I normally hate international weeks but this one couldn’t have come at a better time. At least it gets our minds off the catastrophic week that came to an end with the home defeat against Man City.
On the plus side we can say that the result and performance at the San Siro give us plenty of hope for the return leg. I do watch Inter fairly regularly on the telly and can safely say that on Wednesday last week they played to their maximum. I thought that although we played well on the whole we can play better. Inter are not the best travelers in the world and a 1 – 0 victory or a two goal win over them is well within our reach.
The (myopic?) optimist in me also drew some positives out of the City debacle. A lunch time kick off always seems to produce a subdued atmosphere which goes to help the away side. Plus all the handshake palaver and I sincerely believe that this was a mistake we will not repeat very soon. All in all it was what the Italians would call a “false” game. Unfortunately it still counts as a defeat and we lost the opportunity to put some proper daylight between us and United once again.
On the downside I see some dark clouds on the horizon. First of all is the standard of refereeing we seem to get in Europe in crucial games. If ever there was a nailed on penalty and sending off, Kalou’s was the one. Some of the commentators tried to excuse the ref by saying that he was a way back and that he was looking for guidance from the linesman. Rubbish. The ref saw it and bottled it. As did the linesman. If the ref hadn’t seen it why didn’t he book Kalou? He was quick with his card when the Inter player took a dive in our penalty area a few minutes earlier and rightly so. I would imagine that if he thought Kalou dived he would have produced a yellow card.
The Man City game produced some comical defending on our part. But more worryingly, it produced some comical goalkeeping, which from our point of view was not funny at all. Hilario was brought in by Jose’ as a third goalkeeper. Now if you accept to be third goalkeeper at whichever club you can only do so for one of two reasons – either you are young and getting some experience in the reserves or else you admit that you are rubbish, that it is unlikely that anyone in his right senses is going to give you a game and therefore take whatever is coming. Given that Hilario is 34 years of age, no prizes for guessing under which category he falls.
He’s been a lucky bugger since he joined Chelsea. He was brought in as number three after Cech and Cudicini. But it seemed that every time that Cech was unavailable, Carlo was injured. He’s played 31 games in three and a half seasons, which although it sounds a little, is actually a phenomenal amount for a third keeper.
Going back to the Inter game when I saw Cech go down, I thought straight away it was his knee and turned to my son who was sitting next to me and said “This is the end of our season”. Obviously the phrase was adorned with a few expletives that would render this site X rated were I to repeat them here.
Losing Cech when he was regaining his form of old, the form that made him one of the best two goalies in the world, was a blow in itself. It was compounded by the fact that his replacement is a totally incompetent buffoon called Henrique Hilario. Which beggars the question – can Ross Turnbull be so bad as to not deserve a go in goal while Cech is out? I am aware that he had a more than shaky start in his reserves debut against Aston Villa at the beginning of the season. With Stoke and their aerial bombardment about to hit us next Sunday am I the only one who is preparing to watch the game through the gaps between his fingers?