Chelsea’s Steve Sidwell and the Lessons of the Greeks

Inscribed at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, to which the ancient Greeks would pilgrimage in order to have their future foretold by the Oracle, were the words “Gnothi seauton”. “Know Thyself”. Sage words to remember when facing one’s future, and specifically when faced with a decision that will chart one’s future course.

Steve Sidwell is just the latest in a line of footballers who might have fared better if encouraged in this direction. Sidwell, the Arsenal youth product who was shipped off to the Championship a half-decade ago for lack of the “stuff” to be a first-teamer at an elite club. Sidwell, whose move down had the effect of allowing him to mature to the point of being rated the best player outside the Prem by Four-Four-Two (cite:wikipedia). Sidwell, automatic first-choice in a Reading team that gained promotion to the top flight and bettered the feat by managing to stay there. Sidwell, who, for all his indisputable quality in the Lower leagues and at an ambitious but decidedly also-ran Prem team, can’t sniff a place in the England senior side.

This is the resume that Sidwell analyzed and adjudged sat him well for a shot at greatness with one of the best sides in the World. *Sigh*. Know thyself, man, know thyself.

If I’m being honest, and I am, because I’ve no reason to be otherwise, and because one of us (for “us”, read “me ‘n Steve”) can’t be bothered to be honest with even himself, there’s only one English midfielder in the world that could walk into Chelsea’s side and push for a starting spot. The great Scouse captain, the hero of Istanbul. Sidwell is simply not class enough to even warrant mentioning when picking out a Chelsea best 11, or even 2nd 11.

The sane players of his class, when chasing ambition, progress from the Readings of the world to Villa or Goodison Parks (for example). Steve Sidwell, meet Andy Johnson. Bring a pen, you’ll want to make notes.

Which brings me to the story of Icarus from Greek Mythology, who on wings of wax soared too high and close to the sun, causing said wings to melt and leaving poor Icarus to plummet into to the sea. Sidwell has, by rejecting an automatic first-team spot at the core of Reading’s midfield, and in not plumping for a move to a club where his skills might cast him in contention for a role other than “absolute last-choice, use-only-in-direst-injury-crisis emergency substitute” (the role he currently claims at Chelsea, when luck favors him and he actually makes the team sheet, that is), he has flown too close to the sun. What’s worse, he had other, better players try before him and fail in the few years since Chelsea’s rouble-funded ascendancy. Scott Parker. Jiri Jarosik. Even Tiago Mendes, who is class enough for Lyon and Juventus but nevertheless couldn’t make Chelsea’s grade. SEBA FUCKING VERON.

Siddy, look in the mirror son…you’re just not Chelsea class. You were a hero to Reading fans, and an automatic choice in their side. Now you can’t sniff a game. Well that’s not being entirely fair. You did get 15 minutes of mop-up time against an already-beaten Wigan side a few weeks ago. You also haven’t been on the team sheet since.

Bravo lad, “know thyself” indeed.

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