Ahead of the walk in the park many of us are fully expecting from a non-competitive Newcastle United against Chelsea this coming weekend, we caught up with one of the Stamford Bridge Pitch Owning campaign group, canny lad, Mark Willett, who has been coming to St James’ Park over the 80s, 90s noughties and whatever it is the cool cats are calling this decade.
TF: Does it feel good to have Mourinho back?
Chelsea Mark: After Rafa it would have been great to have almost anyone in the hot seat. Personally, I believe that any great club should always look forward and not back. My dream appointments would have been Clarke managing and Zola assiting or Martinez, but Mourinho is, without doubt a good tactician ,a great man manager and a “Chelsea man” so that’s good for me.
TF: Lots of people (myself included) have Chelsea as a shoe-in for the title this season – what do you think?
Chelsea Mark: Definitely. With United and Citeh re-organising, Scousers and Gooners “squad-lite”, and Sp**s lacking a decent manager it is Chelseas’ title to lose in my view. You can still get 2 to 1 so if you put that in a double with Bayern to win the champions league you win about 8 to 1. A great way to subsidise (or pay for) your season ticket next year…simples.
TF: With Ferguson retiring and Man U losing a bit of their aura with Moyes, do you see a potential dynasty under construction at Chelsea with Mourinho if he can stay in the Russian’s good books?
Chelsea Mark: That’s probably, and hopefully, the idea….and great if/when it happens. I (like most others) have said exactly that when Mourinho (first time), Ancelotti, and Di Matteo were in charge but it always seems to end in tears….so if it is the intention, as you suggest, that a potential dynasty is finally really under construction at the Bridge this time then “GREAT”….I just can’t see it being played out in reality!
TF: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current Chelsea team?
Chelsea Mark: Loads of strength in depth…With the likes of Mata, Ba, and Luiz (to name only 3) able to come off the bench we certainly have loads of options each game (as was proved against Arsenal this week in the “combination cup” ). Also Torres coming into form is a massive bonus .Only slight weakness is a few players fitting into, and being comfortable with the Mourinho set up….but having won all our games in October it is hard to even count this as a weakness now.
TF: Taking into account what you have seen of Newcastle United this season, if you were Jose giving the team-talk what would you tell them to do?
Chelsea Mark: Set up the team to play high up the pitch, tight and narrow through midfield, short fast passing through midfield, striker to draw full backs wide, attacking midfield move up and…bang.
TF: Where do you see Newcastle United’s strengths and weaknesses?
Chelsea Mark: Strengths.. good possession in midfield, fitness looks ok. Weaknesses are lack of drive, purpose and enthusiasm (no doubt linked to the management),dips in form from Cabaye and Sissoko, lack of effective strikers. I can’t see this changing without a regime change.
TF: What do you make of Ashley, Kinnear, Pardew?
Chelsea Mark: Ashley; Certain types of people should not be allowed to run football clubs, in my opinion, and Ashley is one of them. The man has previously, and continues to, show no sensitivity to the clubs history and traditions, treats fans with contempt (repeatedly), and….perhaps most importantly makes the most ridiculous decisions in the day to day running of the club….sports direct stadium, Kinnear appointment to name ONLY 2 of so many.
Kinnear; I don’t really want to say too much about Kinnear as I do feel quite sorry for him. I heard him being interviewed sometime after the tragic death of his son and, coupled with his own well documented health problems I thought that the awful interview given (saying he had been given his current job – prior to an official club announcement) was indicative of further ill health. I was, therefore, very surprised and somewhat disturbed to find that it was true and Ashley had given him the job …The game has moved on since he was last involved and he should not have been given a job he clearly isn’t up to.
Pardew; Should have been given a couple of years contract (instead of 8!!!),and then been left alone to carry on from the good work he did a couple of seasons ago. He currently has little incentive bearing in mind the sack will give him £££££££s and a reason to get away from Ashley and Kinnear.
The future isn’t bright in Newcastle with this trio at the helm……you can borrow all our old “Rafa Out” banners and tipp-ex “Rafa” and substitute it for “everyone” if you like!
TF: What’s the average Chelsea fan’s view of Newcastle United?
Chelsea Mark: 70’s/80’s Fans probably have a respect (even it is inward) I would say, appreciating good away support, a good club ethic, and shared 2nd division experiences….Later fans (and not just Chelsea) I fear would see the “SKY SPORTS view” of fans….over weight fans with shirts off during games in sub zero temps., poorly made “taxi for Ashley” banners daubed on mums’ best white sheets, over emphasis on certain bad equine behaviour….it goes on and on…..creates a completely wrong view of the club and its’ fans…I don’t think I can remember sky ever reporting a decent reflection of real NUFC fans?
TF: We know you’ve been coming to SJP for many a year for games, what have been the good, the bad and the ugly of your times in NE1?
Chelsea Mark: Had loads of great times…winning on penalties in the FA cup replay 95/96, Euro 96 for a couple of games were good times…I visited most host grounds for group games in between Englands Wembley games and thought the fan park near St James’ was brilliant….wall to wall bars in that massive marquee which was well appreciated by the host town fans…just a bit of a shame that no real drinking nations played at SJP as that would have been an even better atmosphere. Not many bad moments although I seem to remember getting thrown out in the late 80’s for being lippy back to some home fans whilst being 2-0 down .The steward that slung me out stated that as the away fan I must be the one in the wrong…..fair enough reasoning I suppose….Lastly I think there may have been some “ugly” moments during my stag night which took place after the game about 8 years ago….but I can’t recall them due to intoxication.
TF: The last time we spoke, you expressed a distaste for modern football even though Chelsea have been a beneficiary of new money coming into the game – do you feel conflicted by your regard for the game’s traditions but Chelsea’s success and new status?
Chelsea Mark: My teams successes in recent years have been fantastic..I have never taken for granted winning the FA cup(numerous times), League Cup,Premier league(back to back) all 3 European Cups, Super Cup, Charity Shield,too many derby wins to mention and plenty of 6,7 and 8 -0 massacres of fellow top division teams……however, if you ask alot of supporters whether they felt more a part of their club in the 80’s when we were struggling to stay in the 2nd division then many (including me) would say yes.The atmospheres were better, the away support stronger and the players were more in touch with the fans.In short I have to say I enjoyed it more….I am happy to admit that it is alot to do with growing up and that old saying “things were better in our day” but the top teams in the game in England have “downgraded” the FA and League cups to mere “combination” tournaments, and the world game has awarded the World Cup to Qatar in summertime!. Just with these two examples you get the feeling that football is completely going in the wrong direction.
I spoke to some Man Citeh fans before our FA cup semi last year and told them that Mancini would get the sack at the end of the season whatever they did. They totally disagreed stating “we aren’t like Chelsea”…believe me they will have at least 1 new manager every season they don’t win everything…it’s what new money does to a club. You win trophies but you lose part of the heart of your club.The average age of a season ticket holder in the Prem is 42….The game is not attracting any hardcore young fans so what is the future?. I have to say one of my main motivations for going is to meet up with other long standing fans for a good drink and chat about the good old days. Don’t get me wrong ..I still love football, I just don’t feel very in touch with it nowdays. I think we will see more AFC clubs formed following in the successful footsteps of AFC Wimbledon, AFC Liverpool and FC united of Manchester..who were formed to bring back a true feeling of CLUB football.
TF: What’s the craic with Chelsea leaving Stamford Bridge and your role within the Chelsea Pitch Owners Group?
Chelsea Mark: We are not leaving Stamford Bridge any more. Abramovich tried to buy the pitch of us (the shareholders) but failed as not enough Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) agreed to sell him their shares. Our “say no cpo” group is dormant at the moment as the club are staying put. If another attempt is made to buy the pitch I will drop work commitments again and work as hard as possible for the group to ensure we keep our spiritual home.
TF: Tell us about the independent Chelsea fanzine scene.
Chelsea Mark: CFCUK…”Come on it’s still only a £1 (and still produced on a photocopier!)” is the main publication and was preceded notably by The Chelsea Independent and Mathew Hardings’ Blue and White Army. It’s funny how fanzine content and style has changed and evolved. They used to reflect football culture and hardcore protest more in the early days whereas now they seem to have shifted towards good writing and balanced viewpoints. To be honest, this suits me, but may prove to be a bit boring to the younger fans. I would love to see a new fanzine at Chelsea to run alongside CFCUK, run by the the younger generation, even if it didn’t make much sense to me in my mid 40’s.I have to mention 3 outstanding writers in CFCUK in Mark Worrall, Walter Otton, and Tim Rolls….Google any of them with CFC and check out some of their articles….great football/culture observers. It’s proving harder and harder to get an article in the publication nowdays as there are so many who want to contribute which is a very healthy state for a fanzine to be in as far as I’m concerned.
TF: John Terry or Micky Droy? Discuss.
Chelsea Mark: Ability there is no question that Terry would win hands down.
For me I felt much more in touch with players from the mid 80’s who had beards and wore tight shorts….just a question of taste I guess!
TF: How is Demba Ba getting on?
Chelsea Mark: His backside is getting plenty of exercise on the bench…hasn’t really fitted in as a number 1 choice over a re vitalised Torres and Eto.
Demba Ba Quiz; Only ONE of these Demba Facts is true;
His favourite TV programme is Cagney and Lacey.
He once stood for Mayor in his home town of Sevres, just outside Paris, France.
He was the last player to score for Newcastle from a corner at SJP, some 2 years ago.
TF: Prediction for the score?
Chelsea Mark: This year….You 0 -Us 2 ….or worse (for you)