Sportswriters are often asked to write about events surrounding a match or event, and the remit can extend to matters of economics, politics, gender or the trivial (strangely it is the latter that readers appear most keen on).
Occasionally one has to switch focus to supporters, usually on account of their own acts, although there are obvious exceptions.
This season has been a strange one for ED, not least because – despite this blog being ‘outed’ as the work of several different contributors – it has drawn repeated accusations of anti-Chelsea bias from disgruntled supporters.
Every morning ED would love to discuss the merits of using David Luiz as a defensive midfielder so Ramires can operate almost as a defensive forward, but Chelsea fans make it far too easy to stick the knife in and, as a lazy automaton of a hack, ED will always take the easiest option.
Which other group of fans would sing the name of their preferred manager while their current boss is on the brink of taking them to a European final, harbouring a petty grudge over an act of mind-games several years previously?
Who else would come to such a huge match prepared with banners anointing Jose Mourinho as their coach-elect, when the man who has rejuvenated Luiz and – in European matches – Fernando Torres, is one step away from another European final?
No doubt Chelsea’s passionate support (and the true Blues of old are without doubt among the most vociferous and raucous) will travel en masse to Amsterdam, not least to sample the beautiful port city’s cultural delights.
But – while certainly their behaviour towards Benitez has improved – you have to wonder if there’s any point if all they want to do is coo over Mourinho, who while keen on a Stamford Bridge return is some way short of agreeing the deal.
Admittedly Benitez’s distant and formal manner does not endear himself to those who don’t know him, and it’s no secret that he is on his way after the May 15 final, but surely the temporary nature of his stay makes grinning, bearing and supporting the man all the more straightforward? Certainly a more pleasurable experience than riding in a cab with a foul-mouthed paranoid UKIP supporter, safe in the knowledge that he is taking you to the train station that gets you the hell out of Eastleigh.
There is also a danger about Mourinho’s imminent return. Remember, this is a man so self-centred and driven that he has managed to fall out with pretty much everyone he has ever worked with – including Roman Abramovich – not to say the game’s gatekeepers and reporters, who in Italy and Spain he treated with barely disguised contempt.
Since leaving Chelsea, Mourinho has regularly spoken of his love for England, specifically England’s football culture and the relative freedom he and his players get (in London anyway).
But in his absence the English game has taken a turn for the worse, both in terms of relative quality and behaviour, with fans and players getting up to mischief hitherto deemed banished from these isles, and the FA increasingly draconian in their punishments. It is also more competitive at the top, with Manchester City and Spurs entering the mix due to big spending and the odd superstar.
There is also the factor of a global recession and the proliferation of social networking which creates yet another layer of hype around players and fans that was not in the equation in the glory days of the mid-Noughties.
Chelsea’s current crop of attacking players is an exciting one, but Mourinho – who favours a more direct style – has had no part in their recruitment. He will also have to contend with the meddling of Abramovich, not to mention the lingering John Terry (who, despite appearing to have made up with Jose, is clearly on the wane but insists on wielding his influence internally).
It seems a foregone conclusion that Mourinho will be back at the Bridge this time next month, if not earlier. But Chelsea fans would do well to look forward, not back, and realise that longing for former glories can never better a clean break and a vision for the future. Not when the competition is as fierce as it has become in Mourinho’s absence.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I think the days of bringing in players because of their reputation, their name and they're just coming to QPR for the salary are gone” – Yes, Tony Fernandes, because you have been relegated.
David Beckham’s sending off at the weekend was harsh, and it appears the notoriously strict French Football League agreed, suspending him for just the one mandatory game. No such joy for Marco Verratti and Salvatore Sirigu, the Italian duo getting two-match bans.
More play-off action as Sheffield United try to nose ahead of surprise package Yeovil in the chase for Championship football (Swindon v Brentford is on Saturday), while the World Championship snooker semi-final between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump is turning into the epic we hoped it would.