Our season ended on a low note as we came away from Newcastle losing 1-0. This was our second consecutive defeat, the other being against Blackburn on Tuesday, when again we lost 1-0; unfortunately losing in two consecutive matches in the Premiership hadn’t happened to José Mourinho before at Chelsea since his arrival from Porto. During the match we had two goals that were disallowed due to offside decisions, but even before the game you felt that it wasn’t going to be our day. In the warm-up prior to the game Carlo Cudicini injured his ankle, which forced him out of the starting eleven. In his place came Lenny Pidgley making his full debut for the club. With only 16 travelling up to the North East it left us one player light on the substitutes bench.
Even with just four substitutes we started the game without a recognised striker as both Didier Drogba and Hernan Crespo had been rested. Eidur Gudjohnsen who took a knock in training on Friday was excluded from the squad altogether. So that just left Carlton Cole, he was named amongst the substitutes and made an appearance in the second half. For Newcastle this was a victory that took them into next seasons Inter Two Bob cup, a realistic way of ensuring a UEFA Cup spot. For us it wasn’t really the best way to finish the season, the Mourinho critics may well be sharpening their knives, but with the title sewn up the boss was always going to rest star players, but that’s not to say that the players out on the pitch should and could have performed at a better level.
Our best chance of the first half came when Damien Duff, after being put through by Diarra, shot straight at Shay Given in the Newcastle goal. Earlier in the half Ricardo Carvalho had been booked for a foul on Ameobi. Former West Ham manager Glenn Roeder had shored up the Newcastle defence in recent times, during the first half today it was no different, however Arjen Robben had caused their back four a few problems without any real threat.
Our first half formation had been 3-4-3 but in the second half that changed with Carlton Cole replacing Robert Huth and Shaun Wright-Phillips replacing Damien Duff, the replacements meant our system changed to a 4-2-3-1 formation. The second half saw former Chelsea player Celestine Babayaro getting a yellow card when he really should have been sent off for a foul on Arjen Robben when Robben was clean through. We also had two offside decisions that went against us when both Gallas and Wright-Phillips netted.
With those chances ruled out it was inevitable that the home side would score; this they did in the 73rd minute when Titus Bramble volleyed in a goal when Faye headed back into the area. A couple of minutes after their goal former Spurs player Stephen Carr was sent off for stamping on Lassana Diarra when he was on the ground. Maybe Carr had heard the score from Upton Park and Highbury.
In the squad of 16 we had taken reserve players Jimmy Smith who scored a cracker against Ipswich for the reserves last season at Portman Road and young centre back Michael Mancienne. With nine minutes to go Smith came on to make his full debut as Carvalho was taken off after a clash of heads. We couldn’t pull a goal back and at the final whistle it was Newcastle who had claimed victory. With Manchester United winning at home to Charlton by 4-0, the season ended with us finishing on 91pts and United on 83pts; we scored 72 goals whilst conceding 22, United scored 72 goals but conceded 34. Will it be tougher next season? Well, we now have three months to discuss it – can we really win three titles in a row? It will be a tough ask, but if anybody can Mourinho can, I’m looking forward to it already.
C’mon Chelsea! Keep The Faith!
Newcastle: (4-4-2): Given; Carr, Moore, Bramble, Babayaro; Solano (Boumsong 30), Faye, Emre, N’Zogbia; Ameobi, Chopra (Clark 76).
Chelsea: (3-4-3) Pidgeley; Huth (C Cole 45), Carvalho (Smith 81), Gallas (c); Johnson, Diarra, Maniche, Ferreira; J Cole, Robben, Duff (Wright-Phillips 45).
Referee: Mike Riley.