Blue murder for us on Sunday, forced to pray for good news from Hull or Villa? Or an extraordinary win that makes it unnecessary for us to want for anything except defeat for the Mags? If only Jerry Evans, in the second part of the final Who are They? of the 2008/9 season, could be proved right; Blues fan though he’s been since childhood, he not only thinks we’ll somehow manage it, but hopes so too. He is also a true gent who wants “hate” taken out of footballing rivalries – and rather disapproves of our desire to see the Mags go down – and whose thoughts have been joy to deal with. See the first part of his contribution here and then enjoy his responses to our questions …
So how has the season been for you?
The overall results have been excellent. Third behind an outstanding Man Utd and a resurgent Liverpool is no disgrace. Perhaps the long term injury to the magnificent Essien made the difference. And to hold the stunning Barcelona to one goal in three hours was a great achievement. If Chelsea had set out to throw everything at the Catalans, I believe they might have leaked several goals. Iniesta, Xavi, Messi and co are at the pinnacle of this wonderful game.
Do you ever get bored by Chelsea’s success?
The answer is no, but I hope I have made my points that a) I have a long term view; nothing lasts forever, and b) There is too much to love and be rewarded by in football, than just concentrating on one’s favourites’ results alone. Too narrow.
Did you see Sunderland at The Bridge this season? Was 5-0 a reflection of the Blues’ brilliance or our hopelessness?
Only on extended TV highlights. Cause and Effect. Were Chelsea great or Sunderland poor. The Wearsiders clearly lacked the opposition’s quality; when this is the case a team needs to be impeccably organised and drilled in order to compensate. Sunderland were not and could not.
What did you make of Roy Keane’s walkout?
Clearly, he is an unusual character, and I am not convinced his attributes fit him well for the role of management. He was a very fine footballer (to digress, I refrain from the grossly overused word “great”. In my 60 years only Matthews, Pele, Maradona, Best, Cruyff, and perhaps Puskas and Moore deserve that accolade), but seemed to me unable to accept that others were not capable of matching his level. And more importantly, those lesser players were made to feel it. He needs to amend his approach if he is ever to bring out the best in a group of players.
Who in all honesty will go down?
Thanks for putting me on the spot! OK. I’ll try.
Aston Villa 0 Newcastle 1
Hull 1 Man Utd 1
Sunderland 2 Chelsea 1
Sorry, Hull. You know by now I don’t dislike anyone.
Do you hate Fulham – or anyone else – in the way we hate Newcastle (and they hate us), or are you too grown-up for such things?
I don’t wish to be po-faced, but I wish we could eradicate this word at least from use in the football context. There is, I know, an intense rivalry between clubs in the North East, but please, Mr Genie of the lamp, get rid of hatred. That should be reserved for those who seek to attack our way of life, our country or our family. Football? Oh, come on.
With regards Fulham, they are a lovely little club, and I believe that smart, polite, gentle, well-mannered and well-spoken man, Mr Roy Hodgson who is also, as it happens, an experienced and successful football manager, should be voted No 1 this year.
Let’s avoid “greatest”, but who are the finest players to have worn Chelsea colours?
Roy-the-boy Bentley, a fine consistent centre-forward and captain in generally lousy (apart from 54/55) teams. Peter Osgood, a wonderfully skilfull player who lacked the application to get right to the top. Charlie Cooke I have mentioned. Always a joy to watch. Ruud Gullitt only played for a short while, and way after his prime, yet his glorious range of skills were always in evidence. A master footballer. Mark Hughes gave everything to Chelsea’s cause even though he too was just over his peak. As brave, tough and fair as anyone I saw. But head and shoulders over all stands Gianfranco Zola. His exquisite skill, his team ethic, his joyful personality and magnificent sportsmanship meant he gave me greater pleasure than any other footballer I ever saw. And John Terry. Remarkably consistent and hard-as-nails defender from that great footballing breeding ground, Dagenham; a magnificent, natural leader if ever I saw one.
What lies in store for you next season?
By some miracle retain the services of Guus Hiddink, who may be described in much the same way as Roy Hodgson. Time to go: Belletti and Ballack. I would have said Malouda, too, a month or so ago. His revitalisation is tribute to GH. Please Stay: Drogba. Cure his ludicrous petulance first. But he remains a magnificent striker. Develop some of your own, Chelsea. Only John Terry has come through the ranks in the last ten years.
Club v country. Who wins for you, and why?
Club for me. I think its good to have regional allegiances and badges of honour, provided we retain a sensible perspective about things. National sport is a bit too xenophobic for my taste.
And how will it go on Sunday?
Romantic old me: a 2-1 home win, then the Wearside beer will taste like nectar in the evening. I shall be in my local in the New Forest watching Sky……..a bit more instant than the Singapore Straits Times! Good luck to you all at The Stadium Of Light.