A Domestic Cauldron of Discontent Sees Chelsea Seek Solace on the Road
Despite failing to beat Corinthians in the final, Chelsea and Rafa Benitez must have enjoyed the World Club Cup as it meant they could get away from the everyday grind of Stamford Bridge life, at least for a short while.
Chelsea have won only one of the four league games they’ve played at home since Rafa Benitez took over, losing one to QPR and drawing two more. Considering that much of the new Chelsea power was established by an excellent home record under Jose Mourinho, the losses don’t go down well whoever their latest manager is, but as that new manager is a Spaniard who was adopted by Merseyside and Liverpool FC in particular, those losses go down like a lead weight.
The atmosphere in Stamford Bridge will definitely have something to do with this. The fans don’t like the manager, and don’t seem willing to give him any time even as an interim. The feeling around the place can range from uncomfortable to hostile, and this must rub off on the players. A nervous crowd will often lead to a nervous team, as many fans and players around the country will attest to, and an unhappy crowd will often lead to an unhappy team. Chelsea have become prone to mistakes and their misfiring (or more accurately non-firing) 50 million pound striker doesn’t even look bothered that he’s playing poorly these days. This culminated in him being roundly booed as he exited the pitch during a recent League Cup tie against Swansea at home, which they lost. The striker Rafa was supposed to revive may now be in his most critical condition yet.
Then on top of this we have the ongoing saga of the Chelsea old boys, whom the fans seem desperate to hang on to but the owner may have other ideas. Frank Lampard has found himself benched, but playing well when given the chance, and even showing glimpses of his exploits of old form from goal-scoring midfield positions. He’s bagged the odd penalty and generally looks like a good fit amongst the new, younger blood, which has been brought in thanks to the latest injection of Abramovic millions.
John Terry also looks badly needed by the team despite his shortcomings being even more obvious than Frank’s. One thing he does offer is a more level headed presence at centre back, instilling a sense of discipline which is so important to any side, but particularly to a Rafa Benitez one. Despite possessing one of the best all round defenders in the league in Ivanovic, and a Brazilian centre back star in David Luiz, it could be that Chelsea’s best centre back pairing is the unfashionable English duo of John Terry and Gary Cahill.
Rafa Benitez may have been brought in to be the bad guy, ruthlessly disregarding Terry and Lampard to the wayside during his short spell at the club but, as seems to be the case at Chelsea, the short term gains so craved by the owner and now the fans may distort the bigger future picture once again.
Chelsea go into this weekend facing a trip to one of the toughest away grounds in the league. Rumour has it that Barcelona would struggle to pick up a result at this Potteries based footballing terror, but Chelsea may actually be looking forward to their day out at Stoke – a welcome reprieve from their Stamford Bridge nightmare.