Even amid the disbelieving delight,
Some, just a few, but still some, ridiculous, boos.
And a growing recognition from many Chelsea fans that winning the title this year would prove Jose Mourinho’s greatest Stamford Bridge feat.
The past week, a defeat at Newcastle, initially and then , has left even more Chelsea fans wondering if there is something in the
Yet the truth is that Chelsea are simply not playing very well, especially when teams say to them: Okay, you can have the ball. Now try and break us down.
The poverty of ambition and imagination on Saturday was evident.
with little more than basic organisation, leaving Mourinho turning to desperation tactics, throwing the ball into the mixer, where Gary Cahill and John Terry had joined the melee.
It did not help that Branislav Ivanovic’s flank delivery was so poor, nor that Cesar Azpilicueta is a right-back playing out of position – although that was evidence that Mourinho is deeply unimpressed with Ashley Cole at the moment.
With Frank Lampard having a dip – the far-less-loved John Obi Mikel is in better form, while Michael Essien may never recapture his pre-injury status – the energy and desire of Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob tipped the balance towards Steve Clarke’s side.
In the end, of course, , they got away with it.
But if Chelsea are going to outlast the congested field, the strikers have to start coming to the party.
Of the three Premier League goals Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba have scored between them so far, only one – the Cameroonian’s against Cardiff – was not gifted on a plate by shocking defensive errors.
To be fair, the attacking line behind the lone striker will be a decent source of goals.
Ramires and Frank Lampard – if not, realistically, John Obi Mikel who may have scored his quota for the next couple of seasons – will chip in a few, likewise Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Gary Cahill.
It is why Mourinho can say, accurately, that Chelsea, unlike Liverpool and Manchester United in particular, do not rely on
But it does not seem unreasonable to suggest Chelsea will need to score 75 goals this season to win the title. As the Portuguese agreed, he needs the trio, between them, to pitch in at least a fifth of that tally.
Mourinho said: ”The fact that all three have now scored gives the team a different smile and confidence for everyone.
”Every one of our midfielders have enough freedom of movement and space to create chances. Hazard, Mata, Schuerrle, Willian, Oscar have all scored, plus Lampard and Ramires. All of our six players can score goals.
”If you look at Liverpool or United, it’s more down to the strikers. Sturridge and Suarez for Liverpool, Rooney and Van Persie at United.
”We have more variety. Normally strikers are the top scorers. That’s important.
”But it is good that know everyone knows our movement and dynamic. They can all score a goal. We can can get goals from defensive midfielders which other teams don’t.
”Ramires goes forward and scores. If he can get six or seven that means a lot.
”You can’t say ‘stop the striker and Chelsea don’t score’ because normally we score goals.
”But of course we can’t do it without goals from our strikers. One here each here or there. We don’t need them to be top scorers individually
”If it’s 15 in 15 games, in 1-0 games, that’s more than enough. But not if it’s the last goals in 3-0 or 4-0 games. Then it would not be enough.”
They do need them to score real, proper, constructed goals, though. And soon.
If not, then Mourinho will have to do something about it in January.
Get rid if Ba, bring in a, well, maybe a Lukaku-type player.
Maybe someone like Christian Benteke – if Arsenal or Spurs don’t get in first to try to turn Aston Villa’s heads.
At the moment, Chelsea do not look like champions. Like a top three side, certainly. But not champions. And Roman expects his team to win. He just does.
The guffaws from the Chelsea fans after were loud and long.
Only a muppet of a manager, it was argued, would ever suggest his own supporters were not pulling their weight and backing the team.
Of course, plenty of those Chelsea fans were swift to forget the way they had turned Stamford Bridge into a place of fear for their own players
That too many were looking for excuses to jeer and castigate recent managers who, for example, left out Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, even Juan Mata, have disappeared from collective memories.
But even Jose Mourinho cannot do it on his own. And as the Special One admitted the Bridge was in slumber mode throughout most of Saturday afternoon, there was an implicit call for more.
It was only three months ago that Mourinho’s home-coming game with Hull saw the Bridge a crucible of joyous sound.
Not so against West Brom. Silent. For long parts more like a mausoleum than a football stadium.
Asked about the lack of noise, Mourinho agreed.
”This is Stamford Bridge’s nature,” said Mourinho.
”We know that our fans are in love with the club, more than in any other club or the same, but it is a different profile.
”And we know Stamford Bridge is not a very hot atmosphere, not a very strong atmosphere normally, and we accept that.
”But in the last part of the game, when they felt the players were up to have a go and a fight, they were very much behind the team and they supported the team.”
This is not Mourinho’s all-conquering first Chelsea side. This is a team that needs more help. It is down to the supporters to answer that call.