END-TO-END STUFF

This week I went to a basketball game for the first time. I’ve lived in the States just a few months shy of a decade, but I have no interest in the sport.

Occasionally I go to an American football game (and even watch it on TV sometimes), and I feel the same about baseball, a sort of part-time fan. Maybe once a year I take my daughter to watch the minor league (think Conference) outfit here in the city, and if I’m attacked by ennui I may lie in front of the TV and catch a few innings of the World Series, but I probably went to baseball more times when I visited America as a tourist than I have since living here. Ice-hockey meanwhile has no presence here in the sweltering, sultry South and the only contest I’ve witnessed was in Belfast.

Anyway, basketball. I don’t get it at all. One team has the ball, attacks, tries to score while the other team defends, the other team gets the ball, attacks, it starts all over again. Absolutely pointless in my book but hey, each to his own, and if it’s your thing then good luck to you. Knock yourself out.

So as I watched my daughter’s high school battle it out with a city rival, my mind wandered (as it often does admittedly), to Mourinho-era Chelsea. Has his, er, second debut season been as exciting as the first so far? Of course not. How could it be?

Last time around it was thrilling and enthralling as we marched towards our first league title in half a century. Hell, we could have won every game 1-0 with a last-minute own-goal and it wouldn’t have mattered. But in the intervening years we’ve become used to success – the very highest tippity-toppity success – as we’ve won championships, cups, doubles, European cups, 100 metre-swimming awards and the best sheepdog in the show. We’ve swept all before us and behind us and to the sides of us and revelled and rolled about in accolades and trophies that we could never have imagined just 15 years ago.

Manager of Chelsea FC, Jose Mourinho

Even for old-timers like me, supporters who remember the Second Division and cup humiliations, it still becomes a wee bit blasé, routine and run-of-the-mill. It’s just human nature after all: success breeds success and anything less is then viewed as a disappointment. If we finish fourth this season and don’t win anything it will be a let-down, right?

I never saw the 3-2 defeat to Stoke, but I did watch the 4-3 win at Sunderland in December. I think it’s the only genuinely edge-of-your-seat, pulsating encounter involving Chelsea I’ve watched all season. Sure, late goals against Manchester City and West Brom were exciting (and important), the second-half against Spurs was entertaining… but really, any other games? Even the close contests – and there have been plenty this season decided by a single goal – weren’t really white-knuckle, squeaky bum rides, were they?

But here’s the rub: I don’t care. Just win the game lads. Kill it off if you have to. Do I want to see exciting, free-flowing, attacking football? Absolutely. But would I rather Manchester City beat their Salford rivals 4-3 in a feast of entertainment, or lose 1-0 to a Michael Carrick scuffed shot? Take a guess.

Basketball is designed to be an end-to-end game. Give me a 1-0 win any day.

Stephen Rea is the author of the book Finn McCool’s Football Club, a tale of supporting Chelsea from the United States, the formation of a pub football team in New Orleans and the devastating effect of Hurricane Katrina on that city. Visit his site here: www.stephen-rea.com or friend him at www.facebook.com/stevorea

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Please note : the views in many of our blogs are written by fans of Chelsea FC and are not necessarily the views of the club

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