You all know the fairy tales. The brave and gallant peasant finds out he's the scion of a long-lost royal line, and his destiny is to cast off the shackles of tyranny from his land, slay some dragons and get with the sexy princess. Our hero fights with honour and courage, passing with heart unscathed through countless challenges and setbacks before finally reaching his goal, toppling the forces of evil and bringing freedom to his people.
He and the princess live happily ever after.
That's the fairy tale version, of course. Here's what happens in the actual version: Our hero's new grand vizier was actually only in it for the chance to be close to the centre of power, so within months of achieving his goals the hero is poisoned at a feast, dies a painful death, and sees all his good work undone by a formerly trusted henchman who's actually pretty big on the whole tyranny thing and sees exploiting the poor as a social good. Oh and he's now sleeping with the princess too.
(Please go ahead and make Dr. Eva jokes in the comments because they're fresh and people will think you're funny and witty.)
Despite the brief promise the legendary hero brought to the land, the people are now worse off than before, because new, unfettered tyranny actually turns out to be worse than old, worn-in tyranny. The new king hasn't quite realised that wantonly murdering everyone he doesn't like is probably not a good idea, hasn't got the idea of a budget yet, and the [censored] [funning] [yikes!] also overuses Juan Mata.
And everyone is miserable. Before, they had no hope, but things, they convince themselves, weren't so bad. Now, after seeing a golden age undone by scheming avarice and then being plunged into the most woeful despair, they finding themselves wishing for the shackles of tyrants past. Andre Villas-Boas. Luis Felipe Scolari. Even Avram 'bloody' Grant, who once massacred an entire village with his bare hands because a small boy said he looked like a dentally-challenged walrus.
Around the fringes of the kingdom, enemies stir. Long-vanquished foes sense weakness, looking for a chance to gore themselves on territory they'd never have been allowed near had the old order still stood. Armies mass at the borders, and the central government, more interested in its own decadence and casual brutality, ignores the threat.
John Terry, captain of the guard, speaks up and is imprisoned, then tortured. Great generals, victorious against almighty odds, when the hero led the way, are given hopeless commands and then punished for failing to succeed. Slowly, inch by inch, the fighting spirit of the land is exhausted while the new king feasts in his capital, stuffing himself on the finest delicacies while his men fall, bloodied and battered.
By the time he realises the true magnitude of the threat, it is too late. Few will fight for him, and those that do follow him reluctantly, motivated by fear rather than love. The war is over; it is lost. The country will fall into the darkest of dark ages, perhaps never to recover.
This is why we can't have nice things.
* * *
Oh, and you want a match report too? Alright. Chelsea played against Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday, a venue in which we always lose. Unsurprisingly, we lost. Also unsurprising was the fact that the team played like a bunch of incompetents -- the only outfield player who can hold his head up high after that was Gary Cahill, and even he only gets a nod because he continually made up for his numerous errors by charging bravely into the fray like a bellowing water buffalo.
That the Blues survived the opening 20 minutes without conceding was something of a miracle. City were all over them from the outset and should have scored three or four times if not for some hilariously poor attacking play from Sergio Aguero and some rather good goalkeeping from Petr Cech. Chelsea limped to the half with the match still scoreless, but didn't manage a shot on target until Eden Hazard had a rather speculative effort kept out at the near post.
Frank Lampard spurned a golden opportunity to go ahead after Demba Ba had done brilliantly to earn a penalty -- the only time we'd looked to attack their centre all match -- but his spot kick was struck too low and Hart guessed right to make a superb save and keep the game scoreless.
Yaya Toure decided to make the most of the situation by finding the back of the net shortly thereafter. He'd bossed the midfield all game and got a deserved goal when neither John Obi Mikel nor Lampard bothered to defend him on a David Silva cutback, and Cech was well-beaten with an excellent shot.
At 1-0 sixty-odd minutes in, Rafa Benitez made a bizarre substitution that saw Lampard and Eden Hazard withdrawn for Victor Moses and Oscar, a switch made even weirder by the fact that Ramires was a) having a shocker b) on a yellow card and c) being moved into a position of greater responsibility.
By the time the match was over, we were playing a 4-3-2 with Ramires at right back, David Luiz and Oscar in the centre and Mata in some undetermined position that even he couldn't quite figure out. Carlos Tevez had scored his obligatory goal to cheer us up even further, because hey Branislav Ivanovic, why would you even want to defend that shot? It's just Carlos Tevez with a clear sight of goal, after all.
Chelsea were played off the pitch. The worst part was that City were quite clearly there for the taking -- they were moving the ball too slowly, seemed out of ideas on the attack and their defence had Kolo Toure in it. Today was a huge opportunity for Benitez and the Blues to make a statement. Unfortunately, that statement turned out to be 'please euthanise us'.