SEB COE Tue 6 Oct 2015
Sport is not a Hollywood movie. It’s difficult to script. Sport doesn’t respect reputation, and it is unpredictable. As frustrating as it can be, that’s why it has a universal attraction.
Sportsmen and women are not robots and can’t churn out results to order. There are all sorts of things that happen, including on occasion dips of form. That’s what we’re suffering from at the moment. Some of the players who were performing unbelievably well last year are turning in less than immortal performances so far this year.
If anybody thinks it isn’t burning a hole in the heart of the coach and the players, they can think again. They will be hurting. You hurt until you get the opportunity to put it right.
Sport doesn’t always predict downturns in form or the precise moment you get back into your stride, but when we do, everybody will know Chelsea are chasing them down.
Other top clubs will be expecting that form of last year to return, and for the second part of this season to have Chelsea breathing down their necks. When that first definitive performance arrives, and it won’t be long, the knot will tighten in the stomach of every opposition player and every club, because they know Chelsea are going to be chasing them. They’ll not dare to take their foot off the pedal because they’ll know Chelsea will be coming back at them.
So what do we at Chelsea have to do?
Do we have to take a big deep breath and stick together? Absolutely. Do we have to believe it’s still possible to have a creditable season and win things? Yes we do.
Do we have the guy every club, whatever they say, would give anything to have standing on their touchline? Yes we do. Is he one of the coaches of his generation? Unquestionably. And is he the right person to resolve the challenges of the last few weeks? No doubt about it.
Let’s remember too that big leads have been lost in the Premier League title race, and we’re capable of putting a run together.
As recently as 2012, Manchester United led by eight points in April only to lose the title to City. In 2003 Arsenal surrendered a similar gap to United, who five years earlier had let the Gunners back in despite an 11-point lead. Those old enough will remember Newcastle’s 12-point advantage in 1996, eventually clawed back by United. Like I said, sport can be unpredictable.
Congratulations to the Chelsea Ladies on a great result in winning the FA Women’s Super League 1 title. It shows the growing interest and commitment to women’s football, and it’s great Chelsea are leading the charge.
Look across the breadth of the competitions in football, and there’s nobody as successful as Chelsea at the moment, being successful in 2015 with the Ladies, in the Academy and in the first team.
Form can be temporary but the foundations couldn’t be stronger here at Chelsea.
Finally I cast my mind back to the 1980s with this picture of Chelsea's Dennis Rofe (grounded) and Peter Rhoades-Brown in action against Ray Stewart away at West Ham’s Upton Park in 1981. We are shortly to play our final league game there on 24 October ahead of their impending move to the Olympic Stadium.
I went to Upton Park many times. There is always a great atmosphere there and we had some memorable matches. Football is about history and neighbourhoods, familiar landmarks on your way to the ground, and you don’t write that sort of stuff off lightly, but I think West Ham and their fans will look back and think the Olympic Stadium was a really good move for them.
It gets them into a bigger arena and they’ll benefit from being at the Olympic Park. Going to Upton Park is not the biggest attraction for away supporters, but going to the Olympic Stadium will be quite appealing. It’s looked good for the rugby, and we have the World Athletics Championships there in 2017, so it goes to show if you get the technology right then athletics and football can live side by side very comfortably.