The A to Z Of Modern Football: C is for Chelsea
When Roman Abramovich brought big money football to west London, he helped usher in a new era. As Chelsea prepare for their Europa League semi final against Basel this evening, today on the blog Greg Theoharis continues his exploration of the modern football landscape. Today, C is for Chelsea.
The story goes that when the little-known Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was shopping around London for a football club to make his football fantasies a reality back in 2003, Tottenham Hotspur were at the top of his wish list. However, having taken a look at the urban decay of the surrounding environs, he swiftly asked his chauffeur to make a u-turn and headed towards the more aesthetically pleasing boutiques and boulevards of the Kensington set. The rest, as they say, is history.
As a Spurs fan, I want to take the opportunity in this column, to thank Roman for his exquisite taste in topography. I mean, what would Spurs fans have been like having been indulged with the managerial genius of Jose Mourinho and an assorted collection of league titles, cups and a Champions League trophy? We’re quite happy with seasonal spring collapses and mediocre midfielders, thank you very much. Plus, we like a good moan.
It’s easy to lay the evils that riddle football at the gold-plated yacht of Abramovich. The willful squandering of cash on equally stellar and mediocre players, the willingness to dispense of managerial talent at a whim, the emergence of Manchester City and other mega-bankrolled clubs and the continued employment of everybody’s favourite non-racist, John Terry. There’s a case for condemning all the above and they have been on numerous occasions in various features, blogs and photoshopped pastiches of European Cup lofting.
Let’s remember one thing though. Before Abramovich, despite a modest upturn in fortunes in the late nineties, Chelsea were a team of consistent inconsistency. Many ‘old school’ Chelsea fans may miss those days when Stamford Bridge housed a car park but would they have preferred a mid-table Championship clash with Peterborough over last May’s rollercoaster of a game with Bayern Munich? Need you ask?
Chelsea allowed every football supporter to dream such miraculous transformations could potentially happen to his/her club. They proved that football didn’t have to be centralised by a cabal of elite clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus. The Champions League triumph was the culmination of football’s assimilation of New Money and its valid parity with the grand Old Names. Next stop, Paris. And who knows after that? Grimsby. Go on oligarchs, I dare you.
Before the money argument is regurgitated, remember that it took Abramovich nine years to achieve his goal with millions spent. Money does not necessarily equate with success and there are numerous examples of how a well-structured and carefully financed club can excel and exceed expectations. Nevertheless, a boxcar full of oil cash does help. There’s no point bemoaning it. It’s not going anywhere. The choice is to either join it or find an alternative. I’m hoping Spurs fall into the latter category.
So there you have it. The only time I’ve ever said anything nice about Chelsea on record. I don’t think I’ll live this down but I have to thank Roman. Sincerely. For providing me and you with some of the greatest hate figures in the game’s history.
Spurs fan. Not bitter. Honest.
The Odds: After their win over Basel this week, Chelsea are favourites at odds of 1.67 with Ladbrokes to win the Europa League this season with Benfica at odds of 4.33 with Paddy Power and Fenerbahce at odds of 5.50 with Bet365. If you fancy Basel turning it around, they're at odds of 29.00 with BetVictor .
Follow Greg on Twitter: @Sofalife
And read more of his work on his blog DispatchesFromAFootballSofa.com