Chelsea have narrowly avoided losing three matches in a row in all competitions for the first time since 2006* on Wednesday, but the mood around the club hasn’t improved much.
“The mood at the moment is not the best,” says César Azpilicueta — any bigger sign of the times than an out-of-form Dave? — before issuing a token rallying cry.
The sour mood is fairly obvious (and understandable), just from looking at public mannerisms from the coach and the players, the results on the scoreboard, and of course the media feeding frenzy. You don’t have to look much further than the inimitable Duncan Castles, for whom it’s undoubtedly Christmas come early considering he’s been pushing the Conte-out narrative (whether by force or choice) for over six months now.
Basically, Conte will be sacked, he’s at odds with Granovskaia, Abramovich, and the rest of the Chelsea hieararchy, he’s a “dead man walking”, etc etc etc. You can fill in the gaps. It’s the same old story every time, but it plays well as long as the wins keep not coming. This is what sells.
A slightly less obnoxious take on the situation comes from The Times’s Matt Hughes, who brings tidings of training ground upheavals. Putting in the work is never as easy when the results aren’t there (exact reasons and circumstances don’t really matter). Nerves and tempers are frayed, even if two losses and a draw are no one’s definition of an apocalypse — even if they are treated as such in reporting, and thus actually become the definition.
Looking at this another way, it’s just another day, another CRISIS as Chelsea. If you’ve been a fan for any length of time, you’ve experienced this once, twice, many times already. It’s how we roll, it’s how the media spotlight works. Never a boring day.
When you’re winning, everything is alright. When you’re not winning, nothing is. The Times article claims that we’ve stuck largely to the same training schedule as last season (outside of playing the few additional games), but suddenly that doesn’t play as well as before. Of course, we heard similar stories of hard, “boring” sessions last season, too, but once the methods were shown to be working, no one bothered to complain. Now we’re losing games, players are getting injured, emotions are rising.
No one has time for your mild takes or reasoned opinions. Football is packaged and sold as entertainment, as drama, as the soap opera of our times. It’s aimed at the lowest common denominator, and that assumes everyone involved or observing is about five years old. And of course we’re one of its biggest draws. How did that old TNT tagline used to go? “We know drama.”
Must win against Watford then. Should be fun fun fun!
* this could also be 2015, 2013, or 2002, depending on how you look at losing in a penalty kick shootout to Stoke City in the League Cup (‘15), losing in a penalty kick shootout to Bayern Munich in the Super cup (‘13), or losing in the glorified friendly that is the Community Shield (‘06) — three games that each constituted one part of three-game losing streaks. Back in the fall of 2002, Ranieri’s Chelsea lost three in a row to West Ham, Viking FK in the UEFA Cup, and Liverpool. The 2006 streak actually spanned the summer and included two meaningless losses at the end of the 2005-06 season.