Article by @CArmbandLast week, whilst trailing 2-0 to Manchester United in their FA Cup Quarter Final tie, Chelsea fans began singing “we want our Chelsea back”. The chant echoed around Old Trafford in defiance of a situation which has become as bizarre as it has ridiculous. Firstly, who are they aiming the song at? Perceived wisdom was that it was aimed at Interim Manager Rafa Benitez and secondly, what is “our” Chelsea?
Dealing with the first point, if the song was aimed at Rafa then why seeing as he is only a stop gap until the end of the season? Surely their ire is better aimed at the higher echelons of the Chelsea hierarchy such as Technical Director Michael Emenalo. I say Emenalo and not any point higher up the chain of command at the club than him because Chelsea fans are never going to vent their anger at the true puppeteer of the club, namely the owner Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea fans really are in a precarious and confusing position with the song. They can’t openly criticise Abramovich, it is he after all who has bankrolled the success over the last decade. Upon purchasing the club in 2003 Chelsea’s finances were in a dire state and if it wasn't for the fact that they had just qualified for the Champions League, their position could have been a whole lot more dangerous. Since then the rest is pretty much history as Premier League titles, doubles and a Champions League success followed. Yet within that success, the club seem in an enormous political mess. Abramovich hires and fires coaches with alarming ease and regularity and the players seem to have an influence upon how a manager works and the owner seems all to ready to listen to them.
Unfortunately when Chelsea took the golden Rouble, this was a price they knew they had to pay. There would be success and glory but there would also be a complete loss of control so that everything that happens within the club happens at one mans whim. Also its not as if Abramovich has to explain himself either, it’s his club and he does as he wishes. He rarely gives interviews or
explanation for his decision making process because he doesn't have to.
There is the possibility that fans may be aiming the song at Benitez. If so, it’s a total waste of time as he will be gone at the end of the season and has been unable to influence very much anyway as his job title explains. He was never going to be given a chance by the Chelsea fans, yet that’s a topic for discussion another time, suffice to say he has very little of what those fans want back
Do the players themselves have what the fans want back? This is a club where a player can bring a firearm to work and shoot someone, commit various sexual indiscretions and at times behave deplorably on the pitch.
As mentioned above, there is also a perception that certain players hold a significant degree of influence over the owner. All these misdemeanour's taken as a whole do not give a favourable view of the club. However, is a lot of what they do any different to what players at other clubs do? I’m not so sure, Liverpool and Manchester City have had players attack other players in recent years, Manchester United have had a very high level player involved in a case of coitus out of wedlock and players of every club complain about their manager to whoever will listen if things aren't going their way. There is no doubt though that some of those same high level Chelsea players who have made these indiscretions and supposedly got the ear of Abramovich like some kind of collective footballing Worm tongues, are the most popular at the club.
In reality Chelsea fans could be aiming their ire at any one of the players, owner or the manager; it’s just that Benitez makes the most convenient target. Certain players are idolised for their undoubted talent on the pitch
and so are deemed infallible for however they behave, the owner cannot be held accountable as its he who has made the club what they are today – European champions; so its poor old Rafa who the fans vent their anger at and want to repossess their club from.
Come the end of the season, once the fans with their burning torches mob hand idly prod Rafa away from Stamford Bridge with their plastic flags, the fans may have to look elsewhere to demand their Chelsea back. The players will behave as they always have and the owner will do as he pleases and the question the fans have to ask themselves is, was it ever theirs in the first place?