Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Once more life is like my Chelsea - brash, brazen and unpredictable

This Sunday, live on Sky TV’s Super Sunday Match Of The Decade All New Must See Exclusive Major Television Event, my beloved Chelsea will travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool.
Will we win? Will the mighty Blues come out as one fighting unit and bury the reasonable doubts raised over the past few months? Will the players be ready to fight and die for Luiz Felipe Scolari? Or will we Chelsea fans be treated once again to the heart-chilling sight of a bunch of overpaid eccentric selfish egomaniacs having a bit of a lackadaisical kickabout, only to finally relinquish the result and fail to attract future employers?
Strange as it might seem, I’m delighted to say that I haven’t a clue.
In what is turning out to be the best Premiership season for many years, I have got my Chelsea back. I can’t say I’m loving it, because to be a true Chelsea fan is to suffer forty-fold for every moment of glory or joy, but at least my world is back where it belongs.
During the Jose Mourinho years, everything was ridiculously predictable. We had a manager who was not only handsome compared to other football managers (mind you, a shaved pineapple singing ‘My Way’ would walk away with the best-looking bird at the Premiership Managers Ball) but also so cool and charismatic that along with American Express, every woman in the world and half of the men wanted to own him, have him use him for their own depraved ends.
But all Mourinho wanted to do was to inspire the ‘Group’, and for a few brief years Chelsea metamorphosed into the antithesis of all they had ever stood for as a club.
We couldn't not be beaten at home. We won league titles, and picked up domestic cups as if they were birthday presents, ours by right each year.
Everybody hated that Chelsea, and even the most true Blue fans such as my sad self could not pretend to enjoy the remorselessly effective football that pulverised opponents. Like watching a glacier grind a mountainside, it was always impressive, yet not great spectator sport.
Now that Chelsea have returned to normal, everything can go wrong and invariably does. Manchester United didn’t just beat us, they destroyed us, and the egos in the Blues dressing room are bouncing around like a teenager’s testicles.
Scolari is clearly an intelligent and pleasant man. Having won the World Cup with Brazil, he’s a cross between Gene Hackman and Garfield the cartoon cat. Larger-than-life, whilst still cuddly and cute, he might not be the perfect man to manage a Premiership-winning side (Sir Alex is undoubtedly the blueprint for that), Scolari represents the purest essence of what a Chelsea manager should be.
He thinks that everybody loves him, even when it is clear that most people thinks he’s lost the plot, and never had a sub-plot to turn to in emergencies. Despite a massive improvement in is English, I watch him on tele, wondering how inspiring his pep talks can possibly be to players such as John Terry and Michael Ballack, whose skills represent, shall we say, the more utilitarian and less beautiful side of football.
When Big Phil goes:
“Today is game is ver’ ver’ himportan’, because we do not go boom boom, but bap bap bap and then pip pop on the left and yesterday in training must not be again, never never again, because I want you all to love Chelsea and never not give hup!”
do J.T. and Frank Frank Super Frankie Lampard understand what their manager is after at all, or do they just nod, smile and go
“Yeh, right boss, we’ll put the boot right in, good and proper!”
So now my football team once more reflects the way I see life, wherein victories are precious and unpredictable affairs to be cherished, while losses and draws are accepted with nobility and humility, learned from and then forgotten.
Even though I deeply suspect that Manchester United will once again win the league this year, I live in hope, and in the meantime take great delight in watching our rivals losing their minds.
Each year Raffa Benitez and Arsene Wenger look and sound less like classy intelligent football managers, and more like characters out of a Samuel Beckett play: ‘Waiting for Chewy’, in which a Spaniard and a Frenchman sit on a bench, ranting and raving in paranoiac and unintelligible outbursts either side of a silent gum-chewing Scotsman.
Away from mad managers there are always the players, those bastions of sanity and wisdom who crash their 2 day-old quarter million pound Ferraris into walls without raising their heartbeat, and know no more about the price of eggs than a chicken does about taking penalties.
Back in the bad old days of Chelsea’s inglorious past, we had characters on the playing staff that make the indubitably talented pretty boy Christiano Ronaldo look like the vacuous pompous and pimply little twerp he truly is.
Blond striker Teddy Maybank first played for Chelsea in 1975, but is best remembered for an appearance on Cilla Black’s TV show, ‘Blind Date’. Everything went well on his romantic weekend away with his TV date, but he really should have told his wife, who watched the show on tele and kicked him where no stud should ever stray.
The wonderful Mickey Thomas had many successful years at Chelsea in the 1980’s, but in 1993 he was coaching Wrexham, and passing forged £10 notes to his own players. After he was nicked good and proper, Mickey had the presence of mind to ask in court “Anyone got a tenner for the phone?”
This verbal genius from the same source of pure Chelsea humour who when asked to comment on high player wages, responded:
“Roy Keane’s on a 100 Grand a week. So was I until the police found my printing machine!”
Win lose or draw, I’ll stay Chelsea blue to the end. Manchester United might win more championships and trophies than Chelsea, but their records are marked only by what they fail to achieve. There is precious little joy in their victories, only feelings of failure when they are beaten.
Now that Chelsea are back to their unpredictable worst, I’ll celebrate each Chelsea goal as it comes along, aware that like each breath I take, it might be the last!


Anonymous said...

Who would you support in a competitive match between Galway United and Chelsea?

Charlie Adley said...

Well FP, I'd have to support Chelsea, but if the game was at Terryland, i'd be delighted with a draw and a trip to Stamford Bridge for the Tribesmen! Great craic for the fans, loads of dosh for the club, and a tremendous experience for the players.

Mind you, if recent form is anything to go by, so heartless and pathetic have Chelsea been, Galway United would probably kick our butts at the Bridge anyway!