Lee Davy gives his opinion on the recent claims that the soon-to-be Premier League champions, Chelsea, are boring.
As a Manchester United fan, watching football is not the same as it used to be. I started watching the game when I was seven years old. That was back in 1982 when Liverpool kept a Luther Blissett inspired Watford away from the league title.
I think we finished third that year, as we did in 81. It was tough back then. Liverpool won everything, and because of that you hated them. It was the way you were raised. You hated the best teams, never spoke of their strengths, and searched high and low for their weaknesses. I can’t even blame my old man for the hatred. He was a Liverpool fan.
Then the 90s kicked in. Oasis set my ears alight and United set my eyes alight. They dominated football throughout the best times of my life. During the Alex Ferguson era a United fan always expected to win. It didn’t matter who we played. We always felt we had enough in our locker to come out on top. More often than not, we did.
We didn’t just win. We won in style. You have to be a die hard United hater (and there are plenty of them) to dispute that United didn’t play some of the greatest football the world has ever seen. I was spoiled. And yet, even when our high standards weren’t matched, we still managed to eek out a result. It may be bias, but even during those games, I loved watching United play.
All that changed when David Moyes took charge at United. I recently read somewhere that people at the top of whatever tickles their fancy, who are ready to climb down from the throne, sub consciously choose someone they know will never reach their heights. Is this what happened with Moyes? Did Ferguson know?
I don’t blame Moyes. I blame Ferguson. He left the team in that state. Moyes was always on a hiding to nothing. It was a reality check. Suddenly, I was watching Man Utd playing West Ham and I was hoping that we could scrape a result. It was insane.
Before United’s monumental collapse I would laugh at fans of football teams complaining about the way their side played football. In my opinion, it was all about results. The way you played was secondary. I can now clearly see that my view was tainted by constant success.
When Moyes left, and Louis Van Gaal came in, I couldn’t see much of a difference for a while. We spent heavily in the transfer market, but something was off. Angel Di Maria didn’t fit in, Falcao looked like a Sunday league player, Marcos Rojo looked about as reliable as a three-wheeler, and don’t get me started on Chris Smalling.
Our football was terrible. We had no width. Michael Carrick must have been coming in his pants as passing sideways, and backwards, became the way of United life. We couldn’t score, because we never passed the ball forward. Each time we faced an attack, our defense looked like one of those floppy air powered figurines that blow in the wind outside car showrooms.
But we kept winning.
I couldn’t work it out.
‘I can’t watch them anymore.” Said my Mum, and United fan of over five decades. “They are shit.”
“But we are winning.” I told her.
“But we are shit.”
I now understand why fans of football matches are so concerned about the style of their football team. I watched United play Chelsea off the park, the other week, and we lost. But more often, than not, I have seen United play poorly and win.
So what do I prefer?
I want my team to win. Of course I do. But I think the most satisfied I have been as a United fan, these past two seasons, was our defeat against Chelsea. I thought we played a near perfect game. Yes, we lost, but I didn’t care. The game ended and I was happy. A few years ago I would have put my head through the TV screen.
Chelsea fans must feel the same way.
In the past two games they have surrendered possession, drove two buses into the defense and midfield, and played for a result. You don’t need to be a tactical genius to know that United and Arsenal play a high line, and are prone to the counter attack. United paid the price. Arsenal got away with it.
The cries of boring, boring Chelsea that rained down from the Arsenal stands were expected; they were also a little hypocritical. George Graham’s Arsenal sides were notorious for getting through games by pinching uninspiring 1-0 victories. Arsenal fans didn’t give a shit back then. They were winning trophies.
Is Chelsea boring?
I don’t like watching them.
But you have to give them a hat tip. Jose Mourinho’s job is to win trophies. He’s very good at it. There are times when Chelsea has played the best football of any team in the league this season. They have the PFA Footballer of the Year in their ranks, in Eden Hazard, they have scored more goals than anyone except Man City, they have conceded less than any team expect Southampton, and six of the eleven players in the Premier League Team of the Year wore the blue shirt of Chelsea.
Chelsea is a machine.
They are full of pace and power, but most importantly, they can all take instructions from their gaffer, and play as a team. Can you imagine Angel Di Maria playing a role for Chelsea? I can’t.
Cesc Fabregas has played in some of the finest footballing teams the world has ever produced, yet this season, he told the press, that he has never enjoyed playing in a team as much as this year. Players like Fabregas don’t like playing in boring football teams. That’s not how this thing works.
I’m afraid it’s much simpler than that.
When I hated Liverpool it’s because they were winning everything. I was suffering from little man syndrome. They were the better team. I knew it, and that’s why I poured scorn on them. It’s the same thing with Chelsea. Fans of Arsenal call them boring because they are bitter. They know they will never win the Premier League title, as long as I have a hole in my ass.
Arsenal didn’t have the ability to break Chelsea down; neither did United. The title will go to Stamford Bridge this year. It may even remain there for some years to come.
I don’t think so.