Chelsea’s agony is far from over and the replay against Birmingham City tonight can do nothing to ease it.
Recriminations and accusations have been flying about in the wake of Andre Villas-Boas’ sacking on Sunday.
Some have blamed the manager for the club’s current predicament, while others have put the blame at the feet of certain members of the Stamford Bridge squad.
The only thing that cannot be contradicted is that the Blues are not in the best state leading up to their second go at attempting securing a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
It will not be a simple task as opponents Birmingham have a strong record at St Andrew's this season and they will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a club in turmoil.
Chelsea may well win the tie but it will bring no relief to the circus that is currently being played out on King’s Road, but losing would do even more damage.
Roberto di Matteo has been given the task of salvaging a season that brought the demise of Villas-Boas after a series of poor results, including the initial draw with Birmingham, the defeat to Napoli in the Champions League and the losses at Everton and West Brom in the Premier League.
The latter of these failures seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back and Blues owner Roman Abramovich responded by showing the young former Porto manager the door.
The attention surrounding possible successors has been dominating the sports pages since Sunday evening and, while nobody has been named, it will continue to do so until the end of the season.
If Chelsea players and fans think that tonight’s game would provide some form of distraction, they are mistaken.
A victory will be deemed insignificant and a loss as further evidence of the inevitable decline of the club, mostly due to the stature of their opponents.
Even though the current situation will likely make preparations for the tie difficult, Chelsea are still expected to win and to win comfortably.
Even a close victory will likely be interpreted as an effect of the tumultuous events leading up to the game.
Defeat would be a disaster but there will still be negative headlines and more rumours of rifts after the game, regardless of the result.
It really is a lose/lose situation for Chelsea this week, but it is an unavoidable bad medicine that must be taken – administered by a combination of petulance, under-achievement and Roman Abramovich’s trigger finger.
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