Looking through the papers and blogs this past week has admittedly been a harrowing task, I have been surprised not to come across Chelsea FC in the obituaries in recent days such is the fervorus level of malice aimed at SW6. The champions have been written off as no hopers, a faded squad of ageing stars well past their sell by date. With a disinterested owner ‘Roman’s Empire’ is crumbling they’re saying and at first glance it’s hard not to agree with them with the Blues currently languishing in 5th place, after their worst run in 11 years. A 3-1 away defeat to Arsenal on Monday night further increased the speculation that Carlo Ancelotti had begun the long walk to the gallows.
This however only tells half the story.
The last time I checked Chelsea Football Club were still defending champions of the Premier League and the FA Cup and were cruising through the early stages of the Champions League. Whilst it is impossible to ignore the flaws that have cost us so dearly in the title race thus far, it is too easy to dismiss this Chelsea side.
For many too young remember before the halcyon days of Mr Abramovich, Chelsea’s reputation was staked on glorious underachievement, a dogged fighting spirit and occasional flashes of brilliance. These are the hallmarks that every Chelsea side since Fatty Foulke bares and will continue to bare. Players with the quality of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba will not throw in the towel because a few hacks in Fleet Street have committed them to the noose. Most critically of all Derek McGovern of The Mirror who released this bile this morning.
Carlo Ancelotti spoke of building a ‘cycle of success’ and a ‘dynasty’ here at Chelsea and I believe strongly that he is still the man to create that here. Results and performances have been below expectation levels for several weeks now and nobody will be feeling that more than the manager and his players. The support of the owner and most importantly, the support of the fans will become crucial to the confidence of this team. I must admit that after the sacking of Ray Wilkins, a decision that to this day I strongly oppose, I was disappointed that Ancelotti hadn’t stood by his man and fought harder for his number two. Nobody likes to see a manager undermined and the removal of Wilkins and instatement of the ludicrously under qualified Michael Emenalo certainly falls into that category. That said, tonight I will be chanting Ancelotti’s name along with the Blues and implore those at the game to do the same.
There is still a great deal of work to be done both on and off the pitch but there is also still an even greater deal to be won. Triumph this season in the face of adversity as so many Chelsea sides have done in the past will cement the team in the history books again.
The walls of the clubs academy at Cobham carry images of great players past and present along with phrases meant to inspire and instill belief in the youngsters there, yet to take their steps onto the field. Ancelotti would do well to remind his current players of all they have done and they still can do together and what it means to play for Chelsea Football club.