Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up.”
There is something in the mindset of Chelsea footballers that keeps them fighting to get up when they fall down, and that mentality has led them to their fifth Premier League title this year.
The Premier League is one of the most exciting football leagues in the world. It is a competition where, no matter how bad you fall, if you are determined to get up, you will rise again. The legendary boxer Mohammed Ali puts it this way: “You don’t lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down.”
Chelsea won the league this year after hammering Sunderland on the last day of this football season. Football fans all over the world applauded Chelsea for being a winner, but last year they were chastised for being a loser.
At one point last year, Chelsea was in the 15th position in a league of 20 teams. They were almost relegated to a lower league before a change of fortune brought them up to the 10th position. But this year, they had learned the bitter lessons from their past failures, and as a result, they have become triumphant.
The year before last, in the 2014/15 football season, Leicester City finished in the 14th position, only to jump up to become the league winners twelve months later.
Chelsea, and indeed Leicester have taught us that failure is not fatal. It doesn’t matter how bad you fall, if you are determined, you can get up and win again. The only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down.
“Tough times don’t last, tough people do,” according to Robert Schuller.
When Antonio Conte arrived at Chelsea in 2016, the team had just recorded their worst ever Premier League title defence. The situation was so bad that ex-player Florent Malouda had to plead with Chelsea’s squad to “stick together” under Antonio Conte and avoid a repeat of the previous season’s disappointing 10th-place finish.
“They just have to stick together,” Malouda told Goal. “There were tough times during my time as well, but once everybody understood that the club comes first, the team improved.”
“There will be pressure to perform at big clubs. Most of the time the problem is psychological as it is all a matter of confidence. The coach can help, but every player must look within himself,” said the 36-year-old, who now plays for the Indian club, Delhi Dynamos.
Manchester United back to their winning ways
When life knocks you down, let that be a reason to get up. In that sense, this was José Mourinho’s masterclass. Manchester United endured their worst ever Premier League season, finishing 24 points behind the league champions Chelsea this year.
The bad news for Manchester United and Mourinho is that this league season looks to be the club’s worst in 26 years. Not since the 1990-91 campaign has a United team finished so far behind the champions. But rather than lick his wounds and remain sorrowful about failure, Coach Mourinho made his team work hard to understand just how essential their victory over Ajax would be and how important it is to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Mourinho acted like a man under siege. Winning was the critical thing; Manchester United defeated Ajax at the Europa League final.
Mourinho’s attitude towards failure is in line with the words of Socrates, the Greek philosopher who said, “Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen.”
Arsenal end a problematic season on a high
Arsenal endured a tough season, but proved that “he who’s down need fear no fall” when they won their 13th FA Cup recently.
Arsene Wenger, the Gunners’ boss, has been under pressure from a section of the club’s fans base this season for past failures, but he pulled out all the stops in the cup final against Chelsea to win the FA cup.
The Gunners had fallen many times this season. They crashed out of the Champions League; they failed in English Football League cup competition; they missed out on a top-four finish for the first time under Wenger. But just when most spectators stopped believing in them, they proved many of their doubters wrong by winning the FA Cup.
The key message here is that even when others stop believing in you, you don’t have to give up on yourself.
When Wenger won his 7th FA Cup with Arsenal and the 13th for the club, he was simply telling his critics, “don’t laugh at me when I fall, because I shall rise again.” If Arsenal can end a problematic season on a high, so can you.