Following a weekend which has seen Tottenham’s premier league title credentials cruelly exposed by Manchester United, Emmanuel Adebayor provoke a near riot with his ill advised celebration in front of a group of Neanderthal, hate-filled Arsenal fans and Manchester City’s title credentials seemingly given a hearty boost by their 4-2 hatchet job over the Gunners (City being inspired not by their Argentinian superstar, nor their Brazilian megastar or even their Paraguayan pin up, but instead imperiously led by the roguish hunchback from far-flung Cardiff, Craig Bellamy) it seems perhaps something of a shock to learn that it is actually Chelsea who have quietly and yet effectively ascended to top the table and before you rub your eyes and re-read that again, I can confirm it was a sentence with the words ‘Chelsea’ and ‘quietly’ in it.
All in all, it is rather a refreshing change. Chelsea has always been a club for whom results almost played a supporting role to fostering their image as the Premier League equivalent of the infamous wags. A group of wealthy, trendy, jet-setting socialites whose sole raison d’etre was to see their names in the press, regardless (some would say oblivious) of what the press was actually saying about them. It really irked many fans to read page after page of what Jose Mourinho thinks about Joe Cole’s questionable choice of shoes, Frank Lampard’s leopardskin speedo’s or Robert Huth’s new hairdo, when the if had England won the World Cup would have been printed in a tiny box on the bottom of page 26. Unless of course Frank Lampard or John Terry scored a goal, in which case the papers would have been asking for a week long public holiday in celebration.
I exaggerate of course, but even so, under the leadership of the self-proclaimed chosen one, Jose Mourinho, the press went into overdrive for all things Chelsea and even the likes of the permanently saggy Avram Grant, ‘Big Phil’ Scolari (who sounds more like a Mafioso henchman than a football manager and given the physical nature of some of his teams, it is a link that fits rather too well) and Gus Hiddink all were seldom out of the news. We were informed that such blanket coverage came with being the manager of such a high profile club, rather than the press’s seeming love affair with Roman’s new toy.
The current incumbent of the post however is rather different. Carlo Ancelotti’s dictum seems to be that his teams do their talking on the pitch rather than through the press. Certainly that is true from his previous spell at Milan and these rather admirable, and all too rare, qualities of not seeking press endorsement for anything from signing a new player, to changing the loo roll in the ladies toilets, is rather admirable. Even when John Terry’s name was linked time and time again with Manchester City during the summer, Ancelotti drew a quiet and elegant close to the issue by signing him on a new long term deal, thus ending speculation in one fell swoop without recourse to pages and pages of back page hyperbole and journalistic pontificating. Perhaps all the furore and hysteria surrounding Ronaldo-less Manchester United, money bags Manchester City, Arsene’s woes at Arsenal and Liverpool’s poor start to the season and endless boardroom battles have helped keep the focus off Chelsea at a national level. Even the FIFA imposed transfer ban for the Gael Kakuta signing wasn’t greeted with weeks and weeks of fevered debate, instead the shift quickly moved on to other clubs dealings and the potential for them too, to be sanctioned. Has the love affair ended?
Carlo it seems is having a quiet, authoritative but positive calming effect on the club and its love affair with the media. Ancelotti, a man of few words in Italian and markedly less in his tangled English, seems content to let his team prove themselves on the back pages, rather than the front and it is hard not to think that Signor Ancelotti and Chelsea fans across the globe, given their steady and impressive start to the season, are quickly becoming converts to their managers own version of a paparazzi less La Dolce Vita.
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