Another game, another Diego Costa incident.
That’s what it must feel like for Chelsea fans, with their reprobate forward once again courting the back pages and a fair amount of controversy as well.
He probably thought he’d escaped retrospective action – but only because his ‘crimes’ as Sky Sports will probably call them, were caught by the referee, Michael Oliver – but despite the red card, the FA have still charged him.
Costa was shown the first red card of his Chelsea career – an astonishing stat considering how much trouble he gets himself in – but it seems that officials are finally wising up to him on the field and not just in their post match reports.
Apparently, Costa did not actually bite Gareth Barry – he just squared up to him instead, but promptly received his marching orders after getting a second yellow, because you can’t actually do that Diego.
It wouldn’t have shocked anyone had the forward actually bitten Barry, but for once, it seems he’s only guilty of a slightly lesser offence – and will only get a minimal suspension anyway, despite his improper conduct charge from the FA.
In all honesty, even if they throw the book at him, Chelsea won’t missed him – because they’ve got nothing left to play for. Their season is now over, even earlier than Arsenal’s is.
That, more than anything, is something Costa should hang his head in shame for.
The Spaniard basically downed tools under Jose Mourinho – it was not a loss of form or bad patch for him. He simply couldn’t be bothered. Costa gave up making runs, he gave up bothering to get on the end of balls, he gave up being a forward.
Now while there are a fair few Chelsea players who were guilty of the same thing, unlike say an Eden Hazard, Costa managed to magically rediscover his form the moment Jose was unceremoniously booted out the door, and has been back to his deadly self since Guus Hiddink took the reigns.
Against Paris Saint Germain, Costa produced one of the best games he’s played in a Chelsea shirt for a long time, and before taking himself off with injury, popped up with their goal.
Much like Liverpool fans and Luis Suarez, supporters – and the board – will take a player behaving badly at times, as long as they can do the business on the field.
This time last season, Costa was despised outside of West London – but at Stamford Bridge, he was loved by Mourinho and the fans, not to mention begrudgingly admired by rival fans and the press. Bastard Diego he may have been, but he was Bastard Diego who was winning Chelsea games week in, week out.
He had his issues, missing a third of games through either his troublesome injury complaints or suspension, but it made no difference because he still managed to score goals in the league when Chelsea needed them most.
He popped up in the League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur as well – and while he struggled to find the back of the net in Europe, the fact he led the Blues to the Premier League title was enough.
It wasn’t ideal, but his record in front of goal excused his behaviour. This season that has been far from the case for the first half of Chelsea’s title defence.
His goalscoring record under Hiddink is as close to perfect as you might want, but despite that, those exit rumours aren’t going anywhere.
Former club Atletico Madrid have been mooted as a potential destination, as have PSG – with Edinson Cavani even coming the other way in a player plus cash deal.
Costa has failed to settle in London, and would relish a move back to Spain.
The forward wants to go, and Chelsea don’t seem to be particularly keen on keeping him – and why would they?
What happens the next time Costa decides he doesn’t like a manager? If Antonio Conte – a man who is as bigger character as Mourinho – falls out with him, does Costa stop playing again?
Of course he would. Diego Costa cares about one thing – Diego Costa. He doesn’t feel any loyalty to the badge of Chelsea, or their fans, and would happily stop scoring again if it meant the manager he hated was forced to leave the club.
Costa is just a small problem on the horizon for Chelsea this summer – but he is one who sums up the issues at the club and their ethos and how flawed it is.
Gone are the days of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. The leadership, the backbone, the relationship with the fans.
In its place are mercenaries who play for themselves, and themselves alone – and if Chelsea want to get back to the success they’ve had over the last decade, they’d be better off playing the kids who actually care about the club and will give it their all. Not grown men who throw bibs at managers or decide they just can’t be bothered.
‘Stars’ like Costa and Hazard should be sold – and a rebuild needs to take place from the ground up, but will it?
Will it fuck. Knowing Michael Emelano and Chelsea, Costa will probably get a pay rise after they fail to bring anyone else in.