Two weeks ago I went to see Chelsea vs Fulham at Stamford Bridge.
As a Chelsea fan I was horrified by what I had encountered. Chelsea had conceded in the first few minutes and stayed behind until the 78th; swinging in average crosses, and failing to string together more than three passes. Not until the 73rd minute did a poor piece of defending allow Didier Drogba to nod in a free header at the far post, and it was only a cruelly unlucky own goal from Smalling that allowed us to snatch the three points.
You’ll be surprised to hear that whilst at Chelsea vs Sunderland yesterday I encountered the same humiliating scenario that I had experienced in the game two weeks earlier. For it was not Chelsea’s performance, which was undoubtedly rough around the edges, but valiant, determined and relentless all the same that caused my embarrassment, because as a lifelong football fan I appreciate that there are days when you just don’t get the rub of the green.
No, it was not team on the pitch that made me cringe to be seen in a Chelsea shirt, rather the 42,000 strong fortress that is Stamford Bridge. I have no doubt that you could hear a pin drop within that ground for the majority of the game, if it were not for the loud, passionate and boisterous Fulham fans who witnessed there side lose two -one, but mocked Chelsea Football Club all the same.
Surely it could only have been the early goal conceded or the frustrating inability to find a sight at goal that caused the home fans to neglect to make their voices heard? I thought so too and in part I wasn’t wrong. Yesterday choruses of ‘carefree’ could be heard to break out across the stadium from time to time, and a clatter of applause and a round of cheers would erupt at one of the fifteen corners won.
Even a rendition of ‘Chelsea’ for a minute or so at seven poignant moments in the game would carry around the stadium. Whilst this was undoubtedly an improvement on the events two weeks before, the chanting Sunderland fans and their claims that ‘we only sing when we’re winning’ were graciously generous as in truth we rarely sang, even when four – nil up after 35 minutes.
Yesterday I witnessed one of the smoothest first halves I have seen Chelsea play, the opposition irrelevant. Wonderful team goals slotted away by Frank Lampard, an incredible individual effort from Ashley Cole and build up play that most fans could only dream of viewing. None of which seemed good enough for the spoilt fans around the bridge, who appear to expect this performance game after game. At seventeen I don’t wish to preach, as in all honesty I can only remember a few years prior to Abramovich’s arrival, I have no doubt in saying however that I would follow and cheer for Chelsea ‘through the sun and rain’.
‘Farcical’ struggles to describe the current climate at Chelsea, and whilst I appreciate I’m not the only one who feels this way, I can’t help but think that the pre-Abramovich Chelsea fans may well have drowned out the Sunderland fans, in sheer electric appreciation of the genuine marvel that we had the honour of viewing, from the first to the 90th minute.
Whilst harmony has returned to Stamford Bridge, at least in one sense, I have no idea how Chelsea Football Club might go about fixing this problem, but it genuinely needs to be addressed, something has got to be done because regardless of the results we are the laughing stock of the Premiership, and sadly the title refers not to Sunderland, beaten 7-2 by a superior team, but to the supporters people around Stamford Bridge.