I wanna tell you a story…
Once upon a time there were three wise monkeys, Dave, Ray and Trevor. Now these wise monkeys decided to make a weekend of the Man United game, so off they set on their jolly little way on a nice Friday afternoon.
The trip was fine, the food excellent and the beers and brandy were… well it gets a little fuzzy at that point, but suffice to say these three wise monkeys had a most enjoyable evening.
Saturday started surprisingly well. A nice breakfast and blue skies – in Manchester! Difficult to believe but it looked like everything was set for a cracking day taunting the Devon/Surrey/God-knows-where-else hoards in red. But it all started to go pear-shaped at about 1.10pm.
As the three wise monkeys took their seats they got their first shock of the day – what on earth was all that green stuff out there on the pitch? Our lads still had their flip flops on from last week while Jimmy even had a lilo and water wings with him!
There was also the small matter of referee Paul Durkin warming up, two ginger whingers to contend with this week. The omens did not look good.
The first half was not a dazzling affair although Chelsea enjoyed the lion’s share of possession. Chances were at a premium though and perhaps the biggest noise at the crematorium (were there any United fans there?) was when Baba clearly handballed, only for the assistant Referee to either not see it or ignore it. We should book him every week!
The Blues lost Jimmy in the 20th minute after a clash with one of the ugly sisters left him hobbling. Some little guy by the name of Zola came on to replace him, he looks like he might go far!
But Chelsea deservedly took the lead on the half hour when Petit released Eidur who flicked a delicate finish beyond Fabien Barthez.
The lead lasted for less than 10 minutes when Carlo sent a clearance straight to Beckham, and his wicked cross was met by the other ginger nut’s header. It was harsh as it was United’s only effort on target in the first 45 minutes and Ferguson showed how he felt about this by sending on Giggs for Phil ‘Ugly Sister’ Neville at the start of the second half.
The second half was a totally different proposition with United creating lots more chances. Had it not been for Carlo Chelsea could easily have found themselves two or three goals behind.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit a post from eight yards after Beckham’s quick short corner – then Jesper Gronkjaer blocked Scholes’ goalbound shot. The visitors still managed to create chances though with Barthez needing to be alert to block Gudjohnsen’s drive. Lampard headed over and Franco somehow contrived to miss a totally open goal.
Carlo made amends for his earlier error with a moment of brilliance after 70 minutes. Van Nistelrooy’s header looked destined for the bottom corner until the Chelsea ‘keeper dived superbly to his right to save. Van Nistelrooy was then replaced by Forlan who, until recently, couldn’t hit a barn door from five paces.
A game that looked destined for stalemate though was typically won hours into stoppage time with a powerful strike from Mr Barn-Door after a superb through-ball by Juan Sebastian Veron.
Where all the added time came from is anyone’s guess. I guess the normal ‘we will play until you score Sir Alex’ rules applied.
Chelsea in no way deserved to lose this game. It is always easy to blame the manager but he does have to accept some responsibility for this.
With six minutes of normal time left he took off Eidur (who is very clearly not match fit) and replaced him with Zenden. Instead of playing him up front with Zola and maintaining our shape, he decided to settle for the draw by playing a five man midfield. Italian mentality I guess. Whether it cost Chelsea the game is debatable but if you settle for a draw at places like Old Trafford you are always likely to be punished.
This error compounded an earlier one when he replaced the very effective Gronkjaer with a still out of sorts De Lucas. I have no idea why.
So on to the trip home, thousands of reds blocking the motorway, but the monkeys did manage to escape from them for a short while when dropping monkey two (Ray) off in Milton Keynes.
Shortly after though the monkeys got a puncture. Monkey one jacked the car (not in the biblical sense of course), monkey three removed the nuts (No, you don’t eat these sort Trevor!) but one of the nuts fell off, so now they had to wait for the RAC.
The mechanic eventually arrives, tyre gets changed, only to discover that those nice people at Ford have decided that this monkey’s car does not have a proper spare, only a temporary one which meansd oing 200 miles maximum and a top speed of 50mph!
It looks like the wheel of a pram and for the first time in his life monkey number three understands how the drivers of Reliant Robins must feel.
The monkeys were overtaken by people out jogging svereal times. One jogger kindly tapped on the window and asked if they would like him to slow down so that they could overtake someone. Two snails and a slug burned them off at the lights but they somehow managed to reach home.
So, all in all a great weekend was ruined by a two moments of carelessness by Ranieri, three minutes of time from Durkin and a shot from some hapless South American.
Chelsea were the better team by far. Marcel, and in particular Lumpy, were absolutely outstanding. Two serious questions need to be asked before we facing the mighty Shrews next weekend. Just what has happened to Claudio’s ‘outstanding tactical genius’ and why does Eidur continue to look overweight and not manage to last 90 minutes.
TEAM: Cudicini – Babayaro, Gallas, Desailly, Melchiot – Le Saux, Petit, Lampard, Gronkjaer (De Lucas 56), Hasselbaink (Zola 16), Gudjohnsen (Zenden 84).
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Morris.