The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
I don’t have much to say about Ancelotti-to-Chelsea, not because it’s uninteresting but because the possibilities it opens are so vast. There’s something genuinely dark about it—no one involved really wanted it to happen, except maybe Abramovich, who seems to think that Milan’s aristocratic cast-offs can help him cleanse his club of its arriviste taint—but open your mouth against it and you risk being sheared by lightning. Yes, Chelsea’s fans and players wanted Hiddink, Ancelotti wanted to stay at Milan, Ancelotti has already undermined the Chelsea brass with his autobiography and his late-game flirtation with Real Madrid, Hiddink is already looming through his power-assuming statements about graciously refusing to loom. But then, Chelsea are just angry/scared/talented enough, and Hiddink is just shrewd enough, that you can’t be absolutely sure this situation won’t produce some savage chemistry that will burn through everything in its path. It’s supercharged with omens before the manager has even bought a house.
That is to say: It’s been months—months—since Chelsea welcomed a new manager who seemed so perfectly poised between glory and disaster. And since I happen to think Chelsea are at their best—at their purest; at their most interesting—when they’re coping with unimaginable pressure and waging a heroic struggle to stand beneath the chip on their own shoulder, I’m as excited about this as I have been about anything they’ve done in a long time. I don’t even know what I want to happen. I just can’t wait to watch.
by Brian Phillips · June 1, 2009