Aston Villa ‘Who are You?’: Bruce, Grabban, Birmingham rivalry and SAFC’s ‘necessary’ relegation

Tom: ‘Like Villa, I’m under Chinese ownership’;

Tom Jolliffe* cannot see beyond an away win at the Stadium of Light tomorrow. At least he applies a neat sense of humour, and traces of sympathy, to his asnwers about our plight and his club Aston Villa’s buoyant current state and longer-term prospects (which should not, in his view, include much room for Lewis Grabban beyond the Championship). And however controversial this will be, Monsieur Salut thinks he’s closer to being right than wrong in his assessment of Steve Bruce …

Read moreAston Villa ‘Who are You?’: Bruce, Grabban, Birmingham rivalry and SAFC’s ‘necessary’ relegation

Chelsea Who Are You?: view from The Bridge

For our latest WAY we turn to a young Chelsea fan, Scott Parsons who blogs as Chelsea HQ and reached the finals of the 2015 Football Blogging awards. ( Twitter + Facebook!)

Scott is old enough to have seen Chelsea in the days before the Russian Billionaire’s takeover, but not really old enough to remember them when they were consistently also rans and delighted in the Pensioners nickname. Here he share his thoughts on his team and what’s going wrong, the Blue’s manager who since the initial posting this morning is now their ex-manager for a second time, Sunderland AFC and a host of other stuff.

Jake wants answers ...
Jake wants answers …

Who’d have guessed it? It would be too cheeky to call our game a relegation six-pointer but what has gone so badly wrong?

On current form and the way things are going for Chelsea, I wouldn’t call it cheeky at all. It is very difficult to pinpoint one thing and I would say it’s a lot of collective things put together. The main reason for me is a poor summer transfer window. I know how privileged I am, as a Chelsea fan, to watch this team of world-class players every week – but you can’t stand still in terms of strengthening your squad if you want to retain the Premier League title.

Mourinho seems to have written off the top four already. Do you agree or do you feel Chelsea could still win just about everything between now and the end of the season and fight a way into the leading places?

So far, this Premier League season has been crazy. Top teams are dropping points on a weekly basis and you simply don’t know what is going to happen next. I was quite confident before our defeat to Bournemouth that there was a small glimmer of hope, but now it will take something that has probably never been done before. The best we can aim for now is probably a place in the Europa League – and even that is a big task.

If not already dealt with, when will Abramovich’s patience with the Special One run out and would you be inclined to say it should? (We obviously now know the answer to this question – asked before today’s decision Ed)

Chelsea fans in an unfamiliar spot this season.
Chelsea fans in an unfamiliar spot this season.

Abramovich deserves a huge amount of credit for his patience with Mourinho, as his club is in real danger of missing out on a lot of money at the end of the season. While I’m still fully behind our manager, I think a decision could be made if Chelsea still find themselves near the bottom three at the start of 2016.

I just spent a few seconds looking at your squad and it beggars belief that such an elite bunch of players has struggled to perform. From Costa’s indiscipline to Oscar and Pedro’s anonymity, who do you consider the worst culprits?

Cesc Fabregas has undoubtedly been our worst performer this season, closely followed by Branislav Ivanovic. While the right-back looks slightly better now, having recovered from an injury, both players look like they simply don’t care anymore. Diego Costa has also been terrible, but I am confident he will come good again.

And I bet you can almost hear the smug approval of countless neutrals who seem to have it in for Chelsea – why do you think so many dislike CFC?

While they would never admit it, jealousy plays a big part. The money, the success, there are many reasons. I don’t actually mind all the hate. What does annoy me, though, is that people like to ignore the fact that Chelsea had a very good team and won some decent trophies before Roman Abramovich showed up in West London.

On the same theme, the Paris Metro incident looked ugly and indefensible but do you feel your club has no greater problem with racism than others?

I was in Paris that day and was shocked to learn what had happened. Before the game, I was having drinks in a bar near the stadium, where Chelsea and PSG fans enjoyed a great night of football together. Like you said, the actions by a small minority are indefensible, but it did feel like the media paid much more attention because Chelsea ‘fans’ were involved.

Only a few months later, a group of Manchester United supporters were caught singing anti-Semitic songs on a train back from a football match. That incident was reported in a couple of local newspapers, but no major news agency picked up on the story. These incidents are equally horrible and it should not matter who is involved. It goes without saying that I fully support lifelong banning orders. It’s important to remember that these people do not represent their club’s fan base.

Jake: 'anything Bournemouth & Leicester do, we can better' Can't we?
Jake: ‘anything Bournemouth & Leicester do, we can better’ Can’t we?

But you’ve had great success in recent years. What have been your own highs as Chelsea supporter? I suppose this season is the obvious low.

Winning the Champions League in 2012 has to be the best memory I have as a Chelsea fan. We had come so close in previous years, and winning it the way we did, against all odds, is something that will never be repeated.

Another special day was at Bolton in 2005, when Frank Lampard secured Chelsea’s first Premier League title in 50 years – the start of a great era for Blues fans.

And from a long list of contenders, who are the greatest players you’ve seen in Chelsea colours?

Chelsea have had so many world-class players over the last decade and beyond, but Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard in particular are right up there. They were leaders on and off the pitch and lived through some of Chelsea’s greatest moments together. Not being able to replace two of them properly is one of the main reasons we are struggling so much this season.

Name any player/s who should never have been allowed near Stamford Bridge.

Khalid Boulahrouz, Tal Ben Haim, Minerio, Papy Djilobodji

And how badly do you need a big ground?

I think it’s essential for Chelsea to build the new stadium. Some pictures were released by the club last week and the concept looks stunning.

Tell us what you think about Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city & region, Big Sam.

It’s clear that fans up north are very passionate about their football clubs, and the Stadium of Light is always rocking. There’s a real fight within Sunderland and you always seem to avoid the drop. Big Sam is a decent manager and I think he will keep you guys up this season.

Would any of our players have a cat in hell’s chance of making your bench, even this season?

Jake's take on Yann the Man!
Jake’s take on Yann the Man!

Yann M’Vila has been a great signing for Sunderland. As things stand, I would even have him in our team ahead of Cesc Fabregas. I’d also have DeAndre Yedlin on the bench to challenge Branislav Ivanovic for a spot at right-back.

What will be the top four in order?

1. Manchester City
2. Arsenal
3. Manchester United
4. Tottenham Hotspur


Don’t feel obliged to spare our feelings: who is going down and where will our clubs finish if not already mentioned?

Premier League new boys Bournemouth won’t survive; they will be followed to the Championship by Newcastle and Aston Villa. Sunderland will finish in 16th, Chelsea in 8th.

Diving, the feigning of injury, trying to get opponents booked or sent off, crowding the ref. Is it high time we recognised cheating and boorishness as part of the game and just tried to get our players to do it better – or is it still something we should aim, to stamp out?

I would never encourage players to cheat, not even to our own advantage. Diving has gotten so much worse over the last couple of years and the football authorities should maybe be thinking about suspensions. The problem is, how do we prove it?

What single step should the authorities take to improve the lot of ordinary fans?

Ticket prices are ridiculous these days. Proper fans are being priced out while more and more tourists and corporates visit the big football stadiums in England. If we’re not careful, the next generation of football supporters won’t be able to afford to go to football matches and the atmosphere will die.

Will you be at our game and what will be the score?

Unfortunately not, but I will be keeping my fingers crossed for a Chelsea home win. 2-1

Finally: a paragraph or two on who you are, what you do, your history of supporting Chelsea and as big a plug as want about your site

Scott Parsons on himself: I am a 22-year-old student, who set up Chelsea HQ in 2010. When I don’t have to study for an exam, I spend most of my day trying to provide fellow Blues all over the world with news, rumours, stats and everything related to Chelsea Football Club. The likes of Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Gullit and Roberto Di Matteo made me fall in love with the club and I was lucky enough to experience a wonderful period before Roman Abramovich took over – which was a lot more enjoyable than people think.

Chelsea HQ was nominated for a Football Blogging Award in 2015 and you can follow me on Twitter + Facebook!

The John Terry case: good day for Chelsea, bad one for football

Pete looks on in disbelief at Wolves

At another place, Monsieur Salut wrote yesterday that he disliked John Terry, detested racism, loathed yob culture wherever it manifested itself (including Loftus Road) … but thought the case as brought against Terry was idiotic and should have been dealt with by the FA, which might have been less ready to give benefit of the doubt. Pete Sixsmith takes the argument further, with subtle differences …

Read moreThe John Terry case: good day for Chelsea, bad one for football

John Terry, Anton Ferdinand and those sensitive souls in the press box

Each morning, or more accurately as many mornings as I can bear, I walk down the hill to buy my copy of Var-Matin and, when not observing my Max Hastings diet (as I understand it, no bread, potatoes, chocolate or beer but as much wine as you want), some tasty French goodies. Nothing wrong with the walk down; the 130 steps and great looping bends make it a tougher walk back.

Read moreJohn Terry, Anton Ferdinand and those sensitive souls in the press box

The Robson Report: let Doncaster’s Billy Sharp personify football’s soul

Jeremy Robson


Did John Terry mouth a racist insult in “conversation” with Anton Ferdinand, or was he merely enquiring as to whether Anton erroneously thought he had done so? A number of players insist that Terry is not a racist; the facts have yet to be determined. Billy Sharp’s gesture, however, needed no interpretation. Jeremy Robson applauds Sharp, the bereaved father who scored a “goal from heaven”* (see clip below); you judge whether he is unduly harsh on JT …

Bill Shankly’s oft cited quotation about football being more important than life and death was mentioned again as recently as last week on Salut! Sunderland, in the title of the Rev Leo Osborn’s “Who are you?” article prior to the SAFC v Aston Villa game.

Leo, a staunch Villa fan but also a prominent churchman, said Shankly was wrong. I for one would not disagree. How can any sport, or game be considered more important than life itself?

Read moreThe Robson Report: let Doncaster’s Billy Sharp personify football’s soul

Soapbox on captains courageous: so who leads England out against Wales?


The question is posed by Pete Sixsmith. who detects a subtle difference between your John Terrys and your Kevin Balls …

The big talking point on Sport on 5 last night was the England captaincy.

Mark Pougatch, David Pleat and Mike Ingham had a sustained and intense discussion about who should wear the captains armband against Wales and Ghana next week, what with Rio being injured, Stevie G being out and would JT get it back. Interesting? Not really

One startling revelation that came out was that Terry was “upset” when the armband was passed around during the multi-substitutions against Denmark and it never reached him, poor diddums.

Read moreSoapbox on captains courageous: so who leads England out against Wales?