Tag Archives: Chelsea

Chelsea give us the PowerPoint presentation on how to win at The Football Game.

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Chelsea 2 – 1 Wigan

English Premier League, Stamford Bridge, February 28th 2009

The corporate side of sport – and especially football – is a strange thing. On the one hand you feel like a right wanker sitting in some plush little room enjoying the finer things for free whilst all the punters around you eat reallycrap, really expensive pies. On the other hand, if you’re going to put up with nitwit footballers who get paid twice your yearly salary every week, you might as well do it in some style.

For those of you so far not lucky enough to have experienced the joys of watching sport from the corporate box, allow me to run through the absurdness of it for you.

You’re ushered into a cosy little dining room, being served your choice of champagne/wine/lager by a waiter, before being sat down to enjoy a nice piece of meat, salad (and I mean cous-cous with read and green pepper type salads, not rubbishy coleslaw or something) and a quiche-type thing. Then you speculate on which member of the Chelsea squad is gay and/or cheating on his WAG and why their marriage is a convenience thing. Then, a few minutes before kick-off you pop out of a little door onto your private section to watch the game from the smugness of the corporatate box whilst everyone around you who actually had to fork out serious cash for the privilege of watching overpaid footballers prance around ignore your annoying presence but not so totally that you don’t feel like a bit of a knob for being there.

In the end, Chelsea got away with the three points, despite Wigan looking worth a draw, and thanks mostly to Frank Lampard whose late, late header looped over Chris Kirkland who, despite being one of the tallest goalkeepers in the league, didn’t have the length of arm to keep it out.

But from the corporate box, all you can see is the corporate-ness of football. Now, in the end, corporate cash is what makes these sporting spectacles possible, and what makes them bigger and bigger every year. And let’s not forget it was corporate cash that got me my seat in that plush corporate suite. So I didn’t hate it, but there’s a limit.

Chelsea seem to be what I’m going to call a PowerPoint Football Club. They play like a PowerPoint presentation. They feel like a PowerPoint presentation. Linear; predictable; stifling. You can just imagine the bigwigs at Samsung, Etihad and Adidas discussing how Chelsea’s style of play should be like an ad campaign: creating synergies with their brand values and have a halo effect on their brand, therefore generating incremental sales, and all that rubbish. And I think the fans know it. They don’t really cheer at Chelsea. That would be off-brand. Instead they evaluate and measure effectiveness. In a word it’s boring. But at least those on the Shed End got a maximum return for their investment in tickets.

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Chelsea remain in purgatory; Gourcuff gives glimpses of heaven

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Bordeaux 1-1 Chelsea FC

Champions League, November 26th, 2008

It looks like Chelsea have to wait in football purgatory for another two weeks. Well, technically one more week, which is when Arsenal come to visit Stamford Bridge. But in the Champions League context, their match against CFR Cluj in a fortnight will decide if they get to go to football heaven or are consigned to football hell.

Hell, in the case of the club, is the UEFA Cup, the equivalent of bad sex in football terms: it’s still sex, but it’s ultimately drawn-out, overblown and boring. And it’s now a real possibility should they slip against the Romanians and Bordeaux somehow sack Rome. Hell for Luiz Felipe Scolari is Brazil, for that’s where he intends to go should his team fail to qualify for the last 16 and he presumably resigns.

In his article yesterday, Martin Samuel argued that Chelsea are potentially the next crisis club, especially if they were to suffer a reverse in France. They didn’t, but the image of the cartoon black cloud hovering over Stamford Bridge conjured by Samuel has yet to dissipate.

This contest between two former World Cup winners failed to produce any stand-out quality, except the occasionally dazzling Yoann Gourcuff who’s spin and left-shoot shot in the 26th minute was world class. In fact, it was Gourcuff who consistently made Bordeaux look interesting. Indeed, it was the playmaker’s dogged pursuit of Joe Cole that won his team a corner and, for the resultant kick, their equalizing goal through Alou Diarra. Expect English clubs to be sniffing around in the summer.

But for all Chelsea’s high-profile players, they made hard work of this and it told in the end. They held an industrious, and at times very clever, Bordeaux team at bay in the same way an older brother holds his younger sibling just far away enough to not get hit. But eventually they tired of it, they lost concetration, and they lost an important two points.

Nicolas Anelka gave Chelsea a lead that he could not have timed better if he himself has scripted it. The Frenchman chose the 60th minute to latch onto Frank Lampard’s pass and coolly slide the ball home, just as Didier Drogba was summoned to the touch line. With questions over the Ivorian’s future at the club looming, Anelka made his case for frontline hegemony, and forced his moody team-mate into a somewhat awkward celebration with his equally grumpy manager.

But eventually Bordeaux’s doggedness tired Chelsea out. With yellow cards mounting up for Ashley Cole, John Terry and Frank Lampard, the French side won a corner that was poorly marked, especially by Terry, from which Diarra capitalised. And the lack of discipline didn’t end there, as there was still time for Frank Lampard to throw a needless challenge at Gourcuff and earn a second yellow card. All of a sudden the home fixture against Cluj feels uncomfortable.

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