Chelsea: Why Can’t We Be Liked?

Posted on February 23, 2012 by

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John Terry and Ashley Cole

It gets tiring supporting a club that’s not liked.  It’s quite fun initially, especially if you’re winning things.  Snide comments and ‘buying the title’ jibes are bearable when your side has just won the league for the first time in 50 years.  Though, as said comments persist, they start to become less enjoyable.  The feeling must be similar to what “Nasty Nick” Bateman experienced in the wake of the Big Brother scandal of 2000. Bateman initially reveled in being a public figure of hate, liked it even.  After a while, though, the notoriety and constant scorn poured in his direction wore him down, to the point where, when he returned to feature on a celebrity version of the reality series in 2010, he was a puppy-eyed shadow of his former callous, vindictive self, desperately seeking acceptance in a transparent attempt to be liked again.

In a sense that’s how I feel about Chelsea, I just want them to be liked again. There were signs of the tide beginning to turn at the start of the season.  A swarve, young manager blooding in exciting young players and comedy characters (David Luiz) whilst attempting to play carefree, attacking football – what’s not to like?  But as the season has worn on and Chelsea’s brand of football has gotten increasingly turgid, the telltale signs of being unpopular are still there for all to see.  I’ve lost count of the number of times this season I’ve seen a crowded pub erupt with laughter at the sight of another Fernando Torres missed sitter, usually accompanied by cries of “GUTTED TORRES, YOU CUNT!”  Whilst, I’m not denying the hilarity of a £50million striker who can’t score goals, there’s no need to take solace in the fact.

I think there’s potential for the public consensus on Chelsea to shift from ‘hate’ to ‘sympathy’, especially with Manchester City ready to take over the mantle of being universally disliked.  I accept, however, that this will be difficult with so many prize wankers still in the Chelsea dressing room.  When your captain is a known adulterer, probably guilty of racist abuse, with a penchant for reckless challenges and taking illicit payments in exchange for private tours of the club’s training ground, you know you’re in trouble.  And the less said about Ashley Cole the better.

Where have the Zolas gone?  The Di Matteos and the Petrescus, the Lebeoufs and the Desaillys of this world.  Juan Mata and Oriol Romeu are trying their best, but there’s only so much two men can do.  Daniel Sturridge has shown promise in being one of the good guys (anyone who does this on Jamaican prime time TV must be alright) but recent rumours of excessive wage demands have made me think again.

Maybe there’s no hope.  If Ambramovich is to do what comes so naturally to him and decides to give Villas-Boas the boot this week, then Chelsea will be walking on all kinds of dangerous ground.  AVB is a talented, if somewhat naive, manager who has taken risks that unfortunately haven’t come close to paying off.  Given time, there’s the potential for him to build a likable side.  Whatever you do Roman, please don’t hire Rafa Benitez.  Then even I would have to start hating my own team.

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Posted in: Europe, Football