It’s not party time for Chelsea on the pitch…but off it is another matter


When things get bad at a football club on the pitch at this time of the year, they tend to bin the office Christmas party.

Not always of course, some clubs will do whatever they want and don’t really care that their fans might think that having a jolly when you have just been thumped away to middle of the road Manchester United and again at relegation-haunted Everton might not be the best way to conduct themselves, given the circumstances.

But Chelsea, the club who suffered the aforementioned defeats decided to bin their annual Christmas party.

They decided to have a team bonding meeting instead.

Now any self-respecting fan would look at this and think ‘really?’

Supporters and journalists were not privy to the team-building exercise, so it’s impossible to verify exactly what went on.

That would not stop speculation though and perhaps a little chuckle or two at what they thought could have happened.

So maybe, just maybe, it went something like this.

All the players, in their smart-casual attire, would have been greeted by club captain Reece James at the reception of the venue – not a nightclub (wink! wink!).

James would be seated for the duration to protect his latest hamstring problem, which forced him off at Goodison Park at the weekend.

But he did hand out name tags for all the players to stick to their jackets. He would look at the squad number that they were asked to display on entry and match it up to a nicely-produced lanyard that sported the picture of the player but equally important that sticky name tag.

It’s vital that in a team-building exercise, everyone knows who each other are from the ‘get-go’, as the marketing team who set up the day would say.

It allows relationships to be (hopefully) built quickly. Who knows, if translated on to the football pitch, the outcome might even result in a good pass or even an assist for a goal.

It could mean defenders know what the other ones are going to do, and thus snuff out that silly goal that they have been giving away on a regular basis.

An initial getting to know you role-playing session would be where the players throw an imaginary ball to the person on the opposite side of the table while shouting ‘clear it!’

Such fun.

The afternoon would descend into a series of talks by invited speakers. This gave the players self-imposed rest time, and they had a little afternoon siesta. All apart from Thiago Silva and young Cole Palmer, who would be listening and writing notes attentively. It’s no surprise that these keen students of the team-building exercise were also the stand-out players on the pitch this season.

On this occasion, the keynote speech, which woke everyone else up, was given by none other than Ronald McDonald of McDonald’s the fast food restaurant fame.

Ronald regaled the now attentive audience on how the Big Mac came to be and that the future of the world is plant-based. Meat will be a thing of the past was his final claim, much to the annoyance of those in attendance. But Ronald knows best.

And before they knew it, the team-building exercise was over.

As the players left the venue, James told them to keep the sticky name tag and put it on their shirts when they run out at Stamford Bridge tomorrow for a vital Premier League fixture where they face Sheffield United.

“It was good to put a name to the faces at last,” said one player as he exited.

“Now where did I park my Lamborghini,” he murmured as he trudged off into the sunset.

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