Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Don't Believe The Lies Of The Devil

Spiritual attack and spiritual warfare is something that we often like to ignore or sweep under the carpet. However, it is very real and it's important that we know it's significance and how we can fight it.

The devil (often referred to as 'the enemy') is described in the Bible as 'the king of lies', amongst other things. This basically means that he will tell any lie in order to take us away from God, no matter how much it might sound a bit like God. We can hear things that sound like God and things which are good in themselves, but which take away from our true purpose and calling. Therefore the enemy is getting his way. Check what you think God is telling you against the Bible, against the nature and character of God and indeed with what He has said to you before. If it conflicts with that then the liklihood is that it's not from God - certainly with the first two options.

Other lies he tells us, as in my case, is how worthless and useless we are. He uses our cirumstances against us to persuade us to think that we are useless, worthless, insignificant, will never achieve anything and that we don't matter. He makes us live in fear of doing anything or of what we might not become and makes the negative easier to beleive. Part of this involves doubt. Doubt is yet another weapon. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our friends, we doubt and lose trust in God because we believe the lies that are fed to us.

He also puts barriers up in our daily life which stop us making the right choices. Little problems, big problems, daily stresses and even so-called good things in life can all be things the enemy uses to take us away from spending time with God.

If we let him do any of this, then he is winning the battle. There is a spiritual battle going on, the enemy trying to take as many people away from God as possible and stop those who do beleive from achieving and doing the things God wants from them. We cannot allow this to happen. We must be aware all the time for the ways the enemy is attacking us. We all have our weak points and the thing is to be aware of those and pray into them, to ask God's protection. Get praying, get into the Bible, spend quality time with God listening to Him, talk and pray with close friends, house group leaders or pastors.

Ulitmately the truths we must hold onto are these. God made us, God loves us, God chooses to love us, Jesus died for us, if we are Christians then we are set free and forgiven from our past. God can heal us from our past hurts and we must let Him do that, through counselling and prayer ministry. God thinks we're worth it. God has won the war, this battle will continue to the end, but ultimately the enemy has lost already, becuase of the cross. That is fact.

Don't let the enemy feed you lies about yourself. You are worth it, in the truest sense. God has said so.

Monday, November 13, 2006

What History Really Means

Since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and Jose Mourinho came and brought us success we had never dreamed of before, many football fans have tarnished all Chelsea fans as glory hunters, whether they were recent converts or long-term supporters. We have been tarnished with the same brush. Now interestingly, from where I’m looking, the loudest and proudest boasts come from supporters of a red-shirted team from Merseyside. A club and set of supporters whose definition of ‘history’ is totally different from most normal human beings and football clubs. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you which club that is.

So, what is the reason Liverpool fans criticise Chelsea and their fans? The number of times I’ve heard that we have no history so therefore we have no real right to the titles we win, they are just bought, is countless. Liverpool fans seem to think that because they’ve won all these titles (18 league titles and 5 European Cups, if you didn't already know) they have some right to win them all the time. They don’t understand what it really means to win a league title or how much effort is required, because they grew up winning every year. They haven’t been without for long enough. Chelsea were without league success for 50 years and so when we finally won the league we knew what was required, we knew it wasn’t just about players, but about team-spirit, tactics, organisation and motivation.

What they mean when they say this we have no ‘history’ that we have no history of long-term big success, no pedigree like the self-called ‘big clubs’, or more specifically, Liverpool. That we don’t have a big trophy haul. That is very different to not having history. Try to think how many times have you heard or read a Liverpool fan shouting or writing or unfurling a banner with their number of league trophies and European Cups. It’s quite a lot isn’t it. Goodness, I know as much about Liverpool’s successes now as I know about Chelsea’s.

Liverpool fans need to learn the meaning of the word history. You see, did you actually know in Liverpool the word history doesn’t mean the same as history does to the rest of us? Liverpool and their fans define history by how many trophies that they’ve won, how many league titles and European Cups to be precise.

Now last time I looked, that isn’t what history means in any context. History is what happened in the past, what has been and gone. So Liverpool fans are right in one sense. The have a history, and the all their league titles amd European Cups are part of it. That is not the present. In the present, in the now, Liverpool have no league titles for 16 years and counting. That’s their recent history.

History, in terms of football is not just about trophies, and if anyone seriously thinks that is the case then they are probably a glory-hunter. Having a history means having a past, having a story to tell. It means going through ups and downs, peaks and troughs. Chelsea certainly have a history in that sense. In the truest sense, we very much have a history. The arrogant ravings of Liverpool fans about their number of trophies (need reminding?) miss the point about what history means.

Not all Liverpool fans are glory hunters, (certainly not many below the age of 16 – they really wouldn’t have much to celebrate really). But I guarantee you a lot of them are a lot are, and they were so used to success they think that it’s part of nature, like the seasons, that Liverpool should win the league and be dominant. They don’t appreciate how much it means. They’re only bothered about the quantity and the only thing they can resort to is pathetic posts and chants about how great their history is, forgetting that that is exactly what it is. History. In the real world, the present, Chelsea are the dominant team in England and potentially in Europe. Money has played a part in our success, but so have a lot of other things. Qualities that Liverpool do not seem to appreciate.

Sometimes I think Liverpool and their fans still hark back to a time when money didn’t rule football through Man Utd and Chelsea, but when Liverpool ruled, which was supposedly not anything to do with money (on a lesser scale). Liverpool must adapt to modern football, or their dominance on the football pitch will never return, and the Liverpool supporters must realize this too. Face facts, you need money to succeed and if Liverpool are to be what they once were again they need to invest in bigger and better players than Jermaine Pennant. If that takes a big investment, so be it. But unless that happens Liverpool will never be dominant again. That was the past. Not the present. Football now is different and they must adapt or never achieve dominance again.

A quick mention of Man Utd. They now have a history to rival Liverpool’s but never boast about it to put us down. Why? I think the reason is that most of them grew up not knowing success. Much like us, they had a track record of being nearly-men, a sleeping giant dining out on success long-gone, with only the occasional cup to show for it, that is until Alex Ferguson showed up. They understood how much hard work and how much of an achievement it was and is to win a league title. They know how much it means. They have a history not all about success, but spectacular failure too. They relate to us.

So what does all this mean as a Chelsea fan? Well we’ll have to endure these constant taunts for a long time. Until we have some sort of trophy-winning history of our own. Hopefully, if we go on to really dominate, as it seems will happen, I’d like to think we would never boast about our ‘history’ or our money if another team took our place at the top. What we should do is savour the moments we enjoy now, remember them when things are more difficult and take pride in what we will have then achieved. Then wait as our time comes again. With Roman at the club, we are always going to be competing at the top level, but we will have a time when we don’t win anything for a few years, and we must be ready for that. Remember what real history means and keep some perspective. Don’t follow the example of the glory-hunting scousers who think history means trophies. Until they realise it doesn’t they’ll never reach those heights again and if they do, they will never ever enjoy them as much as we do and probably Man Utd fans, to a certain extent, do as well. Let’s stay on the higher ground, because boasting about trophies is the type of argument that frankly belongs on a playground.

Oh and by the way here’s one trophy-winning stat for Liverpool fans. In Premiership titles, Chelsea now lead by 2-0. Hear that? 2-0. That’s a fact. I’m also willing to bet that the number on our side increases before Liverpool’s does.

I’m now setting a timer to see how long it takes to hear the numbers 18 and 5, and the words, ‘history’ ‘money’ and ‘arrogant’ and ‘Gerrard’ shouted down in my face in response. Better not tell them we won a European trophy before they ever did as well, or that Mourinho chose Chelsea over Liverpool…

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Chelsea Monthly Review: October 2006

Now for the first of my Chelsea monthly reviews, and we bgein with the month just gone, October 2006.

October was an eventful month for Chelsea FC, starting with the tragic and ending with the sublime. 6 games, 5 wins and a draw and the team starting to gel and put in some good performances. We lost 2 goalkeepers, one for a long time and another for a shorter space of time and the new players started to bed in. A month which showed the promise of what is yet to come.

It began with an away trip to Reading. Within 1 minute an avoidable reckless challenge on Petr Cech put him not only out of that match but for several months. He had a serious operation to repair a serious head injury. Then 42 mins later Chelsea scored a goal. But that wasn’t the end of it. Right at the death Carlo Cudicini was knocked out cold and had to be stretched off. Leading from the front as ever, John Terry took over the gloves for the remaining seconds. Chelsea held on for victory, one that seemed as significant as the one against Blackburn two seasons ago. Chelsea had faced a battle and one. Then there was the small matter of the European Champions coming to the Bridge four days later….

Barcelona arrived as a team to be feared. 90 mins later they were defeated. Another Didier Drogba wonder strike and a superb team performance gave us victory. Hilario, on his debut in goal and supposedly our weak link, looked an inspired signing. No sign of nerves and with the crowd behind him never looked like making a mistake. Frank Lampard looked back to his best and Didier Drogba and Michael Essien continued with their good form to help bring Chelsea victory. Not only that, but the new signings looked like they were beginning to settle in and find their feet. Ashley Cole starting to look the player he was at Arsenal, Ballack starting to dictate play, and Shevchenko was getting into scoring positions and getting chances. He just needed a goal….

Portsmouth, a team with one of the best defensive records in the league, arrived at the Bridge the following weekend. This was expected to be a difficult game. It was anything but. Chelsea had 15 shots on target and if not for a combination some great saves by David James and some poor shooting they could have had 5 or 6 goals. Robben was having a field day down the left and Portsmouth looked all at sea. As it was we got to 55 mins and still no breakthrough. It looked like being one of those days. But step forward Shevchenko. A beautiful ball in from Robben down the left, a perfectly timed run and the ball was in the net. At last. The look of relief on his face was palpable. The celebrations and noise in the crowd almost raised the roof. Like a pressure valve bursting. Two minutes later Drogba set up Ballack for his first league goal for Chelsea and it looked safe. Even when Portsmouth got a goal back it only looked like being a consolation. Yet another win and a good performance in the bag.

Then to the league cup and an away trip to Blackburn. Chelsea changed to a 4-3-3, with Joe Cole and Kalou making their first starts of the season. Both impressed in a 2-0 victory, Joe Cole with a little back heel for the first and a good finish by Kalou for the second. A good performance and we never looked in any danger.

Then back to the Premiership and a trip to Sheffield Utd. Beforehand we were boosted by news of Cech’s continuing recovery and return to light training. In the match Hilario was again in good form, saving what was a poor penalty early on, and despite decent build up play by Utd they never really threatened and once Chelsea went ahead through Frank Lampard’s free kick there was only one winner. Michael Ballack got his a goal in his second successive league game, a great header from a Lampard cross making it 2-0 and game over. Lampard and Ballack were starting to link up well in midfield and Chelsea were still winning. But the biggest game and the most excitement was yet to come.

The Nou Camp, not a happy hunting ground for Chelsea and scene of two poor performances in the last two seasons. In the past, Chelsea had been overcome by the occasion of these type of games, not feeling at home in Europe. Things were about to change. After 3 mins it didn’t seem so as Deco robbed Boulharouz and smashed an unstoppable shot to give Barca the lead. What followed was dive after dive and booking after booking. Confusion reigned as it seemed Cole had been booked twice, although it emerged later it was Lampard who had received the first booking. But it was getting heated and Chelsea weren’t really in the game. Things changed at half-time. Chelsea responded in the second half, Lampard almost immediately drawing them level. Chelsea were dominating, creating chances but Barcelona hit back with a bit of genius 6 mins later as Ronaldinho set up Gudjohnsen with a point blank finish, 2-1. Gudjohnsen becoming the second former Chelsea player to score against us this season. The match was on a knife edge, Barca leading but Chelsea dominating. Hope looked lost. Then in the third minute of added on time Essien made a powerful run down the right, a long deep cross headed back across goal by John Terry. Didier Drogba, who else, chested down and slotted it past the keeper. 2-2. Mourinho slid to his knees in celebration. The Chelsea fans went wild. Chelsea had got what the least their dominance had deserved. It felt like a victory. It felt like a turning point in our European adventure. This match even more than the one at Stamford Bridge symbolised Chelsea’s desire, hunger, intent and arrival as a major contender in Europe and to many made them favourites to win the Champions League.

It was an amazing month, beginning with such a low and ending on such a high. The team is starting to gel, our players are finally recovering from World Cup hangover and getting back to their best. The best is yet to come. We may not know what the future holds in terms of trophies quite yet but if this month is anything to go by it looks bright. Keep up this improvement and the trophies are going to come.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Chelsea Monthly Preview: November 2006

So we enter November, the winter is drawing in and overcoats start to come out. It’s what could prove one of most important months of Chelsea's season so far. Lots of important games, against tough teams, in three competitions. The fixtures will be coming thick and fast, and there will surely be opportunities for all members of our squad to get a game and contribute.

The month starts in spectacular fashion, with a Super-Sunday visit to Three Point Lane our first port of call on Bonfire Night. With Man Utd putting pressure on us in the league and potentially three points clear by this time, this will be an important game to win. A London derby against a Spurs side running to a bit of form, but still not the force they were last season. Given that we will have two extra days rest from European excursions and the strength of our squad, with Sheva now finding his shooting boots too – and that it’s Tottenham – three points should be safely acquired.

Then back to the Bridge for the next round of the Carling Cup, against Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa. When they last visited earlier in the season they managed to grind out a point against a Chelsea side who dominated but couldn’t finish their chances. They are taking this cup seriously, but fortunately so is Jose so we should see a slightly changed but still strong side out. Our home record would seem to point to a victory, but this will be no easy game. I think Chelsea will win, but it may have to go to extra time at least in order for us to get the result we want. With cheap tickets too hopefully a full house will be in attendance and get behind the team and push them toward victory.

If there is extra time, it shouldn’t have as much of an impact as our fixture the next weekend is what will likely be, with all due respect, a relatively easy match against Andy Boothroyd’s Watford. With a number of draws but no win this season and near the bottom of the league, pitted against our quality and almost invincible home form this should be a formality. If Watford raise their game it could be difficult, but at the very least we will grind out a win here. However, if we create as many chances as against Portsmouth and start putting them away, then it could be the cricket score we’ve been threatening for some time now, and Sheva could really fill his boots. But definitely three points.

A week later and West Ham are the visitors to the Bridge. West Ham have just ended a run of 8 successive defeats, so are on a little bit of a high. The prospect of a big derby against the champions could see them raise their game. We will have to have our concentration and performance levels at their highest for this game. It seems that West Ham have this annoying habit of unsettling us and performing well, when you think they haven’t a hope. We’ll need to play well, but again at home I can’t see anything else than Chelsea winning.

This is followed by a potentially difficult trip to Germany in the Champions League to face Werder Bremen. We only need a draw or even a 1-0 defeat to confirm qualification. Bremen are in good form and held Barcelona at home, and I think a battling draw would be a good result in this match, and that is the most likely result, which would then see us qualify for the knockout stages.

The month ends with two big away fixtures which could potentially determine our eventual league position.

The first of these is arguably the most difficult. Man Utd away. United are in red-hot form at the moment, playing some great attacking football, scoring goals, getting win after win and keeping pace with us on points at the top of the league – leading only on goal difference. I’m sure they won’t change their game to suit us, and will be going for the win, as indeed will we. Hopefully we’ll have our best players at their best form. If we do, we can beat them. If not we may have to settle for a draw, which won’t be bad result against Man Utd at the moment. Rooney and Ronaldo will be the danger men for United, and if we can keep them quiet we have a chance. Will be an intriguing match.

Bolton away is our last match of the month. Of course the Reebok stadium holds many good memories from the last two seasons. Bolton have been in terrific form, getting very good results while not playing well. However with them having lost 4-0 to Man Utd it remains to be seen how they respond. We should feel confident of getting the points here.

At the moment both Man Utd and Chelsea are winning game after game, keeping pace with each other. Something has to give soon, and this could be an important month in the title race. Get the results we need and we could be set to push on ahead of the rest in the title race. Lose the potentially difficult games and we could be a long way behind. Even more so, we could be out of the Carling Cup too. It could be a difficult month. But I fully expect us to come through it relatively unscathed, top of the league, through to the next round of the league cup and having secured our place in the group stages of the Champions League.

It should be a very interesting month, all in all.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Chelsea Player Profile: Joe Cole

Having begun our Chelsea Managers series with Jose Mourinho, we now begin our Player Profiles with someone whom many thought was Chelsea's best and most consistent player last season and who shone for England in the World Cup, Joe Cole.

Many a players’ career has been described been one of unfulfilled potential. Many talented teenagers tipped as the next big thing fall by the wayside. Until around Janaury 2005 that allegation could have been made against Joe Cole. He was born in Islington on 8 November 1981 and grew up in a Chelsea supporting family, and indeed for a couple of seasons was a season ticket holder. From a very early age though, it was clear that he wasn’t going to be in the stands for long. Almost from the moment he started playing he began to be seen as one of England’s brightest footballing prospects. As a teenager many big clubs were fighting for the signature of the promising midfielder. Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to bring him to Man Utd and he even had a trial at Chelsea. However it was West Ham, who have become almost a feeder club for Chelsea in recent years, where Joe chose to continue his footballing education.

Joe was being talked of in the same breath as Paul Gascoigne in terms of sheer ability, and it was being said that he was a certainty to go on and become one of the greatest players of his generation. The skill he was showing with the ball at his feet, the fleetness of foot, the creativity, tricks and flair he showed were marking him out as a midfielder of great potential, a class above his peers. After only 8 appearances for the England U21’s, scoring two goals, he made his full England debut as a sub in the 4-0 home thrashing of Mexico on 25 May 2001. He was part of the England squad that competed in the World Cup South Korea in 2002, but never had the chance to make an impression. His career seemed to plateau. He was performing solidly for West Ham but not really delivering on his promise and was failing to cement a place at international level. However, given the high expectations placed on him from such a young age, when there hadn’t been a young English talent of such skill for over 10 years, then you can understand the pressure he may have been feeling. Part of the problem at international level was that it was difficult to accommodate him. With the likes of Paul Scholes at his peak as an attacking midfielder and given Joe’s lack of defensive ability he rarely got a chance to shine. It was a frustrating time to be Joe Cole.

In 2003, at the age of 21, his career was at a crossroads. The season just gone had been dramatic for him, not only captaining West Ham but also suffering the pain of relegation. It was clear that the time was now right for him to make the step up and challenge himself alongside better players, in order to fulfil his immense potential. Many thought he would go to Man Utd who were interested by all accounts. However by a happy coincidence his availability had been timed just right with the purchase of Chelsea by Roman Abramovich, who was spending money like it was going out of fashion. At the age of 21 and after 126 league appearances for West Ham, scoring only 10 league goals, he signed for Chelsea for what now seems a paltry £6.6 million. At last, people were thinking, a club where he can really improve and show his potential at the highest level.

His first season at Chelsea, however, seemed to continue in the vein of his career thus far. A glimpse of great potential and some good performances, but not really being able to establish himself alongside such attacking players as Damien Duff and Frank Lampard, who were establishing themselves as key players in the new Chelsea era under Abramovich. At the end of his first season there were mutterings of his unhappiness and desire to leave. Indeed, it was thought that a new manager may not even want him in their team.

The man who made Joe Cole arrived in June 2004. Jose Mourinho was an intelligent, talented young manager with man-management skills that had fans had not seen the likes of before. He was man who liked his teams to play with flair and skill, but not at the expense of defensive solidity and organisation. Encouraging for Joe Cole was the example of Deco at Porto, a player man thought similar to Cole. Again there were positive signs. Again though, despite coming off the bench to score against Birmingham in the second league game of 2004-2005, he again was struggling to establish himself in the first team.

The defining moment in Joe Cole’s career came at Stamford Bridge against Liverpool. Joe had scored a great winner from a Frank Lampard free kick and people were raving about his performance, including the player himself. Jose Mourinho had a different outlook though. He criticised him for his lack of defensive responsibility and discipline. Joe Cole disappeared from Chelsea first team squads for a while. Many thought, once again, that Joe Cole was bound for the exit door. However over the Christmas and New Year period Joe Cole had his opportunities, mainly from the subs bench, and started contributing. He was working harder, getting stuck into tackles, and not trying one trick too many. Promising. Once Arjen Robben got injured he got a run in the first team. This was his big chance to establish himself as a Chelsea regular, and quite possibly his last. He took it. Playing mainly on the right wing, the change in attitude began to be noticed. The goals started coming, and he was tracking back and defending. The new attitude was summed up by a goal against Norwich. He lost the ball, won it back, beat two defenders and sent a great strike into the top corner. In the 4-2 thrashing of Barcelona he came of age, and people started noticing his all round contributions. He was becoming the player people thought he always could be. Against Bayern Munich, tracking back to a right back position to win the ball back, and chasing a lost cause winning the ball and creating what became a key goal by Didier Drogba. These performances symbolised the transformation of Joe Cole.

In 2005/2006 there was a new challenge in front of him. Shaun Wright-Phillips arrived for £21 million, who was playing in Joe’s new position on the right wing. However, as Wright-Phillips struggled, before too long Joe Cole got his chance again and took it. He became a regular in the first team, scoring key goals and making a few more. His season was summed up in two goals, against Arsenal at Highbury, winning a lost cause and making it into a goal, and that goal against Man Utd which clinched the second successive title. More on that later.

It wasn’t just at club level that he was establishing himself. His performances had forced Sven Goran Erikkson’s hand, and he tried him on the left wing during England’s World Cup qualifying campaign. It worked. Joe Cole started scoring goals and making goals. Cutting in from the left wing and making darting runs into the penalty area. Alongside Wayne Rooney, he was becoming England’s real bright spark. The biggest credit to his achievement is that now there is no perceived problem with England’s left side any more. Joe Cole is an automatic pick for England’s first team. Wayne Rooney got injured at Stamford Bridge on the same day Joe Cole scored arguably his greatest ever goal turning three defenders on a sixpence and firing home at Stamford Bridge, proved that now he had become almost the complete player and was set at the World Cup in Germany to establish himself as one of the best players in the world.

Joe Cole had a good World Cup in particular during the group stages. With Rooney not fully fit and Frank Lampard and to a lesser extent Steven Gerrard not really firing, he looked England’s most dangerous player, who was going to trouble defences and make things happen. He was going to unlock the door to World Cup glory. Against Sweden he became a star. The goal he scored was pure genius, and his skills harnessed alongside a great work rate made him look completely at home in international football. No longer a selfish player, he played a pinpoint cross for England’s second instead of going for glory himself.

He surely has now begun to realise his great potential and is becoming the player that people always predicted he could and would be. He shows great commitment, great attitude and his decision making on the pitch has improved. He’s making more goals and scoring more goals. The scary thing for opposition fans is that he’s only 24. He’s going to improve. At the next World Cup he will be 28 and at his absolute peak. In that time he could have established himself as the key player, certainly for Chelsea and quite possibly for England. In my mind there is no doubt that potentially he could become the best player in the world. He has that much ability, and finally it is beginning to be fulfilled.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Anti-Chelsea Directives

Now for a bit of comedy on the site. As a Chelsea fan, it seems like a lot of people - UEFA, the media for example, have been against is in the last few years and applied one rule for most clubs and one for Chelsea. So I came up with this. Of course this is completely fictional, but sometimes it does feel like these rules do exist…

Without further ado, here are some new footballing directives handed down from UEFA/G14 to the footballing/sporting media and referees in all UEFA/G14 nations: These were made in consultation with Liverpool Football Club and Arsenal Football Club with additional input from Arsene Wenger and Steven Gerrard:

1) Thou shalt never criticize Liverpool or Arsenal players, even when they do the same thing as players from Chelsea

2) Stevie Gerrard is the greatest player ever ever in the universe, never to be criticized even if he's played rubbish, dived or made an awful, two footed, boots in the air tackle. If he plays badly it's always someone else's fault. It's either that he's played out of position (despite being lauded for being so versatile) or for England it's becuase he should be playing in the centre of midfield instead of Frank Lampard, who of course isn't even in the same class as Gerrard. This is the Frank Lampard was voted second best player in Europe and the World in 2005 - above Gerrard - and scored more goals from midfield in one Premiership season that any other player. He also scored more goals in World Cup qualifying than any other England player and was voted England player of the year twice in a row, as well as Football Writers Player of the Year in 2005. That's Frank Lampard by the way.

3) Liverpool are the greatest ever football team in the universe (closely followed by Arsenal) and must never be judged or condemned. They rule the world and are always morally right.

4) Jose Mourinho, Peter Kenyon, Roman Abramovich and Chelsea are responsible for all that is wrong with football. Not the G14 clubs who pushed for a bigger Champions League with more money for bigger clubs and Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd who made sure all the TV money from the Prem goes to the top teams.

5) Mourinho's words will always be twisted to mean something different to what he says in order to get him out of Chelsea.

6) All disputed decisions involving Chelsea are Chelsea's fault and Chelsea should be punished in any way possible with cards, suspensions, fines, media campaigns and media criticism.

7) Chelsea players who fall over are always diving, especially if their name is Didier Drogba or Arjen Robben. Never the opposition. This applies at all times, even when opponents from G14 clubs may fall over, look up and roll over.

8) When a Chelsea player who has been accused of being a dirty disgrace for causing a graze to a player (rightly according to these rules) is injured even worse by another player that player will not be punished or criticized in the media, especially if they are a Liverpool player.

9) All poor performances of Liverpool are always because Gerrard is off form and not because they are rubbish.

10) Gerrard is man of the match in every Liverpool win, even when he's not playing.

11) Gerrard will be hailed as the best player in the world when he scores a goal that Frank Lampard could have scored in a Cup Final, but Frank Lampard will only be called 'top quality' or 'high-class' (until he joins Barcelona).Gerrard will be called 'world-class'

12) Liverpool managers never say anything controversial or offensive, even when they do.

13) Despite being the top scorers in the Prem and playing the most attacking formation of all the top teams Chelsea will be labeled boring. Liverpool will be praised for great football (especially Gerrard) even though they scored miles less goals, put ten men behind the ball and conceded virtually the same

14) Liverpool always have an excuse for losing to Chelsea, such as a Chelsea player diving when a Liverpool player has him round the throat and the Liverpool player being sent off. Even after 82 mins when 2-0 down.

15) Chelsea players will be sent off for tackles that opposition players will get a yellow for.

16) Liverpool don't spend any money on players, even though they spent over £30 million the season they won the CL.

17) Peter Crouch is a great player (while he's a Liverpool player) and an inspired signing whereas the Chelsea player with the most assists in the Premiership and the same number of goals in about 10-15 less games is a big waste of money.

18) When Liverpool play Chelsea everyone must support Liverpool apart from Chelsea fans.

19) Liverpool fans are the best in the world, and are showing passion when hitting children over the head with glass bottles, write insulting graffiti inside a stadium or throw bottles at players. Chelsea fans who do the same are just thugs.

20) When Real Madrid, Barcelona or Man Utd spend £30 million on a player it's a statement of intent or great investment, if Chelsea do it they are buying success.

21) When the three former clubs win things after spending money it's because they're a great team with a great manager, with Chelsea it's only because of money.

22) Whenever Chelsea play in the CL all people must support the opposition 'in the name of good football', even when they are Liverpool who play some of the most boring football ever.

23) All decisions in Chelsea's favour are wrong and unjust and Chelsea's fault, whereas ones in oppositions favour must always be ignored.

24) When Chelsea complain of a bad decision they are moaners, all other clubs have been 'harshly treated' and are 'unlucky'.

25) Big-names only join Chelsea for money, not because they are the best team in England. If they join anyone else it's for ambition.

26) When a big-name English player does badly at Chelsea then Chelsea have ruined England's World Cup chances, anywhere else they've just had a bad season.

27) Chelsea never give chances to youngsters, despite the fact that Theo Walcott would have got more first team football at Chelsea than at Arsenal this season and they have just bought two of Europe’s best young talents.

28) Arsene Wenger is the greatest spotter of young talent in the universe, whereas Chelsea poach young talent already established, despite all the youngsters Arsenal signed being well known talented youngsters when they signed.

29) Wenger is a better manager than Mourinho even though Mourinho has won both European trophies on a budget the fraction of Arsenal's and won four successive league titles, two successive Prem titles which Wenger has never done. His success at Chelsea is all about money, unlike Arsenal's who spent £17 million on Reyes, £8.5 million on Bergkamp, £10 million on Hleb and £10 million on Henry.

30)Liverpool are the only football club in England with history.

31) When Liverpool players and staff make bold statements they are called confident and Chelsea are called arrogant.

32) When Chelsea players play well for their countries or new clubs you must say “it’s Chelsea’s fault they don’t play like this so often”

33) If a player leaves Chelsea, it’s because “Jose doesn’t rate them” even if he says he wants to keep them, and they say they want to move to get regular first team football.

34) Never give the Chelsea manager any credit whatsoever. Any success is down to the players, whereas bad results are because of the manager.

35) If Chelsea sign a big-name player then it’s an Abramovich signing, if he’s unproven it’s Jose’s signing. This is despite Jose saying he wanted Shevchenko from when he arrived and being strong minded enough not to have to say that and good enough to get another job very quickly.

36) It’s a travesty that Steven Gerrard has not been awarded the OBE for winning the European Cup 12 months ago. However despite winning back-to-back Premierships which only one other club has ever managed, JT and Lampard don’t get any recognition and no-one is to complain when they don’t.

37) If Chelsea win the Premiership again or another major trophy then it’s because of money, not tactics and team spirit at all. If it's another team it's becuase of hard work, tactics and team spirit, not becuase they bought any players.

38) Joe Cole has worked his way into the England team and become a more complete player on his own, not because of Jose Mourinho.

39) Jose Mourinho only thinks he’s a good manager, despite having won more titles in his managerial career than any other manager in the Prem apart from Sir Alex Ferguson. Arsene Wenger is a great manager, despite never having won the European Cup or even one European trophy at Arsenal.

40) It is imperative to continue with the campaign to get Frank Lampard to go to Barcelona, a ‘real’ football team. Even though he has said he wants to end his career at Chelsea.

41) Continue with the campaign to drive Mourinho out of Chelsea so someone else can come in and they won’t be as good. This is despite the fact that success under Mourinho is only down to money and he has had no impact on it at all himself.

42) All fixture lists will be in favour of Arsenal and Liverpool, in terms of first home and away fixtures, last fixtures and fixtures after CL matches, in order that Chelsea will go out of Europe early despite being England’s best team.

43) Arsenal and Liverpool never do any wrong in the eyes of UEFA or the FA, whereas Chelsea will be guilty of all allegations made against them, even if they are false.

44) When Chelsea spend £16 million on a talented 19 year-old with international experience it’s reckless and a big risk. When Arsenal blow £12 million on a talented 16 year old who’s never played international football it’s a wise investment.

45) Always moan about the amount of debt Chelsea are in and say it’s morally wrong and that they should be more responsible with money, and don’t ever criticize Arsenal and Man Utd for getting themselves into even bigger debt.

46) Chelsea Football Club are evil, have no soul and are all about money.

47) All trophies under Abramovich are tainted with money and Russian exploitation of Oil. You the media will moan about even though it was never mentioned before Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and his money has saved at least two football clubs from going out of business.

48) When a Chelsea player is almost killed by opponent you will take the side of the opponent, even when the incident was avoidable, and criticise Chelsea and Jose Mourinho.

So there you go. These rules may be fictional, but certainly in the last two or even three years it’s seemed like some of them are true at times…..don’t you think?

Chelsea come of age in Europe

Despite their domestic dominance of the last two seasons and despite reaching two Champions League semi-finals, it's always felt to me that Chelsea have been outsiders in Europe. We stood in awe of teams like Milan, Real Madrid and Barcelona, watching and looking at their performances and history in Europe and always considering ourselves inferior in status and achievement. Our two semi-finals felt like a smaller club defying the odds to get to the final stages of the competition, despite the quality in the team.

But something changed over the two matches against Barcelona this season, in particular with our peformance at the Nou Camp. Despite a lot of negative publicity, as ever, I thought our performance and attitude over the 90 mins was superb. Twice Barcelona took the lead, twice with great goals. But twice Chelsea came back. They never gave in. They always believed. Not only that, but at times they played some superb football as well. They created nearly double the number of total shots and again nearly double the amount of shots on target. Barcelona scored two of their three shots on target. If we had scored that percentage we would have had at least 3 goals if not more.

Remember they were playing against the European Champions in their own back yard with 90,000 odd fans on their back, as well as the considerable skills of this Barcelona team. I don't rememeber the last time a team went to Barcelona and created more chances and more shots on goal than them, yet alone a team coming from behind twice to draw with them. Chelsea were not intimidated. Not one bit. They were not overcome by the occasion and never looked out of their depth. They didn't look like upstarts trying to crash the European party, as they have in previous years. No, last night they looked like they belonged. They looked at home. They played without fear, without looking or even feeling inferior to their rivals. They looked like a club and a team not that was inferior, but that was the equal of the European Champions. They were not out of place.

Chelsea looked like a world-class team and a big club last night. In their minds, they know now that they are a big team, a top-class team, a champion team which belongs in the exalted company of Madrid, Milan and Barcelona. The players beleived they were their equal and nothing was going to stop them getting their result. They were not intimidated by history or reputation, becuase they knew that in terms of qulaity they were at least Barcelona's equal.

Terry led by example again, Lampard put in a world-class performance capped off with one of the great European goals - no fluke, a great goal. Robben looked more and more dangerous as the match went on. Makelele broke up the play brilliantly. Ashley Cole was rasping down the left linking up superbly with Frank Lampard, getting forward and looking to get crosses in at every opportunity. They played with nerves of steel. The face of John Terry when he celebrated that equaliser will live forever in the memory. He will not rest until this club has won this trophy. He beleives we are good enough, he will not be intimidated by anyone, and that attitude and belief has finally been implanted into the team in the European Cup. We've had it in the Premiership for a couple of seasons, but finally we're starting to have that belief, confidence and swagger in Europe as well. That is an ominous prospect for any team that stands in our way.

Chelsea, both yesterday and two weeks ago played like a team who not only beleived or hoped they could win the Champions League or were guest stars in the competiton. They played like a team who knew they were where they belonged and who knew they were good enough to win the Champions League. They played with the swagger and confidence of a team who know how good they are and know what they're capable of, and know that they ae the equal of any team in Europe. They proved why they are the favourites for this competition. They are part of that group of big clubs, they are the team everyone is fearing in the next round and they know it. Not only that, but they are also a team with fantastic spirit and unity, willing to work their socks off. A team who won't give in. They really will fear no-one in the knockout stages and no team will want to play them. This belief is also starting to transmit itself to the fans as well, and certainly in my case the ambition of winning the European Cup has gone from being thinking we might win it, to a belief that we can and will win it. After watching the way we've played and the spirit we've shown against Barcelona over the last two games I beleive that if we can keep playing with this attitude, really work hard and put our minds to it, then there is nothing beyond the reach of this team

The Champions League final next year is in Athens, the scene of our first European triumph inspired by the late great Peter Osgood. How fitting it would be and what a tribute to his memory to win our first ever European Cup in the same venue. With the confidence, belief, attitude and talent in this team it would be no surprise.