Stephen Walker discusses the need for a passionate atmosphere against United!
We all have them. The one team that we go straight to the calendar and start circling dates for that big matchup. For me, it’s a no-brainer – Manchester United. Let me take you back nearly ten years ago and tell you about how I became a Blues fan.
Growing up in the United States, many cable providers did not carry soccer channels. We could only watch the occasional World Cup match every four years; the biggest one being in 2006. However, when my parents finally switched providers, I had access to the Fox Soccer Channel. I was in tiny football Heaven. The first game I watched was Manchester United (I had heard of them) vs Chelsea (just some team in blue) on September 21, 2008. I watched the match and was left with a bad taste at the cocky swagger Manchester United exhibited the whole time. “How could anyone like this team? They’re jerks!” This revelation mixed with the recollection of seeing “that goal-line clearance” from John Terry vs Trinidad & Tobago at the WC in 2006 was something to root for in the direction of the Blues. A few matches later, I had placed identities on Deco, Ballack, and Lampard (my all-time favourite player) and their impact on the world’s tournament in Germany two years prior. This was when my blood began fading from red to Blue.
After battling with Manchester United for Premier League titles from the mid-2000’s to early 2010’s and now that they’re courting a former loved one, the rivalry has been more about competition and off-field antics than local sportsmanship. In fact, it wasn’t until a recent trip from the podcast legends at the London is Blue Podcast to London for their Chelsea pilgrimage when they met up with Chelsea Fancast did a lot get unveiled about the Chelsea rivalry.
One of the questions on the table in the mega-podcast-mashup was “Who is Chelsea’s biggest rivals?” The answer – nobody. Man City? Only recently due to competition. Man United? Formerly due to competition, and occasionally because of that Mourinho-former lover thing. Arsenal? We hate them, they hate us, but they hate Tottenham more. Tottenham? They still hate Arsenal more. Fulham? Get real. Queens Park Rangers? (See Fulham). Factions throughout the stands hate certain teams while going through the motions against others.
Why don’t we have a real rival? Better yet, why do we need one?
As Chelsea lined up against Barcelona, I could hear it. Right there in the middle of a work week, at night, at the Bridge, I could hear it – passion! We got up for it. I was donned head-to-toe at home in Blue with not a speck of red on me. As I watched on my computer at work, I had to turn down the volume. We were right at it, giving them hell all night. And even though we let the perfect game slip through our fingers, we gave them hell. Suarez, I believe, was lucky to leave the ground alive because if a single steward had glanced to the side too long, someone would’ve grabbed him. It’s safe to say Dele Alli never felt the slightest bit of fear while demonstrating whatever shite dance he performed after putting Sp*rs up two goals over us.
So why do we need a rivalry? Because we, as fans, need to get up for it. We’ve got to back our boys when they fall on their face, which they’ve done a lot this term. Our response – we slammed them on social media and said they don’t play for the fans, or the club, or the badge. There’s a lot of give and take with the players and the fans. The fans have to inspire the lads on the pitch from time-to-time and remind them of the passion they’re playing for. If we can get up for it two hours before the match, or even days before the match, then I believe this squad can achieve much more. I can’t expect us to get up for every match like the Barcelona game, but performances like that can increase form and push us onward to improving the squad and status at the club.
With one match left to play, it will be interesting if this former rivalry will ignite a fury from the fans or if the match-goers will sit in the stands with the halfhearted chants until something happens to tell them how to act next. My plea to my fellow Blues, let’s show these Red Devils how much we hate them. Then, maybe our boys can give us fans a trophy after all this season.
Written by Stephen Walker -@tosserofcoin. What are your thoughts? Let us know!