Posts tagged: chelsea

Why Liverpool Fans Want Benitez To Do Well

By , December 20, 2012 8:22 am

In the moments and days leading up to Rafa Benitez being appointed Chelsea manager, the thoughts and feelings rushing through me seemed eerily familiar. I had been here before.

Questions were swirling through my mind, unable to grasp the concept of Benitez going to a team like Chelsea. Why would he want to go there? Their fans hate him. Why would he want to put up with Abramovich? A tyrannical owner that puts even Hicks and Gillett to shame. How could he go to a team that is such a rival of Liverpool’s? (I realize many fans disagree that they are our rivals, but like it or not, a rivalry was created and means a lot to many fans). Why would he risk his career going to a club that would sack him for just about anything they wanted to? How did he become so desperate that he was willing to put aside his own visions and ambitions to join a club that clearly has eyes for a younger, more beautiful Spaniard?

Benitez’s claims of wanting a project, to build a club dynasty from the academy to the first team, to have an owner that truly believed in his singular vision and supported him completely, all seemed like lies. He was joining the enemy. A club that epitomizes all that is wrong with football. And did I mention the fans abhor him?

When the news broke, I was crushed. I had convinced myself that through all these questions and belief in Benitez’s own words and character, that he could never join a club like Chelsea. Many argued with me, stating he “needed a job, he couldn’t wait forever, Liverpool didn’t want him so he had to move on, he can win just about everything there with those resources, he will make enormous amounts of money no matter what happens, he’s putting himself back into people’s minds, etc.” All valid and understandable arguments. But I still never thought Benitez would sell himself so short as to be desperate enough to take the Chelsea job. A club with no heart, no soul, and only a bottom-less checkbook to make up for that. This was not the Benitez I knew and loved.

Where had I seen this all before? A little less than two years earlier, another Liverpool man left Anfield for Stamford Bridge. Fernando Torres professed his love for the club and the fans, promising he would never leave. Shortly after, he left. The pain was palpable. I personally had never felt so hurt by a player leaving. I was devastated when I saw the ease with which he disappeared from Merseyside and sauntered down to London. Whatever the reasons, whatever the stories we still don’t know and that no one, including Torres, seems interested in telling us, it hurt. He was going to the enemy. And he was giving the finger to all the loyal Liverpool fans, that stood by him through injury after injury, and sulk after sulk, in the process.

It’s hard to even explain the feelings I had when Benitez became Chelsea manager. I was surprised, dismayed, disappointed, and painfully angry. Much the same feelings I had when Torres took his leave to the same place.

After a few days, I was able to reflect on all those aching feelings of despondency and I suddenly became happy for Benitez. Despite my hurt feelings, I only ever wanted the best for him, and I know I am not alone as a Liverpool fan in feeling this way. It’s like seeing your first love go off with someone else, that you know is not good enough for them and will only hurt them in the end. But if you love and care for someone, you have to let them go.

It was difficult to stomach him going to Chelsea, and that nauseating feeling will never leave. But I want him to do well. He deserves it. Sadly, I don’t feel the same about Torres and never will. While the feelings around them both going to Chelsea were similar, the ways in which they left Liverpool were very different.

Despite Benitez’s poor last season at Liverpool, he is still incredibly revered by most of the fans. He gave the club some of its most wonderful memories and moments. Reading his book Champions League Dreams reminds me of all those wonderful times we enjoyed as Liverpool fans under him, and how that euphoria and pride has seemingly vanished since he’s left. In some ways, I’ve found it difficult to read back in detail all the great moments he gave us without feeling incredibly depressed. It feels like a lifetime ago, when really, it was only three years.

Most Liverpool fans would agree, especially in hindsight, that Benitez should never have gone. He fought tooth and nail for the club and was subsequently dismissed by a club hierarchy that had driven Liverpool into near oblivion. What has followed since then has been nothing short of pure chaos. And all the while, a short ill-fated stint at Inter Milan aside, Benitez sat on the Wirral, awaiting the call that never came from his beloved club.

It is with that in mind that I don’t completely blame him for going to Chelsea, even though it is a club and a fan-base to be completely despised. The fact that I, and many other Liverpool supporters, are willing to put our ire for Chelsea aside simply because we want Benitez to do well tells you how much he still means to the club and its fans.

So you might still be wondering why we would want him to do well at a club we hate, with fans that have summarily dismissed him before he even arrived and have booed his every presence in front of them. Because of what he gave Liverpool. Because he gave us Istanbul, Cardiff, 2nd place in the league, and he made us the team to fear across Europe again. He gave himself to Liverpool, made the club and city his home, and the fans his friends. Most telling of all, when he left the club, he gave £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group. A cause that was not his own, but that he felt incredibly moved by and attached to. This, amongst so many other things, shows the character of the man.

Yet despite all of that, and despite an excellent win percentage, a European cup, an FA Cup, two Champions League finals, and the highest Liverpool points tally in years, the press, and even some fans, never took to him and wanted him gone. Journalists and commentators found it difficult to hide their hatred for the man, their reasons for which I still don’t know or understand. He was bullied, mocked, and turned into a joke by the English press. He received no respect from them throughout his time at Liverpool, and even less since he has left.

That, amongst so many other reasons, is why Liverpool fans want him to do well. He deserves better than the treatment he’s received and if going to Chelsea and helping them win will force the press and fans into respecting him the way he should be, then I am all for it. At the end of his Liverpool reign, he was tossed aside like garbage. Looking back, it was so disgraceful and foolish, especially when you factor in who he was replaced by, it is hard to believe that’s what actually happened.

The way he was treated by so many makes me sad, and I will never support Chelsea, but I will always support Benitez. A wonderful man, a compassionate human being, and a brilliant manager. Whatever happens, he will never walk alone for all that he gave to Liverpool Football Club.

Fernando Torres: Me Thinks You Doth Protest Too Much

By , March 11, 2011 9:58 am

For all the pain that Liverpool has had to endure in the last number of months, culminating in the, at the time, devastating loss of Fernando Torres, the club and its fans are moving on. We are moving forward into the future, one step at a time, rebuilding the confidence that was stripped away from the club under the horrible regime of Hicks and Gillette and the disastrous reign of Roy Hodgson. No one involved with the club is under any illusions that the club is anywhere near its best, but the progress, positivity, and incredible signs of life under Kenny Dalglish are proving that the end to this fallow period is nigh.

Fans of the club have recently been reveling in the joy that is Luis Suarez, and are even seeing signs of what Andy Carroll will offer once match fit. Mouths across Merseyside are indeed salivating at the prospects of a fully fit Liverpool across the board. Kenny Dalglish reminded the club that while the departure of former idol Fernando Torres was painful, no one player is bigger than the club. Almost immediately, everyone adopted that attitude and the team has since gone from strength to strength, together as one.

As Liverpool looks to the future, it seems odd to keep hearing reports from Fernando Torres, who seems to be focused on the past. Since leaving the club in a rather backstabbing manner, Torres has come out in the press time and again to remind everyone (mostly himself) that he is happy with his move.

This of course despite the fact he has made no impact at his new, “bigger” club. I have watched every game he has played in a Chelsea shirt and all I see is someone just as lost as they were when they were at Liverpool. Not only should Torres leave well enough alone and move on, like Liverpool has already, but maybe he should stop blaming everyone else for where he is as a player and start looking at himself.

Walk On, Just Walk On Already

Time is the great leveler, and as time has slowly moved away from the end of January when the shocking transfer took place, perspective now grows. Fans were tired of defending Torres’ constant moodiness. I’m sure the manager was tired of it too. I’m sure his fellow teammates didn’t appreciate the way he sulked on the pitch when many of them were doing their best to bring the club out its misery. The bottom line is despite our better judgment, the fans defended Torres because he was our player, and he should have defended Liverpool because that was his club.

After all his statements since leaving, his newest one really takes the cake. He claims to Spanish paper Marca that at Chelsea, “There are more personal relationships and jokes between the players than there were at Liverpool. Everything was much more serious there. Here, you don’t have to prove you are a professional, it is assumed.” To quote the old saying, it is the plainest instance of the pot calling the kettle black. No “professional,” as he claims, leaves a club in the manner he left Liverpool. And remember Fernando, you should never assume, as it makes an ass out of you and me.

Fernando Torres goes on to blame the sale of Liverpool for wanting to leave stating, “The institution was in chaos with the sale. There was all this talk of possible projects. In many ways it reminded me of (former club) Atletico Madrid… a great history, many ideas but without money, it needed time. I don’t have that.” He continues, “I knew I was an idol for the fans but it wasn’t the same any more.”

So he blames the sale of the club and the chaos that ensued, he blames the manager, he blames his fellow players for being too serious, while at the same time not being professional enough, he blames the former owners for not investing when they should have, and he torments the fans by reminding them that he was their idol, but he no longer felt the same about them anymore.

When someone tries this hard to convince every one of his or her behavior, you start questioning why. Torres convinced himself that this was the right move, but you have to think he’s really not so sure. He must have watched Liverpool’s performance on Sunday against Manchester United, especially Luis Suarez, and started doubting his hasty decisions, wondering what could have been had he stayed.

While Liverpool fans are sick of hearing from him as they look to focus on their team and the players that want to play for Liverpool, maybe he should do the same with his new club. The more he opens his mouth, the more I don’t believe a word he says. Indeed, me thinks the Spaniard doth protest too much.

Chelsea Football Club: The Next Fallen Giant?

By , February 18, 2011 3:50 pm

According to Frank Lampard, “It would be a disaster” if Chelsea don’t qualify for the Champions League. At this point in time, there is a fairly decent sized question mark over whether the West London club will indeed capture fourth place. With Tottenham grabbing fourth spot by securing a win last weekend while Chelsea could only manage a draw at Fulham, and Liverpool insistent on nipping at both their heels, nothing is a guarantee. Such is the shock of how far they’ve fallen that Lampard now insists it’s hugely important to reach the finals of the cup competitions they remain in, as well as keep their eye on the ball when it comes to finishing in the top four at the end of the season.

Champions No More - Frank Lampard Laments Chelsea's Downward Spiral

It is no surprise that the Chelsea and England midfielder is concerned about his team’s position. At the start of the season, Chelsea looked to run away with the title leaving the rest of the pack to chase after the remaining three spots for the Champions League. A massive shift in the last few months has seen Chelsea go from first to fifth. They have remained strong in the cup competitions, but their league form has taken a massive nosedive.

It may be a bit cheeky as a Liverpool supporter to say that Chelsea’s downward spiral began when Liverpool (with Fernando Torres) beat them 2-0 back in November. But since then, their record has been Won: 5, Drawn: 6, and Lost: 6. The dropping of 30 points in the matter of three months is enormous and has left Chelsea floundering for a Champions League place with twelve games left to play.

For all the talk this season of just how bad Liverpool have been, they are six points behind Chelsea in sixth place. Granted, Chelsea have a game in hand, but the gap is not as wide as it may seem based on Liverpool’s performance in the first half of the season.

It remains to be seen where each team will finish come May; such is the nature of this up and down season. And Chelsea may well surprise everyone and climb their way back to the top. Not to the top of the league, but at least into the top four.

Just a year ago, finishing seventh was a new low for Liverpool, and being out of the Champions League for the first time in years was a huge blow. It never occurred to most Liverpool fans that that was even a possibility until it happened. It signaled the end of a successful era, as well as the end of Rafael Benitez.

There seems to be a longstanding view from rival teams that Liverpool has an attitude of entitlement, and that the club feels its rightful place is firmly in the top four. Whether or not that’s true, that belief was shattered after finishing seventh.

But if other clubs can paint Liverpool with this entitlement brush, than surely they must be painted as well? For Frank Lampard to say it would be a disaster if Chelsea finished outside the top four, than it was undoubtedly a disaster for Liverpool when they did.

It was a tough season to endure, compounded by the following six months of negative transfer dealings, Roy Hodgson, and the worst run of games in over 50 years. That season truly set Liverpool back further than just being out the Champions League. The owners’ and manager’s relationship became untenable, the club sold one of their best players in Javier Mascherano, and they brought in players not nearly up to the level that Liverpool normally requires. All this combined with Roy Hodgson’s clueless undertaking at the helm eventually lead Fernando Torres to his Liverpool exit, under very acrimonious circumstances.

Fernando Torres Has So Far Failed To Live Up To Expectations In Chelsea Blue

The attitude toward Liverpool has remained one of “they deserve it,” “they’re not good enough,” “their players are rubbish.” In the span of a year and a half when the team barely missed out on a first placed finish, they went from hero to zero. Yet somehow you don’t get the same feeling when it comes to Chelsea. All you ever seem to hear is how Chelsea have the quality needed and shouldn’t be finishing outside the top four, it just wouldn’t be right if they did.

The press and Chelsea fans seem to think that because of having one of the most expensive and successful squads in recent years, they can do no wrong and that they too are now “entitled” to finish in at least the top four. Well Chelsea, welcome to Liverpool’s world, where nothing is a guarantee when it comes to football.

That’s not to say that Chelsea aren’t capable of finishing fourth. They are more than capable. But then, you could say, so were Liverpool.

Chelsea need to face facts just as Liverpool were forced to. They have a squad with multiple players perhaps having had their best days behind them, and this includes Fernando Torres. Whatever he’s done, £50 million was still an enormous amount for a striker about to turn 27 and with a massive history of injury problems. Chelsea were definitely looking to him to salvage their season with a cup win, but you have to say that outside the FA Cup, it’s not looking likely with the strength of teams in the Champions League this year.

Liverpool have had to endure a very difficult eighteen months, and with Fernando Torres leaving in January, things only seemed more bleak. But now there’s a new sense of renewed pride in the team that has been instilled by Kenny Dalglish. With new owners taking over in the fall, two new strikers signed in the January transfer window, and the youth team looking frighteningly good, the future seems quite bright for Liverpool and the hard times look to finally be over.

For Chelsea, the future is a little less certain. Ancelotti has the massive weight of expectations on his shoulders to deliver Chelsea back into the Champions League while he keeps one eye looking over his shoulder to see if Abramovich is ready to wield his axe. And with more financial losses announced, plus the gargantuan £70 million plus outlaid for players last month, it’s a wonder how Chelsea will cope with the Financial Fair Play rules. Without the bottomless bank account to recruit players for a team on the precipice of an immense overhaul, you wonder just how they will handle the seasons to come.

As Liverpool have had to put up with the disappointment that came with not being in the Champions League, so too will Chelsea if they don’t manage to finish fourth. Perhaps it is what they need to be reminded that no club is entitled to anything in football.

Is It Just Me, Or Are Defenses Shocking This Season?

By , September 23, 2010 8:36 am

Chelsea Have Proved How Poor Defenses Are This Season

You have to look pretty hard at the Premier League results so far to find a decent amount of clean sheets. It seems that with each game in this short-lived season, it’s becoming increasingly less likely there will be no goals. While this is good for entertainment value, I can guarantee every club is not happy with their defenses at the moment.

Two of the obvious examples are Liverpool and Manchester United. Despite United’s recent win over Liverpool, neither team has started the season well. Most worryingly for both sides is the fact that their defenses have leaked so many goals.

Between the 2005/2006 season and the 2008/2009 season, Liverpool were known for being the clean sheet keepers of Europe. No one was able to hold a 1-0 score-line like them, and you always felt confident they wouldn’t concede.

Now they can’t keep a clean sheet to save their life, unless they’re not scoring themselves, that is. That being said, they’ve actually performed well in the Europa League, but it’s hardly the same opposition the Champions League and Premier League offer.

United have done a fair bit better, but once again they are a team whose defense is a shadow of their former self. So far this season, they’ve conceded two goals against Fulham, three goals against Everton, and two against Liverpool. Two of these games they dropped points in and the other they won by way of Liverpool’s defense being slightly worse than their own.

Merely two years ago in the 2008/2009 season, when Man United last won the title, they kept an impressive 24 clean sheets in the league. With Vidic and Ferdinand at the back, you felt their defense was always rock solid. Now that’s not the case.

Liverpool and United aren’t the only teams in the league giving up goals. Arsenal have kept only one clean sheet this season and that was against Blackpool. Manchester City, Tottenham, Everton, and Aston Villa have all conceded goals.

Not even Chelsea, the current league leaders with maximum points this season, have kept a clean sheet in all five games so far. That being said, Chelsea have also majorly contributed to the lack of clean sheets in the league overall. Their goal difference is +20 after only five games.

This statistic is slightly misleading, though. While Chelsea have started the season well, you’d have to say their fixture schedule has been incredibly kind. Winning 6-0 against consistent bottom of the table teams is not what you’d call impressive. In reality, it’s a combination of Chelsea’s excellence in front of goal, as well as incredibly poor defenses that have created their overwhelming lead at the top of the table.

It’s still too early to decide anything concrete about the season, but one thing is fairly obvious. The defensive frailties of the top teams could really cost them by the end of the season. That being said, I hope it continues if only to make the season more interesting.

Let The Silly Season End And The Real Season Begin

By , August 12, 2010 1:31 pm

The Premier League Can't Start Soon Enough

In the four weeks since the World Cup ended, there’s not been much to note in the world of football. The summer suddenly became what it usually is between seasons: long and dull with no football in sight.

For any real fan, summertime is depressing. There’s no action to speak of for three months, which leaves you no choice but to grasp onto the ridiculousness of the silly season. Thank heavens there was a World Cup this summer because the post season has been one of the most uneventful in years.

The “word of the day” this particular summer transfer window has been one many clubs haven’t used for a while: value. Long gone are the days of the open checkbook and the ludicrously overpriced sales tags attached to the world’s top stars. No longer will clubs be willing to fork out £30 million for a player without batting an eyelid. In these hard economic times, even multi-millionaires need to pinch some pennies here and there.

Perhaps the Premier League is now finally catching up with the rest of the footballing world with its newfound thriftiness. They are being forced to look for players who provide value for money, rather than offer the biggest amount they can think of knowing the other team can’t say no (£80 million for Ronaldo to Real Madrid anyone?).

Bye Bye: Chelsea Gets Rid Of Some Dead Wood At Stamford Bridge

Chelsea, so often the big spenders in the transfer market, have barely made a peep this summer. They are doing themselves some favors by getting rid of the, shall we say, ‘old’ dead wood around the club. Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Ricardo Carvalho, and Deco will all be playing their club football elsewhere next season.

So far, they’ve only brought in Yossi Benayoun, who, while a talented player doesn’t have the same ability to change games and unlock defenses as his predecessor Joe Cole. The squad they have will be strengthened more by players returning from long injury spells, including Drogba, Mikel, and most importantly, Essien, than it will from new signings.

Manchester United's Season Hinges On The Form Of Wayne Rooney

Still, the fact that Chelsea has done so little in the way of transfer dealings is definitely a sign of the times. And despite the big money Manchester United made off the Ronaldo deal last summer, they have yet to spend much money either. Their only summer signing of note is the Mexican World Cup sensation Javier Hernández, who, to be honest, doesn’t fill me with dread when I look at him on the pitch. With very few new recruits in key positions, Manchester United have every opportunity to go backward this season after their failure last year to pip Chelsea to the title.

United’s starting 11 is aging rapidly in the form of Giggs, Scholes, a 31-year-old Rio Ferdinand, and a 40-year-old Edwin van der Sar. But it’s the enormous chasm that Wayne Rooney left when he was injured last year that should be United’s chief cause for concern. There’s no way Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov can get the job done, and it will be the young Hernández’s first season, all too soon to carry the team himself. Without a fit Wayne Rooney, Ferguson’s team is in danger of falling way off the mark.

Can Mancini Deliver The Goods To Man City This Season?

Manchester City has been the only team willing to splash out the absurd amounts of cash on new players. They are believed to have spent around £77 million already, and with the arrivals of James Milner and Mario Balotelli imminent, their spending will reach the heights of around £130 million by the end of the transfer window. Despite having this grand notion that they’re doing something radical in bolstering their squad in such a manner, they are only doing what Chelsea did a few years ago, and it won’t last.

It can’t last, as Chelsea can now attest too. Even billionaire owners have to work with what they’ve got and shelve the spending after a while. This is really the season where Man City will have to prove that all this money is going to good use. They finished a very decent fifth place last season, just missing out on the Champions League, and look to be one of the most frightening prospects for the new campaign. But if things don’t change by May 2011, Mancini will be looking for a new job and the oil rich Abu Dhabi Group will cut off City’s supply of endless funds.

Christian Poulson, Another Shrewd Summer Signing For Liverpool

Then there’s Liverpool. After a devastating previous season in which they finished seventh and only through a fortunate turn of events squeaked into the Europa League, this season will be looked at as one for improvement. For the first time in a long time, Liverpool fans, players, and staff are realistically focused on rebuilding the team and looking for progress rather than trophies. That’s not to say they aren’t in with a shout. The league title might be a bridge too far for new manager Roy Hodgson, but with a fit Torres, Gerrard, and Aquilani, there’s no reason this team can’t finish in the top four and even go on to win the Europa League and a domestic cup.

This season for Liverpool is all about starting over, and due to their current lack of new ownership on the eve of the first premier league weekend, ‘value’ has been on the lips of everyone involved with the club this summer. So far, Liverpool have done a pretty decent job of finding players who are a value for money. Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, and Fabio Aurelio came on a free, while Danny Wilson, Jonjo Shelvey, and latest signing Christian Poulsen all came for less than £10 million combined. While the strength in depth to actually challenge for the title can’t be there until a much needed injection of funds comes from a new owner, this Liverpool squad has definitely used the word value to their advantage, more so than any other team in the league so far.

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