Sports Direct Geordie Wonderland: Chelsea
The action from the ‘SDA’…
Picture the scene. You come home at the end of term. Your parents greet you with smiles at the door and a cup of tea. Maybe a beer, or some champagne if you’re feeling fancy. Then they sit you down and tell you the news. Your dog of ten years, let’s call him Herbert, has had a name change. In fact, to help with the mortgage, they’ve named him for a company; Herbert’s new name is ‘Pets@Home Dog’.
Obviously, this is madness. Financially lucrative madness, but madness nonetheless. Yet this is the situation we find ourselves in at ‘Sports Direct Arena’, where the familiar has been washed away for the corporate. I’d like you to focus on what this means for the fan.
Now, clearly, there are financial benefits to this rebranding. But the fan will not see it this way; all they will see is alienation, as if a member of the family has undergone a drastic change; that Herbert’s been renamed. This dilution of history will never appease the fan, having lost a sense of familiarity with the club that no amount of filthy lucre will change.
In the midst of these howls of derision, a game of football had broken out, as the Chelsea came to town with a squad of old age pensioners managed by (what seems to be) a dead man walking. A very well dressed dead man, but a dead man nonetheless. If fact, so well dressed was he that he actually forced Alan Pardew to up his sartorial game; suiting up nattily to compete with the young pretender. And he looked good. But looks can be deceiving. This scoreline certainly was.
Yes, the more eagle-eyed amongst you might have noted that since my last article, we’ve now lost twice, if you count Saturday’s 3-0. However, I’m not too downbeat, and neither are most fans. We played very well, hitting the woodwork that many times that you would’ve thought the team were carpenters.
Indeed, the game should’ve been arguably much different, as Jonathan Creek doppelganger David Luiz rugby-tackled everyone’s favourite ostrich look-a-like (Demba Ba) to the ground in the third minute, as the last man. However, only a yellow was produced, causing the crowd to repeatedly claim that Mike Dean vigorously pleasures himself.
This mistake was further exaggerated ten minutes later, when Yohan Cabaye accidentally put Chelsea livewire Danny Sturridge on the floor. At this point I was feeling apprehensive, but then up stepped Frank Lampard, and all my worries were assuaged. True to form, Lampard rolled back the years to his England days and missed it, thwarted by flying Dutchman Tim Krul, who by this point has probably done enough to earn himself a spot on the Newcastle Metro Wall of Fame (yes, that exists).
Truth be told, for much of the first half we were outplayed by Chelsea, having our opportunities but unable to deal with the person under 65 in the Chelsea squad, Sturridge. It appears that Ryan Taylor might’ve taken my eulogising of him to his head, avid reader of Durham One that he is. But on Saturday, this most un-protean of men had such a bad day at the office that I’m surprised he doesn’t see Sturridge gambolling past him every time he closes his eyes. Sturridge was an absolute dynamo, forcing save after save from Krul.
Eventually, we were breached in the 38th, in a most contentious manner, as Chelsea took advantage of a contentious throw-in given by acclaimed self-abuser Mike Dean, with a cross being met by the head of everyone’s favourite geriatric, Didier Drogba, over the sprawling Krul and in. Dang it.
But again, we had our own chances; Ba, Cabaye and Ameobi(!) hit the woodwork, and several shots were provided that Petr Cech (seen here rocking even more headgear in his slow transformation into Darth Vader) either had no answer to, or had to make the greatest of reaction saves to thwart. Indeed, renowned WAG-botherer John Terry had to clear one off the line. It looked like a game we could at least take a point from, a sentiment echoed by Alan Pardew’s fervent arm-waving, attempting to achieve an atmosphere of frenzied ecstasy. I’d say he had, but then the worst happened.
James Perch came on.
Now, I’ve nothing against Perch as a person, but I most certainly do as a footballer. Simply put, he’s not very good, picked up as an impulse buy (much like the tictacs in Tesco) during our brief foray in the Championship. He toiled and toiled, but alas, he’s just not good enough, being put on his arse by Fernando Torres, who then set up Salomon Kalou for a sucker-punch of a goal. Bah.
He was also utterly overwhelmed for the third, as Sturridge finally got his goal, leaving both the hapless Perch and shell-shocked Taylor for dead. The crowd feeling about Perch’s performance was summed up succinctly by the gentleman behind me; ‘Perch couldn't cut my lunch, let alone cut it at the top level’. I feel that summed it up well. I certainly don’t see him working at the Picnic Box any time soon.
And that was that. We’d been royally sucker-punched, but there were positives to take away from the performance, and not in a wildly optimistic manner. I certainly don’t think this is the start of a decline, but then again, all fans think that, don’t they…