Chelsea slumped to a third consecutive 0-0 draw on Saturday afternoon at Stamford Bridge, and the frustration of the home crowd was palpable (and let’s not even get into the “frustrations” of the Internet crowd).
For many, it was the second or perhaps even third goalless 90 minutes witnessed in the space of eight days, and that certainly can wear on even the most positive personalities. As the minutes ticked away and Chelsea kept giving the ball away, misplacing easy passes, not making the correct decisions, and simply getting outworked and outhustled, the groans of the crowd grew more and more audible. Yes, there was even booing, which surely puts any criticisms of Chelsea’s own short-termism into rather hilarious perspective.
The groans and the booing were not lost on the players either. Most probably wouldn’t address it directly since it’s generally considered a faux pas to do, but if there is one player in the squad who will always tell it like it is, it’s Thibaut Courtois. And so he did.
The question, from Jason Cundy, wasn’t about the crowd itself (it was about playing out from the back on the ground), but Courtois circled around to that issue as well.
“One thing that I think is important is that the fans must know that we want to play out from the back and they don’t have to get nervous. Because if they start shouting and murmuring, it doesn’t help us you know. I think there was too much of that today.
“I know we as a team didn’t have a good game, I know it was our third goalless draw, but we need the fans here at Stamford Bridge to get behind the team and not, when a player has a bad pass or a bad shot, start booing and whistling because I don’t think we’re having a bad season.
“So when we play out from the back, it’s important for us to know that they (the fans) know that we want to do that, and that we know that there is risk involved in that, but that’s our game.”
Courtois didn’t just choose to voice his objections any random venue, he did it on Chelsea’s in-house TV’s post-match show, right there at pitchside, which is watched almost exclusively by just Chelsea fans. You can watch it for yourself on the official website; it comes at the very end of the interview, after Courtois already delivered his critical assessment of Chelsea’s overall effort and level of play.
“Obviously they knew we’ve had a lot of games and they started very aggressive with a lot of intensity. A lot of [opposing] teams at the Bridge sit back and play in their own half, but they really came at us and we had trouble with that today, especially because it was not our best day. We missed too many passes and we couldn’t really find a way to pressure them well. They had a lot of chances and while only one of them was on target that I saved very well, they were all dangerous.”
-Thibaut Courtois; source: Chelsea TV
On the plus side, Courtois did make yet another excellent save, on a wide open header from Wilfred Ndidi to preserve at least a point for Chelsea. The Blues are back level on points with second-place Manchester United, who play on Monday, but could fall to fourth if Liverpool beat Manchester City on Sunday. And of course Chelsea are still alive in the Cups, so Courtois’s assessment that we’re not having a bad season is quite correct. It’s not a great season, especially when compared to last year, but we’ve sen far worse and not all that long ago either.
On a slightly more personal and administrative note...
Far be it from me to tell anyone how to be a fan, or how to react to Courtois’s words and whether to take them personally or not. I can however tell you how to be a fan on WAGNH. So, do try tone down the relentless negativity. It is, after all, part of our (slightly outdated but still very relevant) community guidelines. There’s plenty of Internet out there for you to shout, complain, whine and wail until the end of days. Frankly, it gets a bit boring for me, not to mention tiring and unwelcoming to read. So keep it on Twitter or Facebook or just to yourself. Thank you.