In 2023, Chelsea’s newest owner becomes bored with his team winning everything.
He decides to try his hand with NASCAR.
The post-Roman Abramovich era.
It will be upon us someday, hopefully not soon, assuming the inherent dysfunction amongst the board and middle management gets corrected. But what will be our fate when it comes? Certainly we can’t afford to take a step back to the days of
Ken Bates Dracula. I’m figuring that if Roman ever does sell, that some astute Millenial Londoner of the future will step up with his own load of cash to carry the Blue Flag forward.
For now, we can console ourselves with the fact we’re ONLY in 3rd place. We can delude or amuse ourselves with the notion that we have Citeh and ManU(re) right where they want us. After all, as bad as the last month or so has been, we’re still a strong squad and by the evidence of our match with Sunderland ((now admittedly it was Sunderland…but….)) we’re turning a corner under Rafa. Torres is more confident, and that is just what is needed.
Now hopefully Roman doesn’t get bored once we start winning everything. If HE gets involved with NASCAR….well…I don’t want to think about that. We see how well that’s working up in Liverpool.
Sunderland 1 Chelsea 3
We finally got the elusive Premier League win under Rafa. After enduring two scoreless draws against Man City and Fulham, and suffering a humiliating 3-1 defeat at the hands of West Ham, we put together a bright, well-played win against lowly Sunderland. As yes, I know it’s Sunderland, but The Stadium Of Light is not as easy place to play at. Chelsea dominated most of the game. The home side showed a few flashes of talent, however, and pulled back a consolation goal on Adam Johnson’s brilliant strike. In the end, we got our elusive victory ((I’m not counting our pyrrhic 6-1 trouncing of Nordsjælland last Tuesday)).
The pressure is off, for the moment. And hopefully this quiets the Rafa Out crowd. Chelsea is now off to Japan to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. It will do the Blues good to be away from the fray and the turmoil. It will also do them good to return home with the trophy. Their opening match will be Thursday’s semi-final tilt with Monterrey. The final will be a week from today as I pound these words out with my little hands of concrete . The final tilt is expected to feature Chelsea vs. Corinthians. And Chelsea is expected to win. But we know how far expectations go…since Chelsea was also expected to defend their Champions League title. But given their new found form, I’m not as worried as I was, say, this past Friday.
Fernando Torres finds his form.
Torres scored a brace against Sunderland and set up Mata for Chelsea’s 3rd. There was more flow to Chelsea’s attack and there was little evidence of the desperation that hovered over it in previous matches. There was no sense on the day that Chelsea was trying to shove square pegs into round holes. It was more free-flowing and natural and while there might still be the occasional miasma lingering around, it appears the fog is beginning to lift.
The key change, and this was significant, is that Torres shoved Luiz aside, stepped up to take the penalty, and banged it home as if he’d been doing it all season long. That was a powerful statement of confidence and leadership. But time will tell. We need to see how Chelsea and Torres will react to and handle the next rough patch that surely lies in wait.
Man City 2 ManU(re) 3
The first of the two fabled Manchester Derbies. This match is like, for those of who huddled over a flickering monitor in the darkness reading this on a G4 Cube in your man-cave on W. Dickens Ave in Logan Square, this match is like the Bears vs the Packers, only worse; the Cubs vs the Sox, only worse; The Cubs vs. the Cards, only worse; The Yankees vs the Red Sox, only worse; the Jets vs. the Patriots, only worse; The Raiders vs. Everyone, only worse.
Today, Wayne Rooney took off his chef hat and pranced about the pitch like a wind-up doll and before Mario Balotelli could get red card, set off fireworks in his bathroom, or break in to a women’s prison, Rooney had scored a brace and Citeh was down 2-0 at halftime.
City came out of the break with intent, but clearly Balotelli was playing like he was full of shit. That’s probably why, when Mancini pulled him off for Tevez at 52 minutes he went down the tunnel to the dressing room instead of sitting on the bench. 15-20 minutes later, Balotelli returned to the bench, mumbling to Mancini, “Avete avuto ragione, Capo! ERO pieno di merda oggi. Ma… abbiamo bisogno 4 minuti di tempo di sosta prima di andare a camerino.”
The presence of Tevez made all the difference. Yaya Toure grabbed a goal back at 60 minutes. Zabaleta struck the equalizer on 86 minutes. And then, it was on to 4 minutes of Fergie Time. This was a fight to the finish, and unfortunately for City, Van Persie grabbed the winner off a free kick…dumb mistake by Nasri there, as he deflected the ball with his foot just out of Joe Hart’s reach. Rio Ferdinand got plonked by a coin tossed by some plonker in the crowd….police rushed in…a fan invaded the pitch…Rio was dripping blood but had a cut man handy so he trotted back on for the final moment. And that was it. City didn’t deserve to lose….well….the DID deserve to lose the way they did since Nasri made a fundamental, but probably instinctive, mistake….but based on the run of play, a draw would have been the best result.
Especially for us Blues fans since this puts us an 2 extra points behind ManU(re). But as we’ve learned from the Champions League, we can’t rely on any other help but our own. Can we leap Citeh and challenge ManU(re) for the title? I do believe we can.
Swansea 3 Norwich City 4
Over their last 10 matches, Norwich City has been undefeated. Their last defeat, btw, was 4-1 tossing at Stamford Bridge. They’ve climbed from the relegation zone at the start of the season to 12th. Safely mid-table and on the rise. Only Stoke ((Stoke?? wtf???)) and ManU(re) have had better form over the past 9. It’s fair to say that Saturday’s win was not quite as close as the scoreboard would indicate. Norwich jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead on goals by Whittaker, Bassong and Grant Freaking Holt! Fair play to Swansea for clawing 2 back in the 2nd half, but Snodgrass’ goal at the 70th minute put the match out of reach, though Michu got a consolation goal in stoppage time.
It was a good match for my Canaries, marred only by the racial abuse of Sebastian Bassong by a Swansea fan. Credit to the Swansea organization for swiftly dealing with the matter. By the time the match was over, the moron was sitting on his tod in the Swansea Gaol charged with a racially motivated public order offense.
Norwich is playing great football under Chris Hughton. It’s taken awhile for the lads to get used to him. But now things seems to be clicking on all cylinders. Mark Bunn has been doing a yeoman’s job in goal, and it will only get better when John Ruddy returns from injury.
Up next is Aston Villa. The return fixture brings Paul Lambert back to Carrow Road for the first since leaving to coach Villa. I hope he’s greeted with the respect he deserves, despite having abandoning us for Villa. Without Paul Lambert’s guidance, Norwich City wouldn’t be where they are today. That said, I hope we kick Villa’s ass but good.
NASCAR fans await the start of the Daytona 500
There are, as I finish this up, 76 days, 21, hours, 15 minutes and 43 seconds to the start of the Daytona 500. There will new cars next season and NASCAR has issued it’s new rules package, which will evolve during pre-season testing. Two days of testing will begin the Charlotte Motor Speedway this Tuesday the 11th. Let the whinging begin.
There will be a new format (AGAIN!) for the former Bud Shootout. They’re going back to the old rules where only last season’s pole winners and former Shootout champions will be in the field. I’m in favour of that. Sprint Cup champion Brad Kesolowski, however, will not be invited since he never won a pole last year.
A survey put out by Rasmussen Reports shows that about 5% of Americans consider auto racing their favourite sport. That’s the same percentage range of Americans who say soccer is their favourite sport. So….it looks like I’m on the right track with THIS blog!
With that, I’m off for a beer. But before I do, speaking of the elusive W, I wonder if Junior will finally win the Championship this season. If Matt doesn’t win it, I’d be all for Junior taking the trophy home at last. Now let’s pop a top and cue the music.
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