It’s quite amazing to see what the state of Chelsea has become considering the club has won the English Premier League title twice in the last five years, not to mention a League Cup, FA Cup, and a promising run in this year’s Europa League that could still culminate in some silverware. However, the current aura around Stamford Bridge feels that there is a war coming amongst the fans of the Blues, but why? And can it be avoided?
Lack of Leadership
We may as well start at the top. Where is Roman Abramovich? All we can say for certain is he’s not at Chelsea FC. The oligarch patriarch has had visa troubles, and as a result, has postponed the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge. The fans have not heard a peep out of him, and with several whispers of bids coming in for the club, there are many reasons for fans of the club to be a bit restless about our future.
The Chelsea Board and the manager have been at odds for quite some time, and not just Sarri, but the whole scenario has put a lot of blame on the board from the fans. Whether or not it’s fair will never be answered, but it’s clear to see that the fans dislike not having a clear path that they can understand.
Finally, there has not been a substantial leader in the locker room since the departure of John Terry. Gary Cahill may appear in match day programs and Azpilicueta may be seen conferring with officials and clapping up positive support after matches, but there is no one that defines “proper Chels” that holds the captain’s armband.
Mourinho-Out, Conte-Out, Sarri-Out
Every fan everywhere has an idea of how the club should play football. Unfortunately, not every fan can take the reins of our beloved club, so they decide to support the manager which plays the style they favor. The only problem with this is that as each manager leaves, the faction of supporters of each manager becomes at odds with the next manager.
Mourinho and Conte both played a very pragmatic approach – the sense that you do whatever it takes to win. Mourinho could start with six defenders scattered around the field or end with three strikers. Conte would typically field the same players but the approach to the game could be ultra-defensive or counter attacking football. Both managers won the league with defensive-driven football, but it was not the pleasing aesthetics craved by the club’s hierarchy.
Sarri, however, has become the complete opposite and possibly divides opinions more than the other two managers. Sarri’s dogmatic approach – meaning he believes his way is true – of quick short passes with little not to end result has left many pundits and journalists labeling Chelsea as the “New Arsenal”. What a deep cut!
Home vs Away
“Support Your Local Team”. I’ve heard it over and over again, and to be honest, I don’t understand it. For me, the closest professional team is roughly five hours away – hardly considered to be local. So I support my Blues from my living room couch, sports bar, vacation spot, or on my phone while riding “The Magic Carpets of Aladdin ®” (that really happened).
Now, this is one of the key factors in fan division. How can someone not be considered a fan just because they’ve never been to a live Chelsea match?! That’s bizarre and, frankly, a little unjust. I refuse to watch YouTube videos of fans berating others for not getting to games when they are less privileged. At the end of the day, every time someone watches these videos, comments on them, shares them, the producers just get more revenue and the wheel comes full circle.
To those that have the opportunity to go to watch the Blues live, good. To those that watch from their house or local pub, good. Carefree wherever we may be is our motto. The idea is that we all support the club and don’t badger those of us who aren’t fortunate to ever watch a live match. The more fans, the more revenue, the more prosperous we become. Facts.
The Youth Debate
This is still divisive but easier to explain. Every time a new manager comes in, he knows that he has to succeed immediately or get sacked. Unfortunately, that does not supply a lot of time for the developing of players. However, Sarri has been fortunate enough to bring in Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek into the starting XI this season, which could possibly go a long way towards keeping the Italian another year. Conte was also able to bring in Andreas Christensen as a contender for a regular starting position; however, Sarri’s formation cuts down one defender so this is where he falls short.
Fans’ opinions are still divided but there’s no reason to be. If Chelsea succeeds, then what is the debate? Should we fall on hard times, like we have this year, the player rotation could provide for more opportunities for these young players. Luckily for the Blues, Hudson-Odoi may be one of the best U-20 players in the world at the moment (pre-injury) and Loftus-Cheek is a tank running in ballet slippers. So there is reason to believe that the youth are slowly being given a chance at the Bridge, and with the pending transfer ban coming, more could be given opportunities to shine in the future.
Social Media Sell-Outs
I have absolutely no problem with any major social media personalities, especially those that support the Blues of London. That being said, I must say the following that these men and women have given rise to a few problematic cults.
I’m an admirer of Alex Goldberg’s abrupt honesty. He typically speaks in a respectful way to most but his supporters online have badgered those accounts that have not always agreed with him. Debatable differences are always up for a good conversation, but only within the grounds of respect and empathy for the others’ opinions. It’s never in good taste to block those that don’t agree with you either as it only widens the gap amongst the Chelsea supporters. There are quite a few socialites of social media that practice the “block” button.
Some of these massive accounts seek to completely sell out to their own cause, and much like stated above, they seek to hound those that don’t agree with their agendas and the massive numbers of their supporters try to drive them off social media altogether. This type of zero-toleration of differing opinions shouldn’t be allowed within the realm of fans who root for the same club.
Finally, I must admit that I am a huge fan of “that guy” who has pushed for the annihilation of racism at Chelsea. He receives a lot of abuse for what is a just cause, although some suggest he fabricates some of the racist chants at away fixtures. Hate him, respect him, all of the fans must see the ultimate outcome that he’s trying to push for and help him in his quest to make Stamford Bridge a place of differing backgrounds but united pursuits.
I don’t know where to go from here because I do not believe there is one thing that could unite all of the fans of Chelsea Football Club. I’ve seen a lot posted on twitter lately that many people won’t go to matches until the board gets rid of Sarri, which I find bewildering. I didn’t realize the passion for the club was obstructed by a 60-year old retired banker-turned-coach with an obsession to his smokes. Just relax and back the Blues. I know it’s a utopian dream, but I hope we can all just sit back, have a pint, support the club, and keep the blue flag flying high.