Leeds United 1 Chelsea 5
Chelsea 8 Aston Villa 0
The orders were hooped up to Rafa Benitez somewhere between Leeds and Wakefield. I can almost imagine one of Roman Abramovich’s minions hiding the weeds across from Thorpe Wood hooping the orders up and getting his arm torn off in the process. A thoroughly preposterous notion to be sure, but given a good bit of the management decisions made by Roman’s team over the last few years, certainly not out of the realm of probability. So let’s get to work on this.
No less than Ron Gourlay himself, and Bruce Buck, could be entrusted with this apocryphal venture. This was not a task for underlings. but they weren’t about to get their hands too dirty, thus the scheme involving the golf clubs. The orders were from Roman, and they couldn’t wait for the team’s return to London. They tossed their golf clubs in the trunk (boot) of a rented Vauxhall and drove up the M1 to the M62. Gourlay was at the wheel because he hated driving less than Bruce Buck hated driving. And as they dashed up to Yorkshire, Buck kept fiddling with the GPS, twiddling the radio dial, lighting and relighting the signal lantern, and practicing tying train orders. The closer they got toward Leeds, the worse the traffic seemed, and a panic of extreme urgency fell upon them…it was very the same sense of panic that swept over the two men just before they all decided RDM was to be fired.
In their minds, it was good thing they brought the golf clubs. As they got off the M1 and eased onto the M62 and crossed over the railroad overpass, Buck noticed (actually, the GPS did) the golf course off the right and had Gourlay pull off. And thus, with panic pissing and shitting it’s way all over them, the two men hit the links at the Acanthus Golf Centre, ostensibly for a round of golf…but…let’s not let the facts get in the way of the truth here.
The weather was horrid. It was night. At night! Golf?? What the hell were they thinking!!??
But it’s too late for the facts now. There’s no turning back! They’re exiting the M62 at Dewsbury Road.
So we have nervous executives under cover, driving a rented Vauxhall. Check. We have a ponderously slow round of golf to get through to keep credibility maintained. Check. No, scratch that. They’re sneaking onto the golf course at night. So no actual golf. Check. We have a London bound train speeding it’s way from Leeds that needs to be intercepted. Check. Actually, it’s better that it’s dark and raining. So, skip the real golf. They sneak onto the course with their clubs to pretend to golf, and make for the 6th hole, but they cut across to the 8th hole and clamber over some sort of fence and make for the bushes hard by the railroad tracks. Check.
“Fuck,” Gourlay mutters as they fiddle with the lantern to get it lit just in time. Train SW6 is approaching them with a hallucinogenic roar of light. Rafa is at the controls, sees the train order signal and reaches out for the orders as Buck hoops them up. Rafa plucks the flimsies from the hoop in his firm grasp. More than a million things could have gone wrong right then and there. But they don’t. The fearful clatter and roar of the passing train tumbles Buck and Gourlay over as the lantern bounces off the ballast into a ditch, and the train order hoop flies god knows where. For a quiet moment, Gourlay and Buck lay on their backs, looking up at what should be a starry sky. Then, as a deafening rain breaks their silent reverie and drowns the sorrows of the world upon them, they rise up like some fearful little Jesuits, scramble around for the lantern and the train-order hoop, and yes, the golf clubs, and beat their way back to London through the deluge in their rented Vauxall. “Fuck,” Gourlay mutters to himself, “we should have taken the train.”
Rafa, meanwhile, unrolls the train orders. He’d spotted Gourlay and Buck, just as easily as he could spot a priest on a mountain of sugar. As he begins to read the flimisies, he breathes a sigh of relief. The orders very well could have said, YOU’RE FIRED. After all, Ancelloti had gotten that little telegram handed to him in the tunnel of Goodison Park. But these orders were a bit different. He managed a smile as he read them.
MAKE ALL POSSIBLE TIME, CONSISTENT WITH SAFETY.
SW6 NEEDED FOR WEMBLEY SPECIAL AND EPL SPECIAL
DUE OUT STAMFORD BRIDGE AT 10:00 AM SUNDAY.
SW6 HAS RIGHT OVER FIRST MANU(RE) AT NEWTON HEATH
RIGHT OVER SECOND CITY AT ETIHAD RIGHT OVER ARS3 EXTRA
AT HIGHBURY RIGHT OVER TOTTENHAM LOCAL AT HOTSPUR.
NO STOPPING AT RED BOARDS AT WEST BROM OR CP GOODISON.
MEN AND EQUIPMENT ARE IN THE CLEAR.
Back in the day, when a locomotive engineer saw the orders MAKE ALL POSSIBLE SPEED, well…that was like giving free candy to a child. As long he doesn’t put the train on the ground, then all’s fair play. So even though when, in the excitement of the moment, the SW6 from Leeds arrived at London’s King Cross Station on Tracks 4, 5 & 6, it was coming in sideways and not a word was spoken, not even a murmur of Rafa OUT!
Fresh from a somewhat surprising 1-5 trompage of the Damned United, surprising only from the standpoint that said trompage of Leeds was expected to be a little less one-sided…a 0-1 trompage; a 2-1 trompage….due to the jet-lag of their defeat by Corinthians in Japan, the lads took the orders to heart and made all possible time consistent with safety at the Bridge on Sunday, sending Aston Villa to the worst defeat in their 138 year history. Final was 8-0. And it easily could have been 12-0. And consistent with safety, Chelsea did NOT let up when they had a commanding lead. They kept up the pace, kept going for more. When leading, THAT is always the safe course. When the ref Phil Dowd called for 3 minutes of stoppage time, I’m sure Lambert muttered, “Oh piss!” Or however it is they say it in Scotland. By that point Villa was down 7-0 and quite ready to call it a day. But…1 minute into stoppage time Ramires slotted home goal #8 off a cross from Oscar. And then time ticked away, and finally, mercifully for the Villans, it was over.
Yes. It was Leeds and Aston Villa here, and not a top-notch squad. Norwich City, on Boxing Day, will give us a sterner test. But the point of it is this. The winning mentality has been lacking at times. The leadership has been lacking. The finishing, ditto. It’s the little things that separate the champions from the chumplins. Chelsea has fallen prey to those little things this season. Because of that, they’ve lost several championships they should have won, and they won’t defend their Champions League title. Because of that, RDM is no longer the gaffer ((and while we’re on the subject, AVB and Ancelloti as well)).
And I don’t know if it’s Rafa’s doing, but the squad seems to be falling into a better state ((despite the loss the Corinthians)). At the end of the day, all that matters in sport (besides sportsmanship) is the scoreboard. And as long as we come out on the winning factor it matters naught if it’s a 1-0 drudgefest, or a 8-0 3-D version of PlaySation Football.
But is this the true face of the club? The light might be very bright at the moment, but our eyes must always, at any moment, be accustomed to the darkness.
Norwich City 0 Chelsea 1
Not surprisingly, when faced with a good team, like Norwich, the Chelsea train was slowed down a bit. Buck and Gourlay obviously forgot to include Norwich City in their apocryphal train orders. Thus, today’ Boxing Day tilt at Carrow Road was more of a 1-0 drudgefest.But it was hardly drudgery to watch. Both sides played well. Chelsea played better. Mata smacked a beaut of goal past Mark Bunn at the 39 minute mark. And that was it….Bassong almost leveled it off a corner at the death, but his header bounded up over the bar. And that was it.
My feeling is that Chelsea let off the gas a bit. They seemed more focused on holding the 1-0 lead in the second half instead of going for 2 or 3. That lapse, which was warned about, almost cost them the 3 points. If Bassong’s header has been one inch closer to the goal, or had been struck with 1 erg less ferocity, Chelsea would have slumped away from Carrow Road with 1 point instead of all three. Now I might be a little harsh in my critique of Chelsea, since Norwich made Chelsea work for everything they got. But I’m harsh for a reason.
This was better a far Norwich City club than one Chelsea tagged 4-1 at The Bridge. Norwich has one or two little weaknesses to work out. But their a far better and more cohesive team than they were at the start of the season. Norwich has had a chronic problem scoring goals. They need a striker with more pace than Steve Morison to help Grant Holt out. I’m surprised really because I’d thought Morison was quicker afoot than he actually is. Grant Holt can’t do it all. He started today and played 90 minutes, but he’s nursing an ankle injury. They also need to maintain discipline at the back…and despite a sterner defense, that discipline slips at times…Bassong got caught flatfooted as I think Moses or Hazard or someone came clean on goal only to be saved by Mark Bunn. Bunn chewed Bassong’s ass out big time for that. Bunn was helpless to stop Mata, but he made some great saves today and has been a yeoman in goal filling in for the injured John Ruddy.
But enough about my Canaries for now since this is really meant to be about Chelsea’s mad wild crazy train ride to the Premier League Championship, The Carling errrrhh Capitol ONE Cup, The FA Cup and the Championship of Jupiter. And let’s not let the facts get in the way of the truth. Let’s just pretend that Amtrak is running amok all over England and Europe and Chelsea has their own dedicated private train, the SW6, with 2 GE PD42C Genesis units on the head end painted Chelsea Blue and numbered 25 and 11. And Rafa and the lads have to always notch those suckers up to run 8 and leave them there. Look out you plonkers!! AMTRAK is coming to town!! And it’s bringing the Champions of Europe to BEAT your sorry little football clubs.
The facts be damned! Winning will be truth enough for me.
And now, we’ve reached the portion of the show where we all pop open a beer and sing a little song. So let pop open a cold BITBURGER and all gather around our computers and sing along to this wonderful song: