Tag: Chelsea

Agony, Ecstasy, Chelsea & Queens Park Rangers

The crisis-o-meter klaxon sounded at just after twenty-five past nine last night at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea had suffered a stodgy evening against Queens Park Rangers, the sort of bad day at the office that all of us have from time to time, when everything takes thirty seconds longer than we were expecting it to and that inevitable feeling of clock-watching is tempered only by that nagging feeling that there was something that needs to be done which hasn’t been. Queens Park Rangers, for their part, had defended doughtily, broken with menace and looked some distance from being the eleven man soap opera that we might have expected them to be if we took the entirety of our knowledge of them from the tabloid press, and with twelve minutes to play, when Shaun Wright-Philips swept in what turned out to be the only goal of the evening, it was well deserved, a solid indication that talk of their relegation from the Premier League isn’t quite the discussion of a foregone conclusion that it had been supposed to be. Bad nights at the office and decent, solid performances, however, do not make for click-happy headlines, though, so it is likely that last night’s result will now be extrapolated into gaudy colours and breathless language. Rafael Benitez has been skating on thin ice as the Chelsea manager since he took the job...

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The Club World Cup Fails Engage… Again

Chelsea’s bid to become the world champions of club football ended yesterday morning in Yokohama with an insipid defeat at the hands of the South American champions Corinthians of Sao Paolo. This was, perhaps, not too great a surprise. For all the talk of superlatives that seems to pepper football in the twenty-first century, FIFA’s World Club Cup has never properly caught the imagination of the public, and for a club that is starting to see both Manchester United and Manchester City disappear into the distance in this year’s Premier League title race, the overwhelming feeling about the European champions’ appearance in this competition is that this was all little more than a distraction ahead of the busy Christmas schedule and the January transfer window. Set against all of this, to win a competition that likely only be greeted with hoots of derision seems like a burden which is unlikely to weigh too heavily on the mind of new manager Rafael Benitez. It seems unlikely that his reputation will stand or fall on last weekend’s result. The FIFA World Club Cup is a competition that remains viewed with suspicion in Europe, at least. Falling in the middle of most domestic calendars, its format pitches the champions of each of the FIFA confederations (as well as one representative from the host nation, Japan) against each other in a staggered knockout...

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They Don’t Make Them Like Dave Sexton Any More

On Sunday afternoon at Stamford Bridge, the new interim manager of Chelsea Football Club, Rafael Benitez, was introduced to the clubs supporters to a less than rapturous reception. On a day laden heavy with symbolism, Chelsea and Manchester City, two clubs who have muscled their way into the ultra-rarefied air of European footballs top table, then played out a drab goalless draw which reminded us of a few fundamental truths about the game, the most prominent of which was that there are no guarantees of an entertaining game of football, even if the players on show are from two clubs, hyped beyond rationality and treated in so many aspects of their lives as living semi-deities. It’s not a criticism of the players to say this – it is seldom their fault that their every move is viewed as if through a filter which can make them appear superhuman – rather it is a reflection of the madness that seems to be on display everywhere we look when we regard professional football these days. Thoughts of Dave Sexton, who died yesterday at the age of eighty-two, quite possibly weighed heavy on the minds of many at Stamford Bridge yesterday afternoon. Sexton managed Chelsea for seven years between 1967 and 1974 and would go on to achieve considerable success with Queens Park Rangers before finding himself as the right man at...

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Nothing To See Here: Should Chelsea Apologise For The Clattenburg Affair?

Today has been a busy day in the office for Chelsea Football Club. On the one hand, Rafael Benitez has been confirmed as the new interim manager of the club after the sudden (yet completely unsurprising) departure of Roberto Di Matteo, whose luck ran out following Tuesday nights thrashing at the hands of Juventus in Turin, but the bigger headlines in tomorrow mornings newspapers are likely to be made by the Football Associations announcement that no further action will be taken over the incident involving referee Mark Clattenburg after the clubs Premier League match against Manchester United last month. If the appointment of Benitez had become little more than an open secret within hours of Di Matteos departure from Stamford Bridge, there had also been an air of open secret concerning the Clattenburg incident. Although the hunch was not based upon anything particularly solid, there were few who believed that anything would come from the allegations made by the club. From the outlet, it seemed scarcely credible that a Premier League referee would have made the comments against Mikel John Obi that Clattenburg was alleged to have made. Such were the nature of the seriousness of the allegations, however, that the Football Association had to investigate, and the sort of delays that come with this have a tendency to allow rumour, conspiracy and innuendo to fester. There are criticisms...

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Madness, Or Something More Calculated? The Inevitable Early Departure Of Roberto Di Matteo

If there is one aspect of the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo that actually does retain the capacity to startle, it’s the numbers. Di Matteo is the ninth Chelsea manager to have left Stamford Bridge in the nine years to since Roman Abramovich bought the club. This is a higher managerial turnover than the club had in the first seventy years of its existence, a stark figure, even if we factor in the fact that clubs generally have a higher turnover of managers than they used to have and, while it is clear that the club has won more trophies over these last nine years than it did during those first seventy, we could counter-argue that this may have had more to do with with the vast amounts of money that have been lavished on the first team than the clubs appointment policy with regard to its managerial staff has. Still, Roberto Di Matteo had a good run, by modern Chelsea standards. If we take into account his caretaker period, he was the clubs manager for longer than Avram Grant, Andre Villa Boas or Luis Felipe Scolari. His time at the club had a feel of the flight of Icarus about it, ascending to the absolute summit of European football before plummeting back to earth in less than nine months. It has been suggested elsewhere that Abramovichs judgement in...

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