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Soup of This Day #269: We’ve Got Everything Going On And On And On

November 22, 2012

Duart Castle, Isle of Mull
This is Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull. That Scottish island, part of the Inner Hebrides, was where Peter Bonetti plied his trade as a postman after he’d finished up making some 729 appearances as a goalkeeper for English football team Chelsea FC. It’s kind of fitting that a guy who’d held 1 of the loneliest jobs in football should end up delivering mail to castles off the west coast of Scotland. He’d know his way around a defensive formation plus he’d have the arm to throw packages over a wall – Photo: Philippe Giabbanelli, 2010. Philippe Giabbanelli is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Watch a baby wriggling around on a play-mat and you’ll work out pretty quickly that there ain’t a lot of control going on there. Even for the best baby gymnasts, there isn’t a lot of awareness, let alone actual instructed and coordinated movement. Occasionally you’ll catch the little tacker looking at an errant arm with an intense but confused expression that seems to say:

‘Yeeeaaah… What does this thing do again?’

And then they’ll do a poo that somehow shoots out the top of their nappy. This will cause them to smile, because poo they understand. Limbs, not so much.

It’s not just poo that babies are comfortable with though. About the most chilled I’ve seen The Angus is when he’s being held by his mum. In that situation he’s relaxed but confident, master of all he surveys, possessed of a debonair and assured air, content that he is in an environment where he totally belongs. Or more correctly, content that the environment he is in belongs to him.

For that moment he’s the James Bond of the baby world.

And then he’ll do a monstrous poo that stains his clothes and those of the woman whose arms he’s in, at which point the allusion to a suave super-spy, that women want to be with and men want to be, is incontinently compromised.

He’ll still be comfortable in his own skin though.

I envy that surety, that sense that you are right where you should be, even when you’re in the @#$%. It’s a far cry from the adult world, where job security is a worry, particularly if you are say, the manager of English Premier League (EPL) side Chelsea FC.

Since Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, Chelsea have had 10 managers, representing 7 different nationalities. That is around 1 manager per season. Which is bad enough but when you look over just the last 5 years there have been no fewer than 8 bosses. Here at Longworth72 HQ we’ve had less goldfish than that.

I may have accidentally killed off our 7 goldfish.

Unlike the poor benighted ornamental fish, Chelsea’s managers haven’t died – They have mostly simply fallen to the capricious whim of their money-man Roman. It’s mattered not that they have won stuff – José Mourinho notched up 2 League Cups, 1 FA Cup and 2 Premiership titles; Guus Hiddink won an FA Cup; Carlo Ancelotti did the 2010 FA Cup and Premiership double; and Roberto Di Matteo netted the 2012 FA Cup and the trophy most prized by Abramovich, the Champion’s League title, also in 2012.

And they all, with the exception of Hiddink, who did as he’d promised and filled a temporary slot only, got turfed off the Stamford Bridge turf.

The latest to be asked to leave was Di Matteo. The likeable Italian had fallen into a caretaker role in March of 2012 after Andre Villas-Boas had failed to take over the football world in 40 matches. He was a relatively popular choice – He’d been a decent player in Chelsea colours for 6 seasons around the turn of the Millennium, once scoring an FA Cup Final goal after just 42s (1997) – A record that he held until 2009.

He was however just an interim manager, thought to be short of the experience that Abramovich would require for sustained success. Nonetheless he set about proving the doubters wrong, guiding the Blues to the 2012 FA Cup (They beat Liverpool, the bastards) and then capturing the trophy that had eluded all of Roman’s forces to date – The UEFA Champions League.

That last was the 1 coveted most by Abramovich and having won it for him the Russian rewarded Di Matteo with the role on a more permanent basis. Sadly, ‘permanent’ in Russian seems to mean ‘for the next few months’ in English.

After winning 7 of their 1st 8 EPL matches this term, Chelsea suffered a dip in form. They could only draw 2 of their last 4 and they won only 1 of their last 3 Champions League encounters. Still, they reside in 3rd in the EPL, just 4 points off the lead and, whilst they have to hope results go their way, they are still in with a shout of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

It’s hardly an irreversibly awful situation.

Except in the mind of Roman, who terminated Di Matteo’s employment a day or so ago. He then promptly replaced the Italian with a Spaniard, Rafael Benítez.

The same Rafael Benítez who managed Liverpool from 2004 until 2010.

And who guided the Reds to 2 Champions League Finals, winning 1 of them. On the way to those big European nights Liverpool had semi-final wins against compatriot opposition.

Chelsea FC.

1 of those semi-finals, in 2005, was settled by a solitary goal. Or not. Liverpool striker Luis García scored a goal in the 4th minute in the return leg at Anfield that some argue did not cross the line. The debate can best be summed up like this: Chelsea fans reckon it was a ‘ghost goal’ while Liverpool fans reckon nah nah na nah nah, we won our 5th European Cup in Istanbul.

So Benítez is not likely to be popular with Chelsea’s faithful.

Awkward.

If the genial Spaniard has anything going for him it’s that he got the best out of £50m striker Fernando Torres at Liverpool. Since moving to Chelsea Torres has been dire. Actually he’s been worse than that – He’s been a bit of a Postman Pat.

Postman Pat is a children’s television icon. He’s a stop-motion animated postman, who delivers a myriad of assorted packages to the residents of the valley of Greendale. He does this with a smile no matter the difficulty of the delivery, be it a piano or a goat.

And he @#$%s it up almost every time.

Sure it comes good in the end, but along the way Pat, who in violation of basic occupational health and safety takes his cat Jess along with him, regularly manages to turn a simple task into a day-long shambles. It shouldn’t be that hard – He’s got a wealth of resources at his disposal – Like a van, a motorbike, a satellite navigation equipped control centre and a helicopter. He doesn’t even have far to go – He only ever does Greendale deliveries and always to the same small cadre of locals.

He still @#$%s it up.

He’s an omnishambles. If you’ve not come across that term before then I can tell you that it was recently named the ‘Word of the Year’ by Oxford English Dictionary. It derives from an British political satire called The Thick Of It, specifically the following quote, directed at a politician by a senior civil servant:

‘Not only have you got a @#$%ing bent husband and a @#$%ing daughter that gets taken to school in a @#$%ing sedan chair, you’re also @#$%ing mental. Jesus Christ, you’re a @#$%ing omnishambles, that’s what you are. You’re like that coffee machine, you know: from bean to cup, you @#$% up.’

Postman Pat is like that coffee machine too and he drives me crazy. Fernando Torres isn’t quite so bad – He’s having problems with delivering goals for sure, but he’s not taken a cat to work on the pitch with him.

Yet.

The man that replaced Torres at Liverpool by contrast has been knocking in the goals but still can be described as an omnishambles. Luis Suarez is like that coffee machine. No, not that 1 – The other 1 – That makes a decent cup of coffee as long as you put in the right stuff.

Suarez’ blend has some bad beans in it. The kind that racially abuse an opponent or treat simulation (Known to Longworth72 as ‘cheating’) as a routine tool of the trade. Ironically Luis is a tool himself. Yep, I said that – Liverpool’s striker is a tool and he makes a bad cup of metaphorical coffee to boot.

So here’s my solutions to this collection of omnishambles:

1. Rafa Benítez schools Roman Abramovich in the art of being nice to employees. The Russian then recalls Roberto and in a fit of guilt promises to never ever fire him.

2. Fernando Torres returns to Liverpool on a free transfer where he is mentored back to form by Rafa Benítez, scoring a hat-trick of goals against Chelsea FC in a Champions League semi-final. Nobody is sure if any of them cross the line but they all count.

3. Luis Suárez takes up a postal route in Greendale and learns about diversity and values from the locals. He does however not get to fly the helicopter due to a worrying tendency to suddenly go to ground.

4. Postman Pat retrains and takes up a role where everybody else is responsible for bringing stuff to and from him – As a video store clerk. Jess the cat insists on hiding copies of Cats and Dogs, at least until they make the cats the good guys.

5. I spend as many hours as I can joyfully watching The Angus snuggled into his rather beautiful mother’s arms.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all – Hope you’ve found yourself somewhere you can be comfortable. Oh, and if you happen to see Del Griffith, be sure to offer him some hospitality.

We’ve Got Everything Going On And On And On

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