The last few years have seen an interesting shift in how footballers and managers are prepared to be openly critical in their feelings for certain clubs. There was a time when you’d never see a footballer criticise another club in print, with the result that the press would magnify what was simply a polite answer such as “Barcelona are a fantastic club and have great players” into “PLAYER X SET TO SIGN FOR BARCELONA”. This was particularly so at the height of Frank Lampard’s career when, partly due to his personal life, he was linked with a move to Spain almost on a weekly basis.
And it’s fine to wear your heart on your sleeve and not pretend that you love everyone under the sun. Honest it is. However, if you subsequently turn up at a club having slagged it off, don’t imagine that wriggling off the hook is going to be that easy.
You’d think that the hierarchy at Chelsea would have learnt from the disastrous appointment of The Fat One in 2012 that introducing loose cannons into the club doesn’t tend to end happily. They courted controversy again in 2013 by signing Samuel Eto’o, whose crime sheet at Barca not only included derogatory remarks about preferring to sell ground nuts than play for the club, but an allegation of racism towards a member of CFC staff. Luckily for Eto’o he managed to win the fans round during his (unlikely to be extended) stay by showing a sense of humour and scoring a hat-trick against Man Who, but has again risked incurring the wrath of the Stamford Bridge faithful with criticism of Jose Mourinho.
And in 2014, Chelsea look to be going for the hat-trick with the mooted signing of Cesc “Scared of Celery” Fabregas from Barcelona, who comes complete with allegations (unproven) that he said in 2010 “If I ever wear a Chelsea shirt you have the permission to kill me”. One Fleet Street rag also ran an article stating that the Scared One had had a long-running feud with Frank Lampard dating back to him grabbing His Frankness by the throat during the League Cup Final in 2007. It is to be sincerely hoped that the Fabregas deal did not impact on Lampard’s decision not to accepted the proffered one year extension to his contract, albeit at a reduced salary. Just imagine how that would play out with our supporters.
The first home game of the season is always one of the highlights of the year, and if Fabregas signs, I genuinely hope that Fabregas will receive a warm welcome from the faithful in the Matthew Harding Lower and The Shed in the form of a shower of celery.
Because, being entirely honest here myself, I’m a little fed up. Fed up with seeing (What About) Cortois mouthing off in the press every week about returning to Chelsea. Or not. God only knows I was critical of the likes of Deschamp, Laudrup and Desailly in the late 1990s who I regarded as little more than mercenaries, here for the money. But we now seems to be in the presence of a new kind of monster. A player who genuinely doesn’t care about slagging clubs off in public. A player who really doesn’t have any sense of shame about subsequently signing for a club whose supporters he’s insulted.
Ian Wright made a wonderful comment on the BBC’s 606 radio show a few weeks ago when discussing the ridiculous sums of money routinely offered to young players now. He said “They’ve all got those big headphones, so they can ignore the kids getting off the bus”.
The gap between the lives of supporters and players has never been greater. Fans rarely get a chance to mix with their heroes these days. And for those of us who are a little older, the heroes are increasingly few. Looking at the squad likely to assemble at Cobham at the start of the season, I would now only describe Terry and Cech as “heroes”. The rest of them, probably nice lads, but at the end of the day (Brian), we are their bread and butter. Get a better offer, and they’ll be off elsewhere (cf David Luiz).
Does anyone imagine that Oscar will be at the club in five years time? Or Hazard?
When I started this piece, it was called “Lost In Translation”, and was going to discuss the etymology of football. Having reached the end, it is with a good deal of sadness that realised I needed to change the title.
You may have heard the sad news that season ticket holder Gary Wilson’s daughter Kirstie, also a season ticket holder, was recently diagnosed with cancer, and the Wilsons are fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Please keep supporting the family, and you can donate to “The Longest Day” via http://www.justgiving.com/HackersBandits. You can follow Gary on Twitter @Gwilsoncfc.
In Other News
The 2014 Supporters Summit takes place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 26th July. The Early Bird rate offer has now ended, but if you are a member of the Chelsea Supporters Trust you can still attend the Summit for just £20, which is a bargain. The same rate also applies for Football Supporters Federation members (FSF membership is free, and you can join up here .Non-FSF/Trust members can also purchase tickets at an extremely reasonable £25.
If you’re a Chelsea supporters with something to get off your chest this summer and you’re 140 characters not nearly enough in which to vent your spleen, why not try the After Hours Forum at http://ukoverload.com/ahfc.
Readers may recall that we’d promised an end of season review featuring the results of Mystic Baby’s predictions, but as I lost the will to write it for operational reasons this has now been bumped to the 2014/2015 season preview. Shortly on TheChels.Net we’ll be exploring the impact that branding has on football, and how it affects the choices supporters make.
Many congratulations to our dear friend and Chelsea Football Fancast statman Chelsea Chadder on his recent wedding. We hope you and Mrs Chad will be very happy.
Enjoy the World Cup kick off, and as always you can follow me on Twitter @BlueBaby67.