To those who thought Chelsea would die after Abramovich left: Suck it…

Date published: Thursday 2nd February 2023 9:16 - Ian Watson

New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly

Stealing the club from Roman Abramovich couldn’t kill Chelsea, says a blue in the Mailbox. Also: Jurgen Klopp is not to blame for Liverpool’s mess; and a message for Erik ten Hag…

Get your views in to


Klopp left on his lonesome
There seems to be a view in the mailbox, which was fomented by trolls in the comments section but is now spilling into the grown ups’ discussion, that Klopp is not getting the blame he deserves for Liverpool’s current malaise / permanent decline, because he spent hundreds of millions to buy his success and is now failing at the first sign of difficulty.

That is rank piffle. There are a few main reasons why Klopp remains blameless:

He really hasn’t spent that much, “only” the fourth most in the PL, and while this latest list has been skewed by Boehly’s Millions, the key takeaway is that the Liverpool squad cost 300m less to assemble than City’s. When Klopp is accused of buying his success for 700m, the fact that City’s squad almost cost half as much again – what does that mean Pep has “achieved”?

I’m not saying he hasn’t had lots of money spent on his squad – he has. In context though, he has had less than the competition, and beating City to the title (and champs league) in these circumstances is a herculean achievement.

This has the knock-on effect of having a shallow, aging squad – other teams have hundreds of millions on the bench, Liverpool have a combination of Old Father Time himself and his grey army (Milli Vanilli, Jendo and Fab) coupled with Santa’s little helpers (Elliott and Bajcetic) on the actual pitch, starting games and getting totally overrun.

Klopp has not been backed in key areas – F365 are calmly stoking the fires of Liverpool fans’ disquiet by highlighting the quiet disappearance of the previous, successful model – the only reason the transfer eggs would be leaving is if their recommendations are being ignored by the owners. The same nerds who built the team that won it all would never prioritise a bloated forward line over a single midfielder with actual legs, and would never risk it all on signing Bellingham in the summer, which won’t happen because we will not be in the CL.

Injuries. Let’s see how Arsenal do with 5 first-teamers out (they currently have 2, Liverpool have 5 – half the team).

Klopp is not really blameless, of course not – it is his job to motivate the team and he is clearly unable to do so at the moment, but he’s literally had the rug pulled out from under him. The man who beat City spending half as much, is not the problem.

I said months ago that there was a lot to fix at Liverpool and that Klopp might decide it is too much for him, but if he goes it will not be because he has failed, it will be because he is the only person left from a winning team, with all the supporting structures taken away from under him. You cannot blame the man at the rudder, if the rudder has been taken away.
Gofezo (if Klopp walks, he will (should) do so with Pool fans’ eternal gratitude and adulation)


A message for Ten Hag
Really need to get this message across to ETH. Please do not get Harry Kane. He has a whole lot of pundits (Merson, Souness) who are always going to be on his side. If and when Harry Kane starts going through a bad patch of not scoring, he will still be undroppable. The entire media will turn on ETH and say that it is his fault for not playing him in the right position, getting enough service to him etc. He handled CR7 well but Harry Kane would actually be worse in terms of media management. Nothing against the player but United could do without another media circus derailing the good progress they are making.
Hassan (Hoping Sabitzer fits in)


On the march with Erik’s army
The first half was practically all United. We didn’t create any definitive chances but we were definitely the better side even with rotation. It felt as if the plan for the half was to keep control of the ball but not to risk anything that can give Forest a chance to get into the game. It worked quite well for United as Forest had maybe two chances but nothing that was any danger for United. One thing I did like in the first half was that United were putting more crosses in. Of course, we didn’t score but with Weghorst here until the end of the season why not give him the best chance of getting us goals by playing to his strengths. Garnacho looked lively in the first half creating some nice link-up play with Shaw and the midfield. Still a few moments where he was too eager but it’s what you expect from a youngster.

The second half was much better for United. It seemed as if Forest came into the game knowing they had no chance. United like in the first half were just keeping possession of the ball and controlling the game without needing to score. When Sancho, Martial and Rashford came on we instantly looked like we were going to score and we did which was great. Martial got a goal which is good for him and hopefully, he can stay fit as he is key to our front three when he plays and seeing him get a goal can hopefully keep him sharp. The second goal was beautiful to watch. It started on the left side of the pitch with Fred who passed it into the middle then the ball went out wide to Bruno who hits a great outside-of-the-boot pass to Rashford who lays it off into the middle where Fred just walks it in. The Return of Sancho was great to see as we need as many players fit as we can get to keep competing in all the competitions we are in and he looked a lot more quicker today than he has which is positive. He also seemed to be playing more as the 10 with Bruno going out wide which could be a sign as to where Ten Hag prefers Sancho which would not be terrible as it can give us the chance to rest Bruno in games with Sancho playing at 10.

Overall, It was a dominant performance from United in both legs of the Semi-Finals of the Carabao cup. Hopefully, we continue this form in the league and as well as the Europa League coming up and the final on the 27th as it would be perfect to get silverware in Ten Hag’s first season to show the squad and the fans that we can win multiple trophies if we follow Ten Hag’s plans. With the signing of Sabitzer on loan to replace Eriksen hopefully he can come in and show the ability he has and can easily take the number 8 position with Eriksen out injured over Fred.
Max of Whitegate

Read more: Shock as Manchester United act swiftly and sensibly in the transfer market

Chelsea are back, bitches
Rant incoming. Cast our minds back to the March 22, Abramovich had been sanctioned by the government and forced to sell the club based on spurious evidence of his involvement with Putin and the Ukrainian war. They literally stole the club from him. To this day there is no legal precedent to remove him from ownership of the club (proceeds of crime act or Unexplained wealth order require due process and civil proceedings).

Abramovich knew that taking on the government would see the club he’d built and invested in torn to the ground. The Gooner who tells us that the club was undervalued and that money had been “stolen” from the Ukrainian charity is talking bullshit. The reality is the government had stolen £2.5 billion from Roman Abramovich.

There were celebrations from opposition fans, especially gooners who have had to sit in the blue shadow for the last 20 years. Jokes, memes emails, social media celebrating the fact that Chelsea couldn’t book a hotel or plane and faced a potential points deduction and relegation to the Championship.

But Abramovich was clear that he wanted more than money, he wanted the work he’d done with the club to continue. Guarantees from the successful bid included no sale of the club for 10 years and investment in the stadium and playing side. Clearlake and Boehley’s vision won the day. Well, it’s pissed off opposition fans that this consortium is standing good to its contractual obligation, it promised to invest £1.75 billion and in doing so has started to invest in the side.

They want to take advantage of the market before the likes of United and Liverpool get new wealthy owners (probably Arab owned) in the summer that could see four clubs owned by states bidding for top players. Using the tools available within FFP, tools that have been used by Barcelona Madrid, PSG, Atletico and City to name a few who have leveraged extended contracts (in Barcelona’s case giving Messi a 10 year contract) to amortise the transfer fee and spread their investment further. Clearlake investment focuses on younger players, lower wages and performance bonus.

With UEFA closing extended contracts the only opportunity to purchase Enzo was this window? The board have been true to their word, and as a direct result of government intervention unfortunately for Premier League opposition it has given Chelsea a new lease of life.

So for all those who mocked joked and hoped that Chelsea would go into administration

Cry more.
P Didi


Overworked secretary
To be fair, it’s no surprise that someone at Chelsea messed up Ziyech’s move when they were also trying to process the paperwork for the 427 players they signed.
Chris, Barnet


Money, money, money
John Matrix’s email (“Cry More? Chelsea Spending is just insane” – 1 February 2023) is in parts vague, muddled and inconsistent. It could also have been a single line: “There’s a lot of money in football and I’m upset that a club other than the club I support has bought a lot of players this window”.

He histrionically decries the money spent but goes on to confirm he would have liked Arsenal to have signed both Mudryk and Caceido, presumably aware of what Arsenal are reported to have offered to pay for those players.

It’s also unclear what solution he proposes when he says that the Premier League could or should “step in” to address the problem he has identified: that problem being that clubs are paying more for players than what he, John Matrix, considers they should. Quite a conceited way of thinking about football.

Re-reading his email, I wondered what is it about the particular figure of spending that has so irked him this January. Did he rail against the Grealish signing? Is he surprised that transfer fees are increasing? Just what is the appropriate transfer fee for a player? What should Chelsea have paid for Mudryk, noting that Arsenal paid £72m for Nicolas Pepe over three years ago (two years after he was signed by Lille for just £10m?).

John simultaneously finds it “sad” that the Premier League has big money transfers, but would be “hyped” if Arsenal “were spending money like that”.

He should work out in his own mind what he’s actually annoyed by: the money being spent, or the fact that Arsenal weren’t the ones spending it last month.

Otherwise he runs the risk of appearing rather petty and jealous.
Tom Watson, CFC


World Cup hangover
I have only watched a Premier League game or two since the World Cup wrapped up. Is it just me or are the colors dimmer. Maybe it’s just the grey-ish light of the English winter, but I fear it has seeped into me as well. I watched a rerun of a girls college game over the U.S. with my daughter and it sparkled. I don’t think anything groundbreaking has happened to cause this, but maybe I am finally grasping the truth of the straw that broke the camel’s back. Liverpool are dreadful, but I’ve watched them plenty through far worse times than this. I really think it’s the money. Chelsea could end world hunger with their January spending. Manchester will spend and spend and spend for eternity. Liverpool and London will continue to do less with more. The fun clubs will be ripped asunder by bigger clubs and we will celebrate them staying up. Enzo for 100 million, Jude for 150 million. It feels a bit wrong. I don’t know why Gini and Salah and Mane for 30 million feels less wrong, but it did. It felt like some effort or talent or sophistication was required. I know many fans will say the game lost them years ago and even more will say it’s better than ever, but this is where I’m at right now, so maybe it’s just an age thing. I think I understand why Welcome to Wrexham is so successful. It has a beating heart however cringey it is what’s happening. There is an element of risk that makes the reward exciting when it comes. Without relegation, the NFL and NBA have salary caps so different teams win based on a little more than money. When you can out-spend your “competitors” by hundreds of millions of pounds every year, how is this even remotely fun anymore? Increasingly, it seems from the Mailbox fun only happens when David slays Goliath. Is it any wonder the greatness of Manchester City isn’t celebrated the same as Manchester United at the dawn of this awful experiment in entertainment?
Niall, Annapolis


Spurs and systems
I read the transfer windows Winners and Losers article with interest. I’m not going to argue the toss over which teams are placed where, because I get the article is part opinion piece, part guess work (no-one knows how each signing will eventually perform) and part format for debate.

What caught my eye though was the comment under the Conte/Spurs submission. It was an argument I’ve seen put forward by many of our fans on other fora – that Spurs were stuck between buying players for Conte’s system and players who might suit the next manager if he walks. On the surface, it seems logical – but even a minor scratch deeper shows it up to be complete BS!!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if Conte chooses to walk away, is it not Tottenham’s Board first and foremost, who get to choose who follows him?? If so, and if you’ve just bought a bunch of players who suit a Back 3, wingbacks formation – surely you avoid all that waste by replacing him with a manger who uses a Back 3, wingbacks formation?!?!? Sure, he might not be a huge, recognisable name like Zidane; Pochettino or Tuchel. But he’ll be the right fit for your club!!!

Most of our squad problems stem from this lack of simple thinking. We jumped from Poch’s 4231, to Mourinho’s 433, to Nuno’s Lord knows what, and now Conte’s 343…

In closing, Spurs probably were losers this Jan; but it shouldn’t be because Conte won’t commit; it’s because the club has no long term planning or vision that it’s building towards and seemingly ready to just jump from big name to big name in the hope of some glory rubbing off on them!
Paul (Spurs), T.Wells

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte smiles

Wenger v Graham
Sorry but that may be the worst mail I’ve read on this site in a long time. Graham Simons just cherry picks his stats to suggest why Graham is the better manager. How on earth is winning the Cup Winners Cup the best moment in Arsenal history?! Just because it’s a European trophy? I’d much rather win the League than a second tier European trophy. Oh wow, he’s the only Arsenal manager to win the League Cup. He’s the GOAT then so. Wenger is the only Arsenal manager to win the league unbeaten. Wenger is the only Arsenal manager to win the league three times. Which manager has won the most FA Cups in history? Oh right, it’s Wenger.

The Anelka vs Wright comparison is just irelevant. Wright was an English striker who was at one of the biggest clubs in England. Man United or Liverpool weren’t trying to sign him. He was obviously going to stay at Arsenal.
Anelka was a young french striker who was signed for peanuts and Arsenal received a record fee from the biggest team in world football. So what’s your point here?

Wenger signed plenty of Mr Right Now players; Alexis, Ozil, Cech, Campbell, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski, Arteta, Mertesacker and many more. They were players who were at their peak and ready to make an impact immediately. You’re just shaping it to suit your narrative. You can do both you know? You can sign players who will do good now but also make sure you’re sorted for the future. Do you remember who Arteta signed in the summer window in 2021? Odegaard, Tavares, White, Lokonga and Tomiyasu. They were all under the age of 23. There’s no point in only signing proven 28 year old players. You need a balance.

Wenger is miles ahead of George Graham in terms of where they rank as Arsenal manager.
Dion, Arsenal


In it together
Mel – Dublin, Berlin, Athlone Town in the mailbox is requesting all Arsenal fans to ‘row in together for once’. I find it quite a strange request because if there is a club in the Premier League whose owners, board, manager, players and fans are by and large all pulling in the same direction this season it is Arsenal. No Arsenal fan is whinging about Arteta’s touchline behaviour either by the way – we love it.

The bigger the fan base the bigger idiots you will have it is as simple as that, so when you think of your classic mailbox idiot or talksport phone in idiot the chances are they are a Man U, Liverpool or Arsenal fan. But look at the stadium, the fans are 100% behind this team and are damn excited by the season. Plenty of opposition fans and the media have been trying to piss on Arsenal’s fans chips all season saying we’re getting carried away (we’re not).

To me it seems that when you’re riding high people will do anything to shoot you down even if they use two completely polar opposite argument to have a pop at you.

And yes, the Arsenal fans were right to want to move on from Wenger, we knew what we’d get every year, the hope and fun had gone, the man wasn’t for changing, it was stable ok-ness but was unlikely to be any better. Opposition fans mocked and taunted Wenger in the fallow years, then told Arsenal fans we were a disgrace for wanting him out. Most Arsenal fans were willing to accept it might get worse before it got better, and that wasnt a reflection on the next man, or the next man being worse than Wenger it was a reflection of the state of the playing squad at the time. There were a lot of high earners and low performers and very little value in the squad. It needed a re-boot. We got that by employing the youngest rookie manager and buying somewhat unfancied players who were also very young. Arsenal fans on the whole bought in to that as a lot of fans would do if the message and direction from the club is clearly communicated and tangible progress can be seem even if it doesn’t instantly manifest itself in the results on the pitch – so there was no clamour for instant success as Mel suggests (even though we did get some in the form of the FA Cup 6 months in to Arteta’s reign).

I think you’ll find the reason so many Arsenal fans are wary of promoting ourselves for the title this season is quite simple, and it would be the same for any club really, pride comes before a fall. If you shout your mouth off boasting it is going to come back harder at you if you fail and the disappointment will be even greater – it is simply self preservation. We can still dream though.
Rich, AFC

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