When this writer was growing up, only two Chelsea fans were known of. One most definitely still is – as are the following generations of his family – and there’s no reason to think the other party has lost the faith.
Supporters like that are greatly admired. Fans who have seen both sides of the coin. Good and bad days. Unlike, say, the current generation of Chelsea fans who, for a large chunk of the recent past, have been spoilt with success.
Unlike GAA which has a tribal, localised element to it, with soccer, kids, in particular, will gravitate towards the teams that are going well at the time they become attuned to soccer.
Which, in the case of my two nephews for example, was Chelsea. However, the other side of the story is this – there have been of people wounded by the shrapnel which was an occupational hazard during the Roman Abramovic era. The list of managers alone defenestrated during the Russian’s reign would fill several pages of tabloid newspaper.
That said, when Thomas Tuchel was ludicrously shafted by new blues owner Todd Boehly it appeared very little had changed. However, the fact that the American has thus far stood by Graham Potter is actually quite refreshing in the modern football world.
I have no evidence to coroborate the following other than my own observations, but, when a group of players who are obviously supremely talented continually fail, it has to boil down to mentality.
For example, if you look at the Dublin football team that continually came up short in their quest for an All Ireland under managers like Tommy Carr, Tommy Lyons and Paul Caffrey, how did large numbers of the players eventually get over the line in the care of Pat Gilroy? Or, even more significantly, go on to transform and revolutionise Gaelic football?
The following is only my opinion, but here goes – attitude. A ship is only as good as its captain. An example, in what I think was 2007, Dublin beat Meath after a replay. At some point towards the end of the end of the rematch, Mossy Quinn kicked a point for the the Dubs before goadingly screaming straight into the face of Meath defender Niall McKeigue.
How Nialler didn’t level him with a belt in the snot I’ll never know. But that’s not the point here. The noteworthy factor here is that Quinn’s despicable behavior simply wouldn’t be tolerated during the tenures of Pat Gilroy and, particularly, Jim Gavin and, you’d hope, Dessie Farrell.
Their humility and inate decency are a huge part of what left onlookers with no option but to sit back and admire the majesty with which they ruled the game for the better part of a decade.
You’re probably wondering what, if anything, all that has to do with Chelsea, but stay with me here. Point being that the minute Jim Gavin took over all the cr** and those dispensing it were consigned to history.
There is no suggestion that Graham Potter has had similar nonsense to eradicate, but history has proven that Chelsea players have the power to shaft managers, no matter how high profile they are or successful they’ve been. At Stamford Bridge or elsewhere.
Yet, for whatever reason, among the players at least, they seem to be still squarely behind the ex Brighton boss. Plus, if the American owner really wanted rid of him, he could surely have his bidding done at the stroke of a pen.
In times past, the mere thought of Chelsea languishing in 10th place in the Premier League and a presiding manager being left in situ would be wholly inconceivable. However, that such is not currently the case has more to do with the changing landscape of the league than anything else.
Right, at the time of typing Arsenal have a fairly healthy looking five point lead, but such is the way the form of all teams is fluctuating that nobody can be ruled in or out of anything. For example, being brutally honest, Manchester United are hardly the third best team in the league but circumstance has them domiciled as such.
Thus, you could be in no way sure about who is going to finish where this season. Even so, you wonder is Potter about to turn magician like his namesake Harry from Hogwarts and buy himself a stay of execution. You’d have thought negotiating a way through the last 16 of the Champions League would’ve been enough to guarantee any man his job. But then again, this is Chelsea we’re talking about.