WHETHER Ferguson’s bleating about the referee was genuine frustration at what he perceived as an injustice, or whether it was an attempt to give confidence back to a team that was obviously second best on the day, only he knows, but although the referee didn’t have an outstanding game, had he got all the decisions right, Chelsea would have still won the game comfortably.
Let’s go through them very quickly: Park in the box – was touched but fell theatrically; Drogba: clearly offside: Neville on Anelka – stone-wall penalty; Machedo – handball. Ferguson should also count himself very lucky than Scholes wasn’t sent off before half time. Even the manager realised that the ginger one was living a charmed life and subbed him before he was shown red.
As news of the team filtered through to the fans at the ground there were many looks of surprise but also a new-found confidence and respect for Ancelotti. The first half reduced the United players to virtual spectators and their fans into stunned silence. This wasn’t how the script was supposed to go! You could almost hear the gnashing of the teeth from the press box from the away end.
Joe Cole perfectly demonstrated on Saturday why he and the club should come back to the table and hack out a deal that will keep him at Stamford Bridge. He has struggled to get back to form and fitness since his extended period out and it has frequently been painful to watch, but there isn’t another player within Chelsea that could score you a goal like that.
There are not many players within the Premiership that could score you that goal. That kind of inventivness and trickery is something we more readily connect to foreign players – often South Americans, and it gives Chelsea another dimension. It could give England anther dimension too if Capello is brave enough to make that call.
It had of course already been a very good week for Chelsea even before last Saturday’s result at Old Trafford.
The highlight for me was seeing Arsenal so systematically outclassed by Barcelona. Since the draw was made I have had to keep a bucket at hand every time I picked up a paper as journalists drooled at the prospect of the Kings of European Tippy Tap taking on the Queens of English Tippy Tap.
It was going to be a football as “art”, football like we have never seen before – we would faint before its sheer beauty – heavenly choirs would sing, wars would be ended so that everyone could behold the splendour – the two personifications of all that is good and wholesome about our game finally being bought together to right the wrongs of a game blighted by those not worthy… where’s that bucket? I do jest , but some of the writing was no far off that.
And what did we actually get? A master-class by Barcelona which ripped Arsenal to shreds and left them chasing shadows. The fact that the game ended 2-2 must be one of the greatest injustices in recent football – it was never a penalty anyway. Bet they somehow go on and do it in the Nou Camp now . . . better get some more buckets ready.
Fabregas’s injury was just a bonus. Usually I would hesitate in revelling in the bad fortune of a gifted player but Arsenal players don’t count as they are all such loathsome arrogant creatures.
Can you imagine if they do the unthinkable and actually win the title – a shiver runs down my back at the very thought of it. Imagine the press love-in; imagine the number of Arsenal shirts retrieved from the back of wardrobes; imagine how we would have to listen to gooners waxing lyrical about the “right” way to play football. Jonathan Creek on TV with his red and white scarf. A new trilogy from Nick Hornby. This from the fans of a team who proliferated the one nil to the Arsenal hands-up offside dullest team in history. Short memories some people.
But let’s change the subject. As much as I love the FA Cup I am a little perturbed that this weekend’s game interrupts what is turning out to be a rich vein of form for us at a crucial time. Let’s not try anything different or clever. We have found something that works and we have a Plan B in our back pocket too, so lets just not get over-adventurous and concentrate at the task at hand as the games come up.
The team and the fans alike should not under-estimate Villa despite our stunning result against them. They will have learned a lot from that and it will have hurt. They will not capitulate like that again so we need to be at the top of our game. We need to win to give us confidence for that final push in the league. To lose the title by falling to bitter rivals Liverpool or Tottenham is unthinkable – not far now.
Come on Chelsea
Trizia is Joint Chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group. Visit the CSG website to find out more information.