Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Steven Beacom: Chelsea’s lap of honour has morphed into a marathon of shame

Rafael Benitez does not believe Chelsea can win the Premier League this season

This should have been the most enjoyable season Chelsea supporters have ever experienced.

Teenage victim: Charlie Morgan

Week in, week out followers of the Blues ought to have been lording it over rival fans in celebration of their team being European champions.

Instead, the lap of honour has turned into a marathon of shame.

There's been one embarrassment after another with the latest occuring at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea on Wednesday night.

Here's a quick re-cap:

Roberto Di Matteo was unfairly dumped and discarded by owner Roman Abramovich like a dirty rag just a few months after guiding the team to that stunning Champions League triumph.

Ridiculously he was replaced by Rafael Benitez, a hate figure for Chelsea fans, who have jeered the interim boss in virtually every fixture since his appointment — hardly conducive to team morale.

Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages.

Their Premier League title challenge faded.

And come May it's been decreed that club legend Frank Lampard will be hurried out of the door quicker than you can say 'Blue is the colour'.

It gets worse.

Captain John Terry was banned for four games by the FA who found him guilty of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand last season.

Referee Mark Clattenburg was cleared by an FA investigation when Chelsea shocked football, accusing him of racially insulting John Mikel Obi following a defeat to Manchester United.

And so to Wednesday night when Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard was correctly red carded after he kicked a Swansea ball-boy who was time wasting in the League Cup semi-final after falling on the ball.

Some current and ex-profes

sional players have tried to defend Hazard who wanted to get the ball back in play. Others have had a pop at the 17-year-old ball-boy Charlie Morgan, with one critic suggesting he’s what’s wrong with Britain today!

For the record the boy didn't stab anyone, he was trying to waste a bit of time because his team were on the right end of the result. It happens at just about every match on the planet!

So, let's get it right — Hazard was the guilty party here. (Note: if players, fans or ball-boys are time-wasting it is up to the referee to sort it out. Players can't take the law into their own hands — or feet).

What Hazard did was outrageous and completely wrong regardless of how frustrated or angry he was by Morgan's delaying tactics or Chelsea's failure to overturn a two goal deficit in the second leg of the semi-final.

Had Hazard and his under performing team-mates shown the same urgency in the game itself, they may have actually threatened Swansea who comfortably drew 0-0 on the night, winning 2-0 on aggregate, deservedly making it to Wembley.

Apparently the ball-boy, who thankfully wasn't badly hurt, and the £32 million player made up after the game.

Hazard also apologised for his appalling actions in what has become a sorry season, leaving the Stamford Bridge outfit in the gutter.

Rich they may be — fifth in the world in the latest list — but it's clear for all to see there is a distinct lack of class surrounding Chelsea FC at present. Right now the European champions are a disgrace to the game.

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