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An Open Letter To Luiz Felipe Scolari


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Dear Phil,

Or is it okay for us fans to call you just plain old ‘Big‘? It is, oh good, because we will be giving it extra large where your name is concerned [or some good natured derivative of it] and it’ll be rocking around the Bridge from the first home game onwards. Anyway, I always say it’s nice to get the pleasantries out of the way before we get down to the real business of the day, which is in Chelsea’s case, of course, winning with style. We are all agreed on this, aren’t we? That is your brief, isn’t it Phil, that’s what Roman wants and that’s what you’re expected to deliver?

You see, me old mate, us fans either take to people very easily or we don’t, so having had well nigh a torrid season and a half to ponder on the meaning of Chelsea football life, with most of that time spent under the management of someone who was never going to have his name sung from the rafters and never going to deliver much more than a cone or two pitch side, we’re all a little fraught at the moment and could do with more than a bit of clarity, statement-wise. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not [in the main] impatient Juany Come Latelys and we’re not going to moan the moment our three hundred year old home record goes under, but we are accused by the Media of being the most paranoid supporters in the land and therein lies the source of our need for reassurance. We will take you to our hearts as easy as anything, but you must be made aware of the current order of things over here, so as to be best equipped to break down the barriers of prejudice in the shortest possible time. Here goes, then, listen up…

Whether it be Money, Marketing, My Kinda Guys or Machiavellian motives, Chelsea are seen to be at the root of all evils in the eyes of the Media in this country and our three main rivals get off relatively scot-free by comparison. It doesn’t hurt to mark your card early in this respect and I’ve given a few obvious examples below that follow on from the announcement of your appointment, and, for ease of reference, they are shown under three headings denoting the supposed status in the game of the characters most likely to get right up your nose on said topic. Other names are bound to crop up regularly, as games and seasons go by, and only one thing might change the general note of negativity generated by these contributions - yes, you’ve guessed already - it’s your ability to deliver a winning team playing stylish football. Roman got fed up with the sniping on this front under Jose’s management and now you are here to put the record straight. That’s what he’s asked you to do, isn’t it? Go on, admit it, you are amongst friends, after all. Anyway, whilst you think about the tone of your first Chelsea press conference on the 1st July, here are those examples…

The Hacks - according to them, your arrival at the Bridge is all about money, the start of what will become a thematic rant from them, but you did rather invite this initial burst with your comments at the Euros, albeit to placate your present Portuguese employers. Joe Lovejoy (Sunday Times) was indecently quick to turn your words into an ’I Went for the Money’ headline and no doubt many more followed suit. You will soon learn that hacks believe Chelsea lure players with money as well as managers, whereas Arsene Wenger finds them for next to nothing, in a foreign rough-cut state, before shining them up into stars. Sir Alex Ferguson? Well, he just has to wait for them to turn up at Old Trafford, pleading to play for peanuts, and nothing as vulgar as money ever changes hands. Rafa Benitez is different (I’ll say) in so far as he spends millions each season on jigsaws that are always missing a final piece, which, we now have it on good authority, is likely to be found in Barry. Needless to say, the comedic content in the work of these hacks is lost on editors throughout the country and real football journalists, such as Martin Samuel, are few and far between.

The Commentators - hard to single out only one of these gentlemen as an example, but I’ve plumped for Clive Tyldesley, not only because the word ’plumped’ is aptly descriptive of him, but also due to the fact that he was the first commentator to pile on the negatives when your appointment was announced, both in words on ITV and in print for the Daily Telegraph. Put quite simply, he is a Liverpool fan who cannot hide his bias, especially when two English teams play each other in a Champions League semi-final and one of them happens to be his favourite. There you are you see, Phil, that paranoia is showing itself again, although before you dismiss my criticisms out of hand take a look at a certain Rob Hawthorne on Sky TV for a mirror image in negativity, slanted in a Murdoch/ManU sort of way. Incidentally, whilst you may be aware of Sky coverage, you probably need it explained to you that ITV is also a TV company, except in their case they only dabble in Champions League football coverage merely as a sideline to their main aim in life, which is to have an audience watching adverts 24/7, interspersed with the odd two minute programme slot.

The Pundits - you wont know most of them from Adam, although the name Hansen might ring a bell, and when you hear that someone called David Pleat believes Roman distorts everything with his cash [and nobody else in the Premiership does] I envy you your obvious retort - who the bloody hell is David Pleat? We too wish we’d never heard of him, but you are going to have to get used to a motley crew of D List celebs like him who don’t have a good word to say for us and our players and who, more importantly, will very quickly turn you from being World Cup winning coach into downward spiralling Chelsea failure.

You’ll get widdle from Waddle and little from Lawro, but never forget that your players are getting it ten times worse. Poor old Petr is now officially removed from No.1 position in the world goalkeeping rankings due to a mistake. Frank’s every mistake is magnified, inversely proportionate to praise given for goals/work rate/passing - in effect, a complete reversal of their attitude towards Stevie G. The Bison is a poor tackler [boo, hiss], as is Paul Scholes [giggle, bless him] and all this leads all too easily to a certain Andy Gray who will tell you that Wayne Rooney’s little hack is nothing and borne of frustration, whereas an identical effort from Mikel is cynical and deserves a booking.

Disfavour of a player because he plays for Chelsea is rife in the game in this country, Phil, as is also evidenced by the through-hooping Fabio Capello is doing at the moment over the England captaincy, merely to placate the Media and give some [much needed] credence to the belief that Rio Ferdinand [yes that Nigerian Chief Rio!!] is better leadership material than John Terry. I’ll give you just a few days, perhaps even just a few hours, in JT’s company and I’m sure you’ll be finding that little concoction of a contest about as funny as a Scholesy tackle.

Still, this is all no more than we Chelsea fans have become accustomed to since Roman arrived, Phil, and no doubt you will become accustomed to it too, but probably not before you're left wondering why you only got one of those Manager of the Month Awards in your first season, despite our winning the title, or why that Gerrard bloke got twelve Man of the Match equivalents, despite not scoring and spraying passes everywhere. That’s life in the Premiership, mate, and don’t for one moment think winning with style is likely to change anything. Oh, one last thing…just how good is this Regina Brandao woman, cos around here we could all do with a bit of help, paranoia-wise.

Yours in anticipation,


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Addendum - an open postscript to Peter Kenyon and / or Roman Abramovich on the appointment of Scolari.

From your beloved supporters.

Dear Pete,

In order to give Phil every chance of turning his arrival at Chelsea into some kind of positive in the eyes of the world, please could you possibly:

1. Go on holiday for a month or two starting two days before Phil arrives at SW6?

2. Refrain from sending telegraphs from your beach-hut to your favourite journalists (actually, you don't have any - rather they don't have you) of the 'we got our man in the end' nature.

3. Not give any TV or radio interviews for the first year of Phil's tenure

4. Should there be a year two (on the basis that he wins all 4 available trophies and a special CFC vs the World Cup in his first year), please extend point 3 for another 12 months and add in press.

5. Work from home a lot

6. Turn down all those irritating PR moments like when you have to carry the Olympic torch for those lovely Chinese folk

And tell Roman to keep his cheque book closed for a month or two so we can see what Big Phil can do with the remaining squad.

Because that might actually be a little interesting


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