Quite obviously Chelsea aren’t this column’s cup of tea. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, however, and the majority of Blues fans have been smitten by their club’s success since Ken Bates made a large lodgement of roubles.
That’s perfectly understandable. Some supporters must have misgivings, mind, at the wider and not-exactly-new perception of the club as the ‘enemy of football’; an impression scarcely enhanced by last week’s shameful scenes at Stamford Bridge.
They should have had a penalty against Barcelona, for the Pique handball; the rest of the calls were as iffy as the allegations that Tom Henning Obrevo, the Norwegian referee, had been bought by Michel Platini sympathisers.
The charming Cashley Cole, jolly John Terry, Mr Nice Guy Michael Ballack et al are right up there among the modern rogues gallery when it comes to making referees’ lives a misery, and turning neutrals into avowed ABCs.
As for Drogba, as well as being the biggest diver since Jurgen Klinsmann in his Italia ’90 prime, the Ivory Coaster’s commitment to the Chelsea cause over the past two years has been, in his own carefully-chosen words, a “f****** disgrace.” Cheat? Don’t get me started.
The owner, who thought fit to have Peter Kenyon lead the players to receive their runners-up medals after last season’s Champions League final, is apparently worried about their image all of a sudden, having hoped that paying off Mourinho, the man who taught them too well, would make his mercenaries more admirable.
If he is serious about building an ethos and identity worth having rather than a win-at-all-costs ‘global brand’, he should sell half the side this summer and start from scratch. Arsene Wenger mightn’t have won anything in four years but the fans who are starting to turn on him and his young team should take a look across London and recognise that while you might acquire a certain amount of success, you can’t buy love.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo, whose propensity to fall to earth has been attributed by part-time physiologist Eamon Dunphy to an off-centre of gravity, couldn’t leave well enough alone. Drogba, barracked throughout Sunday’s 4-1 away win over a still-reeling Arsenal, was public enemy number one bar none until the perennially top-scoring Portugeezer gave him a run for his money, throwing a Fergie-baiting super-sulk after being replaced during the Manchester derby. “I just want to play” he protested after being withdrawn for his own protection. Yeah, and a few weeks ago he was subbing himself. Hardly has a bet on a certain someone reaching a set number of goals, eh?