by Terry Sazio

My oh my, hasn’t our fanbase changed a lot recently, no?

And not in a good way at that either. I remember when having thoughtful, engaging discussions – whether you would agree or disagree on what was being said – was the norm. Maybe I ‘m wrong and that is still the case. With that said though, what is definitely happening – and seems to be unavoidable now – is that the level of debate within the football world sure as hell has gotten a lot worse.

Maybe that’s due to the vocal minority getting louder, or the fact that fans have become more impatient and entitled even. What we cannot deny however is that things need to improve soon otherwise we’ll start to become stereotyped as being similar to other fanbases which are known to be bad. We cannot get to that point.

With this in mind, here are the four current issues that need to eradicated from within our own fanbase:

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Let’s be real for a second here – we weren’t going to be Premier League Champions this season. If you thought that, then I’m sorry but you need to take the blinkers off and accept that our team, even with the odd great performance and result here and there, was never going to match others around us.

Photo Source: Premier League

We have been pretty much relying on one player – Eden Hazard. If he turns up, we have a chance of doing something. If he doesn’t, forget about it. Whilst having a great start when we remained undefeated in all competitions – the last one in all major European Leagues I might add – until November (when we came up short against Tottenham), you could argue that it created this false sense of hope and expectation from the team this season.

Sarri warned us multiple times during the undefeated run that Chelsea was not ready for a title challenge and that the team needed at least a full season before you started to see a Chelsea side capable challenging for the biggest prizes domestically and in Europe once again.

Granted, getting to the EFL Cup final has been a good start to our rebuilding during this transitional season, it should not though be seen as what to expect for the rest of it. Some fans, however, refused to (and still do) accept that this is the case and still have their heads in the clouds and most probably continue to stand by their unrealistic expectations over the coming months. The team is bereft of major talent besides a few, we’re over-reliant on one or two players to constantly get us out of trouble and the team – in recent weeks – can’t even do the basic fundamentals right.

This has lead to certain fans complaining because they honestly think the Chelsea of today is the same one from a few years ago. Breaking news… today’s team would get utterly destroyed by previous teams from years gone by.

But some won’t have it and refuse to accept that. They think that this team could stroll to three cup wins and a league title too. Really?

Because of this attitude, this proportion has become impatient. They’ve become demanding. They want instant gratification, no matter how serious the current issues within the club are. This has lead to a certain mentality beginning to creep in. And that mentality is…

THE ENTITLED MENTALITY CREEPING IN

The Roman Abramovich era has been a very successful one. Since buying the club in 2003 – the Russian billionaire has helped us became a major force within football, both domestically and in Europe. Fifteen major trophies in sixteen years proves that.

Whilst the majority of our fanbase is grateful that they have lived to see the ‘golden era’ of our football club – there are some who have ONLY see this era and this assume this is now the norm for us.

In recent memory, that’s understandable. But overall, however, that doesn’t tell the whole picture. 50 years without adding another league title. 27 years between FA Cups, 28 between European glory… when we were successful back in the past, we truly appreciated it as felt it was never going to get any better than that. Abramovich’s money and pulling power than changed that completely.

That, has lead to some who believe now that every single season will be a trophy-laden one at that. Huge mistake if you believe that. If you think that will happen every single season, you’re only going to constantly disappoint yourself and be filled with nothing but resentment and anger for no apparent reason.

Don’t do it, it’s simply not worth it. Enjoy the simple things in football, especially when it comes to Chelsea.

As much as the entitled mentality is now a part of our fanbase, there’s another part of it that is…

REACTIONARY MUCH?

What I’ve noticed about our fanbase – especially on social media – is that there are now four different ‘groups’ of fans.

We have:
• Fans that are stuck in the past and cannot accept change (The ‘yer da’s’ especially).
• Fans stuck in the future that won’t come until the squad improves.
• Fans who just enjoy being negative about everything, even when we win/are successful.
• Fans that have fair opinions and are unclouded by biased agendas.

This has caused our fanbase to fracture and thus, create certain mentalities, agendas and other nonsense that is simply not needed.

Photo Source: Bloomberg

Whilst football fans have always been reactionary to an extent, it has become a lot worse ever since social media became a major part of everyday life. Players who were ‘amazing’ one match, become ‘a waste of money’ the next. Managers are scrutinised in every single game, being the best thing sliced bread when we win and needed to be sacked immediately when we lose.

After a while, this becomes very boring to see on a constant basis and makes me wonder why would fans like this need so much unneeded negativity in their lives?

The reaction to the loss is now actually worse the defeat itself you could argue, which is baffling to me. Like I mentioned before, reactionary fans have always been around. But since the emergence of platforms such as Twitter, YouTube et al, being reactionary is now seen as being part of the norm. This has given the younger/future generation this bizarre belief of power to demand more and expect nothing than absolute perfection every single time. This is unhealthy and needs to stop because it’ll get to the point where anything less than winning the quadruple every season is seen as a failure.

This has lead to certain parts of ‘FT’ (Football Twitter) and YouTube ‘fan channels’ have creating this atmosphere of abuse and hatred and this making others believe that is simply okay.

When in fact it’s simply not. Stop being like/RT merchants and help remove the toxicity that exists. The sort that is now being aimed directly at our own players and our own managers, which is simply inexcusable.

The very same toxicity and hatred, which is starting to get worse and more frequent towards our current incumbent Head Coach…

WILL SARRI EVER GET A FAIR CHANCE?

Truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maurizio Sarri never gets a fair crack of the whip from us. He’s having to follow the likes of Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte – who both won Premier League titles – and wished was never sacked by some.

Before he even came into the club, certain fans were already throwing the #SarriOut hashtags around Twitter and were proudly showing their disdain before he took charge of a single training session. Honestly, I found this to be incredibly embarrassing and refused to be tarred – by other fanbases and the media – with the same brush that was used on that part of the demographic.

Just by typing that previous paragraph, unfortunately reminded me of the inexcusable vitriol that has ALREADY been aimed at recent (will arrive in the summer) signing Christian Pulisic, as some are already blaming him for blocking fellow winger Callum Hudson-Odoi’s path to the starting line up and thus his apparent desire to leave the club. Talk about already being made a scapegoat before kicking a ball in anger for our club. Pathetic if we’re being honest.

But another thing needs to be said in relation to Sarri and recent Chelsea managers in general and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next paragraph causes friction and some ‘interesting’ feedback from certain sections of our fanbase.

Photo Source: Telegraph

You should have realised it by now that the current problems with our playing squad – attitude, weak mentality, lack of desire, no leadership and so on – is NOT the fault of the manager. Especially the last three men to be in charge. Our squad is full of the characteristics mentioned above and is also riddled with complacency, egos and spines made out of sawdust, as they down tools when the going gets tough because they don’t like it.

This then leads to a few of those who hold some sort of power within the dressing room to cry about it privately to the board and that has lead to the previous two managers to be sacked. And with our current woes/form right now, the same actions happening for a third consecutive time is not far happy.

But what makes me laugh about all of this is that there are certain parts of our fanbase who refuse to see that it has become so OBVIOUS that the problems of the last three and a half seasons have (whilst not blameless any of them) not been because of the manager but because of the players. Why do these fans insist on constantly wanting managers to be sacked every 5 minutes and have be stuck in this vicious circle?

I hate to break to you but for those fans – sacking the manager is NOT always the manager.

Please do us a favour and wake up.

THANKFULLY THIS IS STILL THE MINORITY

With all that has been said throughout, I still firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of our fanbase is great and not part of the problem we currently have.

Full of passion, wanting the best for our club and not out there to create toxicity and clickbait agendas to stat-padding their likes and retweets.

Just remember the following:

• There are still a ton of places to find good, intelligent conversations/debates. Podcasts, forums, fan groups, passionate channels. Don’t make yourself feel like that they don’t exist anymore as there are still plenty of us positive-minded fans out there who are more than open to talk about all things Chelsea.
• The minority is vocal and that’s it.
• Always keep the passion within football as that what’s makes it incredible. Just remember to not cross the line and start making it personal.

With this said, there are a couple of questions to consider.

Will the toxic attitudes of the minority ever disappear? Not likely.
Will things change to a point where we never hear any nonsense from those with entitled mentalities? Probably not.

What needs to happen – more than anything else – is that the vocal minority in our fanbase doesn’t become the overwhelming majority.

When we lose, it hurts. But remember that it’s not the end of the world. There’ll always be the ‘next match.’

Up the Chels, and keep the blue flag flying high.

To check out the other parts of ‘The State of Chelsea Football Club’ series, please click on the links below:

Intro
Part 1 – The Board
Part 2 – The Coach
Part 3 – The Players