India’s best supported English football club

I had been thinking of doing this poll for quite some time. Here’s my motivation behind it. India, with its massive population power (~1.2 billion) is a largely untapped market when it comes to European football. Only perhaps German side Bayern Munich have played a few games in India, and they have always been watched by audiences in excess of a 100,000 at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata. Sadly, one of the biggest reason of this absence is the lack of quality in the Indian local sides, and hence the inability to provide reasonable pre-season fixtures. This though, doesn’t in any way imply a lack of fan-following for the major European sides. On the contrary, there are huge fan groups for almost all top English clubs.

The percentages might comparatively come out smaller when compared to the support for say, the national cricket side or any of the IPL sides, but it should be noticed here that even small percentage numbers mean huge real population numbers with a market of the size of India. So is it your club that stands to gain the largest from this untapped market? Lets find out who you support –

Multiple votes don’t work 🙂

Welcome home Robbie !

Roberto de Matteo has been appointed the permanent manager of Chelsea in a 2 year deal. Finally, common sense has prevailed. The guy won both the trophies that he could have with us during his short 11 week role last season; and it was outrageous that the club were considering the out-going manager of one of those he had defeated during the Champions League run – Guardiola, for the full-time job.

Robbie, as he’s fondly called by the fans, may not have a glorious history in football management, but he’s a Chelsea man through & through, having played for the club for more that  seasons before eventually retiring. In those five seasons, he was part of a team which sowed seeds for the unparalleled success of the next generation. He won 2 FA Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and a League Cup as a player, to add to his recent FA Cup & Champions League triumph. On twitter, I came across this very interesting tweet –

On a personal note, the thing I like best about Di Matteo is that he gets it. He understands Chelsea Football Club, the players, the fans.

This is exactly how I felt about Robbie too. Yes, we could have landed another high-profile, supposedly world-beating manager from across the continent, but no one could have had that link with Chelsea as Robbie has. He is a fan himself, has spent long hours in that Stamford Bridge dressing room, knows about the pressures of facing each different opposition and how much more the fans want triumph on a particular day than another (not to say we don’t want victory everyday). But most importantly, he is connected to those players, because he was once one of them. Of course, only probably JT was around when he was a player, but over the course of years, he’s got to know most of them pretty well.

His critics have pointed to his mediocre league form towards the end of the season. But its important to remember here, that of his 3 league defeats, the 2 against City (away) & Liverpool (away) were largely inconsequential since the team were heavily involved in its Cup double winning run. The only game where we probably should have played better was against Newcastle at home, when Papiss Cisse’s 2 moments of brilliance won the game for the visitors. But, then again, a victory on that night, with the results that followed, would have still only meant a 5th place finish, meaning Europa League football next season. Robbie, by winning the Champions League, ensured we play in the competition next season. If you had asked me, I would have happily taken that Premier League run-in to the end, knowing we were going to do the FA Cup & CL double.

We started the 2011-12 season with a new, young manager who had been appointed on the back of his Europa League and Portuguese League success, with an aim to build a new generation of players at the club. We all know how that worked out, but in 2012, we will start with another new, young manager appointed on the back of his Champions League success, only this time one who had won it for us !

Welcome home Robbie.

A miss and an eventful day

After a run of 20 straight nights of posting on the blog, I missed the one on Friday. I still intend to have 31 new posts in a month since that memorable night in Munich as a tribute to my European Champions Chelsea.

Today was another day of studying for the GMAT ( although as it turned out once again, only for a couple of hours ), some intense hours of tennis, and the Hell in the Cell UNO night. That last part might seem weird but we have a very competitive ( full of frequent scuffles ) UNO  battle going on in the house. Tonight’s epic battle ended in an unbelievable 4 way tie, with the defending champion DK retaining his title, after creating some of the most dramatic moments in the final games (yes, I was this (.) close ).

Confession Time – It has also been a  couple of days when I was successfully played by a girl after a long, very long time. Gracious in defeat. Payback awaits 😀

Tomorrow, I plan to do a piece on Architecture as a career option in India. I’ll try to keep it as informative as possible. Happy reading !

Crazy day ( & a Hazard )

Right now, at this moment my head is mixed with confusion, panic, jubilation & surprise. This day was certainly one that began all too well. Work was largely smooth & excitement brewed up constantly on twitter as Eden Hazard’s next destination seemed more & more likely to be Chelsea. Surprisingly, I was almost free from work at around 7.30 in the evening; when ..well, everything got screwed up, or rather someone screwed everything up. I choose not to share publicly how my professional life goes, & so I shall stay mute.

The confusion brings back memories ( and not so happy ones) of a not too distant past, and it really craps all over my mood. The evening, as a result has largely been an anxious one. To these thoughts, I remind – Every morning is a new opportunity. I hope to sleep over the confusion & have a fresh start tomorrow.

As for Eden Hazard, well, you already see a certain CR7 in him, don’t you ? Arrogant, attention-seeking, naturally gifted & world-class ! After, rounds & rounds of sly promises/interviews/tweets & what not over his next destination, this is what he came up with sometime back –

” I’m signing for the champion’s league winner. “

The media has already declared this means he’s joining us, but with the kind of day it has been, & remembering how fickle ( never-mind attention-hogging ) Hazard can be, I fully expect him to join any of Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Aston Villa, or even Nottingham Forest ! He has confirmed in the past, that he’ll be joining an English club, limits that list down to 5 past Champion’s League winners. Man City, Arsenal & Tottenham (when was he ever even thinking of them ? ) surely miss out on the Hazard boat then ( unless he meant I’m joining the champions, league winner ! )

I wish you & you a good night. And some good for self.

Moments that mattered ..

I’m buzzing, & this just won’t sink in for days to come. After all these years of heart-break, CHELSEA ARE THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS. Yes, there, I said it loud. I would like here, to go through 4 massive goals. The kind of goals, which we never really seemed to slot in the earlier campaigns. Earlier, in these moments, either our shoulders would droop low or we’d keep trying endlessly, but never get our rewards. This time around though, justice was swift. Here are the goals we scored, swiftly after conceding –

1. Frank Lampard vs Napoli (Che 3-1 Napoli (4-4 Agg)), 2nd leg Round of 16, Stamford Bridge.

Yes, this was only a penalty, but what a time to step-up & score one. Of course, Frank is probably one of the world’s best penalty takers, & that’s a fact even hater won’t deny (obviously since they claim his exceptional goal record is only due to the spot-kicks). We started the 2nd leg brilliantly & had one foot in the QF within 50 minutes, only for Inler to score for his side & put them ahead on aggregate. But around the 75 min. mark, Ivanovic headed the ball onto the right hand of Dossena from a corner, & Frankie converted the spot-kick, as calm as ever, bringing us back on level terms, taking the game into extra time, & the rest is now (our) history.

2. Raul Meireles vs Benfica (Chelsea 2-1 Benfica (3-1 Agg)), 2nd leg Quarter-Final, Stamford Bridge

We had to cruise our way to victory in this game. Having taken a fantastic 1-0 win away from home, leading 1-0 at home & with Benfica down to 10 men, it should have been a walk in the park to the finish-line. It wasn’t to be, with Javi Garcia scoring for the visitors in the 85th minute, followed by a period of extremely high pressure on our defense. For all the monies, Benfica looked the only side that could score again. In seasons past, they would have I’m sure, & that’d have been that. But Raul found himself on the ball from one of their corners in the 92nd, ran from outside our box to outside theirs, & then decided to launch one into the near top corner for good humor; before humoring the travelling Benfica fans at that end, for all the jeering he had received from them over the two legs. Game, set & match Chelsea.

3. Ramires vs Barcelona (Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea (2-2 Agg)), 2nd leg Semi-Final, Camp Nou

This was the big one ( I use “was” instead of “is” since something “bigger” happened in Munich). In a game where everyone expected us to be slaughtered, the slaughtering was under progress. Having conceded 2 quick goals & down to 10 men after JT did his “thing”, the flood-gates were surely open at 43 minutes; the “experts”, licking their lips at the prospect of seeing a rape of inhuman proportions,  only the Gods that reside in the Camp Nou could bring upon. But once again, it was not to be. Not this time, not this campaign. What happened instead, left everyone stunned. They had read & revised their scripts for the half-time show, on how they would talk about a helpless, poor Chelsea, destined to concede another 3 or 4 at least; they ended up giving an extempore on how Barcelona could actually crash out instead. In injury time, first half, Lampard found Ramires, who had continued his superb run after initially having passed to Frank from a tight situation, with a defence-splitting ball. Rami, in turn, decided to find the back of the net with only one decisive touch – a chip above the goal-keeper of the highest quality, something for which some of the others would have been hailed the best in the world. BOOM ! We’ve been no comeback kings, & I’d be the first one to concede this. But now we were doing it. We were coming back !

4. Didier Drogba vs Bayern Munich (Bayern 1-1 Chelsea), Final, Allianz Arena

This was not to happen, surely ? For some reason, we had decided to respect Bayern to the levels of Barcelona. We had started the final as if we were involved in a relegation scrap & were playing the no 1 title contenders away from home. And it seemed justice had been served when Thomas Muller put the “home” side up in the 83rd minute. Surely it was too late for a comeback now ? Surely Chelsea had run out of their “luck” ? Not at all, “luck” we might have run out of, belief, Never ! And who better to bring us back into the game than The Drog himself. Torres, finally introduced after Bayern’s goal, won a corner, & Drogba converted Mata’s corner with a thumping header, the kind only he can provide. Manuel Neuer could barely scuffle as the ball went past his trembling fingers in a flash. We were back, once again ! And the belief, well it never ran out ! We are now Champions of Europe.

( No image copyrights intended )

Maha-Freak-‘India’nomics – a shot at India’s sudden rise to stardom !

Okay so here’s the facts. This nation, with its 1.2 billion people

  • is not rich,
  • by far prosperous,
  • diseased and hungry and corrupt,
  • and still inhabits the largest number of slum dwellers in the world.

So the ‘slumdog’ is pretty much barking, but the ‘millionaire’ is here. He’s shining, no, he’s not wearing the Armani’s yet, certainly not the playboy, but you give him a dare, and he’s upto it. He’s being talked about, and looked at, and everyones interested, and throwing glances only the super-hot will get. He’s hot, boy he’s hot !

There are now references like :

” The following list is Forbes ranking of the world’s richest billionaires as of February 12, 2010, and does not reflect changes since then. There are 1,011 names in this year’s list. United States currently has the most billionaires amongst the world’s top 10 but India is expected to soon overtake the United States to gain more billionaires among the world’s top 10 than any other country”                       – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbes_list_of_billionaires

“Chelsea is a big club, and probably the most suited to be bought, if [the owner] ever decides to sell. Located at London’s posh west-end, with a sufficiently large stadium, high attendances, no debts, and huge markets in Americas and India. Infact, I’d fancy one of those Indian tycoons buying it”              – Some random BBC Chelsea forum

Jai Hind!”                                                                                                                                       – US President Barack Obama

In hushed tones, all over the world its being talked about as the land of new riches. In unprecedented trends, the west desperately wants jobs in a country, where they once used to receive Hardship allowances, for so much as landing. Its the breeding ground of world’s richest businessmen, owners of Formula 1 teams and English football clubs and steel magnates, the playground for the world’s most successful companies, not just IT companies, but retailers, automobiles, power, steel and manufacturing, textiles, and you name it, everything is going Indian; everyone wants a slice of the burgeoning Indian pie.

But, how and why, this sudden rise in expectations, this unforeseen stardom, this rise in power ? Is it the relaxing of the Indian market laws, or is it the media, its scrutiny into everything ? Has it got something to do with the Governments, and their plans of development ? Or can it have, umm, well, something to do with the Indian girls? Perhaps it has.

The market laws were, well, apparently non-existent in the 50s and the 60s. Of course, being a young country, those markets were not very strong. Add to that, the relative adolescence of technology ( well, for 1 there was no internet, no cheap airfares to reach India, no cheap calls), yes, you would not really have expected much awe to be generated. But wouldn’t a new and open market be better suited to investment of any kinds, to see your money grow. But there was none. The Cadillac never came, the hotlines stayed back, even the computer never touched base till the early 80s. There was coke, but pepsi stayed back, Levis and Pepe never thought of the cheap manufacturing costs. It could’ve been big, but the bang never came.

They opened up again in the 90s. Yes, this time it was different, probably the perceptions had changed. They fancied India, but from a distance. No one really interested to come down and have a look. If anything, the soft drinks thought they could sell. But anyone who drove, still drove a Maruti, the phone was BSNL/MTNL, the finest suit was still a Grasim or Dinesh. They looked, and they looked harder, but none wanted to take the jump.

At the same time, cable TV arrived, and in a big way. The physical goods might not have landed, but whatever could be sent via satellite, was sold. Western media giants tried to push the cable television market, and along it brought with it, the inevitable birth of “Dynamic Media”, read, television news, news reporters, media driven justice drives, undercover scandal exposures, which also poured down to the expansion of print media, and media in any form fathomable. A billion Indians wanted stories, everyone wanted the truth, and everyone loved the spice, the unmasked faces. Suddenly, the News was in!

But media was fighting within itself; it was bringing news at cut-throat competition. Yes, it was causing shivers amongst the corrupt, the evil, the hypocrites; but the scandals, the news would not stop pouring in. So the evil, never really stopped being evil, the corrupt, though straightened to an extent, never really became incorruptible. Infact, in its exceedingly growing involvement with the dirty, the media started growing dirty. Instead of uncovering scandals, it started planting them, in order to make the Big Newsnight. Often, the reporters turned out to be scandalous, instead of the righteous ! In the long run, the Indians who loved their media, started to mock it on public forums, for its desperation, for its over-denigration, for its incompetency, and almost “Freakshow” programming in some cases (read India TV, AajTak, Samay et al). Quite surely, an aspect the Indians grew to disrespect themselves, couldn’t really have made it walk the red carpet.

The Governments, they come and the Governments they go. They promise, they win, and they try to work. And they try to suffice their greed while they work. The small cut that remains trickles down to whatever the small amount of work they could put together. Not that there isn’t work. The education available now, although still nowhere near the levels set in the west, is light years ahead of the previous decades. The infrastructure is toiling to get a newer, shinier look. But a lot remains to be done. Health services have hardly improved, or for that matter, become any inexpensive. The standard of living is to a large extent (ignoring the lets call it “creamy layer”, very original, eh!) really poor. The leaders have become, no less corrupt, only smarter in their ways to smartly (read very secretly) amass the public money. The Governments surely have played a bigger role than any of the other above mentioned aspects in inviting the west over home, but they’ve not really motivated no one.

So where has the motivation come from? Where has this new found zeal to succeed, and grow rich, and make name spurted from? In short, where has the stardom, the “world’s favorite baby” tag come from?

Lets take this discussion to a lounge in Mumbai, where the author is meeting two lady friends, who’ve met eachother after a long time. They’re discussing the intricacies of their lives, or rather gossiping, and this author is bored to hell, and gulping it down with beer, only when, the girls start discussing another of their girlfriend, who’s set to get married soon. The girls discuss the options this girl had as her suitors, one was apparently a nice IT guy, another a doctor, and the third had just finished his business course from IIM-B (lets call it the Indian Yale). The girl’s decided in unison, of course it has to be the IIM guy ! The author, puzzled by this shocking matter-of-factly unison probed into the why this decision? But the girls could only figure out, “ C’mon ! The richest/best prospects guy obviously “. The author pointed out, had this been the case, the great Indian heroes of yesteryears, who played poor coolies, or laborers, or as unemployed daredevils who fought for righteousness (read Amitabh, Dharmendra, and annoyingly repetitive Mithun) would never have had happy endings with their rich/or even not so rich good-looking heroines. The girls’ simply responded if there were any such heroes to be seen, in any movies, anymore. Shockingly true again ! So the girls had changed. The rich men were in. Now, I’m not being chauvinistic and announcing that this was the only action in place, and that the women were not striving to get any richer by themselves, but they certainly did want the rich boys, and infact it was quite obvious to all of them !

The author, still in disbelief, tried to bring up the matter with any and all of the lady friends he happened to talk to. And the responses that came up were strikingly similar. The old school days of chivalry, and of the rugged, the fighter against injustice, the righteous man were gone. Their men now had to be rich, and ready to empty their pockets, and if they were not already, they had to strive for it, study for it, work their asses off for it, because, to the women, it was quite obvious they had to be, if they had to be with them ! In his research, he came across “The one I marry has to be earning atleast 20 lakhs an year (i.e, Rs 2 mil)”, “What’s the point marrying someone, who doesn’t earn enough to be happy with, or rather to shop with (and a scary LOL)” and “C’mon the guy has to be making more than the girl, those [not so rich] guys can marry someone else ! “ and most shockingly “After I marry, who wants to work or anything, I’ll just spend heheh”.

So, the Indian girl has spoken, and she’s driving every guy to riches, and again not that she’s not trying for the riches herself, but she is, atleast as it seems, aiming high (read in everyone’s league their highest) when it comes to the guys. In effect, a richer girl by herself expects to land a richer guy, and the productive cyclicity of money-making is driving the Indian youth to crazy new heights ! Gone is the good life, they all want the best life now (and the best squeeze !). And the “Indian Baby”  is going global with that best life.

Okay, I know this work might sound really shallow, but those were real girls, and when asked to contemplate on the reasons I figured, none of them seemed to disapprove. Although, they found it awkward, they couldn’t really deny the reasoning. So contemplate ! 😛

The best entertainment of 2008!!*

2008 would probably be an year i’d remember more for the sporting entertainment it provided compared to anything to do with film and television. Here i list some of the best from the year-gone-by.

(*only includes events i witnessed myself)

1. UEFA Champions League Final- Chelsea vs Manchester United, May 21st 2008, Moscow.

2. Indian Premier League Final- Rajasthan Royals vs CSK, June 1 2008, Navi Mumbai.

3. CB series Finals (India vs Australia), Jan -Feb 2008, Australia; & Australia tour of India, Nov-Dec 2008.

4. The Dark Knight ( July 2008 )

5. US President Elect Barack Obama’s victory speech, Nov 5th 2008, Chicago.

6. How I met your mother ( Season 4, TV)

7. Welcome to Sajjanpur ( Sept 2008 )

8. Heroes (Season 3, TV)

9. Everton vs Aston Villa, EPL, Dec 7th 2008.

10. Russia vs Holland, UEFA Euro -2008, Jun 21st 2008.

11. Usain Bolt’s WR sprints, Beijing Olympics, August 2008.

12. US President George W. Bush getting the ‘boot’ from Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, Dec 14th 2008.

13. Burn after reading (Sept 2008).

Of Wall-E, Snatch and the awaiting Slumdog

Another month went between my previous post and the one that progresses… a few things of importance before the reviews begin:

Barack Obama got chosen as the 44th President of the US of A.

Mumbai had more to worry than the menacing ‘Raj’. Terrorists attacked the city on 26th of Nov. (the same day as my   parents married). The attack claimed nearly 200 lives and injured many more. It seems this time the world is determined to come together and crackdown Pakistan originating terror organizations.

Chelsea haven’t been having the best of times. Defeats at Roma, and to Arsenal and Burnley at home, mean that the blues find themselves 2nd in the premiership, knocked out of the Carling Cup, and needing to desperately win against CFR Cluj in a few hours from now, in order to ensure a place in the Champions League knockout stages.

Wall-E

walle

IMDB rank 34 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

That Pixar  is the best when it comes to modern-day animation technology, is not questioned by many , but in Andrew Stanton’s Wall-E, Pixar have probably found their masterpiece ( Yes, after considering Ratatouille and Finding Nemo ).

The story is set in a distant, but not so unrealistic future, where mankind has abandoned earth because it has become covered with trash, WALL-E, a garbage collecting robot has been left to clean up the mess, alone, except for a sprightly pet cockroach. One day, Eve, a sleek (and dangerous) robot, is sent to earth to find proof that life is once again sustainable. WALL-E falls in love with Eve and the rest of the story revolves around sci-fi spaceships, robot chase sequences and umpteen hilarious situations.

What clicks the most for WALL-E is its complete story package, exploring robot emotions, human ignorance and the ultimate fate that technology may bring upon us. Pixar’s superior animation techniques leave you amazed after every scene, and Stanton’s ever-fresh ideas add to the brilliance of the show.

Wall-E is a must watch for all the animation buffs out there ( though I ain’t  1 really), and is currently the highest rated animation movie on the IMDB at 34.

10/10 for animation, direction, voice-overs, storyline and Pixar.

Snatch

snatch

IMDB rank 159 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

Snatch is a movie, I can never get enough of. I love British movies, I love dark comedy, and I love the English accent. Snatch is all of that added to a brilliant cast, excellent direction, and a story that leaves you awe-struck. Its also the only real thing Guy Ritchie ever made. Here’s a nice plot summary I borrowed from IMDB:

Turkish ( Jason Statham ) and his close friend/accomplice Tommy ( Stephen Graham ) get pulled into the world of match fixing in illegal boxing by the notorious Brick Top ( Alan Ford ). Things get complicated when the boxer they had lined up gets the shit kicked out of him by a Mickey( Brad Pitt ), a ‘pikey’ ( slang for an Irish Gypsy)- who comes into the equation after Turkish, an unlicensed boxing promoter wants to buy a caravan off the Irish Gypsies. They then try to convince Mickey not only to fight for them, but to lose for them too. Whilst all this is going on, a huge diamond heist takes place, and a fistful of motley characters enter the story, including ‘Cousin Avi’, ‘Boris The Blade’, ‘Franky Four Fingers'( Benecio del Toro ) and ‘Bullet Tooth Tony'( Vinnie Jones ). Things go from bad to worse as it all becomes about the money, the guns, and a damned dog!

Add to the above, some of that eccentric British accent, a buch of witless characters sporting guns, and ovcousre -> ze blood. Please watch Snatch and if it clicks with you, you’ll watch it again n again, just for the sake of it. The background score ain’t bad either.

9/10 for acting, cast, setting, and editing.

10/10 for the storyline.

Watch out for Jason Statham ( in his career best-performance) and Brad Pitt’s a ‘pikey’.

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

IMDB rank 222 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

I haven’t seen the Slumdog Millionaire, but from what i hear this promises to be one hell of an India based movie. This genre has been attracting notable interest in the recent past with decent movies like The Darjeeling Ltd. becoming audience favorites. The thing with Darjeeling Ltd. was that none of it was real, neither was the story believable, nor was the India in it. But the west loves its ‘Indian’ image and loved the movie, which frankly, becomes a bit tiresome for an Indian to go through. But Slumdog is different; its set in the real India, with a realistic situation, and is already making heavy Oscar vibes, with lead actor Dev Patel becoming a fan-favorite. Watch out for this movie in the coming days, that is, if you haven’t marveled it already. I sure am looking forward to it.

(*Images courtesy IMDB)

Black Candy Blues

Lewis Hamilton’s F1 win could well be an indicator for things to come. The United States goes into elections today, and for the first time in its history, a black man is being touted as a heavy favourite. And Hamilton’s F1 win may be seen as an indicator for things to come.

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Not getting into any race-driven ( excuse the pun ) feelings, but an Obama victory would certainly be refreshing, what remains to be seen is whether he can deliver the change he’s promised.

The important thing here is not to rule out his very formidable opponent in Sen. John McCain. As a former POW, he’s displayed the strength, at both physical and mental levels to make this fight far from a one-sided affair. Even though i’ve always believed the US electoral system to be error prone, it always provides interesting outcomes. May the best man win!

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Chelsea have bounced back brilliantly from their Bridge defeat to Liverpool, and have snatched the top spotin the PL again after falling to 2nd last Sunday. Emphatic victories against Hull ( 3-0 a ) and Sunderland ( 5-0 h also involving a Nicholas Anelka hat-trick ) have ensured they have a far superior goal difference ( +23 ) than any of the other title contenders.

burn-after-reading-poster

A movie that i saw recently was Burn After Reading. From the very impressive duo of Ethan and Joel Coen ( of The Big Lebowski, Fargo, and No Country for Old Men fame ), this movie , for me, couldn’t stand up to their previous highs. Although loaded with the highest-end cast of George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Jon Malkovich, Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton, the movie fails to find a stable plot and keeps juggling between a situational comedy and a Government thriller. The background score is very impressive, and helps build suspense towards a climax, which ends up being very soft.

Overall i’d rate this movie at 7/10 for its background score, and the impressive cast.

Chelsea home-run:An interesting reference

Here’s an interesting piece i came across

Ding dong, Chelsea’s streak is dead.

Thanks to a deflected shot by Xabi Alonso in the 10th minute off Jose Bosingwa, Liverpool topped Chelsea 1-0 Sunday morning at Stamford Bridge to end the Blue impressive 86-game home unbeaten streak.

Chelsea’s last defeat at Stamford Bridge was in February 21, 2004 to Arsenal.

To put it in perspective, that’s six months before anyone knew what “Lost” was. In that time the Red Sox have won two World Series. It’s the same month Kanye West released his first album and since then has sold over 12 million units worldwide.

For more perspective, the previous English record had been 63 matches held set by Liverpool from 1978-80. Chelsea might be unlikeable, but they absolutely owned this record.



Chelsea- The 86 streak tribute

Back in 2002, on a random day in school, at a GK period, a friend of mine, who was conducting a small mock quiz for the class, asked my team a question I don’t remember. We didn’t have the answer, and he prompted me by saying, “C’mon Kartik, it’s your favorite team, the one you told me about”. To be frank, I didn’t have a single clue to what he was referring, but I replied, “Is it Chelsea?” As it turned out it was Chelsea, and it’s been Chelsea ever since then. Maybe the word Chelsea had come up in one of our random sports talk ( and there were too many ), but I don’t think I can guess what logistics made him call that team my favorite.

Something happened today!

Sometimes when something ends all of a sudden, its strange how you wish it would never have been in the first place. But the worst strikes, when you have to deal with that for the first time.

Chelsea lost for the first time at the Stamford Bridge in a Premier League game for 4 years and 8 months. I felt like it’d be better if I could cry, and not many things make me feel that way. They’ll all come to me, they’ll repeat it to me- it’d be better if I could cry.

Shortly after that first stint with Chelsea, the cable operator at our place didn’t air ESPN-Star for a long time. But by that time, I’d become Chelsea enough to stop at that. Sure, Zola, Zenden, Hasselbaink, Le Saux et al didn’t claim to be invincible, but flames of my Chelsea romance had already been lit.

We shifted to Mumbai around summer 2004, which hadn’t been the best of my times. On the first day to new school, I met this friend, one who still is probably the best of them I’ve got. He asked me if I followed football, that did I watch the EPL, if I supported a club? Maybe, not entirely truthfully, I said I watched football games all the time. I said I was a Chelsea fan ( for the first time ). And it was never about the money as they keep telling me. 

I had seen the game when they last lost a home premier league game, but at that time it didn’t matter. It was OK. Chelsea was also-rans, and they lost to a season-unbeaten Arsenal side. That was February 2004.I was 15 then.

Ever since then, I’d never seen them fail, not at the fortress called Stamford Bridge, that is until today, October 26, 2008, a day after my 20th birthday.

The legend of the phoenix is that it rises back from its own ashes, every time it dies, and though today wasn’t the death of the Chelsea legend, it’s time we rebuild it again. It took them all 86 games ( a total of 26 different teams ) to finally bring the streak to an end. I hope its 860 now. I hope I live to see them keep winning at home forever…..

True Blue Forever…..