Chelsea fans feel more ignored than ever by their club.
Not least over the issue of our young stars getting little playing time.
According to Eric McCoy in yesterday`s theprideoflondon.com, there`s been
“?a concerning and growing disconnect between the club and its supporters.”
(You think, Eric?!)
“Why do we support a club?” McCoy continues.
“Why do we acquiesce to high ticket prices, kits that cost more than a week`s groceries and kick off times that rankle significant others who are just wanting to spend a nice Saturday at the park, or lake, or wherever it is people who don`t watch football go on Saturdays?”
“It`s not just about success. Sure, that helps, but unless you support Barcelona or Bayern Munich and watch your team play in a league seemingly customized to ensure them some degree of glory each campaign, you`re going to witness a barren run every now and then. Sometimes that run is a short jog down the street to grab a cup of coffee, and other times it`s a grueling marathon (I`m looking at you Portsmouth).”
McCoy goes on to highlight the latest CFC board misstep – the handling of captain leader legend John Terry. He calls it:
“?the latest in a series of club decisions that seem to have been made in a vacuum where no fan input could possibly have been heard to influence proceedings.”
Needless to say, José Mourinho`s firing was yet another occasion where this ownership was deaf to the Chelsea faithful.
Continues McCoy:“As Jose Mourinho`s time at Stamford Bridge was nearing its conclusion, fans were singing his name? in a plea to Chelsea`s board not to cut ties with the man responsible for so many of the club`s greatest moments. It was the sound of a fan base fighting to be heard above the de-personalized corporate rattle that is the modern game.”
“John Terry, for the better part of his time with the club, has been synonymous with the identity of Chelsea. Many of the board`s decisions have prodded at that identity, and the apparent decision not to renew Terry`s contract may just full on punch it in the face.”
“Identity is important. It`s what keeps people spending too much money on tickets every weekend, even when the team is bad. People like putting on a shirt that says not just what team they support, but? also something about the kind of person they are.”
Unusually big chunks of journalism from another source for a Stan Wenners piece, but then Eric McCoy echoes unusually accurately precisely what the Chelsea faithful are feeling at this critical, potentially disastrous period in Chelsea`s history.
Here`s more from McCoy, again hitting the nail on it`s head – as good an anti-plastic mantra as I can imagine:
“As we age, we have fewer and fewer bits of cultural ephemera we can use for self-identity. The worn down Joy Division shirt that used to signal your allegiance to a counterculture defined by discerning taste, now mainly just signals that you`re old. Interest in sports is a constant in society, and a Chelsea kit should have a more extended relevancy than a band t-shirt. Ideally, and maybe impossibly, it should also represent something more than a billionaire`s hobby.”
“The board? thinks it unwise to extend the contract of a 35-year-old defender who is probably incapable of playing in the high-pressing system that has been the owner`s desire. The fans? see a club legend who is still unquestionably the leader of the team and still capable of magnificent performances, being brushed aside in a cold, business-like manner.”
In there is the only moment I take possible issue with Mr McCoy: “the high-pressing system” is something that all and sundry have laid entirely at the door of José Mourinho not the owner.
Perhaps Eric McCoy knows something we don`t?
And he ends his timely piece every bit as powerfully as he began it:
“This disconnect is significant. Chelsea is a business, but it`s also something more (like all clubs are), and what it means beyond spreadsheets and bottom lines is what makes people care. After all, there aren`t too many people who spend their Saturdays cheering on a department store to sell more shirts.”
In fairness there`s been very very little to cheer this dark and dismal season.
Certainly not the future as The Telegraph`s Charlie Eccleshare reminded us yesterday in his piece entitled, “If not now then when for Chelsea’s young stars?”
Eccleshare characterizes this Chelsea as being as firmly “ensconced” mid-table as a team could be.
Echoing the Chelsea faithful, he adds:
“The perfect context, then, to give a couple of Chelsea’s long-overlooked youngsters a go?”
Er, apparently not.
According to Charlie, RLC has played the majestic total of a whole 74 minutes in the Premiership this season.
The arguably even more exciting prospect Kenedy at least played a full game v Norwich – even if, eccentrically even for José, at left back.
Despite the rare full appearance by the scintillating Brazilian teenager contributing to that rare Premiership occurrence this season – both a clean sheet and 3 points – Kenedy has been more notable by his absence ever since.
Unlike most Telegraph writers who seem to parrot the CFC board and lay all ills at Mourinho`s door, Eccleshare doesn`t:
“The theme of Chelsea’s youngsters not being given a chance is one that runs through the Roman Abramovich era. The last player to come through the youth ranks at Chelsea into the first-team was famously John Terry, whose emergence pre-dates the Russian owner`s arrival by a few years.”
“Abramovich has spent vast sums on the Chelsea academy, and put young players like Josh McEachran on huge wages, but the return on the investment has been dreadful.”
These facts contradict the CFC spin that always tries to show Mr. A`s desire for youth to be given a chance.
Sadly, as we have all come to understand, Chelsea`s spinmeisters – including spinmeister-in-chief Michael Emenalo – have never let facts get in the way of a good half-truth.
You`ve only got to look at one of the lowest points in modern Chelsea history: Emenalo`s craven video announcing José Mourinho`s departure; player after player after player contradicted any idea of the “palpable discord” in the changing room that Emenalo was so very keen to peddle.
As for the let`s just say factually troubling assertions that Roman Abramovich is keen on youth, Eccleshare begs to differ:
“The answer lies in the short-termist culture that pervades Roman’s Empire. With managers hired and fired at the rate of one a year, it is hardly surprising that they are unwilling to take an unnecessary gamble with a young player, when there is a £20million reserve waiting for them as a safer alternative.”
Eccleshare goes on:
“After winning the double in 2010, Carlo Ancelotti felt he had the clout to bring youngsters Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Bruma and Gael Kakuta into the first-team squad for the 2010-11 campaign. The Italian quickly jettisoned them once results started to go against the team, and was sacked at the end of the season in any case.”
(Sacked for coming second in the Premiership!)
The Telegraph man rubs salt in the wounds by pointing out the contrast at Spurs, where Pochettino has brought on Kane, Dier, Alli.The next section is so damning, you just have to leave Charlie to it:
“Pochettino himself benefits from the stable environment that his chairman Daniel Levy provided by handing him a five-year contract upon appointing him in 2014.”
“As well as the high-profile players that have excelled this season, there are other examples that show the difference in mentality between Chelsea and Spurs.”
“Earlier this season, Tottenham were hanging on at home against Aston Villa, 2-1 up in the final few minutes, when Pochettino threw on 18-year-old Josh Onomah into the fray for his Premier League debut. It was a show of faith in the youngster that would seem utterly alien to anyone in the Stamford Bridge dugout, where the default substitution in the last 10 years has been to bring on Mikel. Spurs ended up winning the match 3-1.”
I`ve been among the loudest to complain about the lack of playing minutes for the likes of RLC, Kenedy and Traore under José; but observing Hiddink, it`s clear that, precisely as Eccleshare maintains, this runs far deeper than managers.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!
What the hell is going on when even a caretaker here for a month or two won`t give our youth a chance?!
Who`s actually picking the team?
Again, Eccleshare says it much better than I ever could:
“Yes it might mean Chelsea run the risk of losing away at Watford rather than picking up a stodgy 0-0 draw, but that’s surely a risk worth taking?”
“At Arsenal, Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin were only given a chance because of injuries, which they grasped; at Chelsea, Loftus-Cheek should be given his opportunity owing not only to his displays in the FA Cup but also to the extraordinary set of league circumstances Chelsea find themselves in.”
“And Loftus-Cheek is not the only one. Chelsea have 34 players out on loan, among them central defenders Andreas Christensen and Tomas Kalas, who must wonder why on earth they were farmed out when the disastrous Papy Djilobodji was brought in from Nantes. Likewise, forwards Dominic Solanke and Isaiah Brown might ask what exactly the permanently injured Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato can offer that they can’t.”
It isn’t just managers that those behind Chelsea`s “instant-results culture” are hobbling, it`s the very lifeblood of our club.
Something deeply sinister is happening.
And if it doesn’t make you furious – or at the very least curious like many of the country`s sharpest football observers – then the only thing you should be questioning is the true nature of your Chelsea fandom.
Chelsea Fans Fury Over Board, Youth
Chelsea fans feel more ignored than ever by their club.