Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pre-Match:Blues were behind Mou to Support it Remain at Chelsea

Champions League 2015 - After poor results in some games in the Premier League, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho got the urge retreat from some quarters. However, apparently the players the Blues were behind Mou to support it remain at Chelsea.
Match counter Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League this midweek would be betting their efforts to find a winning momentum.

Quote Chelsea
The most successful club in their country's history, Maccabi Tel Aviv last faced English opponents in the 2011/12 Europa League, finishing bottom in their group with just two points after 2-1 and 3-0 defeats by the Stoke City. The Yellow-and-Blue are 86th in UEFA’s club rankings, one place behind the Potters.

While this is the Blues’ 14th Champions League group stage, Maccabi Tel Aviv have reached this level for the first time since 2004/05, their only other appearance. There is a gulf in competition experience: 19-year-old Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has more Champions League career minutes to his name than all but three of Maccabi’s squad.

The Israeli Double-winners progressed through three qualifying rounds despite failing to win an away match. Successive 2-1 defeats at Hibernians and Viktoria Plzen were followed by a 2-2 draw in Basel.

Basel have been a thorn in Chelsea sides in recent tournament encounters, which makes the Yellow-and-Blue’s achievement all the more creditable. Winger Eran Zahavi's 24th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 home draw with the Swiss was much celebrated in Israel, but it was his two away goals in Switzerland – one a late leveller at the end of seven minutes’ stoppage time – that secured Maccabi’s debut in the Champions League group stage.

The play-off decider, watched by 13,350, was at the Bloomfield Stadium in their home town. The Yellow-and-Blue are playing their home group games in the newly opened 30,800 capacity Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, 60 miles up the coast. It is also the national stadium.

UEFA have provided clarification to their many matchday officials on the offside law, regarding players attempting but failing to make contact with the ball while in an offside position. This was an International Football Association Board missive, so the enforcement applies to this competition as well as the Premier League.

Likewise a more consistent interpretation is being sought on handball decisions, especially regarding whether the offence is deliberate, and the distance and speed of the ball to hand.

Officials have also been urged to clamp down on dissent by players and benches, so expect some examples to be made early this season.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most pivotal moments in the history of Chelsea, though it is rarely mentioned. On Friday 24 June 1955 the club’s board were coerced into withdrawing their acceptance of an invitation to take part in an innovative new pan-European knockout competition, conceived by Gabriel Hanot and Jacques Goddet of l’Equipe.

The fateful decision itself is buried in the bureaucratic euphemisms of official records. Under the imprecise heading ‘European Inter-Clubs Cup Competition’, Football League minutes from the adjourned Ordinary General Meeting held at the Cafe Royal record the following:

‘The Secretary reported Chelsea FC had informed him that they had accepted an invitation to participate in this Competition between Clubs from European countries, and asked for the approval of the Management Committee.

‘Although of the opinion that they could not withhold permission, the Management Committee instructed the Secretary to ask Chelsea FC to give the matter further consideration, because they felt that their playing in such a competition would not be in the best interests of the League Competition.’   

(In the next item, the Committee blocked Bristol City from taking part in a BBC-televised, FA-approved five-a-side football tournament.)

The outcome meant a double slap in the face that day for Chelsea and our Chairman, Joe Mears (pictured below), a member of the same Management Committee. The nephew of Chelsea’s founding father, Gus Mears, he had stood for election as League President at the start of the meeting, losing out to Vice-President and Wolves director, Arthur Oakley.

Shortly afterwards he was humiliatingly forced to withdraw his club from the debut season of what was to become the world’s most prestigious and coveted competition, the European Cup.

As Secretary of the champions elect of England, Chelsea’s John Battersby was the only British club representative who attended the Paris planning meetings in April, alongside the likes of Real Madrid and AC Milan, and he was elected to its committee.

The tournament received UEFA accreditation just three days before the Football League’s Little Englanders executed their own ‘Brexit’. Imagine if it had been Chelsea, not Real, whose name went round the world as first winners of this remarkable tournament in 1955/56; 2012 could have been our second trophy.

Our ‘best interests’ thwarted in summer 1955, it would be another 44 years before the Pensioners received an invitation again.

Chelsea are the highest English side in UEFA’s club rankings. The Blues are currently in fourth place, with Arsenal (seventh) the only other Premier League side in the top 10. The Gunners, our Saturday lunchtime visitors, are 850-odd miles away tonight playing Dinamo Zagreb in Group A.

The mean UK viewing figures for last season’s Barcelona-Juventus final were 497,000 on Sky Sports, 5.3 million on ITV. When Chelsea dramatically saw off hosts Bayern Munich in the 2012 showpiece, the average numbers were 1.5 and 8.2 million respectively. This year the final of the Champions League will be played at San Siro, Milan, on Saturday 28 May 2016.

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