During a live game there are many subtle nuances that are completely missed by the mainstream media. They don’t escape the fans though, and whilst the nuances might be more subtle than a Cantona Kung Fu kick, they are bursting with intent nonetheless.
Tuesday night’s prime example was Rooney’s gesture to the Matthew Harding End after he thumped in the opening goal. Running to the edge of the penalty area he promptly turned round and bowed to the thousands of fans before raising his arms aloft in a goading, theatrical gesture not seen since Lord Olivier’s final performance in War Requiem.
As one CFCnet joker put it, “I don’t know why Rooney bothered to lift his arms when two fingers would have sufficed.”
To be fair to Rooney, his goal was a cracker. Many of the CFCnet crew sit behind the right hand post at the Matthew Harding End and quite honestly Rooney’s shot was travelling so fast we hardly clocked it. We just saw the ball bulge the back of the net as we duly picked our disappointment up off the floor and dusted it down.
Rooney’s goal was hard to stomach especially as he shouldn’t have been on the pitch following his elbow controversy at Wigan. How referee Mark Clattenburg failed to change his opinion on the matter is beyond us although it certainly wasn’t a surprise.
As one of Chelsea’s leading fans groups (but not the only one we hasten to add), a few years earlier we lodged an official appeal with the Football Association following Berbatov’s transfer to United in 2009. Why? Chelsea had a few years earlier been given record fines and a suspended 3 point penalty for the Ashley Cole affair yet when the same complaints were registered over Berbatov the FA turned a blind eye.
The FA replied to us saying that because Spurs had promptly retracted their allegation they would no longer pursue the matter, never mind if they possessed clear evidence of an offence being committed – in a submitted dossier no less! As one of CFCnet’s lawyer friends remarked to us at the time, “the FA is less concerned with defending its rules than protecting vested interests.” A bit extreme perhaps, yet why should fans be the ones to suffer like we did as Rooney’s shot whistled into the bottom corner?
Still, Man Utd’s goal was fully deserved as they delivered a first half performance as good as anything witnessed in recent memory. Looking cohesive as a unit, United simply pinged the ball between each other whilst frothing it up with real individual skill and ingenuity. We hated it.
Thank goodness for half time, David Luiz and Yuri Zhirkov. David Luiz’s performance was nothing short of exceptional. The CFCnet crew and many fans around us in the Matthew Harding Lower stand marvelled at his athleticism, technical skill and, better still, his passion wearing a blue shirt. Here is a player who has openly stated that “it’s a dream to play for a Club like Chelsea”. Let it be put on record that it’s just as much a dream for us to see him wearing the blue of Chelsea.
What makes Luiz so very special is that he isn’t afraid to ‘mix it’. At a time when teams like Arsenal glorify in not getting their socks dirty, here’s a player who can mud wrestle with the best of them. Whilst it might be politically incorrect to applaud his challenge on Chicharito or Rooney – and he was lucky to stay on the pitch for both challenges – his sheer audacity and aggression has already marked him out as a Blues legend in waiting.
It was also great to see Zhirkov back in the fray and his addition after half time gave us a noticeably more penetrating attack, crowned with a penalty duly thumped in by Frank Lampard. It was a magnificent comeback and hugely deserved with all of our players raising their game to match United blow for blow. After all, that’s why we’re Champions.