curse: A solemn utterance to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something.
Football is a superstitious game. Be it wearing the same shirt to a game after you won last week, never changing a winning team or entering the field of play backwards a-la Daniel Sturridge.
We try to make sense of football because it is so hard to make sense of. The game is organised chaos at its absolute best, and this is why we love it. The irrational theories, superstitions and day to day conjecture that surround the game are what make it so great. As rational human beings we like to try and explain away these phenomena as much as we buy into them but some just seem to defy explanation and really get inside the head of football fans.
One such ‘curse’ that has really caught the eye as of late is that of the Chelsea number 9. Stretching back to the days of Tony Cascarino in 1993 a whole host of number 9s have tried and failed to establish themselves as Stamford Bridge favourites (for a full run down of the trials and tribulations of the modern day Chelsea number 9 visit the Football Supernova). So, is the Chelsea number 9 shirt really cursed or do these players just sink under the burden of history (and money) that the shirt represents?
Fernando Torres may be suffering from a significant bout of existential and professional doubt. His case of ‘the yips’ has left him unable to hit the target let alone execute with the sort of composure he was capable of at Atletico and Liverpool. His touch has deserted him and the goals that made him famous have gone too. So is the lack of confidence that is so often cited the problem with Torres, or is there something more sinister a foot? Could it be possible that Fernando Torres and the Chelsea number 9 really are cursed?
Theory number 1 –
Perhaps the jilted Liverpool fans, so consumed by the sense of abandonment that followed the departure of their favourite Spaniard, banded together and invoked the cosmos to strike down Torres in all of his future endeavours. I imagine this invocation to look like a heartfelt rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone but performed in a darkened room, all holding hands in a circle but altering the lyrics to You’ll Never Score Again.
Theory number 2 –
A jealous kit man at Chelsea HQ, so incensed by the realisation that these preening prima donna’s, ginger haired midfielders and Khalid Boulharouz could make in a week what he does in a year that he cursed the shirt, stitching his bitterness into the very lining, so that no no.9 would ever succeed at the club again.
N.B This disgruntled kit man must have arrived soon after the departure of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but we are getting to him.
Theory number 3 –
The last great number 9 at Chelsea Football Club scored so many goals, was so vastly popular and adored that there was no room left for another 9 to take his place (false or not) and so the once magical shirt lost its power forever more. However this theory does not lie true with the counter example at St James’s Park of the Newcastle number 9 shirt, a magical item of clothing which imbues its every wearer with the ability to score goals, be it the great Alan Shearer to Andy Carroll and Papiss Demba Cissé.
Discounted theories include that Fernando’s flowing blonde locks, Samson like, were the source of his goal scoring power and that when he died it brown this power was lost. However the return of the blonde hair has done nothing for his fortunes. Also the theory that he is in fact “half a boy and half a girl” is yet to be proved but was also an accusation that was in place during his glory days at Liverpool.
Whatever the case, curse or confidence crisis, the sight of this video is still able to have even the most ardent sceptic questioning whether there is in fact a curse on the Chelsea number 9, Chelsea fans, look away now:
By Scott Carey
Golazo: A goal scored in soccer (football) that is seen as colossal, thus the joining of the two words to make a Spanish portmanteau.
Plain and simple: This weekend was a Golazo fest. Not only did Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi embark upon a magnificent bout of one up manship with a fine backheel and freekick respectively but we also have a volley straight from a corner which will have all of us screaming SCHOLES as if we are back in the playground and another fine goal from the magnificent Robin Van Persie in a scintillating North London derby on Sunday. Enjoy:
- Cristiano Ronaldo v Rayo Vallecano
- Lionel Messi free kick vs Atletico Madrid
- Deco’s ‘definately not a cross’ wonder-strike
- Robin van Persie curler vs Tottenham (13 mins)
- SCHOOOOOOOOOLES – Oh I mean Giovanni Marchese as the Italian left back channels the ginger master with a fine 25 yard volley straight from a high arching corner kick
- As volleys go Michel Bastos’s effort vs PSG was worthy of Golazo status as well this week as he showed fine technique to swivel and generate huge amounts of power with this strike (3mins, 15 seconds)
- And not forgetting the best of them all, Lewis Dunk vs Liverpool. The quality of the first touch, the audacity of the second and the sheer desperation of the third, simply sublime (6 mins)
…Oh and Charlie Adam boomed a penalty at Wembley, what a hit son, what.a.hit
It’s early days for Emmanuel Adebayor in a Tottenham shirt but another good performance against Liverpool and a good reaction from the Spurs faithful may just give the enigmatic frontman the ego massage required to have him playing his best
For a man who can split public opinion so viciously Emmanuel Adebayor knows how to get a new set of fans on his side. Manu has scored a goal on debut for each of his Premier League clubs now, starting with Arsenal in 2006, then with Manchester City following his multimillion pound deal, and finally for Tottenham two weeks ago against Wolves.
The Spurs fans quickly seemed to forget that this was a player who used to relish pulling on the red and white of their arch-rivals Arsenal and more recently the team who have been their main competitors for that key fourth place in the table. However, City have since pushed on and signed their key transfer targets, especially with the likes of Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko in forward areas. Always the opportunist, and after failing to sign his top ten or so targets, Redknapp snapped up the now unappreciated Adebayor. The signing may have hinted of desperation but the loanee already appears to be the centre forward Tottenham need to finish off all of their promising build up play. Whatever his wages may be, he could yet be the bargain of the window.
Adebayor certainly looked like the player who scored 24 goals in 36 games for Arsenal in the 2007/8 season. The big striker was looking to hold up the ball, run the channels, drift out wide and flick the ball on to his strike partner Jermain Defoe. Adebayor’s link up play was first class and he pulled the Liverpool defence around the pitch at will, especially when drifting out wide, creating pockets of space for Bale and Modric to come inside and pose a threat.
Everyone knows it is this sort of play that Adebayor is capable of, he wouldn’t have attracted his £25m transfer fee to Manchester City or been given the time of day by Jose Mourinho if he wasn’t. However without the goals to go with his promising movement the big striker could be tarred with the same brush as his predecessors Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch. With three goals in his first two games Spurs fans will hope he can kick on and be the top class striker they have been craving since Dimitar Berbatov left the club just over three years ago.
An elegant and clever player, the primary criticism that can be levelled at Adebayor is his seeming reluctance to finish off the easy ones, to be ruthless enough to surmount a serious goal tally come the season’s end. The Togolese hit man showed this early in the game against Liverpool on Sunday. Where his side came straight out of the blocks the best chance of the game was carved out for Adebayor, who snatched at the ball and saw it drift wide off his shin. However, as he said in the post match interview, another chance would surely come, and he went from strength to strength afterwards.
Finding space and dropping the ball off intelligently, Adebayor was constantly looking to get into goal scoring positions. Anticipating Pepe Reina’s spill from a Defoe strike he showed a touch reminiscent of his idol Kanu and worthy of little Leo, pulling the ball over the on rushing keeper before tapping into the empty net. The crowd went wild and his teammates mobbed him, he felt loved and was enjoying his football. Hungry for more goals, and more adulation, he refused to stop working and was rewarded when he collected a cross with another sumptuous touch and an instinctive volleyed finish to secure a man of the match award.
It is clear that Adebayor plays his best football when he is feeling confident and appreciated and it will be down to Harry Redknapp’s famous man management skills and the willingness of the Spurs fans to get on his side to see if he can maintain this early form.
His comments following the game were the clearest indication as to what makes the big man tick: “I know the fans all love me because that’s what they’re looking for, a player who can score goals. I’m very happy that everything is going well for me at this club. Hopefully I can keep up the hard work and keep going.” The question everyone will be asking is can he do it regularly enough to banish the memories of his face in an Arsenal and Manchester City shirt.
Scott Carey, follow him @scarey102