Bouncing back

Chelsea fans living in the Far East are pretty used to the routine of waking up in the middle of the night to watch the Blues playing in the Champions League. 

There have been many nights (think of Barcelona in 2005, Napoli in 2012 and Atletico Madrid in September) when it has all been worthwhile with the Blues producing sublime performances which will live long in the memory and leave us with no cause for regret at sacrificing a good night’s sleep.

But then again, there have also been quite a few evenings like the one at Roma on Halloween Night when things have not gone right and we’re left feeling disappointed and questioning the wisdom of giving up our valuable nap time to watch 22 men kicking the ball around a pitch on the other side of the world.

If it was 20 years ago and I had video-taped the game against Roma, I would probably have recorded over it by now. I certainly have no intention of trying to search for the match highlights on Chelsea TV or YouTube at this moment.

But while the pain of the heavy defeat in Rome is still palpable for all Chelsea fans and there is little appetite for any of us to relive it right now, our feelings about the game could very well change over time, depending on what happens next for the Blues.

The last time we lost a game 3-0 was in September 2016 at Arsenal. While it was galling to lose by such a margin against one of our fiercest rivals, we now see that dismal game as an important moment in our recent history as Antonio Conte tweaked our formation and we won our next 13 games en route to regaining the Premier League title.

On New Year’s Day 2015, we suffered the agony of a 5-3 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur which left us in a dead heat with Manchester City at the top of the table. But we went unbeaten in our next 16 games and had the title sewn up by the time of our next defeat at West Bromwich Albion in May.

Go back further to February 2012 and you may recall the feeling of utter gloom in the wake of the 3-1 defeat at Napoli which left our Champions League hopes hanging by a thread. But we recovered to win the tie and less than three months later, lifted the Champions League trophy for the very first time.

No football team, no matter how big they are, is immune to poor performances or bad results. Look beyond Chelsea and already this season, we have seen Manchester United losing to Huddersfield, Bayern Munich being beaten by Hoffenheim and European champions Real Madrid suffering back-to-back defeats in the past week against Girona and Tottenham.

As football fans, we have to take the bad with the good and accept that there will be some awful days that we will have to endure for as long as we support a team. Getting through those tough times makes success feel even sweeter when it does arrive.

The Roma defeat was painful but it may not mean too much for the Blues if we do go on to beat Qarabag in Azerbaijan later this month and secure our place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

However, what would make us feel much better right now is to see a spirited response from our players against Manchester United this weekend which hopefully gets us back to winning ways and give fan like me in the Far East some reason to justify our lack of sleep this coming Sunday night.