He must have been expecting an uncomfortable evening, he must have known the whole country was watching and waiting to be critical, yet in the event Brian Laws' first home game in charge of Burnley was not going badly at all until John Terry robbed him of the limelight by scoring the winner eight minutes from time.
Sometimes it is impossible to believe these things are not scripted. Chelsea had been pegged back after taking a first-half lead and their forwards were starting to looked a bit ragged as they searched for a way through the home defence, until the captain went up for a corner and scored with a determined downward header.
It was genuinely no surprise, since Terry went about his business here as if nothing had happened. That took some doing, even for someone with a reputation for playing away. Facing down his detractors with an expression of stone, Terry endured the boos and kept Burnley's attack at bay before getting forward at the end to rescue his attack. The Turf Moor crowd did not hurl anything particularly witty or vindictive at the England captain in any case, and as Alastair Campbell turned up for a half-time presentation Terry might not even have been the most unpopular person on the pitch.
"He's had a great weekend, hasn't he?" Laws asked rhetorically. "But we were only minutes away from taking points off Chelsea and we can take a lot of positives from that. We showed them too much respect in the first half, but if we can keep the self-belief we showed in the second and stay solid, we can get out of trouble."
Chelsea were certainly not a class apart. They spent too much of the first half trying to hit long balls from their own half and generally failing to find Nicolas Anelka or Joe Cole in forward positions. Frank Lampard did hit an early chance over the bar and Anelka had a brief shooting opportunity that he uncharacteristically fluffed, but Chelsea showed little of the passing fluency and movement that had enabled them to make short work of Preston on their previous visit to the north west and demolish Birmingham at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday. Burnley moved the ball around better in the opening stages, and had just begun to create opportunities around the visitors' penalty area for Chris Eagles and Steven Fletcher when Chelsea suddenly pounced, as they are always capable of doing.
The move for the opening goal began with Petr Cech and ended with neat interplay between Chelsea's front three. After the goalkeeper had rolled the ball out, Joe Cole made progress down the right wing, before hitting a deep cross to find Florent Malouda cutting in from the left. With the Burnley defence pulled first one way then the other, it was a simple matter for Malouda to lay the ball back across goal for the unmarked Anelka to score his 12th goal of the season with a tap-in.
If Chelsea imagined they were in for an easy ride in the second half, they were quickly disabused of the notion when Burnley equalised with their first real attack of any note. The deftest of first touches allowed Fletcher to pluck Robbie Blake's lofted pass from the air and completely wrongfoot Alex, and though the defender briefly appeared to recover himself the ball broke kindly off Fletcher's chest and he controlled it again before beating Cech with an angled shot.
All Chelsea's missing urgency came back after that and they began to lay siege to the Burnley goal. Joe Cole headed in from an offside position and Lampard pulled a shot across the face of goal before Ashley Cole was denied a shooting opportunity when Clarke Carlisle got a firm foot in the way. The left-back made way for Deco shortly afterwards, Carlo Ancelotti evidently believing another attacking player might help win the game, before he realised his unflustered captain had the matter in hand. Whatever one thinks about Terry, managers will always rate what he does on the pitch.
"He's a fantastic player," said Ancelotti. "I never thought about not playing him, and I didn't even need to ask whether he was ready. He's a professional. This is his job."
THE FANS' PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICT
Jamie Smith, Fansonline.net/burnley/ Our performance was a great improvement from our last game at Bolton, when we were absolutely terrible. It's hard to be critical when Chelsea have got so much quality, but I thought we gave them too much room. However, although they had lots of possession in the second half they weren't creating much, and it's disappointing to get beaten by a set piece. Laws hasn't really impressed me yet, you expect an upturn in form with a new manager but that hasn't happened.
The fan's player ratings Jensen 6; Mears 6, Carlisle 5, Cort 6, Kalvenes 6 (Edgar 35 6); Elliott 5, Bikey 7, Blake 6 (Thompson 72 5), McDonald 7 (Paterson 60 5), Eagles 5; Fletcher 6
Trizia Fiorellino, Chelsea Supporters Group I think we just about edged it – Burnley played really well and harried us from the start but we pressed the game more and deserved the win. John Terry didn't get as much stick as we expected, just a few boos which we drowned out, but it was great to see him pop up with the winner. It wasn't a classic performance but the players did their jobs. Anelka was outstanding again, people talk about Rooney being player of the year but I think Anelka should be up there.
The fan's player ratings Cech 8; Ivanovic 7, Alex 6, Terry 8, A Cole 7 (Deco 76 7); Ballack 6, Zhirkov 7; Lampard 8, J Cole 8 (Sturridge 72 7), Malouda 8; Anelka 9
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