Tuesday 26 May
Jose Mourinho put pen to a new contract down Inter way. So whatever the summer’s ins and outs, he will not be returning. Meanwhile Ancelotti, who might or might not, revealed in his autobiography, Preferisco la Coppa (‘I prefer the cup’, which bodes ill for our league challenge), that during last summer’s negotiations with Roman he thought Franck Ribéry and Xabi Alonso would cure Chelsea’s lack of ‘personality’. He is already becoming unpopular, so much so, that a poor home draw in August could cost Chelsea the price of his contract and we’ll be looking all over again. Why not Gordon Strachan as a caretaker until after the World Cup in South Africa?
Ricardo Quaresma will be on the move again in the summer , this time a deal with Genoa who will get Hernán Crespo as well in a deal that means Thiago Motta and Diego Milito go to Internazionale.
Wednesday 27 May
Barcelona 2:0 Manchester United
Well, at least Ferguson doesn’t equal any records or make any history. In the it-should-have-been-us European Cup final, Barcelona made Manchester United look very ordinary indeed. Although Man U sparkled for the first seven minutes they barely got a kick after that. The game was a perfect demonstration of Hiddink’s genius in first containing and then dominating this Barcelona side. The sole reason our name is not on the cup, again, was the decision not to allow us through.
Manc fans even went into this evening predicting a cricket score against a side with a dodgy ‘keeper and a defence missing three regulars.
Thursday 28 May
Michael Mancienne will play for England U21 in the European Championship this summer. Make the most of it, all you’ve got after five o’clock Saturday is the U21s, a couple of England qualifiers and Toulon. A long summer awaits.
Alex will be fit to play at Wembley but will then have surgery for a hernia problem after the game and will miss Brazil’s summer qualifiers.
According to the morning’s press we’ve offered £45squillion for Franck Ribéry, according to Bayern München they haven’t heard a word.
Nicolas Anelka picked up his shiny prize for winning the Premiership’s golden boot, which is, er, a gold coloured, er, boot.
Friday 29 May
One day of Guus left and the big man has been speaking about his time here and the FA Cup, while dropping an encouraging hint about a possible return: “I’m not the youngest any more, but having has this experience in the past few months with Chelsea, I’d certainly like to come back to England again in the future … a final is never an anti-climax. You have to be in finals at a big club and we are very happy to be there. To play a final with worldwide attention and win some silverware is perfect”. He added a few words on the healing process: “bit by bit, day by day I’m getting rid of the anger from the Barcelona match, but if you push the right button in my soul you will find a bit of anger”. If Mourinho had said that the reaction would have been one of fury and outrage, moaning Chelsea, etc. Guus is so respected that he is allowed to speak honestly without provoking.
John Terry put his finger on the impact Guus Hiddink had on the players and how he is as a man: “we have all asked him to stay on but, from day one, he has said he owes it to Russia to go back. He is a man of his word and we fully respect that. He’s full of fire and dignity and someone I am sure the players will forever respect. I admire his loyalty. He’s a great man as well as a great manager, and now we have to make sure we give him the right send-off by winning the FA Cup”.
£18.6million has prised Yuri Zhirkov from CSKA Moscow according the source close to the winger’s manager. CSKA, on the other hand, say that the rumour is rubbish.
Meanwhile Claude Makelele has a book out that claims John Terry put in a transfer request just before Mourinho was sacked which forced the club’s hand. He suggests that Jose was looking for a way out of the job and threatening to drop JT to enable him to properly get over back surgery was the way he chose to do it.
Saturday 30 May
Everton 1:2 Chelsea
JT spent yesterday with his advisers talking about Makelele’s book, he denies ever putting in a transfer request. So we can finally get on with the final.
Nice warm day and most are savouring the atmosphere, Abide with me, national anthem, the traditional flame machines, when a game of football starts and Everton take the lead and they take Roberto Di Matteo’s Wembley record for the fastest goal. Fellaini heads the ball down and Louis Saha swept home in under 25-seconds. Robbie’s record stood for 12-years, but Robert Chatt’s goal for Villa stood since 1895.
The goal seemed to rattle Chelsea, passes were going astray everything was a bit forced and hurried but gradually we found some rhythm and possession. Michael Essien scuffed a shot over but Everton looked incapable of hurting us on the break. When on 20-minutes Malouda, showing all of his improved form and giving right-back Tony Hibbert nightmares, crossed for Didier Drogba to power a header home. Five Everton defenders watched as Florent and Didier tore them to bits and none of them could stop it from happening.
Lampard then volleyed just over with Tim Howard struggling.
The rest of the half settled into a pattern; Chelsea probed Everton blocked and the half-time whistle came as relief to those Evertonians stuck in the fierce sunshine.
Everton came out stronger after the break and without poor Hibbert, replaced by a debutant Lars Jacobsen, but our defence held them at arm’s length for fifteen minutes then Anelka showed that we still had menace by meeting a through ball with a chip that sailed over with Howard beaten.
Saha then flashed a header over, when really he should have scored and we appeared to be in a contest. The illusion was quickly shattered; Frank broke forward turned the defence and slipped before regaining his feet and lamping one in with his left-foot. The ball took an age to travel from Frank’s boot to the back of the net but as soon as it was there the game was over and the cup won. It was Frank’s 20th goal of the season four years in a row and the second year he has sealed it in the final game.
Florent Malouda then blasted a shot that appeared to ricochet behind the line as it smashed off the bar. The final whistle came after we’d spent ten-minutes running the ball into the corners and generally arsing about the FA Cup for a fifth time and a fitting send off for Guus Hiddink. Someone asked Guus afterwards if the FA Cup was a perfect way to end his time at Chelsea, the answer was yes but not quite: “yes I think so, it would have been a bit more perfect if we had been somewhere a few days ago. That’s the only regret I have, not playing Man U”, he went on “it was emotional in the dressing room. I gathered the players and technical staff because I won’t get the opportunity anymore to speak directly, so we had five minutes from my side and I thanked them in an emotional way for the way we worked together”, the players, for their part, gave the gaffer an engraved watch. The banner flag read: “thank you Guus”.
Chelsea now have five FA Cups and so has Ashley Cole. So perhaps it was some kind of historical sentiment, as Ash joined Victorian stalwarts Charles Wollaston, Lord Arthur Kinnaird and Jimmy Forrest, with five winner’s medals, that made Cole man-of-the-match ahead of Frank Lampard. Chelsea’s five take us level with Everton, The Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion, with Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United ahead on six.
When Scolari left in February few could have expected Hiddink to have had such and impact, losing only one game in four months winning us the FA Cup, bettering Barcelona but not going through and securing qualification for the Champions League and doing all of it with an ineffable charm. He and Roman joined the players for a few drinks and in Guus’ case a sodding great cigar. He might be in trouble for smoking it inside a place of work.
Michael Ballack revealed he has negotiated another year at the club but not yet signed the deal, today was one of the few finals he has played in and not lost.
“My whole body moved in the African way”, Guus was many things but always clear was not one of them.
Sunday 31 May
Ancelotti announced that he has left AC Milan this evening but said that he has no deal to go to Chelsea: “London is not certain” he said, meaning probably that Real Madrid might also be open to him. The words “mutual consent” were used which always brings to mind drunken teenagers before it does legal contracts between grown ups.
Meanwhile Florentino Perez has been handed Real on a plate after nobody stood against him. Perez, you’ll remember was builder of the galácticos, so a summer splurge is on the cards. That makes us, Man City, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United all chasing up the prices of a few big name players this summer.