Mourinho’s rants, twitter complaints and sensational headlines, we’ve heard the term thrown around and we’re only going to hear more of it. But after a series of incidents involving, what is turning out to be the most consistent side in the Premier League, Alok Kulkarni examines whether there really is a campaign against Chelsea.
Let’s get this straight, all sports teams – and I mean every one of them – feels hard done by the referees. Everything ranging from a bad penalty call to the bad weather can and will be blamed on the officials. It is a tough job that the referees do, and for every decision they get wrong, on an average, they get three right. The good ones, of course, wouldn’t make the headlines. Imagine reading an article titled, “Clattenburg’s brilliant decision-making gives Chelsea three deserved points”? *shudders*
Have Chelsea been really hard done by in the past few weeks with the officiating? Yes they have; but what they have done better is milking this opportunity. By making it more obvious that the entire world is against them, the next yellow card, the next foul, the next free kick they get will be after even more careful consideration by the officials. After creating the spark, Chelsea have been adept at just adding fuel to the fire.
Ever since his “I am the Special One” interview, Jose Mourinho has been the cynosure of the English media. They love him, they hate him and they love-hate him at the same time. However, what they do for sure is hang on to every word of his. Even the lack of it. Following Diego Costa’s now infamous stamp on Emre Can of Liverpool and his subsequent ban, Mourinho refused to speak to the media. The media lapped this up and whipped-up even more with articles about that very incident and creating an ever-increasing pro-‘campaign against Chelsea’ fan club.
Looking at each one of the incidents individually will make the case for Chelsea, if anything, weaker. Costa’s trudge on Can was a stamp – end of story. Whether he was looking at the ball or not; he planted his studs on the Liverpool defender’s shin. A straight-red offence if ever there was one. An automatic three-game ban too, well deserved.
The more recent Nemanja Matic incident, however, has a lesser obviousness to it. Not that Matic’s straight red was wrong, but Burnley’s Ashley Barnes was also equally guilty in this case. However, that does not make the former’s reaction justifiable. Imagine Luis Suarez last season or Mario Ballotelli this one doing the same. That the media would have crucified them is to put it mildly.
There are no two ways about it, the Barnes decision was horrible and both teams should have ended with one man less on the pitch. However, as any avid follower of the game would know, these things tend to balance each other out – probably not immediately, but definitely over the course of a season.
Non-Chelsea fans will be clamouring for a mention on the decisions that HAVE gone for them and we will oblige now. To name a few, Costa’s ‘hands around the neck’ incident at the Etihad when the ‘victim’ Pablo Zabaleta was instead shown a second yellow for a previous infringement. To say the Costa was lucky to complete the full 90 minutes of that match is an understatement. Gary Cahill being lucky more than once of not being shown a straight red for his alleged stamp on Harry Kane during Chelsea’s 5-3 defeat at White Hart Lane and his clear handball against a Steven Gerrard long-range shot not resulting in a Liverpool penalty, are worth a mention.
As mentioned before, Chelsea have been very clever at using the media to get their feelings out. Especially seeing the club’s official Twitter account rambling on about how bad the referees have been, how they have been wronged and how the FA are incompetent in dealing with this situation, is getting to be painful to see as a Chelsea fan. Their means to the end of reducing Matic’s ban succeeded – albeit partially. Move on. Stop complaining.
The Earth has not stopped rotating, the Sun hasn’t stopped coming out and Lionel Messi has scored about a zillion goals since. The world has moved on, and us as Chelsea fans, should too. The two individuals in question have served their bans, gotten a clean slate to resume their season and Chelsea could not be better placed– on course for a treble.
Weirdly enough, there are statistics to prove what we are saying. If anything, Chelsea are one of the most protected clubs in the land. In fact, Chelsea’s opponents in the Premier League have the lowest ratio of fouls committed to cards shown i.e. a card is shown every 4.4 fouls against the Blues. Chelsea have also the most number of opponents sent off and as a result the highest time playing against 10 men – an hour more than the second placed club. The futility of the rant and this whole ‘campaign’ cannot be understated. Maybe it just another brilliant plot from the master tactician in Mourinho to ‘distract’ us from seeing potential weak points in his Chelsea team – playing Kurt Zouma in place of Matic in the cup final in the absence of a real back-up to the Serb.
What must be noted, however, is that this takes nothing away from the fact that the league’s officiating standards have dropped alarmingly. Once considered to be one of the most sensible referees around, the English officials are also going their European counterparts’ way. Also, this does not take away from the incompetence of the English FA. They have been swift to act this time around, but their general sluggishness to improve the standards of officiating make a mockery of the paying public and the superstars who play the game. Perhaps THEIR means to the end is the old adage ‘any publicity is good publicity’.
Is there really a ‘campaign against Chelsea’? We don’t think so.
Written by Alok Kulkarni
- Scout Report: Victor Lindelof | Benfica’s tough defender - June 2, 2017
- Scout Report: Tammy Abraham | Chelsea’s young striker - September 20, 2016
- Cesc Fabregas: A Year in Review - May 1, 2015