Chelsea FC, the reality

May 7, 2008

A positive take from The Guardian on the love of my life for a change:


Ghost of Mourinho is happy haunting for spirited Chelsea

The Blues’ current success has its foundations in the work of their last four managers

It is uncomfortable to listen to a man whose happiness is all a complete misunderstanding. On a May afternoon at Old Trafford in 2004 Claudio Ranieri was convinced he would be staying on as the Chelsea manager. No one else shared the delusion, but the Italian’s confidence had its apparent foundation. Following a 1-1 draw with Manchester United, Chelsea had just clinched second place, their highest finish since they were champions in 1955.

In nearly half a century there had been four plunges into the old Second Division and a narrow escape from relegation to the Third Division. You could see why Ranieri had a mistaken belief in his job security. His efforts were significant if unspectacular, so the rate at which Chelsea’s improvement then accelerated has been astonishing.

When the team won 2-0 at St James’ Park on Monday to ensure that their shadow still falls over United in the Premier League it was the act of a squad that expects to be in contention for the great prizes. This sense of their own position in football society is as important as the ability of the players. As any major club will confirm, confidence wins matches by deterring the opposition.

The very name Manchester United looms over their matches. Elsewhere in the top four that Kevin Keegan fears is a permanent elite, Arsenal have a hallowed eminence and from time to time Liverpool fans may just remember to throw in a reference to their five European Cups. Chelsea are the odd ones out. Arsène Wenger, with three titles, has won the league as often as the Stamford Bridge club ever has. Nine of United’s 16 were landed by Sir Alex Ferguson.

If Chelsea are utterly free of doubt over their status that is liable to be taken as the legacy of a character who was always entirely clear about his own special qualities. Despite impressions to the contrary, though, life at the club is more than an echo of Jose Mourinho’s resonant presence.

A project was under way before the advent of the Portuguese or, for that matter, the acquisition of Chelsea by Roman Abramovich in 2003. There was a conscious endeavour to accentuate a cosmopolitan glamour in the latter part of Ken Bates’ time. Ruud Gullitt and Gianluca Vialli would both play for and manage the club while the crowd also doted on Gianfranco Zola. There were trophies as well, such as the 1998 Cup Winners’ Cup and the 2000 FA Cup.

That period must have had its impact. How, for instance, could a 17-year-old John Terry not have had his horizons expanded when a lionised centre-half like Marcel Desailly signed for Chelsea in 1998? After the 2001 transfer from West Ham, it could only have been educational, too, for Frank Lampard to be in the company of the World Cup-winner Emmanuel Petit, fading as he was, and Zola.

Many clubs have spent heavily, if not quite to Abramovich’s extent, and wound up with a ragbag of a squad. Chelsea have evaded that trap and there is a well-integrated quality to the team that reflects well on the management of Mourinho and now Avram Grant. No one doubted these footballers had come to fight for one another at St James’ Park as, in the second half, they carried the battle to Newcastle.

The blend in the team is interesting. Some, such as Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Michael Ballack, were stars before they got to Chelsea. Others, like Michael Essien and Petr Cech, had not fully matured when Mourinho bought them. A few, including Mikel John Obi and Salomon Kalou, are just beginning to develop. The mixture, too, has those such as Terry, Lampard, Wayne Bridge, Ashley Cole and Joe Cole who are steeped in English football.

As the beguiling second goal showed at Newcastle, Chelsea can play with slick style. In the same game there was proof, as if any were still required, of the tenacity. What fails to be appreciated is the rarity of this confluence of toughness and cosmopolitan talent. The reliability, too, is taken for granted. Winning the Carling Cup and downing Ferguson’s team in the FA Cup final while also reaching the last four of the Champions League was seen preposterously as underachievement by Mourinho in 2007.

United, with the title still to be decided and the Moscow final to come, will be part the minority with an acute awareness of just how remarkable Chelsea truly are.

Kevin McCarra


The Guardian (2006/I)

October 10, 2007

Up until the last 40 minutes this was going to get a higher score as a better than average blockbuster. But too many cliches and nothing I haven’t seen before in a different scenario changed my mind.



How climate change will affect the world

September 20, 2007

The effects of climate change will be felt sooner than scientists realised and the world must learn to live with the effects, experts said yesterday.

Martin Parry, a climate scientist with the Met Office, said destructive changes in temperature, rainfall and agriculture were now forecast to occur several decades earlier than thought. He said vulnerable people such as the old and poor would be the worst affected, and that world leaders had not yet accepted their countries would have to adapt to the likely consequences.

Speaking at a meeting to launch the full report on the impacts of global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professor Parry, co-chairman of the IPCC working group that wrote the report, said: “We are all used to talking about these impacts coming in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. Now we know that it’s us.”

He added politicians had wasted a decade by focusing only on ways to cut emissions, and had only recently woken up to the need to adapt. “Mitigation has got all the attention, but we cannot mitigate out of this problem. We now have a choice between a future with a damaged world or a severely damaged world.”

The international response to the problem has failed to grasp that serious consequences such as reduced crop yields and water shortages are now inevitable, he said. Countries such as Britain need to focus on helping nations in the developing world cope with the predicted impacts, by helping them to introduce irrigation and water management technology, drought resistant crops and new building techniques.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said: “Wheat production in India is already in decline, for no other reason than climate change. Everyone thought we didn’t have to worry about Indian agriculture for several decades. Now we know it’s being affected now.” There are signs a similar shift is under way in China, he added.

The summary chapter of yesterday’s report was published in April, after arguments between scientists and political officials over its contents. Prof Parry said: “Governments don’t like numbers, so some numbers were brushed out of it.”

The report warns that Africa and the Arctic will bear the brunt of climate impacts, along with small islands such as Fiji, and Asian river megadeltas including the Mekong.

It says extreme weather events are likely to become more intense and more frequent, and the effect on ecosystems could be severe, with up to 30% of plant and animal species at risk of extinction if the average rise in global temperatures exceeds 1.5C-2.5C. The consequences of rising temperatures are already being felt on every continent, it adds.

Prof Parry said it was “very unlikely” that average temperature rise could be limited to 2C, as sought by European governments. That would place 2 billion more people at risk of water shortages, and hundreds of millions more will face hunger, the report says.

So there we have it, spelled out.

A couple of my books arrived the other day, I’ve started on Environment Ethics and I have to admit it isn’t as easy a read as a few others I have started and finished recently, but thats the point of studying, to challenge and push yourself. Despite it not being totally straight forward I am enjoying it and am learning and exploring ideas that wouldnt have come to me as easily as some other concepts that I come across daily on my travels. We’ll see how it goes of course.

In other news The Special One has left Chelsea and it’s a really dark day. I can’t see any other manager in the future being able to bestow the level of success he has in his time with us. Anyway I’m working on a tribute video which I will published as soon as it’s ready. That’s really all I want to say on the subject.

Millions say it is too much effort to adopt greener lifestyle

September 12, 2007

Millions of people across Britain think their behaviour does not contribute to climate change and find it too much effort to make green changes to their lifestyle, a government survey suggests. About a quarter of people polled agreed with statements such as: “It takes too much effort to do things that are environmentally friendly” and “I don’t believe my behaviour and everyday lifestyle contribute to climate change”. About half the people disagreed with the statements. There were some signs that the environmental message is getting through. Over half those polled said they never leave the television on standby overnight or their mobile phone chargers plugged in, and that they always switched off lights when they left the room. But a fifth keep their televisions on standby, and a similar proportion leave the tap running when they brush their teeth. The results of the survey of public attitudes and behaviour were released yesterday by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. About 3,600 people were asked about issues such as transport, waste recycling and buying habits. It follows five similar surveys over the past 20 years, the last in 2001. Of the issues people think the government should address, the environment was the fourth most commonly mentioned, behind crime, health and education. But fewer people placed the environment as a priority, down to 19% from 25% in 2001. Crime came top as an issue, mentioned by 49%, up from 30% in 2001. Some 18% of people cited immigration, the first time it has featured significantly. When asked about their attitude towards the environment, 67% strongly agreed or tended to agree that “humans are capable of finding ways to overcome the world’s environmental problems”. But only 19% thought that “scientists will find a solution to global warming without people having to make big changes to their lifestyles”. A similar proportion, 17%, said that “climate change is beyond control – it’s too late to do anything about it”. On behaviour, 71% said they were recycling more. More than half said they were wasting less food and cutting down on gas and electricity use in the home. Almost three-quarters used low-energy light bulbs, up from 31% in 2001. While 29% of people said they were already making an effort to use their cars and fly less, up to a third said they “don’t really want to” make such changes. Over half said they would like to reduce their car use but found there were no practical alternatives.

The Guardian

People are a fickle bunch arent they. I’m betting that people use energy saving light bulbs mostly to cut down on their energy bills. The environmental effect is just a nice after taste. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that people think about the environment more these days. But even with all the publicity things are moving too slowly, at least I think so. The way things are going or sound like going I would say that in 20 – 50 years with out a major shake up, the world will be beyond the tipping point and the major effects that global warming models predict will be well underway and we won’t be able to do a thing about it.

That’s a good idea for a blog post actually, one on what is happening now with the effects of global warming and the possible future. Look out for it.