August 2, 2017

Blue Curses

By, Aldemaro Narvaez


We all do it.  We all feed the irrational fear of chance and circumstance every time we sidestep walking under a ladder or avoid opening an umbrella indoors. It doesn’t hurt anything to knock on wood or wear those lucky socks to keep bad juju away. But what happens when bad luck is more than some minor “disturbance in the Force”, and we are staring down the deep, dark eyes of what can only be described as a full-blown curse?

Sports fans are some of the most superstitious people on Earth. From the Curse of the Bambino, famously named after the 86-year championship drought of the Boston Red Sox that coincided with the sale of “Babe” Ruth to their New York Yankee rivals, to the old 1970 Socceroos who managed to reverse jinx themselves by bringing in a witch doctor to cast a hex on their World Cup qualifier opponent of Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe) and then did not pay the priest his fee of £1,000, sports curses seem like a very real thing.

Chelsea are not immune to this phenomenon, and, although we do not have former boss Avram Grant clothed like a Shaman in the Shed End stands hurling evil looks at opponents, the irrational and coincidental circumstances that follow are sometimes whispered and bemoaned as Chelsea curses.

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The Curse of the FA Cup at Wembley

Six Chelsea managers have managed to lift the FA Cup high above their heads at Wembley, and all six of their heads rolled off the chopping block the following year.  Ruud Gullit in 1997, Gianlunca Vialli in 2000, Jose Mourinho in 2007, Guus Hiddink in 2009 (Guus Hiddink was only caretaker manager and was set to leave in 2009 to continue as Russia National Football Team coach), Carlo Ancelotti in 2011, and Roberto Di Matteo in 2012 all failed to finish the season in charge of the club after their FA Cup victory at Wembley.  If two is an anomaly and three is a trend, are six occurrences a curse?  There’s your silver lining on last term’s FA Cup loss to Arsenal, Antonio Conte.

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The Curse of the Chelsea Red Kit

Chelsea have splashed red in several of their blue kits over the years; a total of fifteen times. In each of those years, including the year of “palpable discord” where red accents were present in the sleeves and collar, the club did not cover itself in glory.  Only once, in 2009/10, did Chelsea play with a kit tainted in red and managed to lift a trophy, but that kit was only worn for the FA Cup Final against Portsmouth. The club used that red-cursed kit for the 2010/11 season in which we went trophy-less.  In that January transfer window, we spent £50 million on Fernando Torres. Yup…red.

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The Curse of the no. 9 Shirt

We all know this one.  When Jose arrived for his first successful spell at Chelsea, he purchased Mateja Kezman from PSV to carry on scoring as many goals as there are Dutch tulips.  However, Kezman went from the height of expectations to forgotten obscurity in less than a season while wearing the Blues’ No.9 shirt. Kezman only found the back of the net four times in 25 appearances while in London; alternatively, he scored 105 goals in 122 appearances at Eindhoven.

Jose was once again in need of a striker to push Drogba and he remembered that he exiled Hernan Crespo to Milan ahead of buying Kezman. Crespo’s time on the red side of Milan yielded a respectable 7 goals in 18 loan appearances, but he returned to the No.9 shirt at Chelsea and never seemed to settle at the Bridge. Several loan spells to AC Milan and Inter served as Crespo’s parole from the No.9 shirt.

Like a cursed monkey paw, the No.9 shirt found its way to Khalid “The Cannibal” Boulahrouz.  Even the attempt to circumvent the Curse by giving the shirt to a defender, who doesn’t need to score many goals, crashed and burned as Boulahrouz hopscotched from knee to shoulder problems and never lived up to his Jeffrey Dahmer-ish moniker.

The next unlucky recipient was Steve Sidwell.  You know…Steve Sidwell.  Anyone remember Steve Sidwell?  No? That’s the power of the No.9 shirt Curse, we all completely forgot a full-grown person.

Franco Di Santo never knew what hit him.  Youth can at times serve as the great equalizer to cursed odds, but the Argentinian kid with great reserve team promise only managed guest appearances while wearing No.9. Loan spells followed until he departed Chelsea to Wigan Athletic on a three-year deal.  Some of the Curse must have rubbed off on Di Santo as Wigan began the fall from the Premiership to the Championship to League One after Di Santo was purchased.  The Curse is strong.

Two words: Fernando Torres.

One word: Falcao.

CURSED!!

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Hopefully our new No.9 goal-scoring threat, Morata, can break the curse.  To help him in this crusade he has a good set of players around him and one of the best managers in the world.  Which brings me to…

The Curse of Conte Cup Finals

Champions League, FA Cup, League cup, coffee cup, protective athletic cup, Cup-O-Noodles…all seem a bridge too far for Don Antonio.  Also known as “The Curse of Copa Italia”, this nugget of unexplainable misfortune has already managed to rear its ugly head last term in the FA Cup final against Arsenal.  As stated before, I guess this cancelled out The Curse of the FA Cup at Wembley.  However, with plenty of competitions on the way for 2017/18, something has got to give for Conte since Abramovich has not been the most understanding person when it comes to reasons that keep the club from Europe’s elite; superstitious or otherwise.

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I wonder how much it would cost to purify Stamford Bridge by Witch Doctor Avram Grant? I’ll start the pot at $20.

 

Thumbnail image courtesy of: Gianluca Fabrizio/Vetta/Getty Images

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