We’ll get onto Chelsea in a minute. First, though, be aware that Laurent Blanc has been up to his idiotic tricks again, saying Marouane Chamakh could go only to a “big English club” and no such club is there for him. We are no longer chasing Chamakh, according to Bruce (though I see he has already scored three goals for Bordeaux in their opening two Ligue 1 games), but the jibe is aimed at Sunderland. Consider our likely attendance tomorrow night against Chelsea, compare it with the pathetic 32,000 who watched the first Bordeaux home game and then work out which is the bigger club.
So we made a great start at the Reebok, and could not be mentally more ready for tomorrow night. Most bets will nevertheless be on an away win. David Millward*, lifelong Blue, ducks the issue but agrees that this could be Chelsea’s year for the title. Here is how he answered our questions …
There’s been plenty of backing for Chelsea as champions this season. What do you say?
Logic says this could be true. Much depends on whether Ancelotti is a Hiddink or a Mourinho. First signs are encouraging. He has not mucked about with the side. The game against Manure showed they have not lost their competitive cynicism and, from a distance, Ancelotti looks like Hiddink – little grey haired fat man in a suit.
In The Sunday Times exercise to linking Premier clubs and Hollywood – “if they were movie stars, who would they be?” – had Chelsea as Tom Cruise: “undeniably gifted but you wouldn’t want to look too far under the surface.” Fair point or kneejerk anti-Abramovich twaddle?
Cheap jibe by Sunday Times. Same could be said about any club. Last season we were outspent by Stoke City, apparently. The roubles mean we can tell Man City where to shove their £35 million and we can live with that. I suspect a forensic examination of Liverpool’s books could be interesting.
It used to seem that you needed to be a fully paid-up yob to support Chelsea. Now you need several languages. You’re OK on that score but what about the Bridge faithful?
The yobs are still there, probably much the same as any other club. But ever since Ruud Gullitt, being a racist git has gone out of fashion. The Brazil flags bought for Scolari – aka Gene Hackman – are probably languishing in a lot of attics.
Does it ever get boring to go into every game expecting a win as of right, or do still have sufficiently painful memories of bad times to make the question insulting?
Under Mourinho the best games were those where the opposition scored first. Winning, however, is nicer than losing and the pain of Moscow has not completely gone.
After our last game against you, you said you’d like to import our fans to the Bridge. What’s wrong with your own?
Stamford Bridge rarely comes alive nowadays. The last time it did was the debacle against Barcelona. Complacency seems to have set in.
I am not a big believer of “football by Panini sticker”. The seeds of the Premiership winning side were sown ahead of Mourinho, in fact ahead of Abramovich. The roubles took us from fourth to second and then first. Admittedly the team before his arrival was built on debt, but see references to Liverpool above.
What do you make of the Man City phenomenon? Have they bought themselves a top four place?
See above. If the team blends they will be a threat. It is a big if.
Were you surpsied at how bad we were last season? What do think this season holds for us?
The slump was something of a surprise. Sunderland’s performance at Chelsea was abject. It became a game of attack against defence and the former won 5-0. Steve Bruce’s track record at Wigan was very good, he has some good contacts in South America, so you could come up with some surprisingly good players. All things being equal, should be a comfortable mid-table.
Give the top four in order, and say who will go down.
Would rather pass on top four prediction for superstitious reasons. Relegated, Manure, Liverpool and Man City (well we can but hope)
What will be the score? How will you keep tabs?
If it’s on Sky I will watch it – alas can’t make a return trip to the Venice of the north. Otherwise on the computer.
* David Milward is the transport editor of The Daily Telegraph. He’s known to all as Sid, in honour of his late uncle, Sid Millward (pictured below, right, in Nevada), who led a band called the Nitwits. Sid is a season ticketholder at Stamford Bridge and probably speaks most of the languages heard in the dressing room.