Politics, Sport

The last couple of weeks in review.

To start, an apology for the recent absence. This was mainly because I was moving house and that tends to take up a lot of your attention. Also, it was Christmas and this has been a pretty rubbish year so I decided to enjoy what we could do over this festive period rather than trying to edge in a blog post on the side of all of that. And now that the year is drawing to an end and Christmas is over, I can get back into a regular rhythm of posting on here again. Long preamble over, let’s get into it.

 Lampard needs to get his squad firing again.

Chelsea’s end-of-year form has not been good enough. Just one win in the last five in the league with lacklustre performances have demonstrated that despite serious investment in the summer, this is far from a polished ready-to-win-the-title team. All the players brought in during the summer will have big parts to play in the rest of the campaign, but some of them are not performing as well as they can, as well as they have shown in the past. Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy have all performed extremely well since they came into the side and changed the defence from a problem area into one of the strengths of the team. It really is amazing how much has changed in that area of the team compared to last season. There seemed to be a real lack of leadership or conviction in defence. Players would often stare at each other in confusion or frustration when a goal was conceded; and there were plenty of them. Chelsea actually conceded far more goals than any other team that finished in the top six, never mind the top four. It was clearly an area that needed addressing, and to be fair to Lampard and the board, they went out and bought players to improve that area of the team and all have so far worked out magnificently.

Further up the field, the new additions have somewhat struggled to find their feet. Players like Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have shown glimpses of their true capabilities but have not done so on a regular basis. Havertz has had his season disrupted by many factors; injury, having to adapt to a new country and new league, having to self-isolate after a positive COVID test that hugely restricted his playing time and no pre-season to truly begin to familiarise himself with the manager’s tactics and methods. Timo Werner is another who has shown some of what he is capable of. But his form has dropped off in recent matches leading some to ask (including me) to ask if Lampard is in fact playing him in the wrong position. Werner’s preference as a striker is clearly to cut in from the left-hand side, but he has been far too isolated as of late. Lampard is still very new to management; this is, after all only his third season as a manager. He is still working out the best way of getting his message across to the players, what formations will bring the best out of them and so on. It’s a complicated process and it has been made even more so by the extenuating circumstances of this year. But results have not been good enough recently. Lampard will need to get the players further up the field firing on all cylinders again and soon if he hopes to match expectations which have only gotten higher since he took the job at Stamford Bridge a year and a half ago.

This deal is the usual Johnson fare. Smoke and mirrors, all talk and no trousers.

The Future Relationship Agreement or whatever it is actually called is not the new dawn that Brexiteers had hoped for. In fact, its hard to see any upside to it at all. We saw what the future holds for Britain in the run up to Christmas when hundreds and hundreds of lorry drivers were surrounding and stranded in Dover. That is what lies ahead for British trade. What’s more, all those Johnson was claiming to protect by getting this trade deal over the line, he has in fact betrayed. The fisheries are already making their disagreement known, and businesses based here are finding out just how expensive it is going to be for them to remain in Britain if they want to trade with the EU. With how our EU membership was set up, you could have made a case for saying we actually had the best terms of membership of any member state. We were able to opt out of a number of critical EU wide mandates and programs. We were able secure a sizable rebate on our EU budget contributions. And we had absolutely frictionless trade with our nearest and biggest export market. While we don’t have to pay tariffs on goods imported from the EU or for exporting into the EU, there will be a number of barriers that simply weren’t there before. Some goods, we are simply no longer able to export at all.

On top of that, this may be the legislation that begins the process of breaking up the Union. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of Scottish voters had voted to remain, that they were being taken out of the EU against their will and that no trade deal would be able replace what Scotland will lose by no longer being a member of the EU. The Welsh First Minister isn’t particularly happy either, labelling the deal ‘thin and disappointing’ and warning it would make trade with the EU more difficult and more expensive. But Johnson has repeatedly shown he is more than willing to throw aside the concerns of the devolved nations to maintain his popularity within Brexit supporting areas of England.

As usual, Johnson has delivered nothing while promising the world. After all, it has he that claimed Britain’s policy was to ‘have our cake and eat it’. People are just now realising the truth. There was never any cake to begin with.

2020 truly has been one unique year hasn’t it? At times presenting challenges like we have not seen for a long time. At times putting the ugliest side of humanity in plain view for all the world to see. At times, showing the very best of us and who and what we can be. Challenges lay ahead. But we can look forward to the new year ahead; one that is a clean slate for us to write a new story on. Here’s to 2021.

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