Friday, March 16, 2012

What do Chelsea and Dwight Howard have in common?

Wednesday provided the sporting consciousness with an almost – but not quite – final irresolution. Both the world's most public roundball sports suffered from the implacable inevitablity of more uncertainty.

In the NBA, the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard opted into the final eighteen months of his contract, depriving the free-agent market of it's best big man since Shaquille O'Neal in 1996.

And Chelsea won in the Champions' League.

Initially, there may seem little to connect the two, but similarities soon emerge from the internet's murk. By committing to the Magic for one more season, Howard automatically keeps every hoops rumour-monger in cyberspace flush with “content” – and I use that word in the loosest possible terms – until he signs a long-term contract extension or departs in July 2013.

Who has enough space under the salary cap to keep him? Will a team trade for him without him committing to extend his contract past 2013? Does anyone still care?

Similarly, for their improbable 4-1 win against Napoli at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, Chelsea should be congratulated. The unwelcome – by club and fan alike – result, however, is the fuel the club has unwittingly provided to football equivalent of Star magazine, the abominably-sourced Bleacher Report and other like sites, until the Blues' core players definitively leave the club.

Experts and know-alls-from-afar have penned myriad eulogies for Chelsea since the 2008 Champions' League final; sometimes this has been reasoned, other times speculation. Most recently, these have been the sum of the team's transfer policy moving towards youth amidst yet more nebulous and smoky “player power” reports. Already the Chelsea core has been shorn of two fringe elements, Anelka and Alex, while other veterans are publicised not necessarily for accomplishment but a lack thereof.

Common knowledge suggests disassembling a imperfect squad is prudent and inevitable if not overdue. In this case, the prevailing view may be as flawed as a Fernando Torres finish.

The fine Neapolitan win intimates they can still compete for what should now be known as Abramovich's Folly; the result of which appears to be that short-term savage transition from age to youth will be postponed until the next high-profile stumble. As long as Chelsea retain the so-called cabal, supposition will follow. A humbling defeat at the hands feet of Napoli would only accelerate that disintegration; now, fans are damned to read stories that should all begin with “I reckon”.

Apart from the Blues, who will now face Benfica in the quarter-finals, it seemsthe Perez Hiltons of the football blogosphere are this week's big winners.

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