May Football in the UK

Chelsea Gets Tested

This past week Chelsea played Newcastle at home and lost 2-0. That defeat almost certainly sealed their fate in the Champion’s League- win in Munich or miss out, and sacrifice the $50 million bonus associated with making the Champion’s League. Not that owner, Roman Abramovich, needs the change, but, the club could use the extra cash for next season’s player acquisitions.

Saturday, yes, this Saturday, Chelsea faces the hapless Liverpool in Wembley for the famed FA Cup. Normally, we could look forward to two top clubs slugging it out for the cup, but, tomorrow will look more like two old dogs trying to dominate without baring a fang. Liverpool spent massively on players only to struggle in Barclay’s league play. The club has already won the Carling Cup, but, has little else to show for their troubles and Pounds.

As it stands today Arsenal, another hollow pretender, sits in third one point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle. Newcastle could finish third if Arsenal implodes and the Spurs play as usual. A more likely outcome– Newcastle will be 5th, but, still ahead of Chelsea. Which takes us back to the Champion’s League final in Germany in a couple of weeks. But, wait, after the FA Cup this week end, Chelsea must play Liverpool again. And, while Liverpool has struggled, they just might give Chelsea a double dose of losing. Which will send “The Blues” to Germany with almost no momentum.

Do not mistake this for rant about my love for Chelsea. The side has been great in recent seasons, but, not my favorite. Not being English, I do not have the genetic requirement to back a club from birth til death. I am free to support a club and ditch them just as quickly without a bit of guilt. Once upon a time, I favored Manchester United. Today, they like most other English teams, have lost their lustre.

Standing between Newcastle FC and a Champion’s League Spot is Manchester City. Man City should have wrapped up the league title shortly after Boxing Day, but, their manager seems a bit self destructive by pulling his leading scorer in favor of a fellow Italian, who has more in common with “bouncing betty” than a footballer.

Currently, the Manchester clubs are tied, but City holds a goal difference advantage. Should Newcastle stun Man City, United could limp to the title. And, Manchester City, for all its spending will be without a title or a cup.

In this month Chelsea will have played Newcastle (lost), Liverpool twice (to come), and Bayern Munich (May 19th). At the end of it all, they could have salvaged an otherwise miserable season or be on the verge of a total restaffing. (Their manager was fired late in the season.)

This really isn’t about Chelsea FC, but, more about the state of English football. The national team tried two foreign managers and failed. The new players brought forward lack the ability of the aging ones. Some of the stars of now have failed at the national team level, yet, the FA continues to push them as stars. That same attitude can be seen across the width and breadth of the Barclay’s Premier League. Stars proclaimed who have yet to prove themselves.

Being a U.S. guy, I have no room to talk as our U-23 Men’s team failed in qualification. The Men’s national team seems more like a bunch of guys who’ll never make the big time, even at the league level. So, you can poke fun at the status of my country’s level of play. Bottom line- both England and U.S. are in sad shape at the organizational level. Do I believe there are quality players in both nations?

“Yes, I do.”

What’s broken then?

“The organizations which determine who plays and who does not.

Now that we’re through that, grab the remote, set up the DVR to record and make sure you do not miss any of the action. Come May 19th we’ll know if Chelsea’s aging super stars can rise to the occasion one more time.

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