Chelsea boos leave players – and their representatives – fearing they could be next Public Enemy No1


Fans applaud as Chelsea's Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling was booed by home supporters as he left the pitch on Sunday – Reuters/Andrew Boyers

There is a Chelsea player whose representative prefers not to sit in the posh seats inside Stamford Bridge or cosy up to the club’s owners and sporting directors during games, but instead likes to plant himself in the middle of the fans.

He does this at home games and for away trips to try to get a sense of how supporters perceive his client. He is not naive and expects the rollercoaster of emotions to prompt strong opinions, both positively and negatively.

But he has been surprised at just how quickly some of the fans he has sat and stood in among can turn on their own, and is adamant that a number of players inside the Chelsea squad are very much aware of it.

“The players know,” he said. “They hear it and pick up on it. They might say they can ignore it or block it out, but it has an impact.”

Aware the abuse is not confined to the stands, the same representative has tried to encourage his player to stop searching for his name on social media and has arranged for friends to stay with him so he has less spare time in which to scroll.

Marc Cucurella knows from bitter experience how it feels to be the target of the Chelsea boo boys, having fallen foul of them last season, while Nicolas Jackson became distracted by a supporter who shouted at him to “wake up” during the home defeat by Brentford.

Raheem Sterling is the latest member of the current squad to receive a public ear-bashing from fans. The strength of feeling aimed towards him in recent weeks, which boiled over during the Leicester game, surprised some Chelsea insiders who thought they had seen it all before.

In an exclusive interview with Telegraph Sport, Jackson revealed that the scrutiny from the Chelsea fans is different to anything he has ever experienced.

“I never had this before,” said Jackson. “At Villarreal, you play without so much pressure because it’s a different team, but I know it comes from a good place.

“Normally, I don’t talk to fans or get distracted by what they say. I don’t know what came over me. It must have been frustration. It’s not a small thing, everybody at the game expecting you to do what they want you to. It’s because they love you, not because they hate you. They want you to make them happy. Now I know that. I was in Villarreal, but it was a different environment. You don’t have these kinds of things there. In Chelsea, it’s different.”

It is unlikely that all of Chelsea’s players will feel so forgiving about the treatment that can be dished out, as hinted at by Noni Madueke. In response to a fan who was critical of Sterling’s Instagram apology for missing a penalty against Leicester City, Madueke replied: “Be quiet man, people like you are the issue.”

Some supporters watching the FA Cup quarter-final victory over Leicester City in which Sterling was booed believed they could see that both Palmer and Malo Gusto were angry with the vocal criticism.

Carney Chukwuemeka described Sterling as a “big brother” to him and urged the fans to remain positive, saying: “Everyone is only human, sometimes [as fans] you can’t control your emotions. You just need to trust the process. Stick with us through highs and lows. We are definitely on the rise now, but it is not always going to be easy. But just stick with us and give us that 12th man on the pitch.”

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino chose not to pick a public battle with the fans who chanted “you don’t know what you’re doing” at him, but the Argentine’s celebration when substitute Chukwuemeka scored looked pointed.

Carney Chukwuemeka of Chelsea scores their 3rd goal during The Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on March 17, 2024 in London, EnglandCarney Chukwuemeka of Chelsea scores their 3rd goal during The Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on March 17, 2024 in London, England

Carney Chukwuemeka, who scored Chelsea’s crucial third on Sunday, has called Sterling a ‘big brother’ – Getty Images/Jacques Feeney

Pochettino had revealed in the build up to the Leicester game that his young squad are struggling to cope with the pressure of playing for Chelsea. Sterling is not a kid, but a representative of the 29-year-old posted on social media on Sunday night to give her own view on the booing.

Over two messages on X, Kelly Hogarth, who has worked closely with Sterling over a number of years, wrote: “Is it not counterproductive for fans to boo their own players? Especially when they are looking for a win? It sets an uneasy tone that affects the stability of the entire team and gives the opposition advantage. Bizarre.

“There’s a strong correlation between admiration / support and performance. All of these things affect confidence. The fans need to get behind players that are struggling with form, not heckle them.”

All of this is not entirely new, as Jorginho was booed by fans in the early days of his Chelsea career and eventually managed to win them round. That, together with the warmth shown towards Cucurella after he scored his first Chelsea goal on Sunday and the way Jackson is changing perceptions, may offer some encouragement to Sterling.

But until the booing of their own stops permanently, there will always be Chelsea players, and their representatives, who worry they could become the next Public Enemy No. 1.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top