One game, and suddenly everyone’s a critic. Good vibes and high spirits are a thing of a past. Welcome to the real world, jackass. Chelsea in the relegation zone! What have you done for me lately?
It’s laughable, really, though not completely dismissible. There are real concerns embedded in the 4-0 defeat to Manchester United, Chelsea’s heaviest loss at Old Trafford since 1965. Ole Gunner Solksjær may have admitted his team were lucky to be leading at half-time, but luck alone does not account for shipping four goals.
“The second half was outstanding, defended well in shape and counter attacked well. We can count ourselves a little bit lucky to go in 1-0 up, but then half-time came, we settled down and played well second half.”
-Ole Gunnar Solskjær; source: Express
Football is often a game of fine margins. Millimeters can make the telling difference. Chance plays a big part, and a series of unfortunate events can lead to a “Mourinho Season” just as easily as a series of fortunate events can lead to a “Seasono”. Momentum builds or drains away game by game, moment by moment. Not everything is in our control, in the players’ control, even in the manager’s control (though he takes the responsibility in the end).
But that also means that the things we do control, we have to execute correctly. If we don’t, an unlucky 1-0 loss turns into an 4-0 hammering.
“Had we gone in at half-time 2-1 or 3-1 up, which we should have done, the game would have been completely different. [But] we can’t make unforced errors and mistakes at this level. At the same time, it was nowhere near a 4-0. [...] At 1-0, we were the better team, but I can’t stand here and look happy with that.”
-Frank Lampard; source: ESPN
Usually, a 4-0 scoreline does not warrant closer examination. The two managers may understand how small margins turned into such a massive margin, but the narrative and the cursory analysis only sees the final score. Only today can we look back and lament two woodworks hit in the first-half as a deciding factor. Soon, those details will be forgotten. Only results truly matter in the end, and obviously we can’t have too many more 4-0s.
Fortunately, we should be getting back some of the key missing and injured personnel, including N’Golo Kanté, who was only fit for a second half substitute appearance in this one.
“I was trying to bring on [N’Golo] just to get him minutes. That’s a bonus for us, to see him out there. We have Rüdiger and Willian not far away. Callum and Ruben will be slightly further than that. Reece James coming back: he’s going to be a big player for us.”
“We are missing internationals and big players but I don’t want that excuse. The team we put out today was clearly competing in the game for long periods but we made four mistakes and they were clinical in the way they put them away. There’s a reality check for us all.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky
Of course, that won’t stop any of the criticism and it won’t stop even the likes of José Mourinho sticking his oar in, criticizing the young players like Mount, Abraham, and Christensen in his role as a pundit on Sky.
Us vs. Them, let us not forget. This where we keep the faith in our own, literally.