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Chelsea 5 Watford 0 (03/01/2010) 03/01/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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Five thunks from the now traditional thumping at Stamford Bridge

1- I think the most concise way to sum up the afternoon on the pitch is to echo my co-editor’s reflection that we’d have taken the then-existing scoreline with both hands at any point over the course of the ninety-plus minutes. That’s all you need to know really. There was a brief flurry of something akin to looking like making a fight of it at the start of the second half… we even stood up at one point. Didn’t last long though.

2- Whilst it’s easy enough to be smart with the benefit of hindsight, it’s difficult to remember a Watford squad as ill-equipped to handle a match like this. That’s not a comment intended to downplay the very great achievements of the squad this season… but any recipe for a cup upset against any senior opposition (let alone the league leaders) really does demand a bit of physical presence and a bit of pace, and we have neither – quite apart from the superior quality, each Chelsea player was a good three inches and half a stone bigger than their opposite number. Our biggest asset (minus the sorely missed Helguson) is the movement and interplay of our midfield, but Chelsea are far more used to this sort of thing than our regular opponents and more adept at dealing with it.

3- That said, there’s little excuse for affording opponents of this calibre quite this much space and time; gulf in quality or not – and there’s no doubt Chelsea could have had more had they really wanted to – at least three of the goals were of our own invitation. Chelsea didn’t really have to do very much. Most infuriating of all was Henri Lansbury’s booking at the end of the first half… the men in yellow having displayed a dogged refusal to put in a tackle in the first half, Lansbury’s first on ?Zhirkov? was a good few seconds after the ball had gone. As play continued, Belletti earned a yellow for a revenge-hack, but Lansbury rightly went into the book also. If you’re going to stand off, don’t bloody jump in after the ball has gone you numpty.

4- Good to see Ross Jenkins back. If there’s one slim positive to grasp it’s that yer man got 45 minutes of match action in a game that was already lost… we may be relatively well covered in centre-mid, and Jenkins’ form before his injury may not have hit last season’s heights, but he offers more for me than the persistently nondescript Severin, and is a better long-term bet than Eustace.

5- I have to confess to having slumped from a peak of attending every away game on the way to Cardiff in 2005/06… regular readers may have noted the lack of away thunks, this caused by this being only my second away trip of the season (I resolve to go to Doncaster in two weeks which, weather permitting, will be my 900th ‘orns fixture. Yes I am sad enough to know this). However by 3.05 I was wondering why I’d bothered. Not only had Daniel Sturridge, aided and abetted by our defending, mapped out the afternoon’s course, but it became evident that behind us was someone clearly persecuted by something akin to the Master’s tap-tap-tap-tapping in the head in Doctor Who. “Oh bloody hell Cowie you’re ****! I used to like you Graham but now you’re ****ing useless! Jenkins is doing alright. Oh ****ing hell Jenkins you ****!”. And so forth. Not sure my Mum will be braving another away trip for a while…

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Comments»

1. Fran - 03/01/2010

It was a horrible, horrible afternoon. When we lost by the same score at West Brom, we at least tried to give them a game. In the first half, the Watford players may has well have been sitting with us given the way they stood back and watched the Chelsea players. We did give it a go at the start of the second half, but it was short-lived.

I do agree that the appearance of Jenkins was a positive. I thought he did really well when he came on.

2. JohnF - 04/01/2010

Thanks for the thunks Matt. Difficult to be objective after such an embarrasing performance. What is sad is that we are actually better than that but have shown a distinct unwillingness to get involved in a physical battle. We do lack leaders on the pitch, particularly at the back. DeMerit is not a leader and as has been said before (by you or Ian I think) he spends all the time concentrating on his own game. Many players underperformed and for some such as Hodson it was just too far outside their experience. Several had poor games by their own standards and I really do not know what the problem is with Severin. He shows flashes but mostly he is simply not involved, was this his last game?.

I expected to lose but not as badly as this. However, the gulf between the haves and have nots was really shown up, particularly as we faced an “on song” Chelsea team. Just hope Malky can get them mentally fit to face Sheffield United who are likely to have ex-Horns who want to impress.

3. DM - 04/01/2010

Can I have a lift to Donny, Matt ?

Oh, comment on this ? I can’t. I didn’t go.

Matt Rowson - 04/01/2010

Probably. If my Dad comes he’ll be driving, so will need to check with him. But you’d need to get your sorry backside up to Bedfordshire first…

4. Simon - 04/01/2010

Strangely, I was talking to some slightly nervous Chelsea fans before the game and suggested that I didn’t think the make up of our side would lend itself to an upset due to the lack of physicality/pace about it.

I heard an awaful lot of comments through the afternoon about a lack of effort from the team. I don’t think there was any lack of effort but got the impression the players were terrified of putting in challenges and Chelsea passing it round them. The result was that they sat off and Chelsea passed it round them (much as Arsenal did a few years ago at the Vic when Vialli was in charge).

I also thought the formation didn’t do many favours yesterday as we didn’t really seem to know what to do with the spare man. We landed up with Lansbury being unsure whether to come deep to help defensively to help out or hold his position further forward and with Severin in front of the back four but spare rather than picking up the spare runners as they came through. It also left Graham battling against two units in Terry and Alex so there was no pressure release on the odd occasion we did clear it.

It was the formation point that, to an extent concerned me most, not because of any perceived error in the team selection but more because it showed up quite how thin our squad is (of course, we knew this anyway but yesterday didn’t half highlight it). There weren’t very many viable alternatives I could think of to the formation and personnel on view. We’ll see what happens in January and then in the summer but it’s going to be a continuing battle to unearth good youth team players and lower league gems, particularly with Demerit, Cleverly, Lansbury and possibly Loach all due to depart in the summer.

Still, let’s see if we can pick up the 7 or so wins required for safety this year as soon as possible and take things from there.

5. The Great Big O - 04/01/2010

Matt, knowing that your 900th Horns match is imminent is not sad. It’s extremely sad.

(The home game against Blackpool this season was my 1000th, by the way.)

Matt Rowson - 04/01/2010

Suitably ignominious, my congratulations. I’m hoping that my 1000th is another draw with Forest.

6. NickB - 04/01/2010

Thought before the game that the only impediment to backing a 5-0 at rewarding odds was the possibility of 6 or 7. The observation about physique is spot on; our skill level and workrate gets us away with it in the CCC, except against the top three or so, but you wouldn’t fancy us against anyone in the Prem right now, however moderate some appear.

Have to say this doesn’t faze me much; the league games are generally good fun and the last thing we need is to squeeze into the play offs and then win the damn thing again. Don’t care if we have to have a decade of consolidation.

Re thunk 5 – wasn’t Scottish, by any chance?

Matt Rowson - 04/01/2010

Agree entirely.

No, not Scottish. You had one too?

NickB - 04/01/2010

Was harking back to QPR game (see comments 6&28 on the thunks from that one)

7. Ian Grant - 04/01/2010

Following a sustained hour of complaining about absolutely bloody everything, the best comment from the miserable sods behind us came when the referee awarded a dubious free kick in our favour to the disapproval of the home sections…

“Blimey, they don’t like it when things go against them, do they?”

8. Sequel - 04/01/2010

Men 5, Boys 0
Things could be worse though. At least by not being a Chelski fan I don’t have to negotiate Fulham sodding Broadway sodding station every other week.

Matt Rowson - 04/01/2010

At least by not being a Chelski fan, you’re not a Chelski fan.

9. lukefairweather - 04/01/2010

I was unable to attend but did listen to the radio commentary and have scanned many of the reports. What seems to stand out is that Chelsea (a team of world class stars, top of the not not etc) played bloody brilliantly. Yes you can say we didn’t press the play or put them under pressure, yada yada yada, but you’ve got to get close enough to ’em first. And they were just too good.

From a distance it seems we did not prove to be bad or good – we never had much of a chance to do either. Though it pains me to say so, it seems that Chelsea were just chuffing awesome on the day, oh, and we were not. If only we had drawn Man Utd eh? How often can you say that and mean it?

Move along please, nothing to see here…

Luke

Matt Rowson - 04/01/2010

Chelsea are a good side, too good for us on the day. But the suggestion that our level of performance is irrelevant to proceedings just isn’t accurate. As I mentioned above, several of Chelsea’s goals were basically gifts, borne not of their brilliant play but of chances we gave them. Now had we defended a little more decisively, closed down once in a while Chelsea would in all likelihood have beaten us anyway… but we’d have come out of it with heads held rather higher. Nobody is berating or overreacting here I don’t think, but you can’t excuse a substandard performance by blaming the quality of the opposition. The manner of our destiny was in our own hands.

lukefairweather - 04/01/2010

Matt,

Like I said, I wasn’t there, but I couldn’t help notice the disparity between the angst and criticism – on here and elsewhere – and the reports/ perspective from elsewhere.

Curiously, for once I am grateful for a Leeds victory, because they probably helped us to avoid being the main story, and, so Utd were left to suck up the shame.

As Lesley Anne says, “Onwards and upwards”

Luke

10. simmo - 04/01/2010

For the first time I left a match early. I am not proud of this and there have been many games in the past where I could have taken a similar step but at 4-0 down it was not going to get any better however much encouragement I tried to give.

While it is no reflection on the current players who just cannot compete with that level, it was still embarrassing especially as we had made Chelsea work pretty hard for a win only 12 months ago. It is obvious why the gap has grown between the two teams over the last 12 months but it really didn’t make me feel any better about the performance. Lets just hope that the money earned from the game will reduce the debts and with Ellington gone for the time being, we can find some other players who can at least help bolster the team for the rest of the season.

11. Lesley-Anne - 04/01/2010

I agree Sequel that it was men against boys and we were completely outplayed and embarrassed. Having said that, in a way it’s nothing that I wasn’t expecting, even sending a text from the train on the way there saying I wasn’t sure I was looking forward to it!!! But you have to support the team through the good and the bad!
Yes we missed Helguson badly. Jay DeMerit did a good job, probably our only player not to put in a well below par performance; and without him it really could have been 10. I hope his injury is not as bad as it looked. It was good to see Ross Jenkins return and whilst I accept it wasn’t good to start with Severin, I do understand Malky’s reluctance not to risk Jenkins from the start.

Anyway, onwards and upwards!! Hopefully a better performance and result on Saturday against Sheffield Utd; I just hope this hasn’t knocked all the confidence out of our young team.

12. Jeremy Clarkson - 04/01/2010

JC here

they were rolls royce, us a bag of spare parts

..similar to an expereince i had a few years back playing an international squash player, he always knew where the ball was going and then started to play left handed and then sitting down, then virtually blind folded…..nothing wrong in accepting we were beaten by shear brilliance…….

up the’orns

13. GraemeB - 04/01/2010

Because the team has greatly exceeded our expectations this season it is easy to forgive a defeat to one of the best sides in the world. But this was still a shocking performance. On countless occasions we allowed Chelsea players to stroll around the last third with no attempt being made to close them down. Basics went out of the window. On the few occasions we did get the ball we seemed paralysed with fear. It is at times like this that the lack of a natural leader on the pitch is most apparent. No one can blame Malky for defending his team in public, but perhaps what was really needed at half time was a good old-fashioned b*llocking. Yes of course we never expected to get anything here, but this performance was just unacceptable.

I watched the game with a good friend of mine who is a Chelsea season ticket holder and found myself having to explain that we are actually much better than that. The last time we did this was at the Vic when even the Anelka hat trick left me feeling there was nothing to be embarrassed about.

On a more general point, the departure of H, Cathcart and the Duke leaves the squad incredibly threadbare. Apart from those who actually played on Sunday, there are only six players at the club (Lee, Sadler, Hoskins, Parkes,Bennett, Sordell) who have ever started a game in the Championship and latter three of these have only five starts between them. It is difficult to see how we would cope with a run of injuries, but there is clearly no money available for reinforcements.

14. derry pigweed - 04/01/2010

Bad day at the office against the best team in the premier league we just showed them to much respect in the opening minutes

This season we have always bounced back so bring on the blades

Due to my son’s football match being called off yesterday I ended up in the Chelsea end at late notice and before the game started the Chelsea fans were not that confident due to previous cup upsets but after our awful first 20 minutes they were singing their hearts out- not a nice experience but at least the pies were good

15. Kris - 05/01/2010

Thanks for the thunks Matt. I was unable to follow the match online as I normally do, due to other commitments but came home and was sad but not surprised about the result, but anoyed when I read about our performance.

I don’t want to dwell on it too much but say this. This came make or break our season. It all comes down to how the squad reacts to a drubbing at the hands of Chelsea.

If the heads drop we’ll be in relegation territory in no time. But if we can manage to analyse the game, find areas in which to improve – then it could really be a stepping stone for improvement.

thing is we’ve had similar performances lately where we just haven’t shown up at the start. We’ve managed to salvage something most times but Chelsea promptly showed us what happens to teams who don’t show up in the Premiership. You can’t ride your luck. You don’t get away with silly mistakes.

Let’s hope Malky and Dychey can take this performance and use it to positive effect. If so, it’s not been in vain.

16. DW - 06/01/2010

I totally agree with GraemeB, the previous 5 months allow for this kind of performance but it was a shocker. For us to get any kind of result we needed to play as well as we can and Chelsea as bad as we did but even then we would only have the smallest chance.

It’s possibly a sign that I’m getting on and have been spoilt by sitting with a group of people in the Rookery who love to support our team without having to vocally abuse the opposition every time them come near the ball but I was ashamed at the number of People near me who thought it acceptable to abuse the opposition players every time they got into shouting distance.

17. SteveG - 10/01/2010

Did you see the table in today’s Observer which, somewhat bizarrely, rates us as the sixth best team in the Championship in financial terms, with 12 of the 20 clubs effectively insolvent! Only West Brom are higher in both the actual league table and the financial health league table. Also, getting a dishonourable mention: Mike Williamson and Tommy Smith, in an article on transfers that were a waste of money, focused mainly, but by no means exclusively on Portsmouth.

Life could be a lot worse…

18. Weymouth 'Orn - 11/01/2010

SteveG
In the light of recent events and (specifically) our local difficulties,the Observer’s table makes little sense to me.
Probably the easiest and fairest thing to do would be to dock ten points off every club in the Division.

Matt Rowson - 11/01/2010

I haven’t seen the article; I would imagine that there are several ways of representing financial health. Any that considered “merely” debt would make us look relatively healthy; ability to meet upcoming costs (i.e. salaries vs projected income) not so good, although far better than before in the light of the rights issue. Bear in mind that the recent urgency behind our financial position was borne of Russo’s posturing, as GT made explicit.

Either way, Weymouth, the table is comparative; being 6th highest doesn’t necessarily make us “healthy”. Just less poorly than others, sitting on a pile of debt. On that basis it makes perfect sense.

SteveG - 11/01/2010

We were rated at a score of 42 out of 100, which was then graded D on a scale of A to F. Matt’s right that it’s all relative – only five clubs scored over 50% and Newcastle, at the half way point in the table, scored a paltry 11. The table didn’t explain the methodology, but just said the numbers had been provided by Equifax.

Plymouth and West Brom were the top two, and the only clubs to get an A rating, while Middlesboro and Blackpool both got zero.


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