PAT NEVIN: POPULARITY STAKES
Former Chelsea winger turned media man Pat Nevin has been casting his eye over events this week, and would rather focus on the excellent football the side is presently playing than off-field distractions...
Another testing week has passed for the club, and that is before you even think about the football. Ashley Cole became embroiled in a Twitter commotion, which he quickly sent out an apology for and of course there was the fallout from the case against John Terry rumbling on.
I think we have heard plenty about the case against the captain without going into detail here. As it isn't often stated however, it is worth remembering that while being found guilty by the FA and heavily punished, he still claims to be not guilty, was found not guilty by a court of law and it was stressed by the FA that even within their harsh condemnation they in no way thought he was or is a racist.
Whatever your position, one thing is crystal clear from the midst of the disagreement and confusion, and that is that Chelsea are not particularly liked by many fans of other Premier League clubs right now, so nothing new there then I guess.
Being successful and being disliked go hand in hand in English football. Leeds United were abhorred in their heyday and Liverpool (pictured below) were not greatly loved during the 70s and 80s outside their own following while Manchester United similarly went through a phase of being only grudgingly accepted as a great side during their most successful time. Man City will also have to start getting used to it as well, particularly as they will always be hit by the comment: 'You only bought your success.' Have a look at the others who have been hugely successful however and you will find that they too spent more than the vast majority of the rest, even if the sums are much higher now.
It is not a peculiarly English attitude; apart from Celtic and Rangers supporters in Scotland you will be hard pushed to find many fans who give them credit for their flying the flag for the country on the biggest stages over the years. It is simply a cultural attitude and there is little or no point in complaining about it. For all the failings of these individual clubs while being successful, in short would you rather your team was patronisingly loved while losing or passionately disliked while collecting a barrel load of trophies?
So while the media storm blew around Stamford Bridge and the manager had to deal with it continually, somehow the superb start to the season carried on regardless. Maybe it is too much to hope that Chelsea will be admired for the current style in the short term, but maybe if there are more and more performances of skill, attacking and attractive football with plenty of goals and chances being created then eventually there will be a little more acknowledgement as the season progresses.
I was at the Newcastle v Manchester United game on Sunday after closely studying City on Saturday and it would seem that at last, the top teams are now all slipping rather effortlessly into gear and what is more they are doing that with a certain élan. Arsenal can be added to that group which means that the top clubs are now all worth watching even for the neutral, if there is such a thing in the modern football world.
Be it Cazorla, David Silva, Wayne Rooney or our own Eden Hazard you get the feeling someone every week will do something totally exceptional. Last month Oscar scored one of the great goals of the modern era but equally Tom Cleverey pitched in with a world-class strike at Newcastle at the weekend.
I mention all this because even though I openly want Chelsea to win every game they play I am quick to applaud and celebrate greatness anywhere else in the game. I wish that was a more prevalent attitude because after all even though it is tribal at times surely at heart the beautiful game is an entertainment to be enjoyed and its genius moments celebrated.
Sadly the great goals will always get less coverage than the negative stories, but of course they sell more newspapers and stir up more heated debate. Without ever wanting to brush misdemeanours under the carpet, I actually applaud the FA for taking the subject of racism as seriously as it does, I just wish someone had come up to me at some point in the past few weeks to talk about the moments of greatness as well as those events that are less endearing.
Last week's question was to tell me the name of a player who had starred for both Chelsea and MK Dons. The clue was in the article in that I had mentioned Tore Andre Flo during the piece. Other names were suggested but the likes of Vinnie Jones and Dennis Wise were of course Wimbledon players, the former incarnation of the club, so they didn't count. There are also a few other suggestions mentioning non-first team ex-Chelsea players such as Carl Magnay, Filipe Morais, Stuart Searle, Joe Tillen and Danny Woodards.
So from a huge number of correct entries the randomly chosen winner was Akash Dhargalkar from Goa, India. Congratulations and the prize will be on its way very soon.
This week to stand a chance of being the lucky winner of a Juan Mata-signed Champions League Review DVD, could you tell me the name of any player who has played and scored for the first teams of both Chelsea and Newcastle United? Answers as ever to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the international break this week and good luck to your chosen country unless of course you are from Wales on Friday and from Belgium next week! (Even I am openly a little biased when it comes to my own country, Scotland!)