By Tim Harrison
Belief is a precious and fragile commodity.
There is clearly belief in the new Chelsea manager among players and fans. There is also blossoming belief among the players that this team – and it is a settled team – can go places.
But belief can ebb away as quickly as it crystallises, and for most of the first half of last weekend’s intriguing derby clash with Spurs at the Bridge, it seemed to have evaporated.
Fortunately Tony Conte, now regularly serenaded by an ‘Antonio, Antonio’ chant from supporters, is proving to be a lucky manager.
Chelsea really didn’t deserve anything from the Tottenham game… certainly in the first half.
Despite Spurs playing a tough match in Monaco in midweek, and having to cope with the disappointment of defeat, it looked as if they, not the Blues, had had a relaxed week to prepare for the fixture.
Chelsea were outrun and outmanoeuvred for 44 minutes, restricted to one long-range kick on target. Tottenham, on the other hand, had potshots galore – even if most were from outside the area.
It was one, by Christian Eriksen in the 11th minute, that halted the recent brilliant sequence of Thibaut Courtois clean sheets. The left-foot rocket bent tantalisingly in flight, and tucked itself into the net, wide of the keeper’s hand.
Yet Spurs simply cannot beat the Blues in the league, and the extraordinary 26-year record rolls on for another year thanks to a brief moment of individual brilliance by Pedro at the end of the first half and a Victor Moses bullet shot on the gallop in the 52nd minute.
Chelsea were clinging on at times at the end, with Conte reverting to a back four to shore things up, and geeing up fans to shout rather than nervously stare.
Now comes a trip to Manchester City where, frankly, even a point would be a bonus.
Unless belief kicks in.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.