Chelsea are not popular in Europe there is little respect of a team that the snobbish upper echelons of football in both England and Europe do not believe deserves to be rubbing shoulders with them.
The evolution from 1994 – 2003 in which Chelsea came from mid-table mediocrity to Champions League contenders playing attractive but inconsistent football respected by all has been forgotten and replaced by the Abramovich era of disdain.
Bought the Premiership they say, a disgrace to football they say, too negative too arrogant, too English, not English enough the critics had made their decision and could not be placated.
This disdain has lasted for 5 years and does not appear to be stopping against this backdrop of events on Wednesday night.
Football is not an exact science, the team that plays the best football has the most chances or the better players does not always get the result they want or others say they deserve.
Barcelona fans and the so called ‘neutrals’ argue that in the first leg this occurred and that Chelsea represent everything that is wrong in football. They ignore that having a plan and sticking to it is what football is about not playing to the oppositions strengths. They ignore the Barcelona play acting the waving of imaginary cards and the poor attitude their entire team had throughout the game lambasting Chelsea’s negative tactics but not commenting on how well they were executed.
In the second leg Chelsea also had a plan again, sticking to it and for 90 minutes comfortably containing a Barcelona side whilst creating 3 or 4 great chances themselves.
Football however like life boils down to the small things, the rub of the green, a lucky bounce, a poor decision, a misplaced pass or a poor referee on Wednesday. Chelsea were a victim to the small things in football.
Firstly and less controversially in the second minute of injury time the ball is dribbling clear from a Barcelona cross and Essien just can’t stretch enough to divert the ball into touch and it falls to a Barcelona player and seconds later Iniesta is slamming the ball home from 25 yards. In a parallel dimension Essien stretches just an inch further and Chelsea hold on for two minutes and no one is talking about the referee.
The second small thing beyond the players control is the referee. Whilst I do not buy into conspiracy theories, no one can argue he had a good night and that his decision did not impact the game.
But what is done is done. As Chelsea fans we can jump and protest claim scream blue murder but nothing will change, UEFA will not change its mind. Defending the actions of Michael Ballack is like defending the indefensible in the era of so called ‘respect’ that should not happen no matter what the stakes; ironically the actions of a player whose attitude I do not like at the best of times, Drogba’s were more understandable.
He like the 41,000 fans in the ground and those watching on TV felt that Chelsea had been robbed, denied two cast iron penalties and two 50/50 penalties and he expressed that to anyone who would listen.
Every Chelsea fan feels so passionately they want to protest an argument eloquently put forward by Ben Clynshaw.
However, we do not have a time machine. Yes, we can complain, but what will that achieve? UEFA will not change it’s result and the already mud-like reputation that Chelsea have will be further tarnished. Actually scratch that last sentence; Chelsea are hated anyway. So scream, make your voice heard, but remember UEFA does not like the success of English teams — in particular the Russian owned team from SW6.
So are we just bitter or is there something more to the conspiracy theories?