There was a time when if Chelsea went even one nil up in a game, you could virtually put your house on a win at full time. Now going two nil up in a game seems to guarantee nothing more than panic on the pitch and anxiety in the stands.
Of course, we didn’t succumb to the collapse against Wigan this time but there were a good proportion of the crowd who thought it was on the cards when Malony got a goal back within seconds of Hazard scoring the second. We have become so fragile and the lack of belief is evident to see in both the players and the supporters. Worse than the lack of conviction though from all concerned was the lack of atmosphere which made Saturday’s game one of the most surreal games I have been to in a long time. You could actually hear the players shouting to each other and feel the insolence emanating from many areas of the ground – it was really depressing.
Many, like myself, are there out of habit – I detest the manager, I hate his tactics and I hate the sterile and less than effective type of football. Some have stopped coming altogether and have vowed not to return while Benitez is still at the helm. A few I know even walked out at half time – not through any sort of protest – just because they were bored out of their minds – which leaves a crowd who want to encourage the team, but who’s heart is not really in it at the moment. Bar the very few moments of excitement, the crowd were mostly quiet and resentful – I’ve always wondered what it must be like to be an Arsenal fan.
As a club we are not in a very good place at the moment and I’m sure that even the thick skinned suits who usually inhabit their own insulated little world can’t have failed to have noticed. But what to do?
Given his record, one assumes that Benitez will be gone at some time – be that at the end of the season or before. But the feelings of antipathy and resentment which have enveloped this whole affair are quite pronounced and it’s going to be difficult to shift them no matter what or who comes in next. I want to say that this is the perfect time for Abramovich to finally break his vow of silence and address the fans directly, but to be honest what could he say that would make the situation any better?
We are led to believe that the owner has demanded Champions League qualification as an absolute minimum this season – one wonders what the consequences would be should that not be achieved – and let’s face it, it’s not looking particularly guaranteed. Indeed we should count ourselves very fortunate to still be maintaining third – but we do still have to go to City, United and Liverpool – which has not been a happy hunting ground in recent years no matter how well we are doing at the time.
It’s the first time that the papers are printing rumours of consequences being felt in other areas other than the manager and team – interestingly Emenalo seems to be in the spot light – and I would imagine if his role in the mess we currently find ourselves in is being analysed, then there must also be a few others not sitting particularly comfortably at the moment.
It’s about time.
I believe that there is a bit of panic behind the scenes as we are suddenly being linked with anyone and everyone – not just the usual suspects but a few names from the left field too – Martinez…seriously?
I’d imagine that there are a lot of people in Armani suits running about the halls of Stamford Bridge trying to justify their salaries at the moment. The easy (and successful) slash and burn culture of recent years seems to have run its course and now it looks as though we need someone to construct a long term plan for both on and off the pitch, and those we have around don’t seem to have too much experience in that respect.
We will wait and watch with interest.
As for the immediate – we head to Prague this week to find out whether Benitez can engineer our exit from yet another competition – the Europa Cup – how the mighty are fallen eh?