‘Cole Palmer FC’ has a uniquely abject selling point in the marketplace of ideas

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Chelsea;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Chelsea</a> were no match for the big guns at Arsenal.</span><span>Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images</span>
Chelsea were no match for the big guns at Arsenal.Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images


After four minutes, and a Leandro Trossard opener set up by Declan Rice gliding unhindered, Liverpool and Manchester City fans were already flicking to the Championship battle between Leicester and Southampton in disappointment. Could Arsenal’s utter dominance fade and Mikel Arteta’s touchline anxiety take hold of his players? No chance. Once Arsenal realised that Chelsea really are “Cole Palmer FC” and Wythenshawe’s finest was resting up with a bug, the match turned into a rout, Chelsea offering less than zero resistance. Placing any hopes in this iteration of Chelsea has been a lost cause for two years. Still, the rebrand has its unique selling point in the marketplace of ideas. Question: what’s Chelsea best known for? Answer: the billion-pound team that lets down fans each week.

“I don’t want your shirt, I want you to fight for yours,” raged a placard held up by a young Blue at the Emirates. A very similar sign was seen in the crowd at Brentford a few weeks back. Chelsea have become a football cliche, a byword for a bleakly expensive hopelessness that has spared even Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United a few blushes. Mauricio Pochettino may act like all this has little to do with him but his own reputation is taking a severe hit by association. “The bad days, when we have bad days, we are so bad,” he wailed. The Emirates was the fifth time this season that Chelsea have conceded four or more goals in a Premier League match. If, as seems likely, Poch is moved on, his talk that “when we are good, we are capable of everything” will convince few suitors in the summer of Arne Slot, Rúben Amorim and other shiny coaching talent moving around European destinations. Chelsea meanwhile drop ever downwards in the list of desirable destinations.

Kai Havertz, skating away on the thin ice of a new day to score twice against his old club, might have been the type of player Chelsea built their team around. Instead, to pay for the transfer expediency of the Boehly/Eghbali alliance that decided to rewrite the rules he joins a long list of recent ex-Blues who look distinctly better than what replaced them. On Tuesday, Jorginho also came on against his old club. Last week saw Antonio Rüdiger and Mateo Kovacic as leading men in a classic Big Cup encounter. No Chelsea player will be doing so for the next season at the earliest, barring being flogged elsewhere.

It’s left to dear Thiago Silva, 88, to add respectability and class to a club that part-exchanged such qualities for subprime assets. Each of Moisés Caicedo, Enzo Fernández, Nicolas Jackson and Mykhailo Mudryk has the talent to be a fine Chelsea player, but not when carelessly thrown together into the cocktail shaker handed to Pochettino, who is then asked to make something that somehow doesn’t taste of abject and likely continuing failure.


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“John Barnes had a legal duty to ensure his company paid the correct amount of corporation tax and VAT. Instead, it paid no tax whatsoever between November 2018 and October 2020, despite receiving earnings of well over £400,000. This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors that if you do not pay your taxes while directing money elsewhere, you are at risk of being banned” – the former Liverpool and England winger has been disqualified as a company director for three and a half years after his firm, John Barnes Media, failed to pay £190,000 to HMRC.


Congratulations are in order to Chelsea for finding a way to embody an entertaining inversion of the Harlem Globetrotters – expensively assembled and individually skilful performers turning up to play a series of opponents, but with the unique twist of being absolutely and hilariously awful” – Charles Antaki.

Re: ‘Més Que Un Desesperado Club’ (yesterday’s Football Daily, full email edition) and your continued obsession with ‘Nottingham Forest’s paranoid take on the selection of VAR officials’. Please read this article and you might understand why we are paranoid. Yours paranoiacally” – Charlie Harvey.

Such a biased article about David Moyes and West Ham (yesterday’s Football Daily). Shame on you. ‘Soulless’ is a completely wrong description of the London Stadium and should be corrected or the writer sacked” – Tom Smith.

Thanks for pointing me to Rúben Amorim’s Wikipedia page (yesterday’s Football Daily). So much interesting stuff. His wife has a degree in telecommunications engineering. He has 14 caps for Portugal. He shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Oh wait – that’s Johnny Cash’s page. Sorry” – Mike Wilner.

Send letters to Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Charles Antaki.