Soccer, Sleep and the Chelsea Blues

Off The Post has, at times, been guilty of falling asleep while watching games. A big fan of time-shifting (so he can actually do things during the day), OTP tends to save certain games for watching late at night, which is when the bulk of the passing-out usually occurs.

In fact, sometimes OTP chooses which game to watch based on the one that he thinks is most likely to bring him softly into dreamland, saving better contests for the early AM. He imagines, for example, that almost anyone could be coaxed into a gentle night’s sleep by watching, say, just about any game this season involving Serie A’s AS Roma (1.37 goals scored and 0.71 goals conceded per game) -- provided that they start the match with a certain degree of tiredness and/or the intention of falling asleep during the match. 

Now, as an American columnist covering the beautiful game, this admission may sound like blasphemy, but OTP would contend that soccer’s ability to draw its fans peacefully into sleep is actually one of its most alluring qualities.

Why? Well, who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep?

The question is not really why, anyways: the more interesting question is how it’s able to do this.

Provided that the end-user is not invested in either team, watching soccer is a bit like reading in bed. Many folks who read in bed, like those who watch games late at night, have the intention of eventually nodding off. Both are relaxing activities; it’s just as relaxing to watch a game as a neutral who cares not about the result, as it is to pick up a book and be transported away from your day to somewhere else. And, just like your book, a soccer game has the ability to keep you awake long past your bedtime, especially if it gets really good. If it does, great, stay up. If it doesn’t, so what? You wanted to fall asleep anyway.

Which brings us to today’s (touch) point: what happens when you fall asleep watching a game that you actually care about?

What does it mean when the club that you feel more closely associated to than anything else on this earth, puts a product on the field that makes you -- gasp -- fall asleep sometimes? Do you blame soccer? Do you blame yourself?

It’s kind of like an identity crisis.

As regular readers of this column know by now, OTP is a fan of the Chelsea FC’s Blues. He is also a fan of his team’s coach, Jose Mourinho.

But, as he is starting to realize, the connection is somewhat mutually exclusive.

Asked at a press conference on Friday why his team is, as the anti-racism group Kick It Out discovered recently, the most vilified Premier League club in social media, Mourinho responded: “I think because we are boring. Top of the league since day one. It’s something in this country people don’t like.”

Well, sure: objectively speaking, everyone likes a good title race. And unless Chelsea stumbles in its next few games, a good title race probably isn’t on the cards this year in England. Also: everyone likes to knock the top dog off of its perch, right?

But is that the reason everyone hates Chelsea so much?

Maybe it’s because they actually ARE boring.

Throughout the course of the season, which is at present 31 games old, OTP has maybe missed watching maybe one Blues game live. Yet he can remember at least four occasions where Jose Mourinho’s men have lulled him to sleep. And the worst part about this admission is that Premier League start times in the USA are usually between 7:45 AM and 12:30 PM EST—and OTP never sleeps passed 7. 

Come to think about it, OTP never fell asleep watching the Blues during the Carlo Ancelotti years, or the almost-year of Andre-Villas Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez, so, what’s going on here?

Mourinho, man. As much fun as he is to follow in the papers and on TV, he just doesn’t put an exciting brand of soccer on the field. His Chelsea is extremely well-organized, defensively solid, fighting for every loose ball and otherwise very good at the physical aspects of the game, which can indeed be very exciting to watch. But, at its worst, Mourinho’s Chelsea -- especially if the team grabs an early goal -- tends to offer very little going forward for the rest of the match, happy with using its stultifying defensive qualities to kill off games.

The man certainly gets results: his winning record and trophy cabinet from his travels around Europe is absolutely amazing, even if the product his teams produce is not. But if OTP is not in the mood to watch a lot of defense, well, don’t be surprised to see him sitting in his chair, head facing the ceiling, mouth agape, snoring softly.    

1 comment about "Soccer, Sleep and the Chelsea Blues".
  1. ROBERT BOND, April 20, 2015 at 10:50 a.m.

    don't think it will be a problem next weekend........

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