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Trusting the process will bring us closer to Chelsea

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.

–       Bertolt Brecht

The German playwright and poet, Bertolt Brecht, seemingly put on his best Nostradamus hat about 80 years ago and predicted the wasteful Chelsea side that lollop about for 90 minutes every week.

However, this process-trusting lark is increasingly becoming engaging, dramatic, and somewhat wholesome. The constant stalling presents a refreshing and devastating fan experience that has perhaps been lost over the last 20 years.

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When Chelsea were tasked with ruining my Christmas eve, it was comforting to know that the reluctant sipping of tepid sherry, and hearing about Barnaby’s new position at the foreign office was not the only agony I would endure over this long weekend.

Trust the process, they said. And yet, despite the so far excruciating attempt at a rebuild, we’re unequivocally enjoying the delicate flair of Cole Palmer, the glass legs of Reece James, and of course, Marc Cucurella’s steadfast jolliness.

Increasingly, I am becoming partial to the process – it’s manic, thrilling. I am becoming familiar with a Chelsea I’ve never really known.

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It now however feels like following a ‘proper’ football team. Frustrating away days. Frustrating home days. Frustrating other days. But crucially, flashes of intense joy. No longer is anything a guarantee, and the precarity of Chelsea’s performances are cementing my support more than ever.

A late Mykhailo Mudryk equaliser followed by an uncharacteristically clinical penalty shootout win against Newcastle to send Chelsea into the last four of the EFL Cup totally encapsulated this new whirlwind relationship.

Chelsea are allowing their chunk of fans who have exclusively been exposed to a Roman Abramovich-led trophy guzzle, to experience the more realistic plight of most football fans.

Sure, it was nice when Didier Drogba knee-slid faster than Chelsea’s current willingness to give Brighton money, but hey, who is truly content with stability? 

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Christmas is all about tradition; the pigs in blankets, the weird cousins, and so in many ways, it was comforting to see the Chelsea we’ve come to expect embrace the festivities with a shoddy away performance in the black country.

Mario Lemina’s second half header, and a late tap-in from Matt Doherty (yes, Matt Doherty) ensured a dreary coach journey home for the Blues, with the Father Christmas hats presumably strewn across the aisle and significantly less Wham than on the trip up. 

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In fact, the zigzags the Gabonese midfielder had shaved into the side of his head looked curiously like a legitimate graphic telling the tale of Chelsea’s season so far – up and down, misguided, and rather wonky. 

A late consolation header from the so far side-lined summer singing, Christopher Nkunku, prompted a bleak reminder of what could have been.

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Chelsea host Crystal Palace tomorrow afternoon, another team who often nick a point against City, become injury-plagued, and put their trust in zippy wingers. The Blues are mirroring their South London relatives’ erratic style.

Rather quickly, they are becoming the unpredictable side that will predictably finish around mid-table again, despite the drama that envelops so many of their matches.

Chelsea have the quality to restore their status at the top, but for now, and probably for quite a while, fans must wholeheartedly and absolutely enjoy the chaos.

Christmas Eve’s result felt like pulling a cracker, winning, but there only being that fortune-telling fish as a reward; barely momentary joy. 

And yet, still there was a pop and a period of hope and belief. This is the Chelsea we must embrace –  penalty shootout wins followed by a 2-1 defeat on Christmas Eve; everything all at once.

Author

  • Sam France

    Sam France is an avid tennis watcher and player, frequently found passionately raving about the WTA. A journalist with a passion for all things sport, culture, and politics, Sam is a committed Radio 4 listener. A big WSL fan, Sam is still searching for a Guro Reiten autograph. @SamFrance28