Chelsea and the media – oh the hypocrisy!

The backend of last season saw Chelsea wrapping up the English Premier League at a canter, bringing the trophy back to Stamford Bridge for the first time in five years.

Though such an achievement would naturally spark envy from fans of other title challenging clubs, one would hope that ultimately the feeling across the English footballing community would be one of reverence for their new champions, and an excitement that the nation may be on the verge of producing a new European superpower.

 

As refreshingly reasonable as such an attitude may be, it was clearly too much to ask for the English media. In a society where negativity flows and praise is always so begrudging, the back pages of April and May filled up with column inches decrying The Blues as “boring” and somehow undeserving of their awaiting trophy.

Whilst more rationally-inclined pundits have pointed to the fact that Chelsea were the second highest scorers in the league and have made the outrageous claim that switching to a more defensive set up when you are leading a tight game with 20 minutes to go is not a war crime, the full extent of the hypocrisy of the Chelsea bashing has not yet been appreciated.

Indeed, it is symptomatic of a self-contradictory mentality where common-sense club management and success is at once demanded and derided—to the eventual detriment of the English game.

The “boring” good sense to which Chelsea have been criticised for runs deeper than simply employing negative tactics for pivotal games. The whole squad has been assembled to fit a certain style, one which emphasises reliability and robustness over flair and individuality.

Exceptionally talented players such as Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne have been sacrificed to support the overall system and at one point even the league’s best player Eden Hazard was touted to leave due to his overly individualistic style.

The arrival of industrious winger Willian and short-term return of Didier Drogba in an almost exclusive front-post-defending role has further cemented the squad around this winning philosophy.

So if building a team around a balanced strategy which can deliver success is what makes Chelsea so dull, then criticisms from fans of title-rivalling clubs are rich to say the least. Take Arsenal fans, who were most vocal in their “boring boring Chelsea” chants last season, for instance.

These same fans have been crying out for Arsene Wenger to make some defensive signings and were waxing poetic about the “understated genius” of Frances Coquelin, a player about as exciting as muesli but with whom Arsenal only lost twice last season.

Similarly, the Manchester United fans who were bitter after their defeat by Chelsea in April even though they had the majority of the possession (because apparently that never happens in football) also complain when their squad contains the same amount of senior number 10s as centre backs and therefore lose 5-3 to Leicester in a game that they would almost certainly have preferred to win 1-0.

 

In short, with very few exceptions, highly successful teams play a pragmatic style based on a solid foundation and only allowing a few select players too much creative freedom. Jose Mourinho’s success across the continent is testament to the universality of this fact.

Yes, football fans have every right to deplore this fact and try to push for winning trophies with only exciting football, but they cannot however moan when another team is successful through a pragmatic strategy and then complain about their own team employing an overly idealistic strategy.

The hypocrisy of English fans in their scorn pouring of Chelsea’s successes is not just limited to jealous fans of other title contenders who lament the lack of coherency to which their club is managed. Any fan who is complaining about the lack of presence of English sides in the latter stages of European competitions dare not have joined the “boring brigade” against Mourinho’s men.

Tactical naivety has been one of the biggest causes of this recent slump, most notably demonstrated by Arsenal’s gung-ho style against Monaco, which led to the only time in recorded history where Dimitar Berbatov scored on the counter.

Though Chelsea did not make it much further in Europe last season, they certainly have the tactical nous to navigate tricky two legged ties where keeping a clean sheet at home is of highest importance and therefore offer England’s greatest hope by a country mile of Champions League success.

Chelsea should in fact be seen as an example for other English clubs to follow. Whereas the Manchester clubs have been spending silly money creating top heavy teams packed with big names, many of whom often fail to deliver, Chelsea are gradually creating a side who although have star power, are ultimately greater than the sum of their parts and operate beyond their relative spend.

If that is seen as boring by English fans then they ought to be embarrassed.

Author Details

Oli Baise

Aspiring football writer since realising that no one will pay me to play Football Manager. Fan of Man Utd and Fulham. Also likes philosophy, dogs and toilet humour. Feel free to email me on any of these topics at oliverbaise1@gmail.com. Website: http://www.csensefootball.blogspot.co.uk/.

6 thoughts on “Chelsea and the media – oh the hypocrisy!

  1. Have to say I disagree. Chelsea have spent just as much as anyone else over the past 5 years, if not more, their atrocious youth policy seems to keep their net-spend afloat but it’s a meaningless figure when teams are paying €61M for David Luiz.

    If I had the choice between playing the football Chelsea play and winning the league or playing attractive football week in, week out but finishing 2nd, I’d take the latter. You can’t just brush of claims of boring by saying fans of other clubs want them to sign players that are good defensively. Fans of those clubs want them to have a strong defence that is capable of supporting their offensive play, not the other way around (Chelsea).

    From my experience the media’s portrayal of Chelsea is positive in the most part. The broadcasters absolutely love Mourinho and pass off his multitude of unnecessary, often disrespectful comments as ‘personality’, something they don’t do with other managers.

    You talk of tactical naivety costing other teams, but it cost Chelsea last season too. The game against PSG was blindness from Mourinho, accompanied by a number of draws against significantly weaker teams as a result of the conservative approach. When you look at the quality of players Chelsea have going forward (Hazard, Fabregas, Costa, etc.) I think it’s reasonable to claim that the football Chelsea play represents Mourinho’s failings as a manager and their failings as a team.

  2. Hypocrisy? The biggest hypocrite is Mourinho. After accusing other teams of “parking the bus” in the past (guess who came up with that term?) & even suggesting West Ham play “19th century” football just recently, he does exactly those things when playing against other top 4/5 clubs.

    There is no right way or wrong way in football, but Mourinho’s approach in big games is certainly negative. With the likes of Costa, Hazard, Fabregas, Willian & others, they have the potential to blow teams apart, but it’s always the same against big teams. Extra centre back with Matic in central midfield. Full backs not even going beyond half line, etc.

    Worst of all, 90% pundits & media jumping on his nuts claiming he’s the second coming of Christ, calling him a “tactical genius”. Like mentioned above, where was the tactical genius against PSG? You can’t disagree with Pellegrini when after City’s home match against them, he said that playing against Chelsea was the same as playing against Stoke.

  3. I am sorry but your comment embodies the hypocrisy mentioned in the post. For starters aside from the fact that chelsea scored much more goals than arsenal (which is quite ironic given the fact that you claim they only play defensive) it is also important to remember that some of the most exciting games last season involved Chelsea (Everton vs Chelsea) and also some of the most fluid ball movement too. Did Chelsea defend in some games? Yes they did. Did Arsenal defend in some games ? Yes they did, the so called stand out performance by Arsenal last season (beating city at Etihad) was essentially parking the bus and operating on the counter. There were numerous games in which Arsenal scraped through against lower opposition and Man U spent the entire first half of the season doing just that (Southampton vs Man U a notable example). That’s the hypocrisy i do not get, applauding Arsenal parking the bus at City then blaming Chelsea for doing the same. Chelsea last season played every style of football (attacking, defending and even in some games possession) and that is why they are worthy champions.

  4. perfectly sport on, if football is first of all entertainment, then chelsea (mourinho) is in the wrong business. when city won the PL it was deserve, it was breathtaking (am a united fan) so too when united won the PL. the CL before last, they went to atletico Madrid and defended ended up loosing the tie, same like PSG.

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