According to a recent survey carried out by the Daily Mirror, Chelsea is the most hated club in the Premier League. This ‘revelation’ prompted me to think back on the many debates I’ve had with other football fans, and the main argument that I’m sure every Chelsea fan is tired of hearing: you bought your success. I think now, just before the new season starts and in the wake of this survey, it is the perfect time to address this popular (and inaccurate) opinion.
Note: this post will of course be more biased than any previous ones, as I naturally want to defend my club, but I hope that my bias will not sway you from the bigger picture I am trying to paint.
Any Chelsea fan will openly admit that Roman Abramovich has seen us through our most successful period as a football club, and it is clear that the argument of ‘money buying trophies’ stems from his acquisition of the club in 2003. In a growing football market where the value of money is becoming more inflated each season, having a hefty supply of funds is now a necessity. No other fan can honestly say that they would not be thrilled with receiving such a financial spurt (how many Arsenal fans have complained about Wenger being so tight with money?) and even clubs that do are somehow overlooked when discussing over-expenditure. Most people can agree that, despite him being a great player, Paul Pogba is not worth his asking price, but Manchester United’s quest to sign him has surprisingly not been tainted with shouts of money ruining football. My point is that Chelsea somehow seems to come out worst when they are only reacting to the changing pace of the financial market, as are many other clubs.
Football is about winning, no one gets trophies for second place (or fourth place, despite what some clubs seem to believe) and our owner has helped us achieve the best. He is not the perfect businessman either; often guilty of putting his own agenda before the club, particularly when it comes to his choice of management. We have a ridiculously high turnover rate in this sense and he has made some very questionable decisions, like the sacking of Roberto di Matteo and the appointment of Rafa Benitez. I am in no way saying that Abramovich is faultless, but the way he has expanded Chelsea into the global club they are deserves more credit than it gets.
Let’s also look at players. Some of our biggest legends in the club’s overall history have been extremely good value. Frank Lampard is perhaps the best example of this; coming to Chelsea for a mere £11million and going on to become the club’s top goal-scorer ever. Didier Drogba is another instance: he signed with us for £24million and was key in every trophy we won during his time with us, including his pivotal role in THAT Champions League campaign. Even N’golo Kante, a 2015/16 Premier League champion was bought for £30million – a steal considering his outstanding form last season and the inflated transfer market. I cannot speak for Kante’s success yet, but I don’t need to explain anymore the value of Lampard and Drogba for Chelsea, above and beyond their reasonable financial worth.
The final point I’ll make about the crazy obsession people have with Chelsea’s money is that if the statement of money buying trophies was a legitimate one, Chelsea would win every game and every trophy they set out to. We would never have lost a game since 2003. Yet of course, this is not the case. Saying that we have had so much success due to our money is simplifying football to a different level. This game is about a combination of things: strong management, passionate players, money and a desire to win. Last season we only had one of those things, money, and look where we ended up. If you genuinely hate Chelsea because of how rich the club is, I suggest you re-think your club’s own success, or lack of: perhaps it will be clearer that money is not and should not be the be all and end all of football.