Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck aimed a thinly veiled attack on the Reds by claiming that the Merseyside club are a “smallish club”. Speaking in the programme notes in Saturday’s 6-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion, Buck claimed that ex-Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole “was joining a smallish club somewhere north of the M25”. Now, as a Chelsea fan, I understand the need for a bit of banter between rivals but in my opinion, Buck’s comments are a bit out of line. For one of our most senior ranking officials at the club to make that kind of jibe in public is not great PR and will do little to improve our reputation among supporters of other clubs in the league.
Ever since Roman Abramovich’s takeover of the club in the summer of 2003, Chelsea have enjoyed a wealth of success on the field, capturing the Premier League on three occasions, along with three FA Cup victories and two League Cup trophies. Add to that Abramovich’s enormous spending power due to his immense wealth and you have a potent recipe for jealousy and envy from opposing fans. Abramovich has spent big to bring in some of the biggest names in the game to play at Stamford Bridge such as Andriy Shevchenko, Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben and Michael Essien. As a result of Chelsea’s indiscriminate philosophy towards transfer spending at the beginning of the Abramovich era, the transfer market became inflated due to the knowledge that Chelsea have the resources to pay over the odds for a particular player. The impact of Chelsea’s transfer dealings have seen rival clubs being priced out of signing a potential transfer target due to Chelsea’s spending power. Take Arjen Robben’s signing as an example.
The former PSV winger was attracting attention from Manchester United and Chelsea after an impressive two seasons in Eindhoven. Manchester United put in a bid of €7 million for the Dutch winger which was rebutted by PSV chairman Harry van Raaij. Abramovich almost immediately tabled a bid of €18 million which was accepted by PSV.
For all of our recent successes on the pitch, we still have a long way to go to match Liverpool’s impressive trophy haul which makes them the most successful club in English history. The Reds have won 18 league titles, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups, 7 FA Cups and 7 League Cups in their illustrious history. Granted, recent seasons have seen Liverpool struggle to compete for honours but the fact remains that they are a hugely successful club with a winning tradition.
Buck’s comments come at a time in Chelsea’s history where the club has come under intense scrutiny for its behaviour off the pitch. Most recently, there have been accusations levelled at Chelsea from Brazilian club Santos for apparently “tapping up” their 19 year old starlet Neymar. This latest accusation is the last in a long line of instances of “tapping up” involving Chelsea, including Gael Kakuta, Ashley Cole and former Leeds United academy players Michael Woods and Tom Taiwo. Jose Mourinho’s tenure as Chelsea boss was also marred by controversy as his actions away from the field caused much annoyance from opposition fans. He managed to antagonise Arsenal fans by claiming Arsene Wenger was a “voyeur” obsessed with Chelsea and Everton by insinuating Andy Johnson was “untrustworthy” following accusations of diving from the then Everton striker.
For Carlo Ancelotti and the Chelsea team, Buck’s words could have been a distraction in the build-up to the West Brom game. But unlike their chairman, the team did their talking on the pitch rather than off it.