What’s it like to be outclassed?

Chelsea – 3
Nottingham Forest – 0

I certainly never even had a vague hope of an upset, so this result was very much to be expected – today has been all about the occasion, an opportunity to enjoy a game without any importance being attached to the result, to travel with my fellow Reds fans and make a load of noise.  To that end, it was very much mission accomplished – okay, there was a tiny glimmer of optimism that was hoping for a surprise result as well, but that was to be quickly extinguished!

The coach journey was fairly uneventful, and saw us arrive about 5 minutes walk from the Chelsea Village at around noon – giving us time to take in our surroundings; which have certainly changed considerably since my last visit to Stamford Bridge!  The outside of the ground offered glimpses of the absolute gulf between ourselves and this level of football, not to mention the series of very flash motors driving into the nearby carpark.

It was hard to miss the chaps from LTLF with their banner outside, posing for all and sundry from both press and TV – I’ve filched the below picture from another fan’s site, I’m sure he won’t mind!  It was saddening to read – upon returning and catching up with the forum gossip – that not only was the banner taken down after its fleeting appearance, but it was confiscated and not returned by an over-zealous official – hopefully the folks on the site make good with their letters of complaint as that’s out of order.

So on to the game – well, the first half involved Chelsea having a gargantuan 81% of possession, according to their scoreboard!  So it’s not really surprising that they were 3-0 up at the stroke of half time.  The first goal was unfortunate, a scuffed shot from Shevchenko looked easy for Smith to deal with, until Curtis deflected it beyond him leaving him wrong footed.  It was originally accredited as an own goal, before presumably Roman had a word with the BBC so it was re-accredited to his £30million plaything.

The second goal came direct from a freekick, Drogba smashing the ball into the top left corner of the goal; leaving Smith with little chance.  The final goal was disappointing, right on the stroke of half time, Smith made a save but Mikel was on hand to stab the ball home from close range.  So 3-0 down at half time, and frankly, we deserved it.  Forest looked in awe of their illustrious opponents, and Chelsea gave us a masterclass in running off the ball, creating space and first touch.  If the ground was to start to illustrate the gulf in class between us, the first half performance hammered it home.

Sammy Clingan replaced Grant Holt at half time – Grant had been operating as a left winger, but more often found himself in defence.  Sammy did add some calm to midfield and whilst never glittering, Forest did do better – highlights from our point of view were Agogo beating a man and almost laying on a chance for Perch – if only his foot were a few inches bigger!  Tyson almost broke through too, but lost out to a last ditch tackle – only for the ball to end up right at the other end of the pitch, where Shevchenko shaped up to shoot and put it out for the throw in!!

The final amusing bit of the game came when Jack Lester was on the pitch – as Nicky Southall laboured over challenging near the corner flag, Jack went flying in, won the ball and advanced on the penalty area before he unleashed the characteristic swan dive – amazingly the referee bought it, although the resulting freekick was rubbish as Southall chipped it to the unmarked Clingan on the edge of the box, when he really wanted it rolling to him to be able to fire an early shot.

Other than the game, the real story for us at least was the supporters – the Forest fans were in great voice, I had numerous texts from friends to say it was all they could hear on the BBC coverage – and the Chelsea fans were largely silent, vacuous and appeared disinterested in the game – many of them electing to leave early – many not arriving for the second half until well after it had started.

The fans opposite could be seen rising and clapping occasionally, what they were singing remains a mystery.  The fans to our left just stared, didn’t move, and left early – a few standing “giving it large” as though beating a division three side was some kind of achievement – definitely the poorest support I’ve witnessed given the circumstances.  It didn’t take long for the Reds fans to dominate the atmosphere again even after Chelsea had scored – they were that bad!

Ultimately, this was probably a pretty meaningless game against a small team to most Chelsea supporters – for us it was a chance to let off steam, and boy did we do it – the Forest fans did themselves and the club proud, and whilst the on-the-pitch showing was poor at best, the supporters showed themselves capable of operating at a higher level.  The only players who really had “good” games for me were Perch and Bennett, Clingan made a difference when he came on – it would have been interesting to see what Tyson could manage if he had any service at all.

Now back to the league…

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10 Responses

  1. And we’ve gone from 7 points clear to 4th in the league.

    Yes we’ve got games in hand, but we’ve still got to win ’em.

    The rest of the season starts here !

    YOU REDS !!

  2. All you could hear were the Forest fans on the tv! It was brilliant.

    Shevchecko’s goal was acreddited immediately to him by the bbc. Lawro I think it was sagely pointed out that the shot was on target before the deflection. But I thought Bennett looked totally out of his depth. The number of times Geremi was left free to mauraude down their right was frightening. Perch was not picking up his man in midfield. Infact, as so often this season our midfield melted into the defence which allowed the likes of Carvalho to camp on the edge of our area.

    Ok, you cant expect us, a league one side to match Chelsea but this game highlights everything that is wrong with Forest at the moment. There is discipline in defence but none in the midfield and the marking/closing is awful. And there is clearly a divide between our attack and defence and neither are capable of supporting each other properly. We are not playing as a team.

    I dont think buying a new midfielder would help. We need more work on the training pitch.

    But the support was awesome – just what is needed to roar the Reds back to the top of league one!

  3. I wasn’t suggesting they actually played well, just that they looked up for it – whereas the other players just looked starstruck, alas.

  4. I think you woul;d have seen a different Forest if Chelsea hadn’t scored so early (lucky deflected goal at that), which really took the wind out of our sails.
    The next two goals came from set-pieces, with a quality delivery that you don’t see too often at our level.

    The fact that we were much better after the interval at least says something about CCs ability to motivate the players in the dressing room.

    On the subject of the LTLF banner, it made it on to the BBC, so mission accomplished?

  5. Yeah well, we were sh*te weren’t we…….. and like for a few league games this season, didnt show up until 30 minutes into the first half.

    Still it was a day out…..AND Ive still seen my team captain lift the coverted European Cup TWICE and thats twice more than the average Chelsea fan will ever do in their lifetime!!!

    I wouldnt swap my memories of the glory days for no poncy stadium or overrated £30m striker who has to claim dodgy deflected goals as he’s that desperate!

    Forest till I die…..

  6. I didn’t manage to get a ticket in the Shed, but managed to get one in the East Stand in the restaurant bit…no jean,no trainers and no footy shirts allowed; it says a lot about Chelski.

    The noise from our lot in the Shed was incredible, and most the of the Chelsea fans near me spent a lot of the game just watching and admiring our support. I think our players were doing the same for most of the first half!

    So nicely done to all of you who managed to get tickets and sang your hearts out. It was brilliant to see.

  7. Outclassed is right, nffc. From my armchair, I was praying that we didn’t lose by 8 or 9 goals, as seemed possible after our slow (to put it mildly) start. I was actually fairly happy at 44 minutes, because Chelsea had switched off, and I felt that after the break we could pull one back, and then it might be a different game, but sadly the third goal put paid to any hopes. The second half was 300% better, with some grit and determination shown – I agreed with the BBC panel that we did not play like traditional underdogs, and showed no commitment at all in the first half (apart from Curtis crunching Drogba in the first 3 minutes or so). Chelsea are a tough team to compare ourselves to, but if we want to be competing with them in 2 or 3 years time, then we need to start looking now. Grant Holt (out of position) had nothing to offer, Jack Lester was reduced to diving and fouling, Bennett was willing but inadequate, Gary Holt did nothing in midfield, which was matched by the rest of the midfield, really. We need Commons back, and a midfield general flanked by passers of the ball. Tyson and Agogo only had one chance between them, which is a real shame. CC didn’t see any positives, but I think the first half spanking is a great example of what we should be able to do to third division teams. Sadly, most won’t give us the time and space that we gave Chelsea. We need a resounding response against Carlisle on Wednesday – I hope CC shows the players the BBC coverage, because it might spark a reaction. Come on you Red uns!

  8. Interestingly, I got to my bus stop this morning and saw a ‘Missing’ notice, for a Dog named ‘Tyson’.

    I was sorely tempted to phone the number and let the owners know he was last seen in Michael Essien’s pocket…

  9. I think your report is very kind. I cannot remember a more gutless performance in all my years watching football. Macclesfield and Wycombe were miles better from a division below.

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