And we’re off! Boooo!!
With the second game under our belt, it feels like the season really is underway.
So it’s welcome back to Saturday afternoons following Chelsea through sun or rain – or even just in front of the pc or telly.
Welcome back to the sea of blue along the Fulham Road. Welcome back to the excitement. To the emotion. To the ardent fans.
And to a small minority of supporters who appear to think they are being clever by booing their own players.
Now some would argue they have a point. Against Stoke City we were not good. Truth is, we were poor in the first half but improved as the game went on and barring two good saves from Begovic we would have won.
Stoke were over-physical, and in my opinion a different ref may have been less tolerant with them. Perhaps our lack of a creative midfield player was shown up again, but The Britannia is a difficult ground and few will come away from there with a win this season.
Against West Brom it was more of the same: a poor first half, followed by increasing improvement in the second. So maybe they have a right to boo, these people? We are entitled to expect better from a team of overpaid prima…… oh yawn, I cannot write that crap, but you know the sort of thing: you hear it in many places after the game.
It’s the sort of logic that says a player must play well simply because his wage packet is massive. It goes along with the inane logic that booing your players will help them improve.
But what we saw at Stamford Bridge really was promising. Despite the fact that we were shocked by conceding an early goal and we struggled to gain some sort of control for the next half hour, we saw a performance that improved as the game went on. True, we could have gone 0-2 down; equally we could have gone in level at half time.
We saw Villas Boas have the bravery to make an early substitution; we saw chance after chance created in a second half of almost total domination. We saw Branislav Ivanovic come on so that we could maintain our pressing even further upfield, his pace minimising the risk of a breakaway as we pressed. We saw yet another almost-certain penalty appeal dismissed.
What else did we see? Nearly four times as many chances created, two or three times as many chances on target, seven corners compared to four, 54% of possession compared to 46%. And on top of that we saw Anelka equalise and then Bosingwa rip open the left hand side of their defence and send a perfect come-and-get-me ball across the area for Malouda to score. Game over: points won.
In short, we saw many positives. But we weren’t 3-0 up after ten minutes and we didn’t win 6-0 again, so obviously we didn’t see enough positives for these aficionados of the modern game. They booed.
But they paid their money, right. So they got a right, right?
I do not agree with those who believe that simply because they have paid a significant amount of money to watch the game, that they are entitled to express their negative opinion. They are not. What you pay for is right of entry into the ground, not a right to belittle and denigrate.
Morally and culturally it is both wrong and offensive to boo your own players.
Educated debate based on opinion is acceptable. Outright condemnation and denigration is not. In the emotional fervour of a packed stadium educated debate will always take second place to emotional reaction, but despite that, hostile derision and aggressive vilification of your own is unacceptable.
Let’s put it another way.
There are a minority in society who, for whatever reason, believe that the law is an ass. That’s their opinion: it does not give them the right to verbally abuse any policeman they see on duty.
Atheists are entitled to their beliefs. They are not entitled to abuse priests, vicars or rabbis when they are performing their duties. Similarly, those with religious beliefs are not entitled to sneer at atheists.
There are some who hold a view that British culture is being weakened and tarnished by the effects of immigration. I don’t personally follow their argument, but I guess they have a right to their view. What they do not have any right to do is to abuse human beings simply because they are, or appear to be, new to this country.
My analogies may not be perfect, but you get my drift?
So back to the game.
If you were one of the people who were booing on Saturday, could I ask you to do just one thing? It’s not difficult, even a moron with a migraine could manage it so I am sure that with a bit of effort even you can do it.
It’s simple: just don’t come to another game.
Now I know you are Chelsea through and through, maybe even your Dad and Grandfather were true blue. I’m sure you live and breathe Chelsea and spend every waking moment trawling through NewsNow for news of your heroes. I know you will stick up for Chelsea everywhere you go and will support them until you die.
But to be honest, we can do without your kind of support. That sort of negativity is, at best, pointless; at worst, it is highly damaging, both to the team and to individuals on the pitch. It’s not that I don’t understand your frustration. I do. We all share that at times. But you take it much too far.
I don’t know if you people (I won’t call you supporters, because you were not supporting) are the “Prawn Sandwich Brigade”. I don’t care, to be honest. All I care about is that you stop coming to Stamford Bridge.
Did you know that out there in the real world, in the world that does not revolve around you and your banal and facile existence, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of people who want to come to the Bridge to support Chelsea?
Note I said “…to support Chelsea”. Over land and sea. Through thick and thin. Good times and bad (the ridiculous thing is we’ve had nothing but good times in the last 10-15 years). Those people will be there to replace you. You won’t be missed.
And yes, they will shout and ooh and aah during a game. They will grumble when something bad happens, and drop their head into their hands when a pass goes astray. They will fall back into their seats with a moan and look skyward as they think “I could have bleedin’ scored that” as a shot powers skyward ten yards above the bar.
They will share the frustration of the fans around them when that happens. They will share the disappointment of the players. But they won’t boo.
Because unlike you, they are there to support the players. They’re not there for an afternoon’s entertainment. They wouldn’t even think of risking the morale of players or the performance of the team by behaving in such an unreasonably immature and irresponsible way.
Leave your seat available for someone who will support the players, the team and the club – when they need it most. On the pitch during a game.
We are all Chelsea. If you are a true Chelsea supporter you have a right to express your feelings. But during those ninety minutes you have an obligation, too: an obligation that outweighs your individual right.
As a Chelsea supporter you have an obligation to support.
So please, do us all a favour. If you want to boo, go to a pantomime.