Daily Telegraph, Tim Rich: “Avram Grant’s attempt to convince the world that Chelsea were not especially bothered by the Carling Cup sounded false from the moment it left his lips. Not since Don Revie constructed his all-white machine at Leeds has there been a club who have set out so remorselessly to win everything. ‘The Special One’ did not get his name by picking and choosing his trophies and nor, it seems, will his successor.”
The Independent, Ian Herbert: “While [Everton’s] chances were marginal, Chelsea’s were clinical, clear cut and could have elicited more goals. Avram Grant, the Chelsea manager, was probably being disingenuous when he said on Tuesday that the Carling Cup did not matter to him. Chelsea are now in their third Carling Cup final in four years and the side Grant fielded demonstrated that he wants the trophy much more than Manchester United and Arsenal. Anelka was a constant threat, Wright-Phillips troublesome and energetic and Claude Makelele created a spine with Ricardo Carvalho which maintained the side’s shape. Everton never looked like reversing the 2-1 first-leg deficit after the initial blood and thunder.”
The Guardian, Andy Hunter: “Everton’s Latin motto translates as ‘Nothing but the best is good enough’. As their dreams of a first Wembley appearance for 13 years floundered on the rock of Chelsea last night, it was exposed as patently untrue. The best David Moyes’ side could offer could not deny Chelsea their third Carling Cup Final appearance in four years, as Joe Cole’s clinical strike confirmed that while Everton have designs on breaking the elite in England there remains a gulf between expectation and reality.”
The Times, Martin Samuel: “Cole, outrunning Joleon Lescott, took the ball down with one touch and then finished it with a flourish, a right-foot shot that beat Tim Howard at his near post, more with the element of speed and surprise than perfect placement. And that was all that was needed, really. On a night when Everton promised so much, David Moyes’s team for once disappointed, lacking the cutting edge that could have put Chelsea under pressure given that a 1-0 home win would have seen them Wembley bound.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “It was a second leg smash-and-grab expertly performed. Chelsea, for the first time under Avram Grant, are going to Wembley!”
Well, no real comparison to the wunderkind of Arsenal jumping out of their prams and fighting each other as the older kids from up the road handed out a spanking, but still a compelling game with Everton coming out all guns blazing and then slowly but surely losing hope as Chelsea took control and squeezed the life from their game.
- Shaun Wright-Phillips. Ankle injury? My arse! This midfield role will surely cause us some issues later on but if ever a cap fitted then here’s the example. I never doubted him. *hopes no-one reads any past posts*
- Ricardo Carvalho. Give him your boat Roman, chuck the girlfriend in as well for some hanky panky (just to keep a certain Carry On theme from the match preview going), buy him Buck House… whatever it takes keep him at Stamford Bridge. The man is a defensive god.
- Petr Cech. Congratulations to the big… er… Czech on entering the world of fatherhood at 06:19 Wednesday morning. I had planned to joke about him dropping the baby such has been the frequency of errors lately… but tonight he was sheer world class with four utterly magnificent saves. On this form I could drop kick the baby to him and he’d juggle it twice before chipping it into the air for a clean catch.
- Juliano Belletti. The driver of the Humble Pie lorry is getting rather sick of delivering huge slices of it to me for what I said about him at the start of the season. Currently the best right-back in the country if not Europe.
- The goal. Joe Cole wasted passes and gave possession away too cheaply for my liking and 10 minutes into the second half I remarked to Mrs Glover (no really… she makes me call her that) that if it was me I’d take him off. Then on 70 minutes he collects a pass from another enigma (on the night) shows a truly Maradona like touch to control the ball and slams in the eventual winner. If it had been Arsenal then no doubt the collective ejaculation from Fleet Street would have kept Paris Hilton going for an hour or two.
- Nicolas Anelka. He didn’t score but he should have. His first touch is better than Drogba’s, his pace is scintillating and like all great players the space he makes for himself mystifies defenders. His ability to stop and hold is awesome. When he does score the floodgates will be open. He doesn’t defend like Drogba… but then who does?
- The result. Yet another final and this time it’s against the other North London club, Spurs. By the time the game is played we might have a good collection of our players back. I didn’t think this was a priority competition, and if it’s all we win then that will be disappointing after the last three seasons’ achievements. But despite my ongoing misgivings about Avram Grant, king of the catwalk, results don’t lie and maybe, just maybe this could be the springboard back to winning the Premier League and… more?
- I can’t think of anything for this section from the game. Not even Claudio Pizarro, despite missing two clear chances.
- Petr Cech: Get your money ready Pete, kids cost loads! – 9/10.
- Juliano Belletti: It’s like someone actually invented the perfect right-back despite forgetting about his looks – 8/10.
- Alex: Seriously good tonight… can he really keep John Terry out? – 8.5/10.
- Wayne Bridge: By heck… if he decides to move to the land of crop tops and mini skirts where it’s often -5 degrees they’ll have one hell of a left-back. For once – 8/10.
- Ricardo Carvalho: Kidnap him and chain him to the chair in Roman’s box at Stamford Bridge. He must stay! – 9.5/10.
- Claude Makelele: Somehow still looks the complete clumsy bastard at times, still gives away silly free kicks in silly places. But he’s like the Terminator. He never gives in. Ever. When he finally quits I dream about having to crush him in an old factory until the red lights in his eyes go out. And still he’ll keep coming. I’m scared – 7.5/10.
- Steve Sidwell: Very ginger. Very slow. Confidence is low. Tried hard. Not good enough yet – 6.5/10.
- Joe Cole: Prone to giving the ball away but the goal was Rooney-esque. Or maybe Rooney’s goals are Cole-esque – 7.5/10.
- Florent Malouda: Weirdly anonymous and only occasionally showed his pace and ability, but I can’t deny the ball to Joe Cole for the winner was as good as anyone could deliver – 7/10.
- Shaun Wright-Phillips: The injury was obviously as big a lie as Bill Clinton’s claim about not having sex with Monica Lewinsky. Are we getting sneaky and engaging in Spooks-like disinformation? – 9/10.
- Nicolas Anelka: Quality oozes from every pore – 8.5/10.
- Claudio Pizarro (sub): Lumbered on, lumbered around, missed a sitter. Nearly scored from a shot outside the box but really nothing to scare anyone – 6.5/10.
- Ashley Cole (sub): Not on long enough to do anything good or bad – 6/10.
- Overall team performance: Totally professional and even when Everton had the upper hand we didn’t flap and, unlike Arsenal, no rattles or dummies were being thrown around. Not a nappy or romper suit in sight – 8.5/10.
Man of the Match
This was between Cech and Carvalho, with Belletti also in with a shout. But who am I to argue with the choice of Ray “Tango Man” Wilkins and Peter “Cheer Up” Reid in the Sky studio.
I want to be his doormat. I want to polish his shoes. There’s so much I want to do to make him stay… hell I’m even thinking of selling my eldest daughter to him once she’s eighteen. Riccy Carvalho, you were magnificent. A giant amongst… well a lot of tall men (no offence to Wright-Phillips!).
How many finals is that? I’ve lost count. Everton played a committed game but in the end just didn’t have enough quality. They have a bright manager and I’m hoping they get fourth place ahead of the side also in the area whose name I can barely mention. That would cap my season just knowing that Rafael Benitez and his gang will be in the Euro Vase next year.
Everton fans will be disappointed but proud because their players didn’t let them down, they were just beaten by the better team marshalled by a defence and goalkeeper that’s looking tighter than Dolly Parton’s bra strap.
A brief story. At the Chelsea versus Arsenal FA Cup final in 2002, both sets of fans are gathered at the coach entry point to the Millennium Stadium. The Chelsea coach arrives and the Chelsea fans cheer and sing. The Arsenal fans politely applaud. The Arsenal coach arrives and the same happens in reverse. Ten seconds behind the Arsenal coach is a dust cart with four hairy-arsed, beer bellied, tattooed bin men hanging off the back and another three in the driver’s cab. Cue both sets of fans, spontaneously and in unison.
“Are you Tottenham, are you Tottenham, are you Tottenham in disguise?”
Well… I guess you had to be there, but it’s Chelsea versus the Bin Men, ironically the very day after we were scheduled to take three points off them at Three Point Lane. Bring it on.
“Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Wemberlee, Que Sera, Sera.”
Says it all really.
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!