Sunday’s match between Chelsea and Manchester City in the EPL reminded me of when the circus comes to town. You visualize lions, tigers and death-defying stunts, only to be faced with an underwhelming 1950s Ghost Train.
The Stamford Bridge encounter was so dull, it ended up making the battle for the F1 championship one of the most enthralling contests of 2012.
Sam Tighe’s blog details the main talking point in a game that badly failed to live up to the pre-match hype.
But once you dust off your disappointment with the on-field action, the off-pitch subplot becomes absolutely fascinating. For the first time since Roman Abramovich purchased the club in 2003, Chelsea are in a state of complete disarray.
In the space of twenty minutes, the displeasure directed at Rafa Benitez and the support for former-manager Roberto Di Matteo was demonstrated in the most public way possible—in front of the millions watching on live television.
Benitez’s name was mercilessly booed, whilst Di Matteo received a minute’s applause in the 16th minute—the number he used to wear as a Chelsea player. Di Matteo is one of the Chelsea family, while Benitez is the babysitter nobody wants or will ever appreciate.
This dreadful week at Stamford Bridge has clearly affected the players—who unsurprisingly produced a horribly lacklustre performance against the Premier League champions. Petr Cech has asked for supporters to give Benitez their backing, but his pleas are fooling no one.
The picture of unhappy players, disillusioned supporters and knives being sharpened by the media is the work of one man, and one man alone: Abramovich.
The Russian billionaire acts like a tyrant, and I do not think he cares what anybody else thinks, especially the supporters and the media.
The way in which Chelsea dismissed Di Matteo at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning and replaced him with a man who publicly insulted the club's supporters in 2007 and has shown a complete lack of regard for its staff and supporters.
Furthermore, the whole Clattenburg situation—including announcing they do not need to issue an apology to the man they accused of racism, despite not even having the common sense to launch an extensive internal inquiry, or to at least obtain some physical evidence—just illustrates how classless Chelsea’s hierarchy has become.
In a classic Roman Emperor Nero storyline, the Russian owner is ruling unopposed as he drags the club through complete turmoil.
It is not just the media who are voicing their concern for Chelsea’s current situation; supporters are now wading in, too. Social networking sites, radio phone-ins and forums are beginning to detail the division between the supporters and the club.
My previous blog about the farce surrounding the club’s managerial merry-go-round had Chelsea fans replying in numbers and, whilst many posters were extremely protective over the club’s image, others voiced some very real concerns.
This week’s goings-on at Stamford Bridge have not just caused a split between the club and the supporters, but also between the supporters themselves.
That type of situation only tends to have one outcome: Implosion.
Abramovich’s reign of terror cannot continue, and he needs to reach out to stop the supporters from fully turning against him. Some fans will still bang the “look how many trophies we have won under him” drum, but when has morale been so low at the club?
It is time for Chelsea to take some evasive action to improve their damaged reputation.