How unlucky can a team be? Tim Howard had a blinder, and our penalty curse strikes again. My reaction to watching Chelsea's sinking ship was like going through the seven stages of grief - I think I've stalled on depression for now, but which one have you hit?
Feeling a bit listless?
These feelings have been building up for a while. But the loss today really drove them home.
1. Shock and Denial - How can this be happening? Our season started so well, nothing could stop us. Well, except ourselves. We should have won today. Frank Lampard finally got his well-deserved goal after so many shots on goal. We were about to win. Then it all completely turned around in the space of a minute.
2. Pain and Guilt - Well, this hurts. A lot. For me personally, I wanted the FA Cup. I know a lot of fans think of it as one of the possible "consolation" trophies along with the Carling Cup, as if we're too big a club to be worrying about such a tournament, but I truly love winning the FA Cup. To know that we could have made history again by winning three consecutive trophies in the competition and to see the club throw it away... ouch.
3. Anger - Oh boy, was I feeling this one for a long while. I went quickly through shock, denial and pain and right on to anger. I am sure that the team does care about their results, but the fact that it doesn't come across when I am watching them on the pitch truly does piss me off. You can tell me all day long how hard they work and how well they do in training, but I'm just not seeing it on the pitch. Then the anger about how unlucky we were - how unlucky we seem to have been for the past three months. How can you be so unlucky for three months?
4. Bargaining - Who can we blame? Phil Dowd, for allowing Cahill to chop away at Mikel's heels repeatedly, for booking Rami for a dive instead of giving a penalty, for watching Fellaini rugby tackle Ashley Cole on the edge of their box and then calling a foul on and giving a yellow card to Malouda immediately afterward? Nobody but ourselves? Ancelotti? Abramovich?
5. Depression and Sorrow - We're facing pretty bleak prospects - from Champions of England and FA Cup Winners to being knocked out of the Carling Cup, the FA Cup, panicking about making fourth place in the league and our prospects for the Champions League looking quite bleak considering the way we've been playing. I've hit this stage hard. Seeing the club you love going through hard times; of course that's not easy. Seeing the look on Frank Lampard's face after Ashley Cole missed his penalty. We know we can play so much better than this, but it has just all fallen apart.
6. Testing and Reconstruction - You're supposed to now distract yourself from the bad and seek realistic solutions. For the past few months, we've been searching for solutions to our problems with no answer. Yes, we had a brief good spell in January, but it's quickly all back to doom and gloom. How can we get our spirit back? How can we get back to scoring goals freely like we did earlier in the season? We've got some bright prospects in Torres, David Luiz, Young Josh. Ramires just seems to keep improving. If we can find the right formation, the right combination of players - maybe we can't quite salvage our season but we can make a good fight for one of the Champions League positions and get back to winning ways.
7. Acceptance - Acceptance that we are an absolutely dire position at the moment. Acceptance that, if things don't improve, we won't be playing Champions League football next season. Maybe this is our reconstruction year. Think back on our history (why, yes, we do have history!). We are so lucky to be in this position at all. We struggled through relegations and promotions and so many trophyless years. Some of our young and new players show promise, and if we can get other players back in form and back from injury, maybe things will start to look up. By cutting our squad down during the summer and trying to rely more on youth players, there was always the strong possibility that something like this could happen.
I can accept the fact that we might not play in the Champions League next year. I'm going to support the team no matter what, whether we win trophies or not. It's just painful seeing the double winners going down in a ball of flames like this. I vent and criticize because I care, not because I plan on immediately jumping ship, burning my Chelsea scarves and revoking my True Blue membership. It pains me to see our downfall giving other football fans so much pleasure. But we still have a few months to salvage some pride. Let's do it.
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High, my fellow Chelsea fans!