I`m annoyed about the game on Saturday. I`m not annoyed about the game itself … well, I am but I anticipated the result and it was better than I had expected. No, I am really annoyed at not being at Stamford Bridge. After all, apart from Craven Cottage, it`s the nearest Premier League ground to my home, and it`s a lot easier trip than the journey to Molineux (not that I have ever contemplated changing my allegiance: who said Wolves supporters were Bhatti?).
When I broached the subject to my wife (one has to judge the right moment- she`s not interested in sport and thinks that Football First on Saturday evenings incites matrimonial discord), she told me – rather too gleefully, I thought – that that was impossible. I had forgotten that our younger daughter was visiting us that day. So, at the time when I should have been travelling to Stamford Bridge and having a beer in a local hostelry, I was humping bags of mulch and choosing flowers for hanging baskets. At least, I persuaded her to buy pansies in Wolves colours and in (shrinking) violet (true) in order to soften our image among my tabloid-reading friends. At least, I would see my daughter later. Wrong! She phoned at 6 p.m. to say she couldn`t make it. Aarrgghh!!
With bad grace, therefore, I listened to the Beacon Radio broadcast, with parallel WWFC blog, in the afternoon, with a screening of the match on Football First in the evening. Mind you, I had to calm my wife down when I abruptly changed channels from the X-Factor. Surprisingly, when I pointed out that she could see Cheryl Cole`s ex-husband playing in the match, it only made matters worse. In the end, we compromised: I did not insist on watching the match again at 10.15 and she viewed Cheryl`s interview with Piers Morgan.
Worse still, I will be reminded of the result whenever I cycle past Chelsea`s training ground at Cobham (strictly speaking, it`s in Stoke D`Abernon): it`s only four miles from where I live (if it were in Cobham, it would be 4¼ miles away). Oh, to pedal along the Compton Road on a Monday morning and hear the cheerful sound of banter emanating from a winning team. Some hope! I would have been happy with our performance on Saturday if we had collected a few more points before it. Over the course of the next month we are likely to find ourselves several points adrift at the foot of the table, no matter how well we play. If only we had shown the same level of commitment in the previous five games, by now we would have established a cushion to soften the blow.
At least, the combination of unwinnable matches and a shortage of players have forced MM to experiment: hands up all of you who were pleased (as well as surprised) to see Milijas back in the side. I thought he performed well, considering his lack of match-time; he added an extra dimension to the team and will sharpen up if he gets a decent run-out: now is the perfect opportunity for him to prove his worth. Even better, the manager has to play Mouyokolo on Tuesday and it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the excellent Stearman (did I really say that?): a possible partnership of the future? We might have solved our left back problem too: as long as we tell him not to use his hands, we should stick Hahnemann there!
Chelsea were clearly the better team but, in fairness, we played well enough to make a game of it until the 81st minute. Lapses of concentration again … but who can defend against a team which counter-attacks so quickly and in such numbers? Hunt looked rusty but still provided more dynamism than van Damme had managed to summon up. Hunt improved the shape of the team too. It looks like we need that composite player, van Hunt, a midfielder with the height and strength of the Belgian and the fire and pace of the Irishman (and, preferably, with a wife or partner in the country or at least one who isn`t pregnant) Fletcher continues to look forlorn, especially in comparison with SEB, who tried to make an impression. MM`s tactical substitutions baffle me. Why weren`t they made earlier, that is, if we were pushing for a point rather than protecting the goals against tally? If we have to shoe-horn Fletcher into the team on account of the price-tag, we should play him in his correct position, up-front on the left side of the field. I bet he`s not happy.
The moral seems to be that we should play the next few games as if lost and, with nothing to lose (without being daft, of course), we might lighten up and gain a point or two. Hey! It worked for me, while listening to the match, and it`s what condemned-to-relegation teams seem to do. Seen in this light, the fixture-list has been very kind, giving us an enviable chance to practise our relaxation exercises now and thereby prevent a possibility becoming a reality.
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