In the hierarchy of bitter pills to swallow, missing a crucial penalty is pretty high up there. Obviously it’s not as bitter as, say, biting into an apple to find half a worm telling you your wife has run up a massive credit card bill and off with a handsome divorce lawyer. That’s the bitterest. But missing a crucial penalty is pretty bad. In fact if the player isn’t careful, it can be a career defining moment, condemning him to a future of poorly scripted Pizza Hut ads and pub quiz mentions. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way, not if we’ve learnt anything from Karate Kid.
What Lukaku needs to bear in mind, as he comes to terms with his slightly flimsy effort against Bayern, is that if Daniel Larusso hadn’t suffered the humiliating, sand-in-the-face beach bullying scene in Act 1, then he’d never have met Mr Miyagi, got an awesome set of wheels, schmoozed frumpy Shue and totally redeemed himself with a mind-blowing, spine-tingling, leg-swept Crane kick at the end of Act 5. Lukaku’s only 20. This has got Act 1 written all over it.
Also, although letting in an equaliser with five seconds on the injury time, extra time clock is frustrating, we should make sure we focus on the positives. In spite of having arguably the best team in Europe and arguably the best manager in the world, Bayern were lucky to win. Sure, there were some great saves from Cech, but nothing that wasn’t matched at the other end. In fact, had we not had a ‘controversial red’ (we should register that as a Chelsea trademark by the way, that way at least we’d get something out of it other than more ranting) we would have been able to take the game to them even more than we nonetheless did.
Considering the relative youth of much of our squad, and the strength of our bench, this display should be enough to make the rest of Europe recognise just what a substantial threat Chelsea once again are. The trick of course, will be to keep the bench happy – I don’t quite know what game Jose is playing with Mata but he can’t have it in his mind to ditch him; he is a gamechanger as much as Hazard and more so than Oscar, he even began to track back a bit at the end of last season. We’ll just have to wait and see what the plan is…
Meanwhile, where’s Luis Suarez when you need him? Now you might not know this yet, but I have a strong suspicion that Luis is working for the UN as some kind of international black ops merc. If I’ve learnt nothing else from having a toddler in the house it’s that distraction is the best way to diffuse a situation. Say for example a child has found something potentially dangerous lying around – a felt tip pen with the lid off for example, or a switchblade – well, you try to snatch that out of his hand and you’re in trouble. He’ll grip it harder, pull back and before you know it you’re in that high-tension ‘dynamic equilibrium’ place that no parent/child/switchblade wants to be. But if instead you point to some butterfly on TV, or bite Branislav Ivanovic, then hey, the kid drops the danger item in preference for the new point of interest and everybody’s happy.
Isn’t it a little odd that every time Suarez does something crazy there just so happens to be a diplomatic incident brewing? Occupy Wall Street starting to undermine financial institutions? Tell you what, Suarez will call Evra ‘negro’ eight times in twelve minutes and turn all attention away from banks; North Korea getting a bit jumpy with their new Jong Un showing some heft? Tell you what, let Luis diffuse the tension by filling global tabloids with images of football cannibalism and headlines such as self-Serbice! And Ivano-gherkin! (There was no self-Serbice headline, I made that up, but there was an Ivano-gherkin! one.) (No there wasn’t). Sure, you may say that’s a coincidence, but let’s look at the evidence: he’s been banned for 10 games and wouldn’t you know it, the French and the Americans are about to plough into Syria. You want to know why there’s a ruckus in the UN Security Council? It’s because the FA banned Luis Suarez from using his international distraction skills and so he has quite rightly tramped off to the North Pole to mooch over green crystals.