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On Friday we'll sit in front of our televisions or Twitter, glued to what is basic administration. Daniel Storey stands on his soapbox and scrooges about the World Cup draw...
What do the papers, the TV, and fans of other clubs think about your team? In this series, John Nicholson and Alan Tyers look at the stereotypes, coverage and media agendas for each team in the Premier League. This week, it's the turn of West London powerhouse, Chelsea...
Ex-player pundit presence
An array of likeable, cosmopolitan former Stamford Bridge foreign favourites pops up with on British TV: Ruud Gullitsh, Gianluca Vialli, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Marcel Desailly the most familiar faces. At the other end of the scale, there's the meat-and-potatoes "Look. Some meat. And there's some potatoes" approach of Andy Townsend. Glen Hoddle always looks so worried when he's on Sky. From the older generation, Jimmy Greaves, Telly Vegetables and Ray 'My Word' Wilkins are legends of the pundit's chair, although the former two have passed out of sight now. Pat Nevin is among our favourite radio co-comms; sharing with Graeme Le Socks the burden of being A Clever Footballer with grace and charm.
Have always been well represented in showbiz, from Lord Richard Attenborough to Michael Caine, Damon Albarn, David Baddiel, Suggs, etc. More improbable claims are made by (or on behalf of) Will Ferrell, Nigella Lawson, Ginger Spice, Bill Clinton, Bryan Adams and Vidal Sassoon. Shamingly, the Blues number Tim Lovejoy, who previously supported Watford, among their devotees. For those who dislike Chelsea, and indeed for those who dislike all that is bad and wrong in football, what more needs to be said?
Back page leaders?
An editor's dream. If it's not the club captain behaving despicably on the pitch, or his family members getting arrested off it, there's the evergreen debate about whether time is finally up for the evergreen Frank Lampard. In recent months the club's tardiness in giving him a contract saw Fank's pals in the media affecting a perverse kind of moral outrage more usually associated with human rights abuses in the parts of the world Roman makes his money. Shameless toadying by the press to English Chelsea players has paid off mightily in the last ten years in terms of column inches. The owner's penchant for getting rid of perfectly good managers every five minutes ensures a constant stream of stories. And that's without even mentioning the Mourinho factor. The Stamford Bridge soap opera has been football's gift to the newspapers.
Gaffer's media skills
Unsurpassed; there's nobody the British press loves more than Jose. Strangely, his second coming has felt rather muted so far and the feeling that the return will not be half as much fun as the first has already set in. There is a somewhat flat, depressed air as reality fails to match up to the rosy glow of remembrance that the press boys had for the Portuguese. In recollection he was all charm, wit and instant news stories but it seems unlikely that he will live up to their self-constructed fantasies. Maybe Mourinho is keeping his powder dry or simply trying to downplay expectations but there is an air of "oh... wasn't this supposed to be better than this?"
Vox pop cliché fan
Blokes from Africa or the Far East who love Didier Drogba and were turned onto the club once Roman started buying success but who wouldn't have been able to name a Chelsea player in or from 1991. Racist taxi drivers. Suburban ledges who work in sales or estate agency and are easily impressed by money. Clueless Eurotrash living in Holland Park mansions. Still some of the old school Shed hooligans who think anti-racism and not hitting women in the face is political correctness gone mad. High percentage of fans in confused denial about their vulnerability to Roman's whims and the identity of the club as nothing more than a dopey looking-Russian bloke's play thing. We're struggling to think of some favourable stereotypes here. Sorry.
Keyboard warrior ferocity
High tendency to play the internet hardman, offer to kick your head in (on, er, the internet). Anti-Rafa campaign was one of the most confused and psychologically disturbed in football history. The world looked on in slack-jawed amazement as Chelsea fans took to the internet to blame their new manager for taking the job and then having the temerity to be any good at it, rather than blaming the owner for offering it to a man they pointlessly despised, presumably for fear that Roman take his money and their existence away. Pointing this out could break Twitter.
Polyglot, cosmopolitan, West London glamour, increasingly global. Proudly, shamelessly flash. The most successful Premier League club in the last ten years. In 2012, they sold the fourth most shirts (910,000) worldwide of any club: more than Liverpool and Arsenal, and behind only Man United and Spain's big two. Hope that Didier got a taste of that money.
For the older fan, Chelsea's was always a tale of underachievement; their failure to win silverware was literally a national joke, with comic songs written for the music hall about the Blues' bare cupboards. In the 1970s and 1980s: nasty hooligans; club often outside the top flight. The Ken Bates era provided British football with one of its great pantomime hate figures. Fans are generally disliked still, although that's more for the "new money, no history" belief than the hoolie hangover. Most non-Chelsea fans baffled and appalled by treatment of Rafa. Weirdly, so chockablock has football become with bazillionaire foreign owners that Roman seems almost part of the establishment. Chelsea have become the old guard of the nouveau riche but remain, to most of us, football's cultural equivalent of showing off a 5k watch in a wine bar in Southend called Trillions in order to try and impress women.
Archetypal news stories
"John Terry does a racism." "Why has 54-year-old Frank not got a new contract?" "Roman sacks manager after winning European Cup, League and Nobel Peace Prize".
John Nicholson and Alan Tyers
Read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here
Alan's football and cricket books are all in one place here
Follow Alan on Twitter here or Johnny here.