On the morning of June 29, football fans around the world witnessed an absolute tragedy. Petr Cech, longtime Chelsea stalwart, had signed a contract with crosstown rivals, Arsenal. Watching Cech wearing the red and white of the Gunners was painful, gut-wrenching, and absolutely heartbreaking. That being said, it had to be expected.
When a controversial transfer like this one occurs, it’s interesting to see how people react. Mourinho was clearly frustrated with the decision, having he made it publicly clear that had the decision been left up to the manager, Cech wouldn’t have left, especially not for another English club. However, he gave “Big Pete” his blessing, knowing how much the goalkeeper helped him accomplish.
Not allowing Cech to leave isn’t about pride, but about allowing a direct rival to gain strength at Chelsea’s expense. They didn’t allow Demba Ba to leave to North London last season, and they certainly didn’t want to allow Cech to go either.
However, there was different rationale in play in allowing Cech to move to Arsenal. We witnessed a soft side of Abramovich, who usually plays the role of a tyrant. In a way, Cech’s career at Chelsea was symbolic of the Russian Owner himself. They both entered the picture at Stamford Bridge at the same time, and both shared a similar effect on the proceedings, both on and off the pitch.
The pair were widely successful at the club and perhaps Abramovich feels that much of his own success can be attributed to the Czech shot stopper. Allowing Cech a move to their rival was a sign of respect and admiration of all the work that the 33-year old put in while in West London. The trophies that Cech won sit in Abramovich’s trophy case as a daily reminder of what they accomplished together. And so whether or not the move was popular, even Chelsea’s ruthless leader, had the sensitivity to recognize the fairness in Cech’s request.
Regardless of how one felt about the move, some of the reactions were absolutely repulsive and disgusting. Petr Cech was threatened by Chelsea fans, along with his family. They called him awful names and some went as far as burning his jersey.
Whatever the feeling after his departure, there’s no excuse for this sort of behavior. This is why at times Chelsea fans get a bad reputation. Reacting the way certain fans did is not only reprehensible, but inexcusable. Petr himself came out and said that Chelsea fans that responded in that matter weren’t true Chelsea fans, and I agree.
The fact of the matter is, Cech was always going to leave this summer. The warning signs were there the second Mourinho started Courtois in the first match. The Czech keeper is not a backup goalkeeper and everyone knew that. The expectation that he would be willing to sit out his last years at the highest level is simply unrealistic and ignorant.
There were several reasons for Cech’s departure, and more specifically to Arsenal. First and foremost Cech is a family man. And the concept of uprooting his family wasn’t something he was comfortable with. Maybe other footballers should take notice of how Cech handled himself and his family.
Furthermore, while there are several teams in London, none represent the potential for trophies like Arsenal. He wanted to continue his career with ambition and Arsenal allows him to do so.
Therefore, while seeing Cech wearing an Arsenal jersey is heartbreaking, it was a necessary evil in promoting Courtois to be first choice keeper. A true Chelsea fan wishes Petr the best at Arsenal and chooses to honor the legacy he left behind, not trash it. With the end of one era, we enter a new one with Courtois. Hopefully the Belgian can follow in Big Pete’s footsteps. One thing’s for certain, he’s truly learned from the best in Cech last season. If his career path is any bit similar to the Czech shot stopper, Chelsea will be looking at a quite successful decade ahead of them.