Great expectations unfairly paint Chelsea in negative light

Posted by Phil Lythell

Sebastien Bozon/Getty ImagesThe media spotlight seems to shine stronger on Chelsea players like John Obi Mikel and manager Jose Mourinho.

The 2013-14 season is approaching its halfway point and it has been a typically strange campaign so far for Chelsea. Results have been erratic, if generally positive, with the performances reflective of those outcomes.

Inconsistency has dogged Chelsea for the past three seasons with memories of the relentless surges to the top of the table fading ever so slightly. However, it should be remembered that the standards that were set were ludicrously high and include attaining the Premier League points record of 95. Any team would suffer in comparison.

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Nevertheless, it has not prevented the press from frothing with hysteria, with every blip stoked and magnified into a roaring inferno of despair. There have certainly been some troubling events such as the recent defensive indecision at set pieces, or the limp, listless display against Newcastle United -- though, with every other side, bar Arsenal, suffering similar setbacks, the damage has been limited and the team remain very much in contention for silverware.

It is understandable when the team comes under a certain amount of fire following a defeat; however, there have been times when even victories have been criticised. Praise was tempered for tentative early-season wins over Hull City and Aston Villa, and last week's seven-goal thriller at Sunderland also saw Jose Mourinho's team frowned upon in some quarters. Apparently, serving up a magnificent display of attacking football and participating in a pulsating match is not good enough for some.

Admittedly, there have been reasons not to be too lavish in acclaiming the Blues as there has certainly been a failure to kill off teams that have been there for the taking, while defensive lapses have also helped to undermine any illusions of grandeur. But whatever the weather, there is a pervading negativity in the press whenever Chelsea come up for discussion. Compounding matters has been the willful mis-reporting by some of the tabloid newspapers. Nothing new there, you might think, but with so many people simply reading sensationalist headlines and mistaking them for the truth, an entirely fabricated vision of the club begins to take shape.

Take, for instance, recent comments from Mourinho in which he made the sensible and accurate assertion that Chelsea should not be considered favourites to win either the Premier League or the Champions League with others currently better equipped for those tags. Those perfectly balanced quotes were then shaken up and warped into headlines proclaiming that the Chelsea boss had insisted that his team was not capable of winning those competitions. Essentially, the culpable newspapers reported a total lie.

Obviously, one can choose which publications and websites to read and glean information from while shutting out the noise from those clamouring for hits and sales, but the situation remains exasperating simply because it conjures up an ignorant storm on social networks. Some truly incredible assertions from supposed Chelsea fans have filled this blogger's Twitter timeline, with Mourinho's highly impressive career lampooned by some while others bemoan the departure of Rafael Benitez.

Of course, everybody is entitled to their opinion -- it is the lifeblood of the sport -- though it does seem as if those uttering these curious observations have a rather short and selective memory while also retaining totally unreasonable ideas about where Chelsea should be. Have they forgotten the sheer dross of some of our performances last season that included a home defeat to a QPR side that won just four matches all season and was one of the worst to ever step foot in the Premier League? Did they think that Mourinho would just waltz into Stamford Bridge, install invincibility immediately and race clear at the top of the table? Fortunately these views do seem to be the preserve of a small -- if noisy -- minority of Chelsea "supporters." Most appear to accept the fact that a squad which has its weaknesses is doing well enough, even if it could do much better.

The re-instatement of the Special One was billed as the "Second Coming" though so far it has reflected the album of the same name by The Stone Roses -- good but not as awe-inspiring as the first effort. It is this reality allied to a raising of expectations through Mourinho's arrival that seems to have provoked the ire from some sections of Twitter and the tabloid press who clearly assumed that miracles would take place with Fernando Torres instantly morphing into a 30-goal-a-season striker and David Luiz suddenly adopting an uncanny resemblance to the 2006 version of Fabio Cannavaro. Although improvements have undoubtedly taken place, they have not come not quick enough or been as absolute for some, an illustration of the lack of patience that now encompasses top-level football.

Drowned out by the hyperbole, it seems to have been forgotten that Chelsea have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League (a target that was missed last year), are in the quarterfinals of the Capital One Cup, sit third in the Premier League (last season's finishing position, for which Benitez was lauded by the press) and could conceivably sit on top of the pile on Christmas Day if entirely reasonable results go their way.

For a club that seems to constantly attract negative headlines, they are not doing badly at all, but the knives will predictably be out once again if they fail to beat Crystal Palace. For the sanity of us all, let us pray that Chelsea win on Saturday.

Follow Phil Lythell on Twitter @PhilLythell


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