Monday, March 23, 2015

Chelsea will be 2015 champions (Musings on We-They mentality)

Updated: 26 March 2015

It's all but certain that Chelsea FC will win the 2015 Premier League title. 
As of 26 March, the arithmetic is as follows:
  • CFC has 67 points, its closest rival Manchester City has 61. With 8 games left , if Man City win all, their maximum total is 85. Let's assume Man City wins all its remaining games. 
  • With this scenario, to win outright, Chelsea needs 86 points or 19 more than now. Because Chelsea has a game in hand, 9 remaining games gives it a possible 27 more points, a maximum 94 points. 
  • Many combinations and permutations, but in its next 9 games, Chelsea would need to lose 10 points along the way to finish with 84, 1 less than Man City. 
  • That's scenarios like 3 losses and 1 draw (-11pts), 2 losses and 2 draws (-10), etc.
  • Highly unlikely. And Chelsea can do even worse and still win if opponents do not win all remaining games.
So given Chelsea is the all-but-certain Premier League champion, you would think we fans would be cautious but joyous over the winning season the club has had. Perhaps we'd even be generous to the 'usual suspects' that typically cause much aggro or at least ignore their nonsense. Focus on bragging and BIRGing (Basking In Reflected Glory) over our skilled players, genius manager.

But you'd be wrong. Instead, what we often focus on these days is moaning about the usual suspects, namely the media and PL referees who apparently conspire against Chelsea and always have. And it's not just one or two plotters, no - it's the mother-of-all conspiracies. 

Fact is, many Chelsea fans (not all) are focused on We-They aspects of Premier League football. Their mindset is closely linked to tribalism. In brief, sports fans are tribal when they
  • Hate all clubs but theirs, including other clubs' players and fans, and take every opportunity to abuse them all verbally, including on Twitter. The abuse goes well beyond what could be defended as good-natured banter. Some of it is pretty vile.
  • Love the club to the point where their manager and players can do no wrong. 
  • Identify with the club as much or more than with their family, friends, country.
Indeed, to Chelsea fans, our manager José Mourinho, the self-described Special One, is more infallible than Pope Francis, who has all but renounced papal infallibility. José is an incredibly talented and successful manager, but infallible, not so much.

You can likely guess that I'm not tribal, wasn't brought up that way. As a footie fan, this makes me an outlier. This blog is a quickie, written to get something off my chest:

  • Get over it, Chelsea fans. We-they mentality is not healthy, not productive, not something you want to promote to your children.
Moreover, if your kids say they're being unfairly trashed by others (THEY), the best response is to ask who THEY are, then dissect their arguments for the crap it invariably is. You cannot control how others think. You can control your response.

CFC's talented and successful manager 
José Mourinho specializes at fostering We-They. Not one of his better traits. Suspect it's a tactic to distract from club weaknesses, take pressure off players, and yes, off José too.

As a Chelsea fan, I cannot but help notice how so many fans are consumed by how hard done by Chelsea FC is. Sample tweet:

  • Top of League from day one, no losses in the CL, yet they dig out things to come down on us for, it's like an agenda against us.
Apparently, the entire football world is against Chelsea, certainly the FA, referees, and UK media. That's a whole lot of dudes and an occasional dudette.

Who they are is the UK sports media, many of whom are ex-Liverpool and ex-Man United players. Examples:

As well as many other football reporters seem hard on Chelsea versus other clubs. Their qualifications are suspect (meaning they have none), but nonetheless they have big megaphones.

One thing that seems to give credence to Chelsea fans' claims of different treatment is how media pundits characterized CFC's Diego Costa stamps as if he were evil incarnate, yet give a pass to Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel. Gerrard apologized, so he gets off scott free?

Indeed, Stevie is universally lauded for the apology. Good that he took responsibility. But if you examine Gerrard's 'apology', he's sorry for letting club and fans down but does not come clean.

I've let down my teammates and the supporters. I take full responsibility. I need to accept it, the decision was right.
I've been in the game long enough when you do something like that. I don't know what caused it, probably just a reaction to the initial tackle. 
I shouldn't say more about it really, I've just come out here to apologise to the dressing-room and supporters.
What Gerrard could have said, more honestly:
'I was upset at not starting, keyed up, aggressive, and disappointed in our performance. After a normal tackle, my temper flashed and I struck out, stamped on him deliberately. Sorry, no excuse. Such nasty violence, which could have seriously injured him, is unforgivable.'
Ex-LFC player Jamie Carragher's take:
Steven is an emotional player. He has taken teams into unbelievable moments and when he plays from the heart, he does special things. 
But that can also affect him negatively. He has picked up four red cards in matches against Everton and Manchester United. And there is no doubt the emotion and frustration coming into the game has contributed.  
There is no doubt it was a red card. You cannot do that on a football pitch.
Not said was that Gerrard's stamp was clearly deliberate, unlike others that could be seen as accidental. But keep in mind that Carragher was a teammate of Gerrard's  for about 15 years. They likely remain friends.

From my CFC fan timeline I thought Carra totally trashed Costa. But did he? 
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher reminds fans Luis Suarez used to stamp like Chelsea's Diego Costa

Jamie Carragher did his bit to calm Liverpool fans irate at Diego Costa's stamps on their players by pointing at that their former hero Luis Suarez was a master of the accidentally-on-purpose stamp on an opponent.
Chelsea striker Costa brought his foot down on the leg of Reds midfielder Emre Can in the first-half, then did the same thing with Martin Skrtel's foot in the second half.
But former Anfield stalwart Carragher had a long enough memory to not be too offended by the former Atletico Madrid man's shenanigans. He pointed fellow Liverpool supporters in the direction of his former team-mate Suarez. 
Carragher felt Costa's stamps were deliberate, but said they were no worse than similar tactics that Suarez used to get away with for the Reds. 
Writing on Twitter during last night's Capital One Cup semi-final clash between the sides, Carragher said: "Naughty from Costa but reds be honest Suarez used to do that!"
Chelsea fans fret over what commentators like Carra say. They tend to hear selectively, emphasizing anti-Chelsea bits and ignoring more balanced comments. This type of headline fuels the rage:

1. If footie media pundits unfairly trash Chelsea and give other club's players a pass, why should we care? We cannot control such nonsense, only what we think about it. Which is more or less, 'Idiots will be idiots'. Pity them.

2. Cultivating a We-They mentality is not something to foster in young Chelsea fans. Fact is, we are all in it together, fans of the beautiful game. Better strategy is 'Never complain, never explain.'

Siege mentality is, at its core, unhealthy. Instead of saying,

  •  Look, THEY are all against us.
I prefer,
  • Assess what THEY say, pro and con. Who are THEY? What are their biases? Do their argument have merit? Do they treat us the same as others? Why care what idiots say? 

Think about it. 
Should we teach children (young Chelsea fans) to think We-They? To worry about what others say, others whose thoughts and agendas we have no control over? To complain and whine about what others say and do? To believe all are against us? It's almost like Chelsea needs to create conspiracies.

Do we really want to promote a Chelsea tribe grounded in paranoia of others out to get us, and whining as a first response to every slight, real or perceived? 

Because that's what young Chelsea fans are learning. And that seems to be Jose's pathetic strategy, but I don't buy it for a minute. Granted, it may be his way of focusing the news on all those big bad boys out to get Chelsea, instead of discussing our player AND José's failures and shortcomings. Still no excuse. 

Such antics have outlived their usefulness, have become same old, same old, boring. You know you've gone to the well too many times when even neutral Canadian commentators ridicule the tactic. Sort of how some fans groan that ex-Chelsea defender David Luiz (still a favorite player of mine - passionate guy) sticking out his tongue has outlived cuteness. 

As Walt Kelly said many years ago, via his Pogo comic strip:

Time to grow up and present an admirable version of what being a fan, citizen, and human is. It's not We-They. Never was.

As always, comments are welcome. 


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