One of the curiosities of the last home games featuring fans is that it is also the first chance so many new players get to hear their songs. The Chelsea supporters went through their usual repertoire, including a very early ode to the departed Frank Lampard, but also made a point of backing someone else. There were regular chants recognising Timo Werner, to the tune of Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough.
That is to the supporters’ credit, because there are times when he just can’t seem to get a break. Tuesday was another game characterised by misfortune. Werner had two disallowed goals, and then two efforts – an overhead, and then a tame finish – that ended up looking hapless rather than any way assertive.
Such moments would usually bring complaints, if even groans. Not with Werner, though, nor does he let it get to him. He just keeps going. He doesn’t let it affect him, or cow him in any way. It’s very difficult not to admire this, even if Werner can be frustrating. It also shouldn’t be that surprising.
Werner has had more than a few chants about him, and they’re not all complimentary, nor confined to stadiums. When the German signed from hometown club Stuttgart for the hugely unpopular RB Leipzig, it provoked such anger that it prompted a terrace chant that became single. The novelty pop singer Ikke Huftgold released the song Urensohn (son of a bitch) to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place On Earth as a summer anthem in 2017, albeit with the words “Imo Erner”. It is as badly disguised as it is annoyingly catchy (try it out by listening on YouTube). But then it didn’t have that much of an effect. Werner kept going as he always does – and at pace.
Through that, the forward almost reflects something about his team. It is not just that Werner’s running triggers the Chelsea press, or sets the pace – literally – that is so dangerous for opposition sides. It is that his very perseverance means he personifies the resolve of Thomas Tuchel’s team.
Consider the context of the 2-1 win over Leicester City. Chelsea had just lost two games in a row, with one of them the FA Cup final against the same opposition. There was suddenly the threat that the whole season could tailspin, and Tuchel could end up with nothing. Even the emphatic start in this league game against Leicester almost seemed to work against them, because of how many decisions and big moments were going against them.
As well as those two disallowed goals, Werner was taken then by Youri Tielemans for what should have been a penalty. It would have been easy for a sense of fatalism to sink in for Chelsea, a feeling that this just wasn’t going to be their night. Such games usually see an agonising sting late on – as could have been the case here.
Except, Chelsea had a similar recent experience. It was exactly like the Real Madrid second leg in that it looked like it was going to be one of those matches where a team couldn’t possibly see so many opportunities go begging without ultimately getting punished. That wasn’t to be, in either game.
Chelsea, like Werner, didn’t let it get to them. They kept going, kept persevering.
This is the kind of attitude that Werner does radiate. It must be a reason why Tuchel has started him in the last seven games in the most tense period of the season. Werner is close to an ever-present. That is because he is ever-ready.
This is why he’s cheered.
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