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.

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…..