No, no, no, no, no. Far be it from me to tell Carlo “Champions League Maestro” Ancelotti how to do his job, but you know, in the same way as there’s always some toothless old geezer in the background of a disaster movie, sitting in a beaten-up shack, warning ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you’, it needs to be said: Don’t start toying with Didi’s emotions.
I don’t know what it is, maybe Carlo had a really convincing dream that Deano Sturridge and Josh McPicnic would come off the bench and save the day and he’s now all set to make it a reality, but honestly, to paraphrase Roy O’Bannon: what in your history together makes you think they’re even capable of something like that? Disney finishes are all good and well, in Disney films, but in the real world when you’re one nil down at Manchester City you don’t sub off the battering ram, the one player any team in the world would buy, the one player they’d pay to see subbed off.
We all know how Didi works: sometimes he batters straight into the opposition and scores a hat-trick; sometimes he stands alone up front, holding up the play single-handedly for the rest of the team to feed off; and sometimes he just lolls about, doing nothing except falling over once in a while, until you take your eye off him in the eighty fifth minute and BAM! in goes the equaliser, and Andy Gray says, you can’t take your eye off him, not for a minute, not Drogba.
The way I saw it, Carlo’s substitution had three possible outcomes:
a) Deano scores a hat-trick and we win, everybody lauds the strength in depth we have and how we’ll win the title, while Drogba is a bit cheesed off.
b) Deano does nothing but somehow we contrive a draw, nobody’s that impressed, while Drogba’s a bit cheesed off.
c) Deano does nothing and we lose, everyone is philosophical about the whole thing – you can’t win every game – and Drogba is a bit cheesed off.
Obviously, what with it being the most likely outcome, we plumped for the third (and worst) of these choices, but even if we’d got the best we’d still have a cheesed-off Drog on our hands. And that is not cool. Remember Big Phil? Remember what happened to him? Lots of goals to begin with, party times at the Bridge and a forsaken Drog. Then oppositions began playing defensively and without the battering ram, it was bye bye Phil. It’s not that I want to pander to prima donnas or anything, but a Premiership winning Chelsea has a happy Drog up front. You toy with that at your peril Carlo, you really do.
And let’s be honest, what’s the possible benefit? Last week I waffled on about how nice it was for the kids to get a run-out in the Carling Cup, it was good for their morale, it showed good long-term strategy considering the homegrown rule and blah blah blah. Well enough now. They’re kids, and this is the Premiership. Bring them on when the score is three nil and the points are in the bag. Until then, keep the Drog up front. (Mind you, even as a sub, it’s good to see another excellent performance from Zhirkov.)
And lastly, because credit is due, I have to tip the cap to what Colin Murray is doing with Match of the Day 2. Bringing on Ginola was a touch of class, showing him a montage of his lovers’ tiff with Lee Dixon was even better, taking the piss out of his accent to the extent that Ginola changed from saying “peaches” to “green rectangles” is classic, and then putting on twee music while fabricating a wine-tasting to give Dixon the last laugh and neck three glasses of cheap plonk was simply magnificent. Adrian Chiles has nothing on this. More of the same please!