Chelsea v Scunthorpe United

With all the current goings on at Chelsea I wasn’t sure what to expect from Sunday’s match. It was strange to go to such an early kick off as I’ve mostly only been able to get tickets to night matches in recent seasons.

The weather was quite sunny when we got to the ground but there was a chilled breeze inside the stadium which made it cold. We were sat just past the half way line (towards the Shed End) in the West Stand Lower for the game.

The match should have been more of a landslide on paper than it was on the day. We were predicting 4 – 1, Scunthorpe deserved a goal, I was nervous a couple of times of their speed attacking us on the break. But in the end there should have only been one winner and the day followed script nicely.

There has been a renewed energy in the team since Mourinho left. For me his sacking was the only option. He had been afforded more time to turn the situation around than other managers and he had proved that it was not in his power to change, so there was no option left.

That said, it hasn’t cured all ills. There are still too many players who are burnt out and off form. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been any activity in the transfer window yet. I have tipped Hazard to leave in January since Eva Carniero was sacked. For whatever reason it seems he has struggled since then.

I think there was more to the whole Mourinho saga, whether we ever get to the bottom of it or not I don’t know. You don’t go from Champions, to struggling to stay out of the relegation zone in one season without something changing. The team is largely the same, as was the manager.  But that is all in the past now.

There are a few positions that we could look to strengthen now but in reality with a temporary manager until the end of the season I can equally see Chelsea not buying anyone. If, like I suspect, the next manager is Guardiola then he will want to bring in his own players at the end of the season and start building his team. I think that is what Chelsea need to focus on and are sorely missing.

We had a solid spine to the team in Terry, Lampard and Drogba but they were never going to last forever. We haven’t got anyone to replace them and their consistency. That is what we need now.

Chelsea have an enviable youth set up but we don’t actually bring those players into the first team and let them play. I think it’s safe to say the most successful youth team player who came through is John Terry. He’s probably the last consistently played youth player in the first team too. John joined the first team in the 2000 – 2001 season, that isn’t a good enough return on a youth team set up.

Having said all that I have heard people talk of the talent of Reuben Loftus-Cheek in the last few years. I don’t watch youth games myself, but having seen him play 45 minutes on Sunday I can see why he is rated so highly. I can also say I was there when he scored his first senior goal. I would like to see him get more action between now and the end of the season on the back of his performance. We have enough players he could replace and that might be just the incentive some of them need to find their form again and have a rest.

A bit of healthy competition for starting places wouldn’t hurt. Especially if Mourinho was right and they refused to play for him. We should be seeing goals and wins off the back of his sacking. Somehow I don’t think it was just a case of that. But then a man like Mourinho is unlikely to admit that he failed, just as large chunks of supporters still believe his sacking was the wrong move.

There is no one so blind at times than someone who claims to be a supporter of a football club.

I just want to make a point about the atmosphere in the ground…

The West Stand in recent years, for me, has become one of the worst stands in the ground in terms of atmosphere. I know there are season ticket holders in the stand but you don’t have any choir leaders sitting in there. I have found that I have mostly been surrounded by tourists when I have sat in the West Stand Lower and East Stand.

It brings me to a guy sitting behind me who was very opinionated throughout the game. He loved holding court over everyone as it was ‘his ground’ and he had been going for ’25 years’. Well if we are comparing this will be my 26th year of watching matches at Stamford Bridge. I found with him, as I have with a few supporters who claim to know it all, his understanding of the game and laws required some improvement. He protested clear fouls weren’t fouls and shouted nonsense about players being stabbed before a card was issued.

It wasn’t anything new to me. I’ve heard everything anyone could chant at a match. When I started going to football matches I was 10 years old and a lot of the chants were of a racist nature. I have felt the frustration and no doubt shouted my own share of nonsense in the heat of the moment with the blood running high. But I’d like to think I would behave better.

Someone took offence to his nonsense and reported him to the stewards who didn’t appear to do anything. From there I think he was nervous of being thrown out and reacted badly. Making a loud show for the rest of the match about being censored in ‘his own ground’. But what rankled with me was when he told the person who reported him not to come back again.

I have sat and stood all over Stamford Bridge in the old stadium and as it is now, I have heard all there is to hear and that is the first time I heard a supporter being unwelcoming and to me that isn’t Chelsea. From my first match I had an arm wrapped around my shoulder and was welcomed into the ground by a Shed Ender who told me to come back and see him as he was always stood in the same place. I’ve chatted to people I’ll never meet again and everyone has been nice and welcoming.

So what if the woman objected to what you were shouting? We were all fed up with what you were shouting, we just had a higher tolerance for it.  She will now tell everyone about the unfriendly and aggressive nature of the supporters she met and that isn’t who I have encountered in 26 years of going to Stamford Bridge.

No one person has the right to dictate who goes to the matches. As a member for over 20 years I would love fewer people to go so I had more of a chance of getting tickets. I would also need tickets to be cheaper but I would never tell someone not to come back. They deserved to be welcomed as much as I did as a nervous 10 year old stepping into the Shed End for the first time and wondering at how big the ground was and how small I felt.

So I would like to apologise and say his views were his own and please don’t think we are all like that. The Chelsea supporters I have met are much more accommodating.

It was also embarrassing as we were taking my brothers girlfriend to her first match at Stamford Bridge and that is not the sort of impression we were hoping she would get. I wanted her to have a first experience like the one I had, of a ground filled with noise and togetherness. Luckily it didn’t scare her off and she wants to go again.

If you want to complain about the people who attend matches then you need to look at the cost of the tickets and the fact that blocks of tickets are probably offered to travel companies and ticket sales rather than all being sold directly to supporters. I would go every week if I could afford it. I have a plan with my brother to get season tickets as soon as we are able. I take my Grandad to all the games we attend and if he could get a reduced OAP ticket all around the ground, instead of only in the East Stand, which we can’t get tickets in without buying a junior ticket, I could attend more often.

How do you expect people to sing the chants if they don’t know the words? Maybe we should consider introducing a chant page into the programme to help people join in who are just visiting from other countries. It isn’t hard to imagine tourists wanting to watch matches, I have visited stadiums abroad and tried to get match tickets.

Atmosphere is also down to the way the team is playing. If they are playing badly then people are less inclined to sing, especially after a few frustrating months. If players aren’t performing it isn’t always applicable to sing about them ‘wearing a magic hat’!

If you want to sit with people who sing and chant then the Matthew Harding Lower is the place to be. If you have kids with you then the East Stand Lower is the best place. If you want to sit in a quieter stand away from the chants then the West Stand Lower is a safe bet. If you are happy to climb stairs then sit in the higher stands but be warned it can be hard going on the knees!

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