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The man who writes to me to claim that this newspaper is pursuing a vendetta against Chelsea had better turn the page now, because what follows might not be to his liking. Once again the club to which he gives his allegiance has proved that while money may provide the foundation for success, it cannot buy the sort of admiration and respect so freely given to Nicholson's Spurs, Busby's United, Paisley's Liverpool, Ferguson's Treble-winners and Wenger's Invincibles.

"No one likes us, we don't care": several times in the past couple of days the old Millwall refrain has been applied to the current champions. This is an error. The thin-skinned response of Chelsea's fans to the crescendo of criticism proves that they do care; in fact they care very much.
They are not used to being loathed. Peter Osgood's untimely death last week came as a reminder that the club occupies a special position in the English game, one based on the collective memory of generations of entertainers and artists, with allowances made for the occasional picturesque defender. It is a position which has been thoroughly undermined by the behaviour of those currently in charge.

Not even when Ken Bates was threatening to surround the Stamford Bridge pitch with an electrified fence did such a tide of general disapproval sweep over the club. And with their every pronouncement, the club's present management seem intent on deepening the well of hostility.

The best you can say is that their tactics are of a piece with those currently employed in British public life as a whole. When few are inclined to accept at face value the announcement that a married couple, one of whom is a cabinet minister, have split up under the pressure of an embryonic scandal, the destructive effects of news management can clearly be seen. Chelsea's constant attempts to spin the interpretation of events to suit their purposes has demolished their credibility.

Before their first match against Barcelona a fortnight ago, Chelsea circulated a document suggesting that their opponents were the beneficiaries of an undue amount of penalty awards. As an attempt to mould opinion and even influence the referee's attitude, this was a contemptible act. The subsequent pre-emptive announcement of Asier Del Horno's one-match ban, accompanied by the unwarranted inference that Uefa had been swayed by the club's testimony into minimising the sentence, was merely cheap. But the instant response to Saturday's unpleasant events at West Bromwich, which was to issue a statement placing the blame squarely on Bryan Robson, Albion's manager, revealed Chelsea's management for what they are.

The incidents that etched themselves on the memory were the sneer on Jose Mourinho's face as he dismissed Robson's objection to the delayed appearance of several Chelsea players at the end of half-time, and the uncontrolled fury he unleashed on the referee's assistant in the second half. You might think that a man on a salary of £5m a year, plus perhaps as much again in personal endorsements, would deem it proper to behave differently when questioning the decisions of an official receiving a match fee of £320 plus expenses. Or, if that man happened to be Jose Mourinho, you might not.

In private, Mourinho may be civilised and charming company; his players seem to adore him. In his technical area, however, he stands revealed as a creature not of the game but of his own ambition. No one doubts that he is a coach of unusual perceptiveness and exemplary application. But as he goaded Robson into a fury on Saturday, the contrast between the two did no favours to the Chelsea manager. Their relative degree of success as managers became irrelevant. You felt like asking whether Mourinho ever really loved the game, in the way Robson has always done, or if, as the exceptionally bright son of a professional footballer, he seized on it simply as a convenient vehicle for his own advancement, knowing that his intellectual energy would enable him to dominate less gifted rivals.

"No class" is now the general verdict on a man who, only a year ago, appeared to have imported a new level of sophistication to the Premiership. His refusal to shake hands with Robson at the end of the match constituted an explicit breach of a protocol based on a mutual understanding of sporting values. And you would have to say that, based on the evidence to date, it laid bare the essence of the man.

http://football.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1725038,00.html
 

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Do me a favour!

The journalist (who has probably never stood on a terrace, or paid to go to a game in his life) is perfectly entitled to his opinion on Jose and the club but who on earth is he to try and articulate the feelings of ‘thin skinned’ Chelsea fans?

As someone who has been going to Chelsea for over two decades, as someone who has sat through hours of abject misery in the 80’s and early 90’s, as someone who has prayed at night as a boy that the club doesn’t go into liquidation and as someone who has watched record signing Robert Fleck balloon a penalty 50 metres over the bar in pouring rain amongst our record smallest attendance in the Coca Cola cup I can honestly say I couldn’t give a flying **** about getting ‘respect’ from other fans or being loved.

I love the fact we are playing teams like Barca tonight, I love that we have the league won in early March and I love the fact that we will get bigger and stronger year after year.

If a snotty nosed public schoolboy journalist and opposition fans of inferior sides hate us for that, then that is great as far as I’m concerned because I couldn’t give a monkeys for them.
 
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