John McCormick writes: This being an important weekend, we’ve decided to double up on the “who are you” contribution. First up is my guest, Neil Tabor, like Colin and myself, exiled but keeping his faith for decades. Not that it has been difficult for him these past few years.
I didn’t ask Neil to predict the final places until after last weekend. I nearly didn’t ask him at all…
JMc: How long have you been supporting Chelsea and what have been your (highest) highs during that time?
Neil: I have supported Chelsea for 47 years, the highest highs being the 2012 Champions League Final and 2013 Europa League Final, obviously the titles and cups won since 1997 are also up there as well.
And any lows?
Apart from this shambolic season, the 1980’s were pretty low as a Chelsea supporter, playing in the old 2nd Division and narrowly escaping relegation to the 3rd Division, and the 2008 Champions League Final.
Was this season Mourhino’s fault or was there something else, maybe the shadow of the owner, getting in the way?
This season has been awful, but clearly the incident with Jose and the physios was shocking, and the way the club handled the whole situation, It was clear to me that Jose has lost the dressing room, I cannot believe that the same team could perform so badly collectively. You could see the improvement in the team after Guus Hiddink was brought in, and it was the same players.
The only players who seems to have actually played all season is Willian and Azpilicueta
The owner should have reacted much faster to the situation, whether that would have made for a better season….
Some of the players clearly believed the hype about themselves, and they should really take some of the blame.
And while your club’s owner’s in the frame, what’s your opinion of him?
The owner has over the years meddled too much, it was clear that he brought 2 players at least that the manager did not want.
Schevchenko and Torres, both were past their best and it was £85 Million poorly spent.
You have a new manager lined up. Is he the right man to take the club forward?
I am not entirely sure that Conte is the right man for the job, I would have preferred Hiddink being given a new contract, he has steadied the team, and he is playing some of the English Chelsea Youth Academy players, and in the long term that would be good for the squad.
Any historian of Chelsea must include Osgood and the 1970s squad, which I saw play when I lived down in London. You might be too young for that era but are there any players from the past you wish you had seen?
I can remember most of the 1970’s squad, Ogood, Cook, Hudson, Houseman, Hutchinson, Bonetti, Dempsey, Chopper Harris etc
Would like to have seen Jimmy Greaves, had a great goal scoring record while at Chelsea.
Who are the best players you’ve seen in Chelsea colours; and are there any who shouldn’t have been allowed to wear them?
Gianfranco Zola would be the best player in the last 20 years to have played for Chelsea, then you have Frank Lampard (a bit like marmite, either you like him or you don’t), to have a goal scoring record of 1 goal in 3 matches from midfield is good,
There are 2 players who are the unsung heroes, Paulo Ferreria and César Azpilicueta (Dave), good solid performances.
One player who should never have been allowed to wear the colours is Winston Bogarde, actually thinking about it, he didn’t, most expensive bench warmer, 6 years.
Petr Chech did well for Arsenal a couple of weeks ago – should the club tried to have kept him? Or at least not sold him to a competitor?
I think we should have kept him, but the situation with him and Courtois would have been strenuous, and they should have sold him to a team overseas, but while he has had good performances at Arsenal, it didn’t deliver them the title.
I can’t think of any recent transfers between Sunderland and Chelsea, although Torre Andre Flo comes to mind and there are rumours that you are, or were, interested in Emmanuele Giaccherini. Any thoughts on him? If not, has there ever been anyone on our books you’d have signed?
To be honest, I can’t think of any Sunderland players who I would have liked to see at Chelsea, it was a shame that we sold Flo to you, as I liked him.
What do you think of the plans for a redeveloped Stamford Bridge and surroundings?
The ground definitely need redevelopment, and needs to be bigger, but given all the property around the ground and the underground, expansion is hard.
Think the transport links need to be looked at, it is a small tube station at Fulham Broadway and can be very busy, unless you know your way around the area and get to other tube stations, it can be a bit of a pain.
And what do you think of the possibility of using Wembley during the rebuild?
For the redevelopment of the ground Chelsea have to move, their preferred choice is Twickenham, but that is not going to happen.
I am not sure about Wembley, as I feel that it should be kept for International and Cup Finals, but there is nowhere else really to go to, so do you ground share Wembley with Spurs, where both sets of fans hate each other, apparently Chelsea have offered ridiculous money to have sole use of Wembley, whether that happens is anyones guess.
The issue at Wembley is they can only have 35 events in a year, where capacity is above 50,000.
It is unlimited if the capacity is below 50,000.
At Wembley you have the Football, American Football and other events, so that would also cause a headache for potential home fixtures, in the league and domestic cups.
I can’t see Chelsea ground sharing with Arsenal or any of the London clubs, it would be a bit like asking Sunderland and Newcastle to ground share, it would never happen.
Chelsea need to find somewhere for 2 seasons, possibly 3.
Colin Randall, aka M Salut, has strong views on diving. It’s the grappling and holding in the box at set pieces that gets my goat. Is it time to give up bothering about cheating and just write it into the coaching manuals?
Think we need to have referees with the same attitude as Rugby Refs, take no crap. Shirt Pulling, Diving, Swearing, etc all should be punished by booking an if it occurs again sending off. Maybe have the sin bin, team down to 10 men for 10 minutes…
When players crowd the Ref, the Ref should stand his ground, and when they touch him, send them off. They would quickly learn. (I’ve made this point myself and couldn’t agree more, JMc)
Definitely do not give up on the rules, just get the referees to stick to them, I hate all the cheating, even when my team does it; when they do I am disgusted.
Any thoughts on the club, region, team…..
The times I have been to the North East, I have found everyone to be friendly, and have not had any issues/trouble, despite being a southerner.
Your team has always had a good following, regardless how the team is performing, the fans do get behind the them.
This year Sunderland have not performed, and if it was not for Defoe, I honestly believe you would have been already relegated.
I think you will survive this season, but think you do need a new manager.
I don’t think Sam is the right manager for Sunderland, as to who is, that is a tough question.
I do think Nigel Pearson is a solid manager, he did turn things around for Leicester last season.
And to finish:
Who will get the Champions League spots?
Leicester, Spurs, Arsenal, City.
And who will go down with the Villa?
Newcastle and Norwich
Prediction: Sunderland 1, Chelsea 3
Frank Lampard picture courtesy of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chelsea_F.C._players#/media/File:F-Lampard.jpg
Interview, John McCormick.