What Now?

      Even as Frank Lampard scurried to retrive the ball from the net, seconds after nonchalantly burying a penalty kick in stoppage time, everybody knew it was over. There wouldn’t be any magic like the previous year against Barcelona. Ronaldinho, Messi, and that pest Eto’o were going through to the final eight of the Champions League. Almost immediately, the calls were coming in. What’s happened to Damien Duff? Drogba and Crespo don’t cut it as top notch strikers. Bring in Adriano, bring in Van Nistlerooy, bring in the London Police Force. We’re never going to win with this Chelsea team.

       For those of you who don’t know who Chelsea FC is, where they play, or what they’re all about, here’s a little background along with some information on how yours truly became the biggest Chelsea fan in the United States. Chelsea FC, or “the Blues”, play out of fashionable London, about a mile away from my old flat in South Kensington. The stadium, Stamford Bridge, is located on Fulham Road and has played home to the team for 100 years now. Though always a proud team with some success (they won England’s domestic cup, the FA Cup in 1970 and 1997, and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1971 and 1998), Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea FC three years ago and has injected money into the building of a Football Dynasty. However, unlike other rich teams, namely Real Madrid, it has never been Chelsea’s policy to sign “fantasy players.” Chelsea has a system, under their prodigiously talented Portugese coach Jose Morinho, into which players must fit into in order to be considered for the honor of wearing the Blue and White. Players must be willing to play on both sides of the ball – offense and defense. Chelsea is tough physical team, composed of hard nosed players like Wiiliam Gallas, Joe Cole and John Terry, who take a beating but keep pushing. Chelsea is a classically English team. They’re more focused on results and trophies than pandering to an aesthetic brand of football. That’s not to say they don’t play an exciting, electric game every time the step on the pitch. They certainly do.

         London newspapers and tabloids, with their specious lies, along with the jealous fans of other clubs, have become tired of Chelsea’s success. They say that Chelsea plays boring football, that they’ll never have success in Europe, that they need new superstar players who can score at amazing rates. But Chelsea has scored the most goals in the Premiership this year. They’re on pace to throttle the league and take the FA Cup home for a rare and glorious Double. Papers rustle with rumor, only to be dissipated by the level headedness of Chelsea’s manager and players.With one Premiership title under their belts and another on the way this season, most would like to see the Blues combust. And now, after Chelsea’s uneventful loss in the Champions league Tuesday night, the media sharks smell blood.

          So what’s next? Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea’s most heated rival, come to Stamford Bridge this Saturday. And why don’t I feel bad at all that my Blues are ousted from the Champions League? Why doesn’t it matter that the tabloids are drawing up blueprints for Chelsea’s demise? Because in a few years, this team will be the best football team on the planet. I’m sure of it. Chelsea has the best coach, the most spirited players, a heavy dose of Englishness, and the most underrated fan base in football. Fans are adapting to the success and realizing that it might take some time, maybe years, to fully realize the vision of Abramovich and Morinho.

       How does a team build a dynasty? When a team is new to success, who benefits and who loses? Will Chelsea ever, in fact, break through the hype and emerge as the top team in Europe? Those questions will most likely be answered along the way. In the meantime, with the FA cup tie against Newcastle on the horizon and a battle with Spurs on the morrow, there’s plenty of great football to pass the time.  



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