Jose Mourinho and I have a lot in common, you know. Suave, handsome, desired and detested by millions in equal measure. Well, that isn’t strictly true. And when I say a lot in common, I mean two things. Which are ultimately one and the same, when you think about it.
I love to see Chelsea win and I fucking hate to see them lose.
No matter how irrelevant the game, how inconsequential the loss, the sting is always the same. It all stems from having that goofy bastard Richard Taylor beat me in the 100 metres when I was 12. I’m a bad loser. I’m as English as they come, sure – the human equivalent of a cup of tea on the village green, but just don’t ask me to conform to the stereotype and be gracious or magnanimous in defeat, because I’m bloody useless at it. When Chelsea lose, if we had a cat at home I’d probably kick it. And I quite like cats.
Suffice it to say, despite the brave face and any number of tired football clichés I could muster for the general public, my mood on Wednesday morning was something akin to that of a homicidal maniac who had misplaced his favourite carving knife and gaffer tape. And I’m off the cigarettes at the moment too which didn’t help.
After the last two nights of European football, Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho are currently up the same creek and fighting over the paddle. Both have been used to waking up in the honeymoon suite wrapped in silk sheets, taking fan mail and flowers from their legions of followers before leaving for the training ground to a round of applause from their adoring staff. Life, until just recently, was pretty sweet.
But they are now both out on the streets, ducking brickbats and catcalls from those that once bowed before them in awe. Your strikers couldn’t score in a brothel, our best players have got splinters in their arses, the midfield has no grit, no flair, none of the players you’ve bought are any good and frankly you couldn’t mastermind a comeback if Sinatra and Elvis rose from the dead simultaneously and asked you to book Carnegie Hall for them.
If Gary Glitter posted on this blog at the moment he’d probably get a better reception than Jose Mourinho.
Surely, we have the best manager and players that money can buy, don’t we? Limitless budget should the man in charge decide that he needs reinforcements? So why haven’t we won the Champions League yet?
Well, it’s Jose, isn’t it? Arrogant git. Jose Mourinho and his busted halo. The formerly Special One is no more, his reputation tarnished and questions being asked of his methods. Why Jose? Where did it all go wrong?
The hype that followed the self-appointed Special One when he pitched up in England with a precociously impressive CV and an ego larger than Roman’s yacht has arguably led to him becoming a victim of his own success. This is a man who has an obsessive approach to preparation, with a network of scouts reporting to him on forthcoming opponents, detailing every hairline crack in their defence, their striker’s weakness when pushed on to his left foot and the percentage meat content of the Balti pies sold in the South Stand. This man produces individual DVDs of opposition players, complete with dossiers on them for each of his men, detailing how to turn a lethal, pacey £20 million winger into a snivelling little bitch who loses control of his bowels every time he hears the name of his marker. He knows when it will rain, when kids are about to run out in front of his car – you know, like in the advert. He’s a genius.
Then how in the name of all that is holy did he let us lose to Barcelona?!
Well, here’s the kicker. And believe me I’m spitting feathers as I type this, given my very non-English attitude to the business of defeat.
We were beaten by the better team. Probably one of the best we’ll see in the next decade or so, if the truth be told. And that’s it. No more to say. Out thought, out played and out of the competition. Goodnight Vienna (that might have been an easier tie, I suppose. John Spencer would have sorted them out on his own…).
Questions will of course be asked, it is only natural; did Jose get the tactics right, should Drogba and Crespo have played together, should Wright-Phillips have been given the chance to run free like a diminutive Derby winner in the vast open Catalan fields? Maybe he got them right, maybe he didn’t. More ifs, buts and maybes; none of which will change anything. The nature of football fans, fickle creatures that we are, is such that fingers will be pointed in defeat; the bigger the defeat, the bigger the reaction. Barcelona have beaten us! Get out there and spunk £50 million on Adriano, he’s miles better than Drogba! (This is the Adriano who had his commitment questioned by that bastion of hard work and selfless toil, Juan Sebastian Veron, when he hit a rough patch earlier this season, right?) I want Eto’o! Ronaldinho! Puskas! Maradona! Stanley Matthews! Robert Fleck! Get me the best, we’re Chelsea, we’re loaded and we demand it, damn it!
Hold on. Calm down. We’re building a team here, a dynasty. Setbacks will occur and we have to deal with them. Seeing clips of superhuman goalscorers with Roman-worrying price tags on Sky Sports doesn’t necessarily mean they will fit in at Chelsea. We can all rave about strikers and how good they look from 60 seconds of carefully edited highlights – Kezman looked like a one-man net-bulging riot on that basis – but ultimately it is down to Jose, Frank Arnesen and the team to find the right men. Which, we hope, they will. But it won’t happen overnight.
As for the big eared cup itself, to repeat myself slightly from a comment I made yesterday, it takes time to learn the crazy combination of luck, guile and curious refereeing that is European football. Manchester United got whipped rotten by Barcelona and Galatasary and suffered any number of timid exits before they finally cracked it. Arsenal have just made it further than Chelsea for the first time in heaven knows how many attempts. Winning the European Cup as a manager is an incredible feat. Winning it twice is the stuff of legends – Paisley, Clough, Hitzfeld and Sacchi. Jose Mourinho has been a manager for less time than Joe Cole has been a professional footballer and he’s got one in the bag already.
Players will undoubtedly come and go this summer, and probably the next, and the next after that. Speculation will be rife at the World Cup, with the planet’s hacks fuelled on a month of (hopefully) breathtaking football and warm Liebfraumilch. The moment that Abramovich so much as breaks wind within 800 yards of Ronaldinho, the tabloids will have us offering Drogba, Huth, Eidur, £500 million, a quick knee-trembler with Roman’s missus and a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch in return for the toothy little genius. Some of it might be true, most of it will probably be complete bollocks.
So, new players or no new players, let’s just take a step back from our keyboards and think about it all for a moment or two.
We’ll never conquer Europe with Drogba up front!
Like France would never have conquered Brazil and the rest of the world in 1998 with Stephane Guivarch playing up front?
Huth on when you need a goal? Ridiculous!
Nearly as ridiculous as journeyman goalkeeper Jimmy Glass trying to volley the ball like Mark Hughes when Carlisle needed an injury-time goal and a miracle to save them from oblivion?
This is one funny bastard of a game. Anything can and probably will happen. And if you’re lucky, you won’t be standing in a queue for the bogs in the MHU listening to a drunk bloke moaning about Drogba when it does. If we all live until we’re a hundred years older than the clichés which surround the beautiful game, we won’t have seen nearly enough of this utterly ridiculous, brilliant thing we call football to half fill a pimple on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s arse.
But what we do have is hopes and dreams. And I have a dream, my friends. I have a dream that one day, we will all be in a beautiful European capital sipping cold beers on a warm spring day. We’ll make our way to some vast, cavernous enormodome and we’ll watch Chelsea play in a European Cup Final. And we’ll win it. It won’t be some dramatic comeback or a penalty shootout, it’ll be a game in which we demolish one of European football’s old guard, a fully paid up member of the G14 ‘elite’. People will talk about that Chelsea side and the game itself long after we’ve all become dust and bones. And it will have been worth the wait, believe me.
Well, like I said, it was a dream. Whether that dream will come true or not, I have no idea. Whether Jose Mourinho will be in charge, I have no idea. But given his track record, the mentality of the team he has built (or is starting to build?), and the sheer chutzpah of the man, would you bet against him? You wouldn’t get a penny of my money against the Special One. And yes, he is still very, very special. The way I screamed and bawled like a 5 year old on April 30, 2005 bears testament to that.
But back on earth, we have Spurs on Saturday which for some of us quaint old-fashioned folk is a far bigger deal than some overhyped, TV and media driven nouvelle-21st century rivalry with a team of megastars from another league hundreds of miles away. It is almost 6,000 days since Spurs last beat Chelsea in the league. Now that is a record that is worth preserving and given the choice between the two, you can stick Barcelona and the Champions League where the sun doesn’t venture as far as I’m concerned. And I can’t begin to imagine the meltdown and cyber-based wrist slashing that will take place should we do the unthinkable and succumb to Martin Jol’s men. I might even join in, actually…
Saturday won’t be about the heady heights of nights in the Nou Camp, it’ll be about three points, getting one over on a proper rival and more importantly, Peter Osgood. I never saw him play, never met him and now, sadly, I never will. But I’d hazard a vague guess that he’d care far more about stuffing Tottenham than anything else right now, Barcelona or no Barcelona.
And Ed, welcome to the Chelseablog. Great article, some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t but I look forward to many debates, discussions and so forth with you in the future. Which is what makes it all so bloody marvelous, don’t you think?