What is Chelsea? A simple question with many answers.
It is a posh part of London, the name of Bill ClintonÃ¢ÂÂs daughter and a football club. But Chelsea is far more than that. According to the clubÃ¢ÂÂs chief executive Peter Kenyon, Ã¢ÂÂRoman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, wants the club to be a force for good.Ã¢ÂÂThis came as something of a revelation. I had naively assumed that dedicated ChelseaÃ¢ÂÂs main business was winning trophies.
Though ChelseaÃ¢ÂÂs community work is not to be sneered at, the clubÃ¢ÂÂs contribution to such wider humanitarian causes as world peace would seem, on the face of it, negligible though if anyone can show me proof that the clubÃ¢ÂÂs communications director Simon Greenberg has been working, secretly, to bring concord to the middle east IÃ¢ÂÂd be happy to be corrected.
Kenyon and Abramovich set sights on global domination
Emboldened by the conviction that Chelsea has a moral mission, Kenyon even lectured the likes of Spurs and Aston Villa about how to put their house in order.
Which, as they donÃ¢ÂÂt have the backing of a billionaire willing to spend ÃÂ£132m a year on wages, seemed a bit rich and, quite frankly, did more to bring the game into disrepute than a hundred post-match rants at referees by managers. ItÃ¢ÂÂs hard to imagine this happening in any other industry. Does TescoÃ¢ÂÂs CEO Terry Leahy waste time telling Somerfields how to do their job? No, he gets on with his job and, as the deadline for Chelsea to be financially self-sufficient looms, perhaps Kenyon should do likewise.
Football directors should remember that when you have nothing to say itÃ¢ÂÂs best to say nothing.Surprises and miseryGuided by Ukrainian tactician Roman Grigorchuk, Latvian champions FK Ventspil held Norwegian title winners SK Brann until the 87th minute in Bergen before losing 1-0 in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.
A cracking performance for a footballing nation that has been suffering from a collective hangover since qualifying for the Euro 2004 finals.Ventspils, who won the Latvian league in 2006 and 2007, have a half decent record against Norwegian sides. In 1999, they beat Valerenga 2-1 on aggregate in the Intertoto Cup after losing the away leg 1-0. So the second leg, in Latvia, will be no walkover for Brann.Lithuanian champions Kaunas 0-0 draw at Ibrox would have been the result of the week in the second qualifying round if Belorussian champions BATE hadnÃ¢ÂÂt beaten Anderlecht 2-1 in Brussels.
Rangers labour to bore draw with Lithuanian champions
Rangers have endured some truly miserable nights in Europe Ã¢ÂÂ the 1-0 defeat by AEK Athens in the 1994 European Cup, which prompted Ã¢ÂÂGeeks 0 Greeks 1Ã¢ÂÂ headlines, being just one Ã¢ÂÂ but I expect Rangers, liberated from a style of play some have dubbed Ã¢ÂÂWalternaccioÃ¢ÂÂ to triumph in Lithuania.ItÃ¢ÂÂs harder to see Rapid Vienna, 3-0 losers to Cypriot champions Anorthosis Famagusta, staging a similar comeback. And Bruce RiochÃ¢ÂÂs Aab must surely be through to the third qualifying round after a 5-0 rout of Modrica. Nice guys donÃ¢ÂÂt always finish lastIn Eric Gerets' case he finished third in Ligue 1, the position he steered Marseille to in 2007/08. Gerets might just be the most underrated coach in European football. There are many more high profile names but the Belgian, famed for his long throw-in as a midfielder, has done the business at almost every club he has managed.He has won the Belgian title twice with different clubs (Lierse in 1996/97 and Club Brugge in 1998/99), the Eredivisie with PSV (in 1999/200 and 2000/01) and the Turkish league in 2005/06 with Galatasaray. Last season, he did a good enough salvage job at Marseille to earn another tilt at the Champions League in 2008/09.Even more important, Geret is gracious in victory and defeat. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a pleasant change to hear a coach who doesnÃ¢ÂÂt hog the glory for every triumph and blame every loss on the referee/fixture list/the football authorities/a conspiracy against them by plotters or persons unspecified and unknown.
Gerets celebrates Champions League qualification