'We don't need Eriksson' is the cry

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Chelsea 5
Click to follow

Much more of this and even Claudio Ranieri will truly begin to believe his Stamford Bridge tenure is secure. Frankly, what more can a man do? A seventh win in all competitions. No defeats. Chelsea atop the Premiership, at least until this afternoon. And Chelsea followers chorusing their response to yesterday morning's reports that the England coach had been offered a lucrative four-year enticement: "We don't need Eriksson."

Reminded of this second-half occurrence, the dapper Italian paused, beamed knowingly and reflected that this was "because they are very intelligent".

The same may be said of Ranieri who, though you imagine that he is not exactly enamoured by the constant reports that Sven Goran Eriksson is poised to become a cuckoo in his nest, handles the constant questioning on the issue adeptly. Yesterday, it was a polite but to-the-point: "I know very well that everything is rubbish. I am not under pressure and the only job I have now is how to motivate my players."

No problems there, either, since substitute Hernan Crespo, with a pair, Damien Duff, with his first for Chelsea, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, with his fifth this season, and Frank Lampard dismantled the home rearguard with disdain and might have heaped yet more embarrassment on David Jones's men. In truth 2-10 might have been a more accurate scoreline at the conclusion of a contest which, according to Ranieri, in ever-improving English, "could have been a banana skin, but the players showed me great attitude".

Crespo, looking anything but one of Europe's élite strikers in midweek - and who had admitted as such by conceding "that was my useless twin brother" - introduced us to the useful sibling of the pair yesterday, scoring with his first touch after replacing Hasselbaink in the second half and adding another in added time.

Beforehand, the Wolves faithful had filed towards the stadium and past the Billy Wright statue with the bearing of men and women who had been invited to the public stoning of their nearest and dearest. They knew precisely what would befall them and just hoped that it would be relatively painless. In the event, it was, because with Chelsea's relentless assault on what was a ponderous and square defence 5-0 flattered their team.

As the sides prepared to kick off, a press box colleague had turned to an adjacent Wolves supporter and asked jauntily: "So, who scores the goal in your side?" Fortunately, it was taken in good humour. The kind found around the base of the guillotine.

The answer to that question, incidentally, is Steffen Iversen, who led the line, supported out wide by Shaun Newton and Henri Camara. But though the former Spurs man, who scored Wolves' goal in the 5-1 home defeat by Blackburn on the opening day, laboured diligently enough, his threat never remotely compared with that offered by Eidur Gudjohnsen, Hasselbaink and Crespo.

With Juan Sebastian Veron, Adrian Mutu and Marcel Desailly all suffering injuries from Tuesday and out of contention, the "Tinkerman" rotated with relish. Only four players remained from the starting line-up against Sparta Prague. Wayne Bridge, who had played all that Champions' League game, was absent and also not on the bench here. "What's wrong with him?" someone demanded. "Nothing, nothing," Ranieri replied, then shrugged, before adding: "I have 22 champions. [He refers to the status of his individuals rather than being presumptive.] I'm sorry." In his pre-match declaration, Jones had resorted to that old maxim of the contest being 11 versus 11 as though that somehow suggested equality. Somebody should teach him about the mathematics that Roman Abravomich understands. That £111m spent since July countenances nothing less than a handsome victory at the Premiership's lowliest club.

The pre-match assertion was that if Wolves had adopted a "don't like it up 'em" approach, it may have brought reward, Chelsea having, historically, been found wanting on such travels. But yesterday there was a surfeit of reserves in the Londoners' "bottle" bank as they proceeded to tantalise the home team with their passing and movement, of which Lampard and Duff were key exponents.

John Terry had already netted and seen his effort disallowed before Lampard, offered the invitation by Hasselbaink, struck an opener from the edge of the area. Duff's exquisite ball then saw Hasselbaink steer home from an angle.

By the interval Wolves had all but capitulated, but for some the blood was up. Paul Ince was cautioned for one challenge and then warned by Matt Messias. At one stage in the second half, the former England and Manchester United midfielder was so infuriated at losing the ball he performed a little dance of rage, could find no team-mate to blame, so yelled at the referee who was obligingly nearby. The suspicion is that even in his pomp the self-styled "Guv'nor" would have found these opponents a daunting proposition.

It didn't take long for Duff to feed off Gudjohnsen and dispatch a third. Crespo made it four, stealing in at the far post to convert Duff's cross on his arrival just after the hour. There followed Wolves' most inventive period, during which Paul Butler headed against the bar and Iversen did the same with his follow-up. Still no addition to that one goal. But another one to be conceded, Lampard cutting the ball back cleverly for Crespo, bringing Wolves' total to 17 goals against in five games.

There will be more rewarding days ahead for Jones and his team, starting with Darlington here on Tuesday night. But not that many, you feel. "I'm angry," said Jones. "You can't allow top-quality players to play with that freedom." On reflection, he may feel that it was a case of his men being overpowered by a collection of Europe's best players, who have proved a more cohesive bunch than many of us may have forecast. Sometimes football is just that simple.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Chelsea 5
Lampard 17, Hasselbaink 36, Duff 52, Crespo 67, 90

Half-time: 0-2 Attendance: 29,208