From where I am, it is the Masters. Elsewhere, they call them Social, the Legends or Seniors’ league. In these leagues, refreshment and rehydration is the dehydrating bottle of beer or alcohol, usually any time and anyhow. There are no rules, well maybe just.
At Stanford Bridge, it would be just the old guard game. Chelsea players carried this tag of ‘old guard’ over 5 years ago, even during the adored Jose Mourinho’s days, and the players have not changed much.
The senior citizens of that squad have been John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Michael Essien and Ashley Cole. Managers came and went amid football politics scandals, but the greatest of them all is the latest. It is borne out of how Andre Villas-Boas was always seen an immature choice to start with.
Let us remember how the game of football started. Today’s media is littered with the latest football controversy made by an Englishman claiming England owns the game. He has since apologised for it and we will not even try to defend of crucify him.
Whoever started the game, the objective, centuries before the 150 years in question, was to drive a pig’s head across a rival village, which in turn summoned women and children to close down the humiliating and degrading exercise. So you see tactics started way before technique and physical conditioning.
Even where I grew up, generally, boys across the river were enemies, and for lack of stones, dry cow dung made excellent missiles that we used. Despite gushes of blood, I cannot remember a recorded death. It may have been possible that years earlier, there was one.
In later years, the rivalry developed into a football war, for lack of foliage, as trees and vegetation were depleted as the population boom overtook the natural resources.
Forming a team was therefore very crucial. There was no coach or captain. The bigger bullies build two dunes of sand to represent their mothers’ breasts. Whoever had the courage to kick and flatten the boobs of his adversary’s mom, would be captain-cum-coach, unless a physical retaliatory response ensued.
The protagonists duelled and the prevailing warrior led us to ‘war’. Only the owner of the letter ball was guaranteed a place in his line up, unless we played an aerodynamically inferior paper ball stuffed with rags.
The game would resume and tackles would be ruthless and brutal. There would be no referee and disputes were easily settled by punches until an adult would turn up and disperse the crowd,usually just for a while. Usually, sensing trouble, both parties would pretend they were cool with each other to escape the possible canning by the village court headman.
What is interesting is that matches would continue after the adult authority left, and week after week, bleeding after bleeding. Members from either camp ensured they never strayed into another’s territory unaccompanied.
This has been the traits of Stanford Bridge. Managers came and went. All they found when they found, was a set of protagonists with heaps of their mom’s sand boobs. Roman Abramovic bought hot talent for huge sums of money, usually coming from where they were leaders and idols.
Among others, Andre Shevshenko and Michael Ballack. These two never came close to their lethal best. Their idea of having the same impact in England as they had in Germany or Italy was but a dream. There is not need to talk about Fernando Torres.
Many a times, we are at liberty to wonder and speculate. All the managers that came after The Special One could do, was manage the tempers, and usually not, because the group pretended there was harmony. Year in and year out, like a scratched vinyl LP, the situation repeated itself over and over and, of course, with the same result.
Talking my village football situation, Andre Villas-Boas became an adult we would think is young and weak, and we could team against and man-handle, usually successfully if they were young and/or drunk.
AVB was neither. He had lots of football in his head and wanted to implement intrinsic and analysed technical and tactical methodologies to produce nice and winning football. He wanted to match the dollar investment of Abramovic with the style Chelsea played.
Those closer to the ground thought there was actually TMI (too much information) on his part, or let’s say TMT (too much tactics). So, having worked with a renowned shrewd mentor in Mourinho, what he became was part of the package, to be TA (tactically aware).
Now that AVB is gone, Chelsea found their rhythm in the league. Everyone seems to be gaining an extra inch in distance, extra ounce of energy, extra year in age and shedding an extra gram in weight. Winning thrice in a row, including the advancement in the UEFA Champions League through an extra time Ivanovic goal against Napoli, as a team, they are finding the extra goal. Roberto Di Mateo is the interim manager and his role is to be seen soon.
Again, as we did back then, it never was how much planning was out in the matches that we would win. It was who had the balls, and who picked the team, usually, the old guard. Playing with the set-up on the ground cost AVB his job.