signed three players and not eight, when you are the one that has been complaining since last summer that you don’t have enough personnel. In that respect the board gave you what you asked for. He’s had nigh on a quarter of a billion spent on him since last season. Only two other clubs have bettered this. One is basically funded by a state and the other has spent in a reckless fashion that is going to bugger their whole wage structure. Have the board bought Conte exactly what he wanted? Not entirely. Perceptions about whether this is the cut and thrust of the transfer market or anyone’s fault are beyond our knowledge. But since last May he has left the club hanging about his intentions, so if there is a knock on effect from that, such as the board protecting what they perceive to be the wider interests of the club’s future, and not just his immediate demands when he has insinuated before that he would walk then he cannot b*tch about it. Even if you sand the veneer of hysterical bullsh*t generated by the Red Swarm off, there is still enough left to grind my gears. “My intention is to honour my contract.” Nothing he says or does right now substantiates this. Because so much of this has been orchestrated by Antonio himself now, that I know I’m not the only one with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that comes with the horrible suggestion that a professional that you like and admire might consider getting fired as their best option financially. It doesn’t help that it has happened to us before.
Anyway enough of this sh*t for now. Naturally Michy scored twice on his German debut. This will send the nappy sh*tters into overdrive, and the less dramatic will just roll their eyes and swear they saw it coming. He says he loves Dortmund because they play in black and yellow, and this is perfect because he loves Batman and Spongebob. This is exactly the same philosophy as that my friend’s son Henry lives by. He turned two just after Christmas. BT are set to ditch Premier League coverage because they are shedding viewers quicker than we are shedding points. Not surprising when you compose a line up of Monotone Gerrard, Savage’s Hair and Michael Owen, who every time he opens his mouth sounds like someone has shoved 50p in a slot to crank him up to bore us all with tales of his glory days. All three of them. Before he turned 20. Carragher has called Van Dijk fat. Klippity Klopp has called Carragher fat. Good for a quick giggle, but hilariously these are the £75m man’s stats:
9 goals conceded
0 clean sheets
1 penalty conceded
£75m. And supposed to win them the league.
The Others: Burnley did a number on City, United won and Sp*rs were lucky on two counts yesterday. Firstly because their equaliser was offside and secondly because Klippity couldn’t set his chumps out to defend a lead in injury time if the Liverpool hierarchy promised him a lifetime’s supply of toothpaste.
Us: No Alonso – so Zappacosta comes in on the left. Fabregas not entirely fit, Bakayoko starts alongside Kante. Still no Christensen – Rudiger is left out, somewhat inexplicably for me after Bournemouth, yes Bournemouth came right out and said they targeted Cahill to dismantle us at the weekend. Gary kept his spot, and Luiz came into the middle of the back line with Dave on his other side. Willian returns, too early for me, watching him struggle tonight, and completed a front line of three small players with Pesto (autospell can have this victory, I no longer care) and Hazard. All in all, not what I would have chosen, but I’m not in charge.
Everyone was singing the manager’s name at kick off. There was no explosive start, but given the drubbing we suffered at the weekend that was fine with me. All I wanted was a nice steady game that showed some drive, and an ability to retain the ball after that fiasco would have been nice.
Nope. Not happening. It was a mere four minutes before we got punished for the first time for giving the ball away sloppily. Then we did it again and were lucky when the ball hit the side netting. It had been a bright start by Watford, but we weren’t doing ourselves any favours. After nine minutes Dave let Deeney run off him. This is Deeney, yes he who is about as dynamic as a carthorse with arthritis somehow finding a criminal amount of space in our box. Good job he’s a donkey, because he couldn’t even fashion a shot out of it. Shortly afterwards, in what would turn out to be one of our rare forays forward, a Moses cross deflected to Willian. So many places to put it, but he fluffed his lines and hit it over the bar. Then it was Watford’s turn to miss a glaring opportunity. Cahill kept us in it by throwing himself in the path of a home effort; before we got the ball straight up the other end. But Moses fell over his own feet in the box. Little did we know that this would almost be the highlight of the evening. When we did get the ball up towards their box, there was nobody in it to assault the goal. No Morata, no Alonso steaming in from further out with Lampardesque determination. Why no Giroud? I was annoyed by this already. I don’t care if he doesn’t speak fluent Conte after three days. It doesn’t require a PhD in common sense to just sling him on and hoof it up to him. Three forwards. Willian clearly not 100%. Pesto hasn’t been at more than 65% of his best form for weeks now, which basically left Hazard up against their meathead back line on his own. He’s amazing. He’s not God.
Then the night really started going down the sh*tter. The second yellow for Bakayoko was very harsh, but it summed up a thoroughly inglorious half an hour in which everything he tried turn to sh*t. In hindsight you can say that Conte could have picked Drinkwater, but you don’t select your side assuming that Bakayoko is going to let you down to the extent that he did in his short spell tonight. That one wasn’t on Conte. I had Uncle Albert next to me and he was nappy sh*tting to the extent that a triple layer of Huggies wouldn’t have stemmed the flow of effluence pooling at his feet. He says Bakayoko is the worst player he’s ever seen at Chelsea. Ridiculous drama queen that he is. Barkles (special alias) put it more succinctly in a swift text: “When Andy Hinchcliffe is mugging you off in commentary you know you are sh*t.”
What is on Conte is the decision he made to take off Willian (fair enough) and put a not-really-fit Fabregas on with an hour of play left. No. Just no. Watford claimed the first accurate shot of the game on 34 minutes, but it was claimed with relative ease by Courtois. But it was like we were dragging ourselves towards half time with our hands. At this point I was insistent that Conte had to pull Pesto for Giroud at half time. More than ever with ten men we needed a focal point to hit it up to if we were to get anything out of this game. Leave him and Hazard up front and just concentrate on not conceding. As soon as I wrote that Mike Dean gave them a penalty. It was a joke. Delafool went down like his leg had been snapped. Courtois didn’t get the ball but he didn’t get him either. But then what more do you expect from a little ratfaced jobber who failed to come through the ranks at Uefalona? It was going to be one of those nights. Wasn’t it? Pesto had one chance in injury time and like Willian’s earlier it soared over the bar. Here’s a depressing statement: Even with eleven men, we had not collectively shown half of Watford’s desire to win this game. If Conte was to send the same players out for the second half he’d be stealing a living tonight.
And the same ten it was. My blood pressure was rising. On 49 they broke through but thankfully the ball ran to Thibaut. A minute later we saw a promising run by Zappacosta, who crossed it well into the box. That’s where the problem was. The only person anywhere near it was Moses. But he was always two feet behind the defender and when he rose to try and hit it, he head-butted the Watford player instead. You have to give him credit for at least being in the box, because nobody else but Pesto was. More concerning than anything else on the pitch: Antonio was a picture of disinterest in the dugout.
With half an hour to go Conte finally prepared to make the change that he should have made at half time. Pesto limped off, another potential injury on a mounting list and we were treated to the surreal sight of Giroud jogging on wearing blue. Too late for me if you intended to try and win this game but, God love him, our debutant did try. Harsh, said Uncle Albert – sent on with little chance of success and expected to work a miracle. It’s OK, I reassured him. He’s used to it, he’s been at Arsenal.
We looked better immediately, because there was actually a plan and a large beard to aim for, but we had other issues; namely the fact that poor Cesc’s legs had gone. I made the observation that for such a massive c*nt Sebastian Prodl is an even bigger f*cking cry baby. I can’t remember why. It was getting panicked now, the play going back and forth with far less control. I could count the amount of times we had touched the ball in their half on one hand. Never mind a shot on target. No chance. We finally got our first on 80 minutes, but Cesc had watched everyone else put it in row z and just placed it too precisely and along the ground. Not enough to test the keeper.
Don’t ask me where our goal came from. Eden bails us out again. A point would have been over-rewarding us for our contribution to the game tonight, but he at least deserved something for all of the effort he had put in. Refwatch: Mike Dean. Sending off was harsh, penalty shout was a joke. Possibly the only person who tanked as much as Bakayoko or the manager tonight. He gifted them a total of three goals tonight, by ignoring blatant fouls in the run up to two more. This may have been the case, and he may look like Dobby the House Elf after a week long bender, but even if he hadn’t put in a sh*thouse performance we still wouldn’t have outscored Watford tonight. We looked better in the dying moments than we had all night, but it was out of sight. Giroud was unlucky not to get a goal on his debut, but we were only ever in it for a total of about five minutes.
So: We got what we deserved. Which was f*ck all. They got more than they deserved because Mike Dean is an inconsistent f*ckwit that can’t decide what a foul is. Two winnable fixtures, 0 points and six goals conceded. And a manager that, as much as pains me to say it, looks like he wants to get dropkicked out the door. Uncle Albert was incandescent with rage that Rudiger wasn’t brought on at 1-1 to hold the line, but that was the least of our worries. Hazard, Dave and Giroud have a right to feel aggrieved. In fact if I am Hazard I take my boot off int he dressing room and throw it at Conte’s face. Cesc took one for the team when he wasn’t in the physical condition to contribute what he was asked to. There are a number of players nowhere near their best; namely Pesto, Kante, Cahill. I don’t believe that this is divorced from Conte’s current attitude. No manager on the planet in any industry would walk into work twice a week and talk about how s*t their lot was, how hard done by they were and then expect to get maximum productivity out of those in their charge by chucking in the odd half-arsed remark about wanting to stay on. If they expected that to be the case they would be morons. He looked like a broken man, but so much of it is self-inflicted I can’t feel sorry for him. How does undermining the club at every opportunity improve anything? Surely this situation is now irretrievable. He just doesn’t have the demeanour, and doesn’t make the decisions in selection or as play unfolds of late that portray a man who particularly gives a sh*t. We may only be one point ahead of Sp*rs, but we are also only six behind United in second, and we’ve still got to play them. The fat lady isn’t singing yet, but I don’t have any confidence right now in Conte’s desire to make a resurgence happen. To me the only reason I can fathom that you would continue to continue in this miserable, sulky vein is to get shown the door. That makes me angry, because the connotations for us go beyond the summer. Whether we play in the Champions League next season for one, whether we keep Eden Hazard. But then is he even going to make it past the West Brom game now? Bogey club for manager sackings, init? Fifteen days until Uefalona. Does the club stick or twist? I’m not advocating he go, but I can’t see the turnaround in his attitude happening either. So I shrug, and bugger off to see the pyramids.
All of this (except the pyramids) is depressing, so I leave you with this feisty text from Mowgli:
“So down to 10 men, 4 – 1 down, a commentator that keeps calling Kante – Conte.
Having to listen to Carragher and Rooney.
I’ve just ripped the tv off the wall, took it upstairs, opened my bedroom window and launched it!
I’ve always wanted to throw a tv out the window like a rock star!”
Further investigation revealed that this is what he wished had happened. His arms were too weedy to get the 20 inch flatscreen off the kitchen wall, and had he chucked it, it would only have been a ten foot drop to the ground outside anyway. The thing would probably ave just bounced.