Andre Villas-Boas didn’t waste any time getting his retaliation in after Chelsea’s 3-0 tonking of Valencia. And you can’t blame him. Journos (and me) have been forming an orderly queue to gently push him off Roman’s slippery pedestal, and then his team came up trumps.
There is a fair bit of spine in the Portuguese lad, isn’t there? This week Alex and, more predictably, Anelka have been put in the show-room window. Nicolas got a sign round his neck saying ‘Many previous owners, but very few smiles on the clock.’ Anelka has never been more than a sub’s bench away from a teenage strop his whole career. Enigma? Nightmare, more like.
Frank Lampard has the face of a man watching some joyriders take his Ferrari for a spin. ‘Course Frank has come back strong before but you can’t help feeling he ought to take a leaf out of his missus’s book and take a short vacation.
The escudo’s dropped for AVB. Having not wielded the new broom soon enough, there’s a sense that the axe is being primed for the greatest clear-out of dead wood since Pinocchio became a real boy. What gives him renewed confidence is the way certain players have flourished, Sturridge being the obvious example.
Some of his finishing at the Sports Clobber Going Cheap Stadium on Saturday was a little Heskeyian (hard and true and straight at the keeper) but Heskey would never have managed create such situations in the first place. Add to that a great eye for a pass and you’re looking at the best English forward in our league on current form.
Juan Mata has settled well, even if you suspect that there ought to be some sort of Hans Blix-led FIFA delegation sent into Spanish training camps to see whether they’re simply cloning Xavis and Iniestas in a topnotch laboratory somewhere.
Didier Drogba, who’s been trying to thumb a taxi out of the Bridge for three years, seems to have at the very least told the cabbie to leave the meter running while he pops inside to tidy things up. In fact getting him on side is a bit like getting the bull to hold the red cloak while you straighten your side-parting.
AVB bleated about the unfair scrutiny of the press in the post-match conference and while you can understand his yah-boo attitude, I don’t quite know what he was expecting. Chelsea managers don’t get the benefit of the doubt, not least cos it’s hard not to think of Roman Abramovich without picturing his index finger being drawn across his throat.
But surely there’s no point in employing a 34-year-old if you’re not thinking long-term. And long-term means that the old boys’ network needs ripping up sooner rather than later.
Of course, AVB suggested that Man City have not been subject to the same pressures but then maybe he wasn’t here when people were smirking about Mancini’s stuttering squad not that long ago. But old Roberto has been wielding his own weaponry in recent months.
His squad is as deep as the Marianas Trench which always means there’s someone with his own axe to grind. Kolo Toure is the latest Grinch, and given the amount of time he’s spent with nowt to do it’s hardly surprising that he’s been sitting around with his chopper in his hand.
Back in your usual seat, Kolo!
Toure’s latest lament can be best summarised as ‘Is it cos I is African?’ To which the answer is ‘No, you pillock, it’s cos you failed a drugs test.’ He argues that playing in the African Nations Cup puts him and his fellow Africans at a disadvantage. I just don’t see that. Kompany and Lescott are playing well and neither of them have bloodstreams with a suspicious composition.
Frankly young Kolo is still in work and that’s a bonus for anyone these days. I mean I haven’t seen such a misguided response since Rio came back from his absent-minded absence of 8 months and asked for a pay rise.
Every manager these days will tell you of the importance of having at least two teams to pick from. Mancini’s got getting on for seven as a far as I can tell. The price you pay for going to a club that’s got money dripping from its portals like sweat from Mike Ashley’s sauna is that you may find yourself having to be patient.
Lamps may seethe, Kolo may cavil, but if the team does better without you then wait your fucking turn and stop whingeing.
In the meantime we can still hope that financial might not win the day this season. Take that with a Siberian excavation of salt as I’m talking about Spurs. Gooners aside, Arry’s lot are certainly the neutral’s favourite this season. It’s not just Neil Warnock giving them warm applause.
Modric still weeps when he thinks that he could be playing midfield with John Obi Mikel
Modric is player of the season, if you ask me (Van Persie’s coming up on the rails). He controls the reins of that team like a tiny jockey in charge of a mighty stallion. Its galloping flanks are Bale and Lennon, its thumping heart is Scott Parker and if you want the odd award for presentation you’ve got Van der Vaart and Adebayor.
Redknapp’s said they can win it this season. Most of us wouldn’t be quite so bold, but it’s good to hear an Englishman speaking about a football team with a bit of conviction. And if the gaffer can steer clear of other convictions into the New Year, then you just never know.