There is a growing love for all things against the grain amongst modern, meme-making, vine-loving football fans. The failures of other big sides and the rise of smaller ones (e.g. Southampton) tends to be provide much more entertainment and interest than the very serious, consistent efficiency of José Mourinho’s side.
Anyone who dubs themselves ‘the special one’ should be assumed an egocentric attention-seeker. José Mourinho loves the limelight, whether it be for his own self-indulgence or to detract attention away from his team so that there’s minimal blame focused on the players and therefore less tension in the dressing room. It’s an undeniably clever tactic and has to be admired. But this season, José seems to be on a tighter leash. Whether him being less bullish and outrageous is down to him or the Chelsea hierarchy is unclear, but with a reputation of being untamable, I’d suggest the former.
Mourinho’s sides have often been called boring, but now the man himself is veering toward mundanity too. When he criticised the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge recently it seemed as if he’d got his bite back, but then he proceeded to suggest he went a bit too far like a kid who’d been told off. José has even been pushed around by Arsène Wenger this season (not on the pitch, mind) and the most damage Wenger has ever done was to a bloody water bottle. This isn’t the Mourinho that the English media cream themselves over week after week. Where are the one-liners? Where’s the embarrassingly over-the-top knee slides? Where’s the merciless dropping of a widely-regarded top player which leads to the eventual downfall of their career? We crave this stuff.
The lack of competition for Chelsea is detracting the interest away from them. “Oh look, Chelsea won again and are still unbeaten and no-one else is really giving them a run for their money, how exciting is that?” Admirable? Yes. Exciting? No. It’s kind of like F1 this year: Mercedes have the fastest car by a mile and therefore are winning comfortably. The only difference is that at Mercedes there’s in-fighting and controversy and that makes for half decent viewing.
Furthermore, when a team like West Ham is playing sexy football under a manager like Sam Allerdyce, you can’t not look. It’s like having a wet dream about Mo off Eastenders. It’s really disturbing, but you can’t stop thinking about it. Even in a more appreciative sense, Koeman’s Southampton side are exceeding all expectation and are playing the ‘underdog that everyone falls in love with’ role to perfection. Southampton have more clean sheets than Chelsea this season and have made no defensive errors whatsoever. These are things that Mourninho’s side pride themselves on, yet they’re being outdone by a more lovable bunch.
This is all a bit premature of course and, depending on how they do, Chelsea will most likely be given the proffesional recognition any title winners deserve. However, in a social context, at the moment there’s so much more to be enjoyed elsewhere that if Chelsea were to lift the Premier League trophy tomorrow, I doubt your average joe fan would bat an eyelid.