Valencia v Chelsea: Mild magnificence in the Mestalla

IT WAS one of those nights that explained why the UEFA Champions League can be so marvellously captivating. Valencia hosted Chelsea amid the soaring shabby chic splendour of the Mestalla stadium, 43,000 spectators perched on the precipice, bathed in the glow of floodlights sitting behind them, illuminating the orange, red and green cauldron below. No wonder they call it one of the most scary stadiums … Continue reading Valencia v Chelsea: Mild magnificence in the Mestalla

The big six in a time of disruption

LIVERPOOL are top of the Premier by a substantial margin and the odds are they will win the Premier League for the first time and lift the Koppites’ first title since 1990. Six or seven years ago, that would have seemed a fairly unlikely scenario as Liverpool had – temporarily – moved out of the elite bracket. Jürgen Klopp was hired to bring the good … Continue reading The big six in a time of disruption

Chelsea v Ajax – the spectacle that nobody wanted to end

BACK IN 1970, one of the most captivating games of an outstanding World Cup, Italy’s 4-3 win over West Germany, was so exciting that the final whistle left you disappointed that the match had ended after 120 pulsating minutes. The same feeling was evident at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea and Ajax shared eight goals on an evening that reminded the near-40,000 crowd that the UEFA … Continue reading Chelsea v Ajax – the spectacle that nobody wanted to end

1915: When football seemed unimportant

IT HAS been known down the years as “The Khaki Final”, owing to the vast number of soldiers in military uniform watching the game. While the event is well known, the outcome of the match has been largely overlooked in history. Many people will struggle to name the two finalists: Sheffield United and Chelsea. But this game, coming at the end of the 1914-15 season, … Continue reading 1915: When football seemed unimportant

The Champions League and the preservation of elitism

SINCE THE European Cup was introduced in 1955, there have been 22 different winners of the competition. This list includes some of Europe’s biggest names as well as some unlikely champions. The last “new” winner was Chelsea in 2012, and equally telling, the last team from outside the accepted top 20 most powerful clubs was Porto in 2004. It has gradually become a closed shop. … Continue reading The Champions League and the preservation of elitism

CV-risky jobs: Managing an elite club

MANCHESTER UNITED are going through what amounts to something of an identity crisis. The astonishingly high standards set during the Ferguson era meant that whatever followed him would be an anti-climax, but the club has made a series of poor judgement calls, partly in desperation to return to winning ways – and that means league titles – and partly because of the need to maintain … Continue reading CV-risky jobs: Managing an elite club

Everyone loves Chelsea’s reborn Jorginho

YOU’RE ONLY as good as your manager allows you to be. That should sum up the Jorginho story in his two seasons at Chelsea. Last year, Jorginho was less than popular with the Stamford Bridge regulars – he was seen as representative of the so-called “Sarri ball” philosophy of uncomfortable manager Maurizio Sarri. He moved to London from Napoli with Sarri and was, naturally, linked … Continue reading Everyone loves Chelsea’s reborn Jorginho

Liverpool slipped up, but trademarks are important

WHATEVER next, trademarking the air? Liverpool’s bid to trademark the name of their city has, appropriately, been rejected, and supporter groups such as “Spirit of Shankly” have expressed their relief. It must be something of an embarrassing situation, for this is a club that has long aligned itself to the city’s culture, the very meaning of being “scouse” and regional identity. To trademark the name … Continue reading Liverpool slipped up, but trademarks are important

Chelsea’s lack-lustre CL return – now the task looks harder

PERHAPS Chelsea’s season will be tougher than their 5-2 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers might have suggested. In a fortnight’s time, should Frank Lampard’s young team lose in the Eurostar city of Lille, they may get a chance to defend their Europa League crown. It’s surely premature to write Chelsea’s Champions League obit, but against Valencia they lacked guile and midfield creativity and man-of-the-moment Tammy Abraham … Continue reading Chelsea’s lack-lustre CL return – now the task looks harder

In search of Willie, the Giant Custodian

ANYONE who knows anything about the early history of Association Football will have heard of the name Willie Foulke. At 24-stone, Foulke, who played in goal for Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bradford City, and made a fleeting appearance for England, holds the record for the heaviest professional footballer in Britain, if not the world. I came across some ancient, although surprisingly clear, footage of Willie … Continue reading In search of Willie, the Giant Custodian

12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

CERTAIN games can mould the history of a club. Chelsea have had many high points in recent years, but it is not just success that influences the culture of a club. These 12 games have all played their role in shaping the Blues. Of course, the list will prompt debate, but these have been selected for their overall importance to the club’s development, from the … Continue reading 12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

Great Partnerships: Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational

CHELSEA fans will never forget Peter Osgood and Ian Hutchinson, they were, after all, two of the key figures in the club’s unforgettable 1969-70 FA Cup triumph. These two players helped define an era, a swaggering Chelsea team that was fashionable, exciting, hard as nails at times and confident to the point of arrogance. But it is not always appreciated that their time together – … Continue reading Great Partnerships: Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational