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 🙂

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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.

Crazy IPL season comes to an end

Kolkata Knight Riders defeated the Chennai Super Kings in Chennai to win the 5th edition of the Indian Premier League. Shah Rukh Khan, the Kolkata based team’s owner danced all over the stadium for over an hour, until there were only a few security guards left to watch. Many congratulations to KKR for their success. It was probably one of the best seasons of the IPL, with a large no. of games going to the last over; or it could have been fixed all around, to make it that kind of an entertainment show. I couldn’t care less.

– We are European Champions CFC

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.

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