Saturday, February 23, 2013

Time for a Chelsea fan intervention? (We have met the enemy & he is us)

Updated 24 Feb. 2013

In health care an intervention is a process to help people with addictions like alcoholism, drug abuse, and eating disorders to change before things get even worse. Addicts are typically in denial or unwilling to seek treatment. An intervention by friends, family, and sometimes professionals, is designed to make them see the negative effects their destructive behavior has on themselves and others.

Addicts usually surround themselves with like-minded individuals who mirror themselves. Living in a bubble, they believe their own actions are acceptable. Anyone who challenges them is shunned and even attacked, similar to how dysfunctional families exclude family members who dare to voice never-mentioned realities.

This blog is written as food for thought. I could be wrong about just about everything below. That's okay. The ideas are only what I think, given my background and biases.

Chelsea fans are also addicted, and not just to football and the team. Since 
the Russia plutocrat Roman Abramovich bought the team in 2003, they've become addicted to winning. Sadly, like many druggies, if they don't get their regular 'fix', they turn nasty. 

Stamford Bridge - The loyalty of #CFC fans cannot be questioned. Chelsea's history shows that veteran fans lived through tough times in the 1970s and '80s and developed hope in the 1990s as the club gradually improved.  

When Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, he poured mega-
£ into the club and his money achieved results. The club built an impressive record in the Premier League:
  • 2003-4: Runners-up
  • 2004-5: Champions
  • 2005-6: Champions
  • 2006-7:Runners-up
  • 2007-8:Runners-up
  • 2008-9: Third
  • 2009-10: Champions
  • 2010-11: Runners-up
  • 2011-12: Sixth 
Despite the disappointing 2012 PL finish, which would have dropped them from the all-important Champions League in 2012-13, in 2012 Chelsea won the biggest prize of all, the Champions League: 
Fans were blessed to watch a fabulous club win the PL and multiple trophies. Winning became a habit. Being a Chelsea fan allowed you to swagger and trash-talk other clubs and their fans such as London rivals Arsenal and other successful clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool.

For the past 9-10 years Chelsea fans have had it good. Glorious days to be fans and sing 'Blue is the Colour' (a truly crappy song) 
and 'We Know What We Are, Champions of Europe' (a truly arrogant chant). 

The 6th place Premier League finish in 2011-12 WAS and WAS NOT a harbinger of 2012-13. Chelsea is currently in 3rd place, with a chance for second. Not shabby by any means.

But they bombed out of the Champions League in the group stage, the first reigning champions to do so. This despite scoring more goals than any other team in the competition. Fact is in most years Chelsea played well enough to go through but not this year.

Playing in the Europa League (not Champions League) is seen as a disaster by Chelsea fans. Granted the CL has all the status, is worth mega-bucks in television revenue, and attracts big name players to the club. Yet many fine teams play in Europa League. It's hardly tragic, despite fan reaction.

I won't dwell on other league trophies as they're 'small potatoes' compared to CL. But Chelsea, reigning CL champions, still has chance to win FA Cup.

Chelsea has had 3 managers since June 2011 when Andre Villas-Boas was appointed. He was fired in March 2012. Then came Roberto di Matteo, a beloved Chelsea player, who led them to the CL title but was cruelly fired in November 2012.

Next, Roman hired the hated former Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, as interim Chelsea manager. As interim manager, Roman condemned Rafa to eunich status.

The instability of Chelsea managers is solely attributed to the Russian owner. Seems Roman is both a savior and a saboteur of club fortunes. So many managers in so short a time, 10 since he bought club in 2003, cannot be good policy in the long term, despite Chelsea's success to-date.


To read Chelsea fans on Twitter, you'd think the club was in danger of relegation instead of being in 3rd place. Fans are cynical and critical. Many are downright hateful.

Fernando Torres, transferred from Liverpool for 50 million pounds (not his fault) has not lived up to his Liverpool performance and is now a subject for widespread ridicule and hate among Chelsea fans. See my earlier blog (Jan 2013):

Other PL clubs have MULTIPLE talented strikers, one of whom usually scores, e.g., Van Persie, Rooney, Chicharito, Welbeck for MUFC; Tevez, Dzeko, Aguerro for MCFC. At Chelsea Torres carries the load and for this he's booed by his club's fans.

More than booed, some call Torres a piece of sh*t, a flop, a f*cking c*nt. That's the intellectual level and vocabulary of many Chelsea fans. 

No matter what Torres does, Chelsea fans focus on the transfer fee (not his doing), think he's overpaid and should be sold as fast as possible.

Chelsea fan reaction to the current manager Rafa Benitez is a disgrace. As  Liverpool manager he alienated them but nothing  justifies such hostility.

RafaOut banners, booing him, calling him the Fat Spanish Waiter (FSW), chanting obscenities - all are the norm for Chelsea fans. They feel comfortable ridiculing a person for being fat, for being Spanish, and for being a waiter.

Are such fans great models for young Chelsea fans? Great models for tolerance? No. Chelsea fans don't realize that their behavior has far-reaching implications for what it promotes. For example, they'd be at home as bullies of chubby kids.

Chelsea fans now focus on who they don't like on the team (Rafa, Torres and Israeli Yossi Benayoun), interestingly, all former Liverpool employees.

If you suffer from CHS, you point out Torres's mistakes more often than you applaud his good plays.

No matter what Torres does, you think he's overpaid and should be sold immediately.

No matter how many completed passes, assists or goals Torres makes, you only talk about him after he makes a bad play. He's the designated scapegoat for all Chelsea's failures. 

If the entire team plays poorly, it's Torres's fault.

Same for Rafa. You call all his tactics and substitutions shite, even if they turn out well. You ridicule everything he says and does. So far as you're concerned, he's the devil incarnate.

The beautiful game is supposed to be fun. How does constant complaining and criticizing every play make watching the game and being a fan more enjoyable?

Why does Torres's transfer fee and salary bother you so much? Sure, he's overpaid (as are most PL players), but it isn't his fault that Chelsea paid so much for him.

What he gets paid has nothing to do with how he plays. Put yourself in his position for a moment. Chelsea has been a nightmare for Torres, yet he shows up game in and game out, enduring the boos of his own club's fans. 

It's one thing to take abuse and ridicule on Twitter, where any idiot can tweet and does. Another to take it from print journalists, many of whom are envious wannabee jocks or over-the-hill ex-players. But live and in-person from your club's fans? To me that's over the line.

I'm reminded of a Humphrey Bogart quote on marriage: 

"I wonder if the f*cking you get is worth the f*cking you get." Clearly, for Torres, it's not.
No money can compensate for the constant abuse he takes.
I understand why Chelsea fans behave as they do. Winning is addictive. Soon you begin to think you're better than all the rest. It's exhilarating. You're special, others are sh*t.  You deserve to win, not just now, but forever, as illogical as that may be.

But booing a Chelsea player, ridiculing him - and spewing hatred across the twittersphere - is destructive with negative consequences for the entire team. Same with booing and ridiculing Chelsea's manager, Rafa. Totally non-productive. Accuse him of poor tactics and substitutions - fine. Fans have a right to their opinions no matter how correct or how ill-informed. But why call him a fat prick or fat c*nt? 

Is the sole purpose to make selfish fans feel better by abusing scapegoats? Could be. 

The worst cretins never fail to mention that the transfer fee for Torres was £50 million and love to report how few goals he has compared to others. Boring. We all know he isn't scoring enough but still they drone on with statistics.

Other fans get off on calling Torres names such as effing freckle-faced c*nt, useless twit, girly boy. And when he had longer hair, macho fans would get hot and bothered when he'd fuss with his hair band. Wow! That says more about the 'macho' fans than Torres.

Chelsea fan behavior is a microcosm of how prejudice works throughout the ages. Some individuals crave others to demonize so they can feel good about themselves. They have no milk of human kindness in their veins, little empathy. They're not reflective, thoughtful thinkers. Just haters who feel good when ridiculing others.

And the silence at Stamford Bridge in the last game, Chelsea v Sparta Prague, was truly disheartening. When down a goal or two, don't fans cheer loudly to spur their team on? Everywhere but Stamford Bridge it seems. 

Instead they boo a player when he's working his buns off, trying to score and overcome a 2 year+ nightmare.

Chelsea fans are addicted to winning, haven't a clue how to cope with anything less. Like all addicts, they're blind to the negative effects their destructive behavior has on themselves and others.

As Pogo discovered about the nature of mankind, 

Of course, doing poorly is relatively new and is exacerbated by the recent the glory days. Fans are only now adjusting to doing without their regular fix of winning trophies and the PL.

Will the Chelsea fans described here (not all, but many) ever assess their behavior as destructive, harming the club, undermining players and fellow fans? My guess is no. They're arrogant, certain they are right. How comforting that must be to them and their exclusionary clique of boo-birds. 

Wish they would wake up and smell the coffee. Realize how lucky they are. Enjoy the beautiful game. Know that success and failure come in cycles. Embrace kindness and empathy. See that we are all connected as humans, who have one wild and precious life (Mary Oliver poem, The Summer Day). 

Many losing clubs have long-suffering fans who cheer their players year in and year out. They always hope for better and, when some success occurs, it's cherished all the more. I suspect they're happier than many Chelsea fans.

As for me, I consider Chelsea FC to be simply the best, better than all the rest. I support all the players and the manager du jour, whoever he may be.
I'd like to credit Jason Gregor for the idea for this blog: