I’m going to get some stick for this post, In the Wildfire office – and possibly elsewhere. But the fact is, I am a fully paid up member of two of the World’s most hated groups, being both an Apple and a Chelsea FC fanboy.
Fortunately, being an Apple and a Chelsea fan means I am far too superior to care about what anybody thinks (I jest! …sort of).
Being in this privileged position however, I can’t help but notice the numerable similarities between the two. I’m probably imagining things, but it does seem to me that there are inextricable links between the technology company and the football team.
So sorry Fandroids and Man Utd supporters, but I had to put this list together, (and I’m not really sorry). Let me make my case.
1. Both have a ‘Special One’ figure who has enjoyed a second coming
Apologies for the quasi-religious language here, but it’s hard to avoid when talking about these two.
I am, of course, referring respectively to Chelsea’s José Mourinho and Apple’s Steve Jobs, titans of their professions, both of whom were sacked after a period of huge success – probably for being too mouthy – and who both then went on to achieve great things elsewhere (Pixar, NeXT / Inter Milan, Real Madrid) before returning to reign once again.
Naturally, if you follow this analogy along the logical lines, then Mourinho is only just beginning his most successful period with the team. It was in Jobs’ second stint at Apple that he launched the iPod, iPhone, iPad and turned Apple into the most valuable company in the World. Which to my totally rational mind, suggests that Chelsea will definitely win the Premier League and Champions League for roughly the next seven years running.
2. Both have been criticised for deploying a ‘closed’, ‘controlled’ philosophy
Apple, and crucially, Jobs’ philosophy was always to retain as much control as possible over user experience. The goal was to be the best, and not pander to any ideas of ‘open’ or ‘freedom’ being somehow intrinsically good things.
Similarly, Chelsea in the first Mourinho era were constantly criticised for playing a closed and controlled style of football. The ultimate aim was to win games, at the cost of anything else. Attractive football was deprioritised in favour of football that won games.
The arguments I’ve had about both of these philosophies have always sounded similar. “No, we don’t do ‘open’ for the sake of it, but what we do is better and we know that for sure because the results tell us so.”
Even more similarly, Chelsea have taken to playing a more open style recently, which I can’t help but equate to Apple’s current more open philosophy, demonstrated in iOS 8.
3. Both have a uniquely antagonistic PR strategy
I am fairly sure that had José Mourinho been the CEO of Apple during ‘antennagate’, he would have said something along the lines of Steve Jobs’ famed response; ‘avoid holding it that way’.
Chelsea FC are not quite shrouded in secrecy the way that Apple Inc is, but I don’t think that is possible for a modern football club. I’ve no doubt that if José had his way it would be. Instead, he says deliberately antagonistic and outrageous things to deflect attention from his players. A slightly different but similarly straight-talking and antagonistic media strategy to the one Apple famously deploy, (though that’s changing too under Tim Cook), to a similar end.
And I love it. I wish we could all do PR that way.
4. Both lead to accusations of ‘glory hunter’
Look, I am most definitely not an Abramovich era bandwagon jumper. When I was 10 years old I named my pet rabbit Luca, after Chelsea legend Gianluca Vialli. It’s not like we were Championship material back then, but we weren’t winning everything in sight, and the only reason I supported the team was because it was relatively close to where I grew up and my dad took me to some games.
Equally, my inductive experience with Apple was one of those brightly coloured iMacs I got to work on in one of my first jobs in London. That was pre-iPhone and pre-iPad, though it led to an iPod, which led to an iPhone, which led to a MacBook, and the rest is history.
I’m not going to deny that either Chelsea or Apple glory hunter types exist (in Apple’s case, the ‘Jonny I’ve Come Latelies’, badum tish!). But I’m not one, OK?
5. Both have loadsamoney we’re supposed to feel bad about
I have to admit that I do feel a faint sort of lefty guilt when reminded of the ridiculous sums of money both Apple and Chelsea have in the bank. Well, in Chelsea’s case it’s in Roman Abramovich’s bank, but it equates to the same thing.
I’m not sure why I feel this. But I might get a bit defensive about it if pushed. We have loadsamoney because we’re the best, not the other way around. Got it?
6. Neither always enjoys positive press, or the most moral of positions
Look, I love England’s Brave John Terry as much as the next Chelsea fan, but I have to confess to not feeling wholly comfortable about it. I’m pretty sure he did say something appalling to Anton Ferdinand, and well, he doesn’t seem like he is really the nicest of blokes. It is partially why I was always so devoted to Super Frank, but that is now turning into great, great sadness.
Equally, I don’t feel fully comfortable when I hear the words ‘Chinese’, ‘factory’ and ‘working conditions’ in close proximity. I am sceptical of Tim Cook’s responses; he was always the logistics and manufacturing man, he set this stuff up, so he’s going to be defensive.
I don’t really know enough about either topic to discuss in great detail, but suffice to say they are both caveats to my fandom.
7. Both have made ludicrously expensive acquisitions I’m a bit embarrassed about
There’s a bit of a ‘money and lefty guilt’ theme forming here isn’t there? I was kind of embarrassed when Chelsea splurged £50 million on Fernando Torres, I must admit (partially because he came from Liverpool, shudder). But at least at that point I could comfort myself that he was an excellent player who would score lots of goals.
And although that didn’t exactly turn out to be the case, I don’t even have the luxury of that comfort when faced with Apple’s Beats acquisition. The Beats brand, built on poor quality, cheaply manufactured product, and sold with the currency of celebrity, is not one I equate with Apple. And yes I understand that Apple is probably more interested in Beats’ streaming service, but that sucks too.
8. Both have made less conspicuous investments I can feel proud of
Apple’s press strategy is such that if it’s not a big headline-grabbing acquisition like Beats, it doesn’t actually make the waves that a Google or Facebook buy-out does. But rest assured, the company ticks along in the background making investments in strong hardware, the results of which we see in the world-leading devices they produce.
On the Chelsea side there are clever and astute player purchases like those in the current team, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, none of which were for small sums by any stretch, but all of which have proven to be of excellent value.
And there we have it. My semi-logical reasoning as to why two things I am fanatical about are similar. Admittedly, I have resoundingly ignored the fact that Chelsea’s longstanding shirt sponsor is Apple’s arch rival Samsung. But you know, we’ll gloss over that.
If you’re a gooner reading this on your Nexus, well respect to you for getting the entire way through without your head exploding with rage. Why not write a counterpoint to my drivel?
photo credit: cfcunofficial