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Time To Stop The Rot?


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Ok, this hasn't exactly been warmly received on the home front - apparently I was lucky to have the post accepted on another forum - a bit precious imo, but each to their own. So bear in mind it is only one perspective on what's going on with our discipline and where we're heading. And the sole purpose is not to knock Grant yet again, but to question his role and responsibilities in the whole discipline issue. :D

Rumour has it the FA are going to agree an annual fee and set us up a direct debit so we can cut out all the hearings and just pay our fines in convenient monthly instalments.

Sound ridiculous? No more ridiculous than trying to deny Chelsea’s disciplinary record is getting out of hand. 6 reds and in excess of 50 yellow cards already this season, misconduct hearings becoming an all too familiar part of the schedule, not to mention keeping the FA in the black almost single-handedly, and how does Grant react? Bury his head in the sand like the majority of blues, having a touch of the ‘Wenger’s’ where eyesight’s concerned? Or maybe hold his hands up and admit the introduction of Ten Cate’s all-in wrestling in training is having a negative effect? Nope, he points the finger at other clubs.

This started after his first game in charge. Following a red card for John Obi Mikel, Grant stood by and watched half our players surround the ref like playground bullies while the captain attempted to instruct Dean in the correct way to brandish a card. Grant later declared his players had acted in a ‘sporting’ manner. I can only imagine his interpretation of ‘sporting’ is a little different to mine here, particularly when he was so quick to admonish the opposition for a similar, if less hands-on approach, stating “The red card we got against Manchester United was not only to do with the decision of the referee. Their players ran to the referee before us, maybe they are quicker, I don't know.”

Either an attempt at wit or he genuinely believes we got a red simply for coming second in the new ‘race to the ref‘ competition. With Grant sadly, one truly can’t be sure.

Andre Marriner was another to receive an on-the-pitch interrogation following Essien’s dismissal against Derby County. Essien was hard done by, but quite apart from being the uglier face of football, this public ‘ganging up’ has never seen the ref put his card away and beg for forgiveness yet. Another fine and another FA warning. Time for Chelsea to start putting their house in order at this stage you might think? Not Grant, instead he puts together a “video dossier” of other teams misbehaving in an attempt to prove we’re being unfairly singled out.

This sense of injustice at the way the club are treated by the authorities wasn’t entirely upheld against Spurs, when Riley chose to all but disregard being subjected to the third degree following the fairly lenient booking of Cole, if not for the challenge itself then for the complete and utter arrogant disrespect shown immediately after. Cole’s subsequent apology promoted by Grant in a less than humble manner, apparently proof that we are football’s new paragons of virtue. Pointing the finger firmly away from his own players again, Grant said "Another player at Arsenal whose name I will not say, tackled our captain, who went to hospital and was out for two months and he did not apologise. We are still waiting for that. Other players have made worse tackles and not been red-carded." All very true but how exactly does it excuse our behaviour in the Spurs game?

Now I’m not suggesting we’re the only team with players harassing the ref (the top four all do it), but the fact is, we do have one of the worst disciplinary records in the league. A throwback from Mourinho’s regime certainly, he instilled that ‘fight every step of the way’ mentality and didn’t exactly promote good relations with the boys at Soho Square. But if Mourinho fostered that attitude, then Grant’s clearly gone for full on adoption. Like his predecessor, Grant complains about the supposed bullying from referees but takes this to new extremes by coming out with statements such as “I think the team discipline is good. Not less than other teams, maybe more.”

Now I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I honestly can’t think of another team who repeats these offences with quite the same frequency as we do. I remember all too clearly Utd behaving in a similar way towards Andy D’Urso. The scenes that followed his decision to award Boro a penalty at OT were far from pretty and I remember saying something along the lines of “who the hell do they think they are?” Clearly Fergie felt pretty much the same way since he is reported to have ‘gone off his head at them’, considering it “ridiculous” behaviour. Hairdryers all round then! To my knowledge though, Utd have never behaved in quite the same way again and yet, they’re probably still judged on that incident 8 years later. A clear example of that old cliché: it’s much easier to earn a bad reputation than it is to lose it. These days, despite his own battles with officialdom, Fergie demands a more diplomatic stance from his players "We tell our players to shake the hand of the referee at the end of the game. Sometimes it's difficult but they have to do it.” Compare that to Grant’s perspective following the spectacle at OT - "Our players respect the referee. In this case I don't need to react because their behaviour was okay.” - and the root of the problem becomes clear. This arrogant attitude of being above the law may well be displayed at player level but it’s being condoned, and therefore reinforced, at management level. Thus, all the charges and fines in the world won’t make a blind bit of difference to how our players behave (just in case no-one had actually worked that one out by now) as long as Grant comes out with this sort of stuff - "The discipline at Chelsea has been very good since I've been here.”

As already mentioned earlier, this isn’t about our players being the only culprits in today’s game and it certainly isn’t about portraying Utd as such a reformed side they’re virtual angels now (an accusation levelled at me already). It’s merely pointing out they have calmed that side of their game down - apparently on the direct instructions of their manager. Is being made to shake official’s hands - even if you have to hold your tongue - such a bad idea if it benefit’s the club in the long run? Following that whole sorry episode, Fergie clearly recognised they’d got some bridges to build and Grant could do a lot worse than take a leaf out of his book in order to start repairing some of the damage our reputation is doing on an all too frequent basis.

Of course, there will always be ‘heat of the moment’ incidents and to an extent they’re acceptable, but it becomes a problem when these clashes seem to be a routine part of your game. It’s all very well for Grant, following Lampard’s recent tantrum, to say he likes passionate players and of course we all do, as long as they’re playing for us, but there’s a fine line between passion and disrespect - or a tightrope in Terry‘s case. Certainly, the players themselves have a duty to self-regulate as far as their discipline is concerned but discipline also needs to be fostered at management level. When this doesn’t happen, then control is lost and that, in turn, is reflected in the outcome of certain games. So, since reinforcing conspiracy theories Mr Grant, is more likely to see us rewarded with ASBO‘s than trophies, it‘s time to stop the rot.

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I would say we are a long way from having anything like a problem with disipline!

Our red cards this season have mainly been a complete joke and not deserved in most cases.

The difference with us and every other team is that the media like to pick up on anything we do and highlight it, doesn't mean that every other team doesn't do exactly the same as us with the same frequency or even more.......

Our problem at the club is we have someone as manager who doesn't look like he has much of a clue what he is doing. Whilst i want to get rid of the f**ker as much as everyone else i think the way a lot of Chelsea fans are almost taking delight in negative stories about Chelsea these days is getting ridiculous......

Considering what our team has been through this season and with a useless lump in charge i think overall they have done us proud.

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Our problem at the club is we have someone as manager who doesn't look like he has much of a clue what he is doing. Whilst i want to get rid of the f**ker as much as everyone else i think the way a lot of Chelsea fans are almost taking delight in negative stories about Chelsea these days is getting ridiculous......

It's true I'm probably casting a more critical eye over Chelsea this season than I did when Mourinho was in charge but in hindsight, that's probably because the man could do no wrong in my eyes. He had his moments, with the odd comment here and there that made me secretly cringe (not that I'd admit it publicly at the time) and likewise the players behaviour towards the end of last season. Now that Mourinho's not around and I don't have a sentimental attachment to the manager though, its just easier to stand back a bit and look at what's going on a little more objectively. I've certainly never delighted in negative stories about Chelsea though, which is the main reason I have issues with the way some of the players conduct themselves.

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I think you're right that we do this more. Jose HAD instilled this argumentative streak in the player, but you know what? That's fine. As long as you only do it when you genuinely feel hard done by! And many times we have in the past, in this season, but clearly that's not what the players are doing if you look at the reaction to Ashley Cole's lenient booking against Spurs.

I would suggest it is as much Grant not doing anything about it than worsening it. On the one hand you'd think Ten Cate, being the disciplinarian one, might stamp his foot down, but no, instead he is probably just as argumentative as Mourinho.

It is definitely a problem, and it's you that's convinced me of that misschief. I wouldn't have a non-Chelsea fan telling me such a thing even if it IS obvious!

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There does seem to be a problem -could be partly down to 'ill discipline' but also down to anti-Chelsea new kids on the block attitude from officials that has been evident since Abramovichs cash injection.

The low-key attitude adopted by Man Utd now, with the regular respect shown to refs plays dividends for them and can obviously sway decisions. Rooney always has a joke with the ref before kick off, and the players shake the refs hand at the end. This is a deliberate policy by the Old Trafford hierarchy and could be possibly worth several points accrued at the end of the season

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There does seem to be a problem -could be partly down to 'ill discipline' but also down to anti-Chelsea new kids on the block attitude from officials that has been evident since Abramovichs cash injection.

The low-key attitude adopted by Man Utd now, with the regular respect shown to refs plays dividends for them and can obviously sway decisions. Rooney always has a joke with the ref before kick off, and the players shake the refs hand at the end. This is a deliberate policy by the Old Trafford hierarchy and could be possibly worth several points accrued at the end of the season

You are right. Graham Poll did mention in his autobiography that the Refs do target a particular player in their Meetings before a particular tournament. As was the case with Peter Crouch in WC 2006. So I dont see any reason why they wont Target Chelsea's Players specially when it is evident that they argue the most.

I can see the Referee Chief telling the Refs in the meetings to be Ultra Strict towards Chelsea Players. As he did in case of Crouch.

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So then it makes sense for us to make a start on addressing the issue surely? Why give the refs the excuse they're looking for?

In a way I agree, but this excuse they're looking for upped a gear or two last month. On March 18th the FA launched its campaign ''Respect''. This was designed to address ''bad behaviour'' in football. You cant get more ambiguous. Anyway, within 24 hours Ashley Cole got his yellow against the yids and was castigated as the devil, after he and a few teamates dared to argue with Riley. Then followed Mascheranos 'dissent' yellow. ''Respect'' appears everywhere now in the Sun and all the tabloids, and I notice the Daily Mail has a ''SHUT IT'' campaign.

It then permeated itself into the National game with Capello announcing Ferdinand had shown ''more respect''. Hmmmm, that obviously doesnt apply to the drug testers or women raped at ''his parties''.

To me this is just another sanitisation of football, though it has to be said there is this culture of denial and self interest of managers -then again thats always been there.

In the main it's just a creeping erosion of what makes the game passionate -and Chelsea, since Abramovich and in particular Mourinho, has been pointedly singled out as the spoilt brat that needs chastising.

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