Envy Chelsea?

Posted by Lacey on May 15, 2005, 03:29:59 AM

During  a regular conversation with my best mate (an Arsenal fan) about football, discussing the highs and lows of the season, we got onto the subject of Chelsea. Neither of us hold them in high esteem (dislike the manager, dislike the players, dislike the demeanour or 'style' of the club itself) then my friend said something very interesting, he said "like them or not, it's hard not to envy Chelsea, envy their vast resources" which sparked a series of thoughts that I'd like to share with you.

Football at its very simplest is often referred to as "just a game". I feel this is the wrong foundation for looking at the game. Football at its simplest, in my opinion, is art. The beautiful compilation of ninety minutes of work by 22 artists, the compilation of 90 mins of raw passion, pure pride, sweat, blood, skill, magic, class, finesse, bravery, fight, heart, adulation, jubilation & heartbreak, immense highs and lows of unmatched proportion all coming together to form a magical moment in time .... the beautiful game.

Such is the beauty of the game, that in one instant, in one moment, any and everything can change. One glimpse of class, one touch of magic, one moment of brilliance can send a fan on a rollercoaster of emotion, it can change lives, such is the love of and commitment to the game that still exists today. When football began it was a working class mans game, a manner of escape for those who had to work so hard just to struggle, it was a ninety minute break from the harsh realities of life. It was from these grass roots that passion was born.

The financially better off played as well, but never really had the same feel, the same attachment to the game, the same love. Why? Because they didn't need football. The working class NEEDED football, and football them. At the end of it all, when all had been said and done in those days, the working class man only ever truly owned one thing, his pride, and every Saturday he put that on the line. The rich played football, the poor lived and died for it.

Money can buy you many things in football, it can buy you a team of superstars, it can buy you a squad so jam-packed with quality that over the course of a 38 game season the only logical conclusion is a title win. Out of the things that make a good side great, the things that make the difference between football the game and football the art, money can buy you most. But of the two key elements, money can only buy you one. Quality and passion - these are the keys, one unlocks an opposition and the other unlocks a sport.

When speaking about the passion of the working class man, and how the rich men never fully understood it, this is something that is still very plain and clear to see today. Money will not buy passion, in fact if anything it may remove it. This year Chelsea fans saw their team pick up their first title in over 50 years and yet such was the noise when they lifted it that I thought we were hearing just a regular home win for Liverpool. I dont mean to use the term "they bought the title" but for Chelsea fans winning the title was no big thing, there is no history there, no heartbreak endured ... no infuriating failures, no hair pulling lack of understanding.

They came they spent they won. I almost found it to be an anti climax, and if ever there was a more telling show of this than our semi final over both legs I'd like to see it. In the first leg at Stamford Bridge the facts were they were cruising to the title and playing a team that many reckoned were amazingly lucky to be there yet, there was so little noise, so little drive, it was eery. Second leg, they've just won the league and must win here to go through to the final for a stunning treble. Ok now its drive time ... and yet what happened in Anfield was a lesson in supporting. Chelsea didnt know what had hit them, the fans were shocked that a team who had done so poorly in the league could still get up and cheer like they were watching unbeatable kings. Their players on the pitch had spirits crushed, they had played brilliant all year, won the title and yet never before had they heard passion like this ... love like this.

This year Chelsea have played wonderfully consistently, and for that one must tip your hat to them, they have won the Premiership. However they are still the "aristocrats", still the rich folk who play and sometimes win but never truly understand all the fuss, never truly invest in the game emotionally. Pride and passion play a lesser part of football than they did back in the day, foreigners fill up many sides, but for the truly great clubs, the fans remain the same, they know what it is all about.

Rafa may be an excellent tactician, but if you want to know why it has gone wrong for Liverpool away from home this year, it is because away from home Rafa is missing his key managerial staff, his motivators, the really great, the legendary sides have all had a mixture of high quality and fantastic support. Unfortunately this year high quality has not been in abundance in Liverpool, however great support has, heart has, passion and drive have. Such is the magical, romantic nature of football that passion and heart will always rise above plain quality. At home we have 40,000 people to create that magic, away we dont...simple.

Bill Shankly once said that He was made for Liverpool and Liverpool for him, but it runs deeper than that, deeper perhaps than what even Bill realized. If you look at the qualities necessary for great sides and then one looks at Liverpool you could almost begin to believe the notion that in fact the city of Liverpool was made for football, and football made for the city. Whether or not we all realize it, when we look back to our past glories and say because of those titles we will see great times again we are in fact right. It IS because of our glories past that we know they will come again.

Why is this??!!! Quality is the base requirement for any team to be in the top group fighting it out for the title, however it is the heart, drive, desire, love, passion, charisma, presence of the great fans, the supporters, the followers that lift a team above all else. A team can win leagues purely on quality, however only with the magic mixed in can a team ever become legendary, only then can a team be smiled upon by history as glorious. It is our life span as champions over many decades that tells us our time will come again, because it proves we have the magic, the passion, quality comes and goes but love and heart live forever. It is now just a matter of when the quality comes again.

It is safe to assume that a group brought up in glory becomes used to it. Maybe we took it for granted and then let it slip away, let the magic burn out. But now this group of fans has becoming impatient. 15 years and no stand out 'glory' and this year that impatience spilled over, and the magic returned in the stands. A bunch of (granted a few notable exceptions) average players have managed to make it to the final of the most illustrious club competition in the world. Why? Because of the people in the stands.

Rafael Benitez is a wonderful manager and make no mistake without his hard work and genius it is likely that we would not be here, however he is and we are. He looks like a man capable of bringing the quality necessary to Anfield, and with it the glory, the real glory. Forget the few good years under Houllier, even under Dalglish as the flame was beginning to flicker. Liverpool is ready for a new era and granted Rafa brings the right men, it is coming. 15 years without a title has re-lit the flame, re-sparked the hunger. We dont just want it now, we crave it again. When the quality has returned, that is when you will see. The final run in for the title, that is when the magic will show again, football is a romantic game for passionate people.

Envy Chelsea? You must be kidding ... This is Anfield.

© Il Capretto 2005

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