Rusty Carlo and rampant Rooney giving us the jitters

WEST HAM came to Chelsea determined to play football — which they did, very commendable, no bus parking in this game. It did them no good mind ... no shots on target tells its own story.

We didn’t play particularly well and we had another tense last five minutes where the Hammers pumped ball after ball into our box. The club have annoyingly started scrolling goal updates across the big screens during matches these days. Of course from the moment I saw Sheffield United had gone ahead my eyes kept wandering back to that damn screen! Naturally, I knew United would eventually win the game, so I tried not to look, as if by not looking it would somehow prevent it. But of course, I kept sneaking a peak and the prophecy fulfilled itself.

I always enjoy beating West Ham. They take it so personally and bragging rights are always important in London. Not that I do much bragging. A Chelsea win is expected, discussion involving a Chelsea result is only deemed worthy in the office if we lose. Small price to pay though.

José gave everyone a good grin last week by having a dig at the fans. All rather reminiscent of Keane and the prawn sandwich brigade rant. Let’s be honest here — Stamford Bridge is not the hot-bed of atmosphere it used to be. But you name me a club which is? We have our good days and our bad days like every other club. There will be the blinkered fans that tell you that their ground is rocking every game. That is simply not true. Not any more. Every Premiership ground has been infiltrated by the corporate Johnny and the football tourist and the heavy-handed steward, and as a result, atmosphere suffers. I was gobsmacked at Bernard’s description of a “decent atmosphere” against Liverpool at the Emirates — it was virtually silent from my armchair seat — even prompting one of the commentators to describe the stadium as the “new Library” as it was so quiet.

Whether it was José’s comments, or the traditional rivalry against West Ham, or the fact that large sections of the crowd stood with no consequences on Saturday, who knows — but the atmosphere was decent. As I am sure it will be at Old Trafford this Sunday, but can this be guaranteed every week? Sadly not, but the suits are now reaping what they sow.

Speaking of Old Trafford, it’s bad news for us is that Rooney seems to be single-handedly ripping teams apart at the moment. With this season’s loss of Gallas, the issues we seem to have with the right-back position and the prolonged settling-in period for Ashley Cole, we may have some real problems with the Scouse bruiser. That’s before we even discuss the loss of Cech.

It seems a strange thing to say that Cudicini had a bit of a ‘mare last weekend against West Ham. After all, we didn’t concede a goal, nor did he have a save to make. However he looked nervous and unsure and in turn the defence looked nervous and unsure — even John Terry. I am hoping Carlo is just rusty from warming the bench and that he will improve with every game, but it would have to be a very steep learning curve indeed for him to be fully ready for this Sunday! I’m also not sure what team to go for. Do we go for brute force and play Essien, the Cannibal, and Ballack along with Lampard, Terry and Drogba. Or do we go with speed and guile and utilise Robben, Joe Cole and Shevchenko with Drogba — I don’t know! I don’t sound very confident do I? That’s because I’m not. I’ve got a nagging feeling United aren’t going to let up until they lift that trophy (our trophy) aloft, and Sir Alex retires gracefully at the very top.

But let’s talk about tonight. Bremen are a useful side, and no one would really be surprised if we were to lose. Would they? Of course it would be an absolute travesty if officially-the-best-team-ever-in-the-universe (Barça) were knocked out of the competition tonight but UEFA should not shed too many tears as the Champions League loss would be the UEFA Cup’s gain surely? Seriously though, I don’t think Mourinho’s ego would allow us to lose a game. Me, I have no such scruples I’d claim a seafood lasagne poisoning and put out a mixture of the youth, reserve and backroom staff wearing boots two sizes two small for them, and then sit back and enjoy the mother of all arguments.

* You can contact Trish on

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.