It is the best of times. We’re European champions and FA Cup holders thanks to Chelsea leg end Robbie Di Matteo at the helm, following an inauspicious reign by Andres Villas-Boas. In a style unbecoming his desire Roman Abramovich got his dream cup. Fortunately, I did also, as did we all.
It is the worst of times. The man who has largely paid for this success (we buy merchandise, and so can claim a little credit) fired Chelsea’s most successful manager (sorry José, no one else has won the European Cup), with two major trophies in 42 games at the helm, due to a lack of form in October and November.
Is it the best of times? We’re enjoying the most successful spell in terms of silverware, but frankly the manner in which it has been achieved leaves a bitter taste in the back of my mouth. Since the mandatory buyout, when I had to sell my shares in the mighty Blues to some Russian I had never heard of, we have had no fewer than ten managers leading the team out: Claudio Ranieri, José Mourinho, Avram Grant, Big Phil Scolari, Ray Wilkins, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancellotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and now Rafael Benitez.
That’s the same number of managers we had in the previous 20 years, since Bobby Gould’s two game tenure in 1981. On average an Abramovic manager has had 55 games, less than a full season with two cups and a European run, to make his mark. Something’s not right with those numbers and it speaks volumes about loyalty to managers and their staff at the Bridge these days.
Is it the worst of times? We’ve won more trophies and league campaigns than you can shake a stick at since Abramovich took the helm. When I was a nipper we were the equivalent of Everton today. Reaching the top third of the table and beating Spurs in the fifth round of the cup was a major achievement. Winning away at Anfield was a dream (thank you Dennis Wise, Vinnie Jones and Co.). Getting into European competition was the thing of gilded dreams and it happened a couple of times – we even won the Cup Winner’s Cup in ’98!
Now though? We’re in Europe every year, we’ve won the FA Cup more than anyone else in the last ten years and we expect it to continue. Compare a game away at Shakhtar Donetsk to an away day at Scunthorpe United and you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Many of today’s Chelsea fans are unable to do that, but that’s through no fault of their own. I just happened to be there when we were shit, that’s all.
Quoting fellow Rocky Mountain Blue Michael Leaves, we’re currently experiencing “first world problems.” Third in the league, still above Spurs in the league (yes, albeit by goal difference) and we have an unusually easy Christmas program – Njordsjaelland in a prelude to Thursday football (we’ve never won it before, let’s add it to the trophy room!) where we can change the chant from one of mirth at other clubs, to one of mirth for ourselves.
Then we have the Black Cats away (Rafa earns another point), DIRTY DIRTY Leeds in the Mickey Mouse Cup (in which Nando will score five or ten)… then a home day against Villa where if Rafa doesn’t earn his first three league points I will be seriously gutted. That’s followed up with a trip to Norwich on Boxing Day and then a jaunt up to Everton where we will studiously watch our wallets more than the game. Yep only one team in that whole bunch is worth anything and it’s the last game of the year. Even I could manage us to maximum points this month!
So it’s not all bad, ladies and gents. Yes we’re all mad at Abramovich for doing his second favourite thing in sacking yet another manager, then bewildering the entire football world by hiring the only manager worse in our eyes than Alex Ferguson…and even then we begrudgingly respect Fergie the Red Nosed Scotsman (there’s a Christmas jingle). But then it doesn’t matter who’s in charge at the end of the day. The club is bigger than one person… Rafa… and Roman… two people… oh and Bruce Buck and Ron Gourlay… ok, four people. The club is bigger than four people and not only are we Carefree, but we keep that blue flag flying high. Why? Because our blood is blue and we’ll never be those people down the pub who only sing when when we’re winning.
In closing I am looking forward to seeing a nice rambunctious turn out for the Sunderland game. We’ll probably draw it, but it’s not all about winning, it’s about getting together and loving Chelsea for the sum of its parts, for we are Legion.