For the first time in a long time I tuned into MOTD, I watched the condensed 5-10 minute extracts of each match, for obvious reasons some extracts were shorter than others. The first game on show was Chelsea vs Norwich. This game to many seemed to be a foregone conclusion given Chelsea’s recent good run of form and more noticeably coming off of two impressive wins, one in the Champions League and the other being a well worked victory against London rivals Arsenal, both away from home. From the highlights Chelsea looked unstoppable, after conceding early courtesy of a well taken goal from Grant Holt.
The trio of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar in the attacking midfield positions looked pleasing on the eye, each player given license to roam by Di Matteo, supporting Fernando Torres who was the lone striker. Not only that but you had the more defensive minded Lampard and Mikel anchoring the midfield, with the former making his typical forward runs, again supporting Torres when need be. As said earlier they were unstoppable for most parts of the game and showed their gulf in class, they were definitely an attractive side to watch. So then to the interviews and the usual banter of observing Roberto Di Matteo’s Pete Sampras like eyebrows, sorry I could not resist. Chris Hughton in a humble manner conceded that the better side Chelsea did indeed win, the players had a word or two to say and then to Gary Linekar and the boys in the studio.
Now whilst Martin Keown spoke of defensive frailties at the back for Norwich, Shearer took it upon himself to make the most overused claim in modern day football. Although the exact words can’t be replicated, his claim in a nutshell had something to do with likening Chelsea’s style of football so far the season to Barcelona. I’m sure the same words were uttered last season towards Manchester City or Swansea City and they were definitely uttered in reference to Arsenal’s attacking displays.
The claim was lazy, fairly inaccurate and on Shearer’s part forced. The ultimate trophy to any side playing football is likening them to Barcelona. Barcelona is easily the most attractive side in the world, what separates them from the rest of the world is their fluidity, their intricate football, their high pressing, surging full backs and most importantly superstar names generated by the footballing academy of La Masia. Their style has been adopted because the majority of their players are Barcelona tutored players, each player learns their role like it’s a GCSE exam. Chelsea on the other hand has a long way to go, they have young flair players which have aided them in their enjoyable start to the season and that is it, in the simplest of terms.
But haven’t we seen this before? Going into the 2008-2009 season Chelsea helped themselves to a few new signings as they do, a more significant signing was Deco, who changed the way Chelsea played football under the guidance of Felipe Scolari. They were brushing sides away and looking in good form during Scolari’s early days as Chelsea boss. The pundit’s verdict? Simple Barcelona were not as yet identified as the pinnacle of footballing beauty in comparison to this very day, since the English media were unaware of the changes made to Barcelona’s football under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola in his new role as manager at the Catalonian Club. So they compared Chelsea’s style of play to Brazil. Again lazy, inaccurate, forced and premature and if I am not mistaken Shearer was yet again the protagonist behind these subjective claims. So what happened next for Scolari’s men? A couple of uncharacteristic home losses to Liverpool and Arsenal and the Brazilian was dismissed as Chelsea manager, whilst United and Liverpool made a battle of it for the Premier League crown that season. Maybe the MOTD pundits need to notify themselves of this in order to resist themselves from lauding another side and forcing them into that Barcelona category.
Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)