TERRACE TALK: Chelsea - We can forgive players this campaign if they beat Tottenham

Leaving the ground on Saturday, I could almost pretend these last nine months hadn’t happened.

A resounding win, being part of another really good away day following, and the prospect of an evening celebrating the win in the seaside town helped us all to forget what an unmitigated disaster this season had been.

The players should count themselves very lucky really that Chelsea fans may not like what’s gone on, but have stuck with them — we have sold out every game both home and away and continue to play our part, no matter what has been served up. 

There are many clubs in better positions than us can’t claim such loyalty.

That said, during the game against Bournemouth, the players were left in no doubt that the fans expect them to beat Tottenham. 

Some players reputations are hanging by a thread with the fan base — the easiest way to make or break their future is with their performance against the sworn enemy.

It will be an interesting game as if we believe what we read in the papers, there are a number of players that want to leave. 

Some of these same players have been putting in less than we know they are capable of in quite a few games this season. 

They do that against Tottenham and there will be full-scale mutiny in the stands. We won’t forgive or forget. 

Equally, it is an opportunity to put everything that has gone on this year behind us. 

Show your metal and we can all metaphorically shake hands and move on — it really is that simple.

Of course, all the conspiracy theories are doing the rounds. It seems to have only just dawned on some people that we are playing both Spurs and Leicester. 

Nothing would give me more pleasure than us obliterating Tottenham and then throwing the final game of the season, but have these people actually seen us this year? 

As if we could rely on the players to do anything is utterly ridiculous. 

Although I have heard on the grapevine that as an acknowledgement for his years of service, the club are allowing Stamford the Lion to play against Leicester...

Speaking of old faces — the papers are full of stories of Lukaku coming back to the Bridge. 

Anyone that reads this column regularly will know that I was very loath to see him go as I thought he was the nearest thing we had to a direct replacement for Drogba. 

The thought of bringing him back isn’t unattractive, but it is rather embarrassing, and for me, if Costa is staying, they are not perhaps the best pairing — given that both are the physical powerhouse type of strikers.

If we are going to humiliate ourselves in the transfer market by buying back a player we let go, I would rather it be Mata. 

Ultimately, the decision to sacrifice him for Oscar has been shown to be a foolish one. 

Mata may not give you that defensive element Mourinho always demanded, but he is infinitely better going forward, is more creative and more importantly has a strong sense of loyalty and character.

Given the fact that we were “treated” to the spectacle of Mikel at centre-back against Bournemouth, I am hoping the dire straits that we are in may force Chelsea’s hand into giving JT that additional season.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start against Tottenham, given that he ran 8km on Saturday before he took an icy dip in the sea at Dorset prior to the match. 

He is still the best defender that we have and with him on the pitch, I would at least have a hope that we could beat Spurs.

All in all, a lot rests with Conte. He effectively needs to rebuild the team. 

Next season is hugely important as it is the final season before we have to leave the Bridge for three or four years while it’s being developed. 

If Conte doesn’t come up with an exciting, successful side, many fans may take that as an opportunity to take a break from the game, especially if we end up at Wembley or in a temporary share of the Olympic Stadium with West Ham. 

Football is a habit — once broken it’s difficult to reestablish. 

So Chelsea need to perhaps reexamine their usual approach, their relationship with the incumbent manager and the way that responsibilities are split, otherwise this will be far from the last season in the wilderness.

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: Premier League Flops of the Season


Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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