Following the decision to part ways with Jose Mourinho, the most successful manager in Chelsea history, the board were clearly aware that there would be quite a bit of negativity at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. With that in mind, club chairman Bruce Buck had the following plea in the programme notes, urging Chelsea fans everywhere to accept the managerial change, and support the players going forward:
"We have received many letters and emails from fans over the last few weeks expressing their variety of views. Although we cannot respond to every communication we appreciate you taking the time to contact us with your thoughts, and we read and considered them all."
"I can assure you it was not a decision we took lightly, nor was it a spur-of-the-moment decision. Mr Abramovich and the board anguished over it for some time. But the start we have made to the season has come as a major disappointment to the owner, the board and Chelsea fans everywhere, and I think it is fair to say nobody expected us to be in the position we are in. Please believe me when I say the decision was made for no reason other than to do what we believe is in the best interests of this club."
"We will not forget what Jose achieved here during two spells as manager. He has overseen some of our most famous triumphs and we will always have a huge amount of respect for him. Now we have to look forward and, in order to make the most out of what remains of this campaign, we believed a managerial change was needed."
"There is still a great deal to play for - Premier League points, the FA Cup and the Champions League - and we want to give it everything in all those competitions."
"We are one of the biggest clubs in the world and we are determined as a collective unit to get back to where we should be. We cannot do that without you (the fans) being fully behind us. We need to be together going forward."
Fortunately, the Blues put in a very good performance on Saturday, and continuing to play in this manner will go a long way toward winning back the fans. Some of those players might have more work to do than others, but in the end, even the three that the crowd clearly blamed against Sunderland can at the least tone down the booing, with a run of good form.
Regardless of how long the backlash against the players lasts, it's nice to see the board learn from the Rafa Benitez disaster, replacing Mourinho with a manager that the fanbase mostly adores, as opposed to one that they absolutely loathe. Progress is good, and hopefully the results going forward are, as well. For the squad's sake, they had better be.