The sense of relief as we watched what we recognised as a “typical” (as in last season) Chelsea performance at Selhurst Park was palpable.
Three goals. THREE! And a clean sheet! The away end was very happy — as was every Chelsea fan. But for me, and I know that I am probably in the large minority here, I still felt cheated.
It’s going to take me a while to get over this and I’m still not sure whether some of those players will ever be truly forgiven as far as I am concerned. There must have been at least a few hundred who agreed, as a chant of “Jose Mourinho” went up halfway through the game. Just for the record, I didn’t join in.
It was very quickly drowned out by a loud, defiant chant of “Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea”, which is as it should be. No one individual is bigger that the club and this “episode” is now over and we should move on. And I have moved on from his sacking. What I cannot move on from is that there are individuals who will get away scot-free, and that offends my sense of justice.
One player who has always been able to hold his head up high is one John Michael Nchekwube, or John Obi Mikel as you may know him. It’s safe to say that he has divided opinion ever since his controversial move to Stamford Bridge almost 10 years ago.
I think Mikel has suffered the fate of many football players in the modern era — fans adore showy, theatrical, inventive players, while more workmanlike players, who simply do their job without seeking the limelight, are often mistakenly referred to as negative, slow, unadventurous.
But players like these are as important as your Ronaldos, Messis and Hazards — they break down play, put important tackles in, regain possession, marshall the opposition when they are in possession, etc. It’s these players that allow your show ponies to play their game.
Given the horrendous season we have had so far, there is a new respect for Mikel and what he does and it’s about time, to be honest. I bet he must have wondered what was going on against Palace when his name was sung almost every 10 minutes when previously his passes back to the safety of the defence were invariably met with a loud groan and some bus-driver from Brixton (or someone equally as qualified) shouting “FFS PASS FORWARD!”.
A few months in the wilderness and the safety of keeping possession suddenly draws frenzied appreciative applause. What I also like about Mikel is he just does what he is told, for whoever is in charge and has turned down moves elsewhere despite not really being appreciated as much as he should have been.
One of the unsung heroes in my book, especially poignant at the moment with so many snakes in the club.
So now we have rocketed to 14th in the Premier League, are we finally seeing a renaissance? I really can’t call it. There have been quite a few times this season where I thought we had finally got the result to turn our season around, and I have been wrong every time.
It is difficult to watch the shenanigans at the top as it seems that anyone able to string a couple of wins together can win this league and yet the usual suspects are doing their utmost to hand it to an undeserving Arsenal. We would never hear the end of it.
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