As the sole English club in European football this season, the whole of England should be rooting for Chelsea as they take on Benfica tonight. Not so Chelsea do well, but so we can proud of our country.
It was refreshing to see Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere tweeting his support for Chelsea as they made their stunning comeback against Napoli in the last round and I’m sure many of the Chelsea team were hoping Arsenal got that fourth goal when they so narrowly missed out against AC Milan.
Unfortunately though, football rivalry and the tribe mentality plays a big part in English football. Tottenham fans want Scott Parker as England captain, Arsenal fans want Wilshere, Chelsea fans want John Terry reinstated, Manchester United fans want Rio Ferdinand and Manchester City fans want Joe Hart and neither of these fans will support whoever is made captain if they don’t belong to their club.
Like it or not Chelsea are flying the flag for English football in Europe, so a win for them is a win for England and the Premier League. Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham are all above Chelsea, so how strong does that make the Premier League?
Admittedly these four teams were poor in Europe, United and City both fell at the group stages of the Champions League and then the last 16 of the Europa League, a competition that Spurs never took seriously. While Arsenal’s collapse in the San Siro cost them so dearly.
As a Chelsea fan, I was hoping Manchester United won the trophy against Barcelona in last season’s final. That wasn’t to say I wasn’t smiling when Barcelona wiped the floor with them, but I still wanted United to win. You may laugh if Chelsea are defeated, but you can still want them to succeed.
Don’t think of tonight’s game as Chelsea vs. Benfica, think of it as England vs. Europe, support the team that is representing your country and the league in which your team competes because it doesn’t only benefit Chelsea, it benefits your team too.
Will you be supporting Chelsea? Tell me why @deanmears.