Happy being the underdog …

For those Chelsea fans young enough not to remember the days before Roman first showered his wealth upon us it must have come as quite a shock to be written off as title contenders this season even before a ball was kicked.  

Despite a perfect pre-season, virtually the whole print and broadcast media had awarded the domestic silverware to Manchester. For the first time since 2004, Chelsea were considered very much an outside bet to win anything desirable. And no the Asia Cup, prestigious as it is, does not count!

For those of us old enough to remember Division Two football at Stamford Bridge being lumped in with the likes of Bolton and Blackburn does not matter. There were times when the epithet “underdog” would have wholly overstated our chances. So, it is not so bad being dismissed with the casual wave of the media hand and should Chelsea win any silverware this season it will be all the more enjoyable for it. But has our pride been dented by the Manchester supremacy? Does it hurt to know that there is really no point in playing 38+ games this season when the media has awarded the League and FA Cup to the Mancunian pair?

In as much as he may or may not understand, or indeed may or may not care, one can’t help thinking Mr A will be somewhat bemused by Chelsea’s new found status as also-rans. After all, he has pumped what? £700m into the club, including a whopping £50m on one player. He might just feel that in return he should still have a toy that can hold its’ own in Hamleys rather than something you might find in an Argos sale.

But Mr A and others need not fret. We are exactly where we want to be. We are a team in transition but one that is gelling. Players who appeared not to realise they were on the same side are now playing a cohesive game. Our young manager, while untested at this level, is showing signs that he can make the grade. I do confess to often being mystified by his substitutions, but then last season it was the same with Carlo – so maybe it is my lack of tactical awareness rather than theirs.

So young Chelsea fans, we may not have the bragging rights over the Manchester teams just yet. But be patient – it is a long season.  I can’t help thinking Mancini will be unable to manage those rich as croesus egos and City will fall away. As they do, some kind of implosion will inevitably take place, demonstrating that it takes more than money to buy success. Of course one would be mad to write off Fergie and Man Utd. If I had to bet it would be a Chelsea and Man Utd (or Man Utd and Chelsea) who occupy the first and second spots come the end of the season. In any event, normal service will have been resumed, the media will conveniently forget their early season dismissal of us, and our underdog status will be but a distant memory.

By Mario Dunn

1 thought on “Happy being the underdog …”

  1. I think the 'underdog' tag for this season is a perfectly justifiable one considering how far United were in front of us last season and the money spent on strengthening the City squad (again) during last summers transfer window. With Chelsea in transition, who would have thought of players like Drogba, Lampard, Anelka and Malouda thinking of themselves as mere 'squad players'; this season was never going to start with the Blues as favourites to win the Premiership title again.
    In reality AVB has been fortunate that Juan Mata has hit the ground running and been an instant success and Dan Sturridge returned to the club in fine form. The 'kick up the backside' that players such as Frank Lampard, Nicholas Anelka, Fernando Torres and Jon Obi Mikel have all experienced with their team positions being called into question has thrown a new and positive dimension on this seasons squad players. All of these players have come back into the first team and responded with excellent performances.
    Chelsea are obviously still a work in progress and over the next couple of seasons we will see a few more 'older' players moving on whilst younger players being brought in. Our current first team squads mixture of youth and exerience is good but not perfect. Generally the squad IS moving in the right direction and most Chelsea fans recognise that fact. There is still some dead wood to be moved on and a couple of positions strengthened but overall this current squad of players with their energetic new Manager certainly look like being the only REAL threat to the two Manchester clubs aspirations for the title this season. As for who will eventually come out on top this season I believe the answer lies more with the respective Managers. SAF is known to make some dubious selection decisions in key games which miraculously seem to come off for him (but not always), Mancini has his troubles with Tevez, a mis-firing Dzeko, a blind spot as far as Adam Johnson is concerned, the on going enigma that is Balotelli and likewise as a Manager is prone to some very dubious substute decisions. As for AVB, he has this weakness after a few games and keeps forgeting just how useless Salamon Kalou is and then picking the Ivorian. It ALWAYS backfires on Chelsea's new Manager and ends up costing the team points. Let's see which of these three Managers makes the fewest cock ups this season as that will more than anything decide which club eventually wins the seasons top prize.

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