Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Chelsea crippled by crisis of confidence
Andre Villas-Boas was brought in by Chelsea to win the Champions League, not the Carling Cup. Losing to Liverpool in the competition's quarter-final is of no significance in the wider revolution. Nothing changes at the club after last night's woeful departure. Or at least those are the noises coming out of Stamford Bridge. The course is straight and true, just keep on it and all will be well. The manager, however, will know different. He will be more than aware that while last night may have had little meaning on its own, what it told us about the current condition of the club, and the enormity of the manager's job, was telling. And not particularly encouraging for those of a blue persuasion.
This was the third defeat in the last four home games for Chelsea, a club who until recently were virtually unbeatable at the Bridge. Worse, the one victory in that recent quartet was against a Wolves side so abject they arrived in west London with three points wrapped in a decorative bow. What a coach as intelligent as Villas-Boas will know is that momentum is vital in sport. And while it might be true that the really important fixtures lie ahead, how much more encouraging would it be for the coach if his team were entering those engagements with something approaching confidence. Right now Chelsea appear to have very little to spare. Former stalwarts like Ashley Cole, John Terry and Frank Lampard are showing all too human frailty. Fernando Torres continues to be a one-man confidence vacuum, sucking the morale out of all who come into contact with him.
Is there something going on behind the scenes that has eroded the collective resolve? Is it something to do with training? With selection? With tactics? The insistence is that the season will start next Tuesday with the dispatch of Valencia and progress into the Champions League knock-out. For Chelsea fans, the hope must be that such bravado acts as a restorative to confidence. Because next Tuesday is getting closer by the minute. As it heaves into view, there is no sign that it will signal anything better than the end of the season. And with it, in all probability, the end of yet another reign at Roman's castle.