GILES SMITH'S THURSDAY THOUGHTS
Chelsea's recent away form, capped by the third goal at Norwich, plus an inspiring image place supporter and columnist Giles Smith in a good frame of mind as he writes this week…
If Willian had been able to sit down at the beginning of the season with a fully qualified computer graphics expert and design his ideal first goal for the club - running it through various high-end football simulation software programmes in order to get it absolutely right - I don't suppose it would have come out looking as handsome as the one he scored against Norwich last Sunday lunchtime.
Struck with force, curl and impeccable timing, that goal left the judges no option but to grade it a 10 for both technical content and artistic interpretation and, as the ball sailed into the net, it was gloriously clear that the club has found another player to join David Luiz in the 'PlayStation-come-to-life' category.
(I always thought the computer game 'insult' that Gary Neville aimed at David Luiz was more complimentary than Neville realised, it actually being extremely hard to do, in real life, what 10-year-olds make those FIFA14 figures do on a screen. And it has long since turned out that I was right.)
Willian's goal for 3-1 rather artistically brought to a conclusion a highly productive phase of action. Four consecutive away games in three different competitions: 10 goals scored and only two conceded; three games won and one drawn. And, arguably, the one that was drawn would have been a victory, too, if the referee hadn't been deceived into sending our striker off at exactly the moment he looked like striking.
Of course, now another international break has intervened, threatening to disrupt everybody's rhythm again, which is not just a shame but also an absolute scandal, for which someone really ought to be sued. Still. A promising phase, none the less. And capped by that fantastic goal.
Merely hours after Willian struck, and ensuring that the buoyancy of the general mood ran on well into the week, Spurs somehow contrived to lose 0-3 at home to (of all people) West Ham - a classically uplifting result, the only disappointing aspect of which was in the way it made our own surrendering of two points on the same ground a week earlier look still more disappointing, even allowing for the fact that we only had 10 men for the critical portion of the game.
Far be it from me to presume to analyse Spurs' problems, or try to get to the bottom of what's going wrong for the club this season. But it did seem, looking at the highlights at the weekend and reading a couple of the match reports, that what their side is lacking at the moment is a creative midfielder - someone who could come on at a critical moment in the game, find a moment of brilliance and potentially clinch a match which, moments before, had looked to be on a knife-edge.
The kind of player who could latch onto a ball way out to one side of the area and send it curling into the far corner with the goalkeeper flailing and getting nowhere near it.
Someone like Willian, say.
But those kinds of players are hard to find, as we all know only too well.
I'm a big fan of the 'Shot of the Day' feature in the Shed section of this website - an invitation to wallow in the club's photographic archive, one picture at a time. There aren't many quiet or dispirited moments in my working day, I find, which can't be enlivened greatly by a rare shot of Tore Andre Flo in his pomp or a picture from further back, of a team from the 1940s or 1950s, say, training in what appear to be cable-knit sweaters and using a ball which patently has all the suppleness and 'give' of a sixteenth-century cannonball.
I find that web-page to be an oasis of calm, a restorative place which inspires reflection - much as, I imagine, some people find BBC Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day'. And I bet I'm not alone.
But even by that feature's estimable standards, yesterday's 'Shot' was a corker - a black and white picture from the opening day of the 1955/56 season with the Football League Championship Cup being taken round the Stamford Bridge pitch for the benefit of the fans… on a trolley.
On a plinth, we should say, on a trolley, with both the plinth and the trolley ceremonially draped in what appear to be custom-made table cloths. The trophy seems to have been forcefully tethered to the plinth with string, or similar, to stop it falling off on its way round the old greyhound track, an accident which might have drained the parade of much of its grandeur.
No players seem to be present at this happy moment, meaning that the emphasis is very much on the trophy - though note, also in the picture, the hoarding at the back end of the ground promoting Mackeson's beer which is testament to a golden age of advertising when, in order to create a campaign, it was enough to print the name of the brand in really big letters with an exclamation mark at the end of it.
But mostly it's about the trolley. On similar occasions in recent years, when there have been cups to show, the players have walked around carrying them, and passing them between one another - and this, too, has its thrills and its good points as a spectacle. Nevertheless, I defy anyone to look at the photo from 1955 and not end up wanting to see the trolley make a comeback.
Does the club still have it somewhere? Or one similar? With the relevant table cloths? I think it should be re-employed at the earliest opportunity. Like, at the end of this season and/or the beginning of the next.
And we can always hope - especially in the light of those four recent away performances and the direction in which they seemed to be pointing. Perhaps we're going to need two or three trolleys.