Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

Chelsea’s brilliant new coach is facing a hostile reception since, unlike Frank Lampard, he is not steeped in the club’s identity

It’s never just a club. It’s never just about the players and whether they can put the ball in the net more times than their opponents. Your football club is always something else. Perhaps it’s a repository for nostalgic memories of childhood or home. Perhaps it’s a symbol of defiance against the establishment. Perhaps, particularly for top clubs who have the luxury of thinking about more than mere survival, it represents a way of playing.

That’s why some Manchester United fans get so worked up when it’s suggested they are a club without a consistent playing philosophy, even when pointing out that in times as turbulent as the present, that may be beneficial. It’s why Newcastle fans were so much less frustrated under Rafa Benítez than they are under Steve Bruce even when results, until recently, were roughly equivalent: at least back then there was a sense it all meant something, that there was some greater plan at work.

Related: Thomas Tuchel vows ‘not to be too stubborn’ as Chelsea manager

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