Monthly Archives: January 2013

Everyone Hates Chelsea

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea won its first Premier League title in 2005 and its second in 2006. In 2007, Mourinho lampdsresigned after falling out with owner Roman Abramovich[1]. Of the players involved in the two title successes, only Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Petr Cech still play for the club, and Lampard is almost certain to leave this summer. The Mourinho-era Chelsea was a ruthless winning machine; today’s Chelsea recently lost to QPR – Harry Redknapp’s latest project, bottom of the Premier League — at Stamford Bridge. These days, Rafa Benitez – who was once a potent symbol of the Chelsea’s Got No History movement, which, yes, was as stupid as it sounds – sits in the Stamford Bridge dugout. The Chelsea fans hate him and express their hatred in chants and songs whose lyrics are unprintable, even on the Internet.

During Chelsea’s rise to championship contention, the traditional powerhouses of English football – Manchester United and Liverpool — were too busy recovering from the financial train wreck that is American ownership to launch serious title bids. Manchester United’s management is renowned for its efficiency, professionalism, and general excellence in the field of everything, but in the early 2000s, it made a series of uncharacteristically thoughtless administrative decisions that opened the door to outside investment — and the Glazers were never going to knock. Liverpool was fading, thanks largely to the idiocy of Tom Hicks and George Gillette, businessmen who epitomize everything that’s bad about sports, business and the United States of America.

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The Very Best Of Friends

It’s La Liga’s winter vacation, and Lionel Messi hasn’t scored a goal in more than two weeks. Which, after Messi’sbarca real era-defining, award-winning, 91-goal 2012, comes as a bit of a relief. He’s good, but enough already. Messi’s Barcelona is undefeated in the league, and with two Champions League titles, four La Liga championships and the odd Official FIFA Triumph[1] under its belt, the team is arguably (because these things are always arguable) the greatest of modern times.

At this point, the ins and outs of Barcelona’s recent history are common knowledge: how homegrown players like Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Puyol, Valdes, Pedro, Busquets and Messi gelled in Barca’s legendary academy; how Zlatan Ibrahimovich, one of the most talented players of his generation, simply couldn’t adjust to Barca’s selfless passing style and eventually fell out with Pep Guardiola (supposedly the nicest man in football, so the joke was definitely on Zlatan); how Spain, a perennial underachiever for most of its history, suddenly became world and European champions, thanks mostly to the same homegrown players (minus Messi) who boarded together as kids. It’s impossible to understand the last five years of football history without first understanding Barcelona. Since 2008, virtually everything that’s happened on the European football scene has happened because of Guardiola-era Barca.

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