I should not write a thing at the moment. I’m just too pig-biting mad! But, I’ve never let the facts get in the way of the truth, so why stop now. And as for facts, while I’ve never actually read Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying Of Lot 49 which deals with matters pertaining to an imaginary postal service, I see no reason not to metaphorically apply the allusion to the turmoils of what has become an imaginary football team.
The turmoils swirling around through Chelsea and SW6 over the past weeks have already taken a greater toll than I imagined they would. Today’s 3-1 defeat at West Ham is not just another concept of zero made manifest, it is swiftly becoming an exponentially growing tide of concepts of negative zero!!
Chelsea 0 Fulham 0
West Ham United 3 Chelsea 2
2 points out of 9 since Rafa Benitez took over. Not very good. Especially today. I don’t think I need to explain to ya’ll why I’m pig-biting mad.
But unlike a lot of my Blues fans, I’m not blaming Rafa in any way for this. Not right now, not just yet. I couldn’t see much that he could have done today that would have altered the eventual scoreline. He had a good starting line-up that seemed to be playing well in the first half, well enough anyway….they missed a few finishing chances….but the Mata goal from Torres was nicely played. Their defense looked solid enough to win, and Cech made some nice saves when they were needed. If I was the coach, I would have told them at half-time to keep it up the attack….hold your defensive line….and maintain your mental discipline as the game wears on. I imagine that’s what Rafa told them that as well.
From the way Chelsea played after the break, those words from coach went in one ear and out the other. Big Sam brought in Diamé and Taylor at the break, and West Ham’s attack became more spirited and physical. And instead of heeding my words of advice, Chelsea collapsed under the weight of their inner frailties….despair, lack of self-confidence, and most glaringly, the lack of leadership on the pitch…when West Ham equalized and going got tough. Instead of someone stepping up to lead and rally his team of the pitch, the team set upon each other, pointing fingers instead of calmly and confidently going about their business. Without solid leadership from someone on the pitch, it doesn’t matter who Roman has coaching the team. John Terry won’t be with the team forever. So someone in the current lot needs to show that kind of leadership, take the team and the locker room and make it his own. It does Chelsea no good to have Petr Cech act as captain-in-abstensia. That job really needs to be held by one of the position players. Who will that man be? THAT is the question that needs to be answered and soon.
This RAFA OUT nonsense is, on a certain level, understandable, but it’s still as idiotic as it gets. It does very little good other than as an expression of frustation. And a fairly unproductive one at that. The RAFA OUT crown strike me more and more as fans who don’t really care as much about their team as they profess to.
I’m reminded of the Green Bay Packers fans who railed again GM ted Thompson when he traded Brett Favre to the New York Jets and elevated Aaron Rogers as starting QB. They wore Brett Favre jerseys to Packers games and howled for Thompson to be fired. The Packers first season with Rogers at the helm was unspectacular. The Pack finished 6-10, but Rogers himself was brilliant.
The second season under Rogers, the Packers made the playoffs, losing to the Arizona Cardinals 51-45. That season, Favre had been released by the Jets and he signed a free-agent with the Packer’s arch-rival, the Minnesota Vikings. The Viking’s won both games and there was still a lot on anti-Ted Thompson furor despite the Packers making the playoffs. There were still a lot of fans wearing Brett Favre #4 jerseys.
And the third season? Green Bay won the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers was the Super Bowl MVP. And Brett Favre, after a brutal season, finally and mercifully retired at last.
The point here is that as a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan, I’ve seen great players and great coaches ((and so not so great)) come and go. But above it all, for 50+ years, I’ve stood by my team….the Green and Gold, through thick and thin. No matter what. The Packers came first and foremost.
Brett Favre was a great QB and led the Packers out of nearly 2 and a half decades of mediocrity by winning Super Bowl XXXI, but no one is greater than the team. Not Bart Starr who led the team to wins in Super Bowls I and II. Not Aaron Rogers who led the Packers to the win in Super Bowl XLV. And as with star players, it’s the same with coaches. Vince Lombardi would be the first tell you he wasn’t bigger than the team. Neither were Mike Holmgren or current head coach Mike McCarthy.
So the RAFA OUT crowd, in my view is putting coach (RDM, I suppose) ahead of team, and they’re simply adding the instability surrounding the team they profess to love. They’re getting an enormous amount of publicity, due to the nature of the English press which thrives on this sort of stuff, which adds more fuel to the fire. Instead of helping the cause, they’re merely being as petulant as the anti-Ted Thompson fans who kept (and keep) wearing their Brett Favre Minnesota Vike-Queens jerseys to Packers game. And all because Rafa coached for Liverpool and had a little argy-bargy with Mourinho back in the day.
In this brave and terrible day and age, the only NFL equivalent I can think of would be if Bill Belichek left the New England Patriots and was announced as the new head coach of the New York Jets. Jesus H. Christ in a runway dumptruck anyway, those Jet’s fans would howl and rage against the universe. Their HOODIE OUT crowd would make the RAFA OUT crowd sound like little school girls singing at a grade school Christmas pageant.
Soccer, unlike the NFL, is a much more fragile sporting universe. It’s probably the English press coverage that gives me that impression, but it’s an impression that also has some basis in reality.
The turmoil surrounding Chelsea in the Abromovich era, especially recently, can’t result in any long-term good. Short term, yes….we’re the Champions of Europe. But…we’re soon to become the Chumplins of Europe. We’re certainly playing like chumplins.
And I can’t put that on Rafa, anymore than I can put that on RDM or AVB. Tactics, man-management and all that be damned for a moment. If the lads on the pitch are not playing up their level, if they’re taking plays off, making stupid mistakes (I’m looking at YOU Ashley Cole), not marking their man or zone, all the coaching in the world won’t do a bit of good. Yeh I know, the coach can say in the postgame presser that “It’s on me, I didn’t do enough to prepare my guys for the game.” But coaches say that to cover for their players….the players know, or should know, that the coach did his job and they didn’t.
Winning, of course, would quiet the RAFA OUT crowd. I said quiet and not silence. A win at this point, no matter how ugly would be welcome. But, sadly, such a win would only be a false positive for team that has everything in the world working both for it, and against it. An ugly win would only allow the bad habits to continue. An ugly win would only give the team a false of sense of confidence that would break down again, as it did today, when things go bad. They kept clean sheets in row, and they pooped in them today.
So, RAFA OUT Crowd, how satisfied are you now after today’s victory? Fully justified in piling it on some more?? Why not just say to hell with the team while you’re at it? What good does it do to be more focused on the coach than the players on the pitch? No good at all, really. No good at all. The solution is not your foaming wrath. The solution is not whether Carlo or AVB or RDM, or Rafa, or Pep, or The El Special One is the coach. The solution is not flogging Torres for Falcao Willian Cavani ((he will have Bill on the back his jersey)) or some manifestation of Zombie Didier Drogba. The solution is not ROMAN OUT, either.
The solution? Well….I’ve got good one to start with:
Rafa is us right now, whether you like it or not. So for the good of the team, suck it up and let’s go after more appropriate targets for our fannish wrath. There are plenty of real villains out there, so let’s get after them (in a sportsmanlike way, of course). While we’ve been petulant about Rafa, Sir Alex and the gang have loped off to a 10 point lead atop the table. ((Hmmm…note to self, maybe winning ugly is not so bad after all)) Let’s direct our dudgeon and birse towards the REAL (as opposed to the perceived) enemies.
“I’m forever blowing bubbles…..pretty bubbles in the tub…they fly so high….stink up the sky….” Something vengeful and ominous like that would have been better than RAFA OUT. Was anyone singing something like that today at Upton Park? I honestly wouldn’t know since no one sings at Green Bay Packers games or NFL games like y’all do at soccer games. Remember that I’m not letting any facts get in the way of the truth here.
Meanwhile, the leadership void at Chelsea is the darkness crying out to be filled. You can’t replace the unreplaceable, but someone on the team needs to take the reigns from John Terry and be a leader. We need a solid leader who can keep everyone on point when things start to go wrong…someone who get the team back on track…someone who leads by example. No one in the current lot has shown that they can do that…but someone needs to and damn quick.
The managerial carousel has got to stop. Roman and his management minions have got to realize that they are running a football club here, and not Mr. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival. Leadership from the top of the organization has not been consistent and focused on the long-term well being of the club. The only consistency has been it’s harried and frenzied over-reaction which has created a legacy of instability. 10 managers in 9 years is not good way to run an effective organization. That’s not good leadership and that culture of instability has got to change. I’m not holding my breath, but…at some point these gulagistas have got to come to that realization, and so?
Well, it’s time to stop our sobbing. Toddle off to the boozer which is what I’m going to as soon I finish this screed and my can of GENESEE Cream Ale. But stop sobbing. Stop wailing and whinging about Rafa. And get on with cheering and supporting our team no matter what. The real Chelsea, not the imaginary Chelsea of myth, expectation, and wishful(wistful) thinking. Keep the Blue Flag Flying High.
Chelsea might have lost today. But ManU(re) still sucks.