Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United – I’ll Take the Moral Victory

Usually, you’d say there’s no such thing as a moral victory in football. The table will record three points for the trophyless side of Manchester and none for us, and, as we all know – especially those of us who remember Ancelotti’s team taking the title by a single point in a season where no team in England was all that terribly good – the table doesn’t lie. As the great José understood so well, and as so many of his successors have discovered as they’ve opened their P45s, it’s all about winning. This was a major home game against one of the teams we’re hoping to compete with for the league title, and – for the first time this season – we’ve come away with no points.

And yet.

You can tell a lot about a game, I always think, from the mood of the crowd as we file out onto the Fulham Road. Under ordinary circumstances a home defeat leaves the faithful somewhere between rage, shock and/or despairing resignation.

These, of course, were not ordinary circumstances.

Perhaps it was just me, but the impression I got as I climbed onto the southbound District Line was a kind of quietly defiant pride. People were checking their mobiles and ringing their mates, to confirm what most of us knew anyway even without the benefit of replays and close-ups: that a terrifically exciting game, featuring perhaps the most determined and skilful and coherent thirty minutes of attacking football this young and developing team have achieved to date, was destroyed by a grotesquely unprofessional and genuinely bizarre refereeing brainfart.

A moral victory, then? Pragmatists will say there’s no such thing in a game of football, and they might be right.

But is it really still a game of football when it’s eleven versus nine? With twenty minutes to play? I have dim memories of a game at the Bridge many years ago when Leeds held out against us for a draw after two red cards, and one might argue that our almost comically bloody-minded defensive effort at the Camp Nou last spring was something other than a competitive football match, but really, everyone knew once Torres trudged off that the game was effectively over. (No point complaining about Hernandez being offside for the winner, really: the goal would have come eventually. United were pretty average when put under pressure, but once relieved of the requirement to defend, the strength of their finishing was always going to tell.)

So the actual result was taken out of the equation long before the ninety minutes were up. What were we left to contemplate as we waited for inevitable defeat to be confirmed? Judging by the mood of the departing crowd, I think quite a few of us were thinking about that half hour either side of half time when we’d made a United team with what should have been a comfortable lead look like an extended family of particularly hapless rabbits caught in the headlights of a turbocharged steamroller.

We lost to my least favourite team on the planet, and we conceded two goals within fifteen minutes. But we learned a lot about what our young midfield five are capable of, and until the game was taken away from us I think we’d left everyone in the crowd in no doubt about which of the two teams on display was the better.

All right. For those who can stomach it, here’s a quick recap.

The Game

The selection was as expected, with Ramires preferred to Frank. United began as any team that knows what it’s doing should begin against us: putting maximum pressure on the man in possession, especially when the man in possession is Juan Mata. With three minutes gone, Hazard, deep in his own half, played a ball to Mata’s feet when a safer option was required; Mata was swiftly bundled out of the way, the defence was in disarray, and after a simple run down the wing, a cut-back and a couple of ricochets, the arch-poacher Van Persie put us a goal down.

Some ten minutes later we were exposed again on our left side, possession lost too easily and the counter-attack impressively clinical. With Cashley miles out of position, Crazy David came across to defend the cross, thoughtfully tucking his hands behind his back to avoid the risk of a penalty; the ball went straight between his feet to Van Persie, who finished without fuss.

Two-nil: and yet the signs were there. We were beginning to move the ball more quickly and to beat the close markers. Oscar in particular was showing breathtaking balance and close control. With the exception of Rafael and Valencia down the United right (both played very well going forward) we were making our opponents look rather ponderous: perhaps this was complacency on their part, as they sat in to defend what ought to have been a comfortable lead.

Within ten minutes the word “comfortable” had been erased from their collective dictionary. A sharply dipping free kick had De Gea stumbling and sticking his foot out like a pub team keeper. Obi, of all people, showed up in their penalty area and whacked a cross off some portion of Evans which rebounded against the outside of the post. De Gea fumbled away a Cahill header, and then made a spectacular save to keep out an effort from (I think) Nando. We were running around them, through them, past them, Oscar and Mata manoeuvring the ball through spaces lesser footballers wouldn’t even have seen, let alone exploited. On the edge of the box, Hazard sprinted away from Rooney, who brought him down with positively Scholesean haplessness; Mata’s free kick was yet another reminder of why we’re beginning to whisper comparisons between him and the current manager of Watford FC. He was close to prodding in an equaliser only a couple of minutes later.

It’s not often that the team gets applauded off at half time when losing at home. They deserved it.

The second half began a little more warily, but it soon became evident that the trophy-free Mancs were still happy to defend their lead. Before long we were attacking with gusto again. Some wonderfully energetic play from Mata rescued a ball that looked to be going out, similar work from Oscar kept it alive, and Ramires barrelled in from deep midfield to finish off.

It would be nice to say that at that stage there was only one winner. For a long stretch the Mancs’ play had been as barren of effort and invention as their cabinet is of trophies. To be fair, they woke up once their lead was gone, and began to make a bit more of an effort, though not to any great effect. The game evened out. It looked for all the world like it was going to be a fantastic last thirty minutes.

And then …

The Bits We All Want To Talk About

The Branners incident first.

It was down at the other end of the ground from where I sit. He was certainly attempting a fair tackle. I don’t know whether he got the ball: I haven’t seen replays or heard any chatter about it. Once a foul was given it was always going to be a red card. I didn’t sense rage emanating from the crowd. I can understand the referee’s decision, whether or not retrospective viewing proves it to have been right or wrong.

In fact – this bears saying – I think the ref was at that stage having a good game, letting the right challenges go, playing good advantages, generally contributing to a terrific spectacle.

And then, suddenly, he wasn’t.

Here’s how it looked to me in real time. (I haven’t seen replays.) Nando was released upfield. We were a man down and clearly weren’t going to over-commit: no one really went with him. He ran straight at three defenders. He was never going to score from that situation. He beat the first defender for pace, was clipped and went down. The clip happened more or less exactly in line with where I sit. Obviously I couldn’t see the contact itself from the fifth row of the East Stand Upper but everyone knows what it looks like when someone goes over without being touched, and no one sitting anywhere near me thought for a second that it was anything other than a foul.

The referee marched up, reaching for his pocket, and we all thought, “Oh, that wasn’t really a yellow card trip, but okay, we’ll take a booking for the defender if you’re going to give it to us, thanks mate.”

Then the yellow to Torres; then the red.

There’s no real need to waste words on the abysmal uselessness of this decision. First, it was wrong: Nando didn’t dive. But all right: referees make mistakes. Second, it wasn’t in the penalty area; it wasn’t a particularly dangerous run; even if it had been a dive, it surely didn’t represent a particularly heinous attempt to gain an advantage. It would have been a common or garden dive, the sort of vaguely speculative effort that usually results in nothing more than a few mildly outraged jeers from opposing fans. Third, Nando had already been (rightly) booked. Fourth, we were already a man down. Already a man down!

Referees have to judge what they see. But what kind of act of simulation would be so heinous that it would be worth even considering effectively cancelling the game by reducing a team to nine men? Diving is annoying, unpleasant and embarrassing, but is a gentle tumble way outside the box really the kind of evil that requires that kind of sanction? We’ve seen some proper divers. We watched dear old Arjen Robben for two years, throwing his heels up and flicking back his head and closing his eyes and grimacing as if he’d just been electrocuted. We witnessed even dearer old Didier Drogba tumbling and thrashing around and clutching his shins. However the referee interpreted what he saw, it can’t have been anywhere in the same league. If what he thinks Nando did is a yellow card, then Suarez will never play a full ninety minutes again, and tens and hundreds of players, including our own Hazard, will accumulate yellows on a weekly basis.

Anyway. I said I wouldn’t waste words on it. It was a nonsense.

The Non-Game

There’s no point talking about what happened after that. It was pointless. The players might have dug in and gritted their teeth and done their best – JT sure as dammit would have – but the winner was going to come, offside or no offside.

The Verdict

We’re conceding too cheaply. We’ve lost two games in a row. There are times when we look too much like the Arse, sacrificing penetration for more short passes.

But we’re a new team in a new formation. We have Oscar and Mata. We’re a lot higher up the league than we ought to be. And, frankly, we wuz robbed.

I’ll take the moral victory, just this once.

The Press Reports

The Guardian, Daniel Taylor: “It was a wild and eccentric match that finished amid great controversy and, from Chelsea’s point of view, a thick portfolio of grievances about the incidents that accompanied Manchester United’s first league win at Stamford Bridge for a decade.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “This terrific sporting encounter, a game spiced by the brilliance of Robin van Persie and Juan Mata, was scarred by some poor defending, some hapless decision-making by the officials and a claim from Chelsea that the referee, Mark Clattenburg, used “inappropriate language” to John Obi Mikel.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “As the extra stewards were deployed around the mouth of the tunnel and the home crowd focused their outrage exclusively on the man in black, Mark Clattenburg will have had that growing sense of dread that in modern football’s high court of HD super slo-mo replays, he had been found guilty of error.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Chelsea suffered our first defeat of the Barclays Premier League season after being reduced to nine men in a frantic second half at Stamford Bridge. Having fallen two goals behind early we clawed our way back into the game and level, only for Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres to be sent off within minutes of each other, allowing United to prise back control of the game and grab a dubious winner through substitute Javier Hernandez.”

The Goals

4′ David Luiz (og) 0-1
12′ Van Persie 0-2
44′ Mata 1-2
53′ Ramires 2-2
75′ Hernandez 2-3

(Image courtesy of Flickr/infobunny.)

There are 50 comments

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  1. GrocerJack

    Fine words LTB and for the most part I agree. I do disagree about the non-goal goal. United were hapless even after we were down to 9 and we were defending deep and being very committed, to the point where being down to 8 was possible. A goal is not a goal if clearly offside and it was very clear to us in the MHU right behind the goal where I sat 2nd half. We all called it. Cuntarito even looked over expecting it to be disallowed. Then to make it worse he ran and taunted our fans, and then Rio Camel Lips stood there waving his fist at out fans. Blatant incitement and all ignored by MOTD2 and the officials. 

    Someone on 5 Live suggested substitute refs for when they know they lost it and he surely did. From the Branners decision onwards Clattenberg was out of control, and if as the club allege he has either racially or xenophobically abused Mata and Mikel then that says an awful lot about the state of his mind.Ashley Young might have been brushed by Branners. But it’s Ashley Young you see. protected by Purplenose himself. His Daley-esque diving antics are ignored weekly whereas for example Hazard being tripped, kicked, clipped and barged can only mean on thing. He’s Chelsea , so he must be cheating. Watching it again I’d say Branners deserved a yellow at worst. Then we have the RVP elbow into Luiz, clearly visible on the piss poor MOTD2 but ignored as a joke by the assembled fuckwits on display, and I include the normally decent Graeme Le Saux whose utter blandness and safe cliched analysis makes Alan Shearer look like Bill Hicks. To describe such amateurish officialdom as ‘showing the best of the EPL’ was arse gravy of the most bilious type from Hansen.

    And then the Torres decision. You said it spot on. It was shocking. And yet Valencia got booked in a belated and wrong act of rectification from Fuckberg for being genuinely fouled by Mikel towards the end of the game. 

    I don’t believe in Captain Corruption, Or Captain Conspiracy but I do firmly believe in Captain Cock-up and he had his cloak of incompetence wrapped around Cuntenberg and his fellow officials.

    Sorry about the swearing. Too much of The Thick of It I assume. But I’m still bloody furious and it’s a bloody school night when i have enough trouble sleeping anyway without running this nightmare through my head.

  2. Vik Sohonie

    Agreed with both.  Good write up, LTB. 

    I also don’t believe Branners was a red – he has been a phenomenal right back this season – but his usual reliability has given way at times hasn’t it? He rubbed up against Young, it was certainly no more than a yellow. 

    The Torres card just stinks of a man folding under pressure not to repeat his antics at OT last season and get “banned” from refereeing anymore Manchester United matches for a year.  Tell me that wasn’t a punishment. England’s joint neck-and-neck “best” official doesn’t get assigned a United match for a year after sending Evans off in a 6-1 defeat to City at home. Psssh. Putrid. 

    While I don’t agree with the route the club has taken if there’s no evidence to back up the claims that Clattenburg said some vile shit to two of our players – a journo I know has said Mark called Mikel a “Monkey” (oh dear, the FA really only have themselves to blame for this) – i’m glad for once a club is attempting to bury a man who fellated SAF’s side. 
    If Torres’ card isn’t rescinded on appeal, I want Mikel in public court tearfully breaking down the instance in which he was brandished a monkey by the scathing racist referee that is Clattenburg.  I want Mata and Torres testifying that Mr. Mark called them “Iberian C*nts.”  Not really, but you get the point.  This was up there with Ovrebo c*ntery; a direct line of influence from above.  Can you imagine United getting 2 players sent off and losing to an offside goal in a top of the table clash at OT? Me neither. Disgrace.Having said all that, we missed John out there today.  Oh, hey, look, another decision utterly out of control forced upon us by the FA that aided United to victory! 

    If we win the title, we will have battled everything on and off the pitch to do so.  We would have beaten the referees, Lord Whoever The Fuck, AND the actual teams.  In the words of my favorite Ivorian Peacemaker: It’s a Fucking Disgrace. 
    Pardon all the language; mood completely ruined. 

  3. John

    We went down to nine men against QPR last season, Torres also sent off. We all know what happened after that, wheels came off and we ended up sixth in the league (but won the champs league of course). 

    Worried … but I think RDM can stop the rot. I just hope he can figure out how to get us playing from the whistle so we stop conceding so early in matches. 

  4. Jdub5


    Though no one is making mention of Roony’s “no-call” yellow foul just minutes after the Torres booking. Furgie conveniently took his hot headed striker off in time before making another stupid tackle, but why wasn’t that a yellow/red card booked?Anyone who can hold their head up high about being a United fan this season (and most) is a lark. I mean honestly boys (and girls who care) first the Liverpool debacle and now this! The only thing worse than the results in both of these games are Furgeson’s pathetic comments. That alone is enough for Red fans to bury their heads in the sand.They should be a legitmate seven points behind Chelsea this season, but once again, the skewed officiating yields its magic wand in United’s favor.Disgusted.

  5. Cunningplan

    Yep mood totally ruined, went to bed at 11pm and I’m fucking awake at 2.30am still seething… to what Tony described as Captain Cock-up in the form of Clattenburg.

    Once we woke up from our 30 minute first half slumber, we then decided to rip most of the Utd players new ones as it was one way traffic for the remainder, and the goal was no less than we deserved.
    The equaliser was coming, and when it did I just thought, we’re going to win this, the momentum was on our side.

    We all know what happened next, and I will say with regard Branners red or not, he was unlucky. Those type of fouls are just hard to avoid, a change of pace and a slight change of direction, and the player behind has nowhere to go but make contact. Was it intentional or just unfortunate? either way it was a soft red in my book, but we’ve seen them given.
    The Torres yellow well…. nothing to add to what has already been said and reported.

    Now on to Fergie and Johnny Evans who seemed quite comfortable with Battenburg and his decision to send off Torres, hypocrite doesn’t even begin to cover it, the man would have a bleeding stroke had Utd been on the receiving end of any of those decisions.

    And finally to Utd fans who are still bringing up the Drogba offside goal from a few years ago, get over it you’ve more than made up for it with some generous decisions subsequently, and besides Macheda handled the ball into the net for your goal.. that still made us 1-0 winners.

    Here’s a list of some decisions since then…
    Champions League 1st leg game at the Bridge where you won 1-0.. Ramires was fouled in the box late on, stonewall penalty not given, no surprise really we never get penalties in Europe. 2nd leg at OT, Hernandez first goal was offside yet another one from his many offside goals he gets, it’s because he’s so small officials can’t see him perhaps.

    The two league games last season, two offside goals at OT which proved decisive, and the dive from Wellbeck at the Bridge that earned you your second penalty when there was no contact, and then we have today decisions.
    So as you can see we’ve paid back our debt, and you’re actually a bit  like Wonga payday loans… and are massively in credit!

    Right off to bed (again!) to see if I can get some sleep from what’s left of the night.

  6. bluebayou

    Very good read LTB. A difficult job to summarise that complete hames of a game.

    Five days ago I wrote this in the post Spurs game thread.

    “The progress of the team is really encouraging. So good has the start
    been that I think we are now travelling at the sort of speed that is
    traditional in a Chelsea train wreck. With November looming, I am
    starting to get nervous. This serene progress can’t continue can it?”

    Well as we’re stumbling from the wreckage this can go one of two ways. I remember last season we lost early on up there but we all felt encouraged. ‘Nuff said. Then again and maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a genuine difference to the early season successes under AVB or even Scolari. There’s still plenty of work to do and I’m still nervous but the way Oscar, Hazard and Mata are playing along with the form of Ramires and Mikel gives hope for the season.

    However, they have to get the balance right and we are still too vulnerable, particularly to pacy teams with width. Giving United a two goal lead was just daft beyond daftness. Then to get back to 2-2 and make another howler, irrespective of whether Ivanovic should have seen red, was painful. It seeme as though every major mistake got punished. But them’s the breaks.

    Don’t know what to make of the accusations against Clattenburg. You have to hope the club thought very seriously about where this could go. My initial reaction is that there’s no way the EPL or the FA will wear this and it will be spun away as sour grapes etc.They are comfortable with calling Chelsea players and directors liars and will happily do so again irrespective of any evidence. It’s difficult not to think there is some unfinished business with the FA over their trenchant criticism of David Barnard and a situation which might have been dealt with more privately was rapidly escalated. But if Clattenburg said what he is accused of saying then they were right to do so.

  7. mark_25

    Unfortunately I had to miss this match, my first home miss for several years, so I’m grateful to Lighthouse for giving me a ray of light to cling to in terms of us winning morally.

    As sure as the clocks go back and Winter follows Autumn Chelsea have a blip and the only question is the size of it.

    I couldn’t bring myself to watch the full re-rerun so restricted myself to the pundits for the 30 minute post match stuff.  Souness was most encouraging.  And Neville, despite what our fans used to chant, tries to be fair and balanced and I’m growing to like him.  If he is willing to take a £3m pay cut he’ll make a fine referee.

    As for the Battenburg I’ve never seem one that colour so I’d be tempted to move swiftly on to the mille feuille.

    • bluebayou

      I would encourage Chelsea fans to boycott Battenburg in protest as it’s the nearest thing to Clattenburg I can think of and dovetails neatly with my disdain for The Great British Bake Off and the rest of reality TV.

      (File under “Have you thought this through?”)

  8. Der_Kaiser

    My four penneth… (very enjoyable read, LTB).Just awful for 20 minutes. van Persie had Luiz and Cahill on toast; the former seems to have reverted to disaster-prone and was frankly lucky he didn’t end up being the third red.

    Branners ain’t a right back, but that much we knew. Both full backs were exposed – the Creative Herberts are great to watch, but they need some discipline to go with the skills to help protect the back 4. And for all the grief AVB got for his high line, Robbie did much the same yesterday which is suicidal against a team with quick wide men – they cut through us like a knife through butter in the first 20 minutes.

    Clattenburg – no conspiracy, just cock-up. Quite why the bloke is refereeing after the questionable business practices of a few years back is anyone’s guess, but he just lost control of the game. Branners card – fair enough; he got done and was always struggling so one clip in that situation and you’re always going to see red.

    Torres – ridiculous decision that Clattenburg clearly regretted the moment he pulled the card; that aside, I’d say FT is lucky that it took the focus away from yet another lousy performance. Lucky not to see red for the challenge on Cleverly and bar one great save from De Gea, he did virtually nothing again. It’s been almost 2 years now – what more do we need to know?  Please, end it in January for everyone’s sake.

    Seems to be the way that when United win down here (once a decade), their players always manage to incite aggravation – no excuse for stuff thrown from the crowd, but Chicawhatisface running past the MHL and gesturing was about as blatant as it gets. van Nistelrooy did it in 2002 – the shotgun celebration; as usual no-one will utter a peep about it.

    Bright spots – we were all over them for most of the game, even after Branners went. Mata sublime, Mikel excellent, although we were occasionally exposed when he pushed forward.  More positives than negatives, but I fear the complaint will become this year’s AF / JT saga. The narrative is already being set – hacks all over Twitter saying that it’ll be Mikel’s word against 4 officials, that Chelsea should be punished if it is a spurious claim. Strong feeling that no good will come of this.

    • GrocerJack

      I thought the dodgy period was 15 minutes, similar to the Spuds second half start but after that I thought Cahill and Luiz and Cole sorted things out. Luiz did little wrong for me except the odd ‘passionate’ tackle and even when we were down to 9 he wanted to make stuff happen. His ‘never say die’ attitude may get him into trouble occasionally but I’ll never have a problem with that over the apathy we’ve seen for other players in recent years. Ashley Cole was largely missing for that first 15 as well and for the ‘worlds best left back’ was alarmingly a country mile from that position for both Uniteds early goals. In his defence though he had an immense second half.

      I’d go as far to say Torres was OK. he delivered a couple of crosses in early on which should have yielded better, but that’s not his job. It just adds more to my theory that Torres is becoming the new Anelka. Which is OK if we get a striker and maybe Lukaku or Sturridge deserve that shot. Compare and contrast Torres excellent crosses to Ivan’s rocket launched bollocks to the corner flag. I love Ivan but wonder whether he’s getting too much of a liability for big games these days. Oh well, Azpilicueta has the chance to show his worth now. His header produced a Banks like save from De Gea when everyone thought it was in. His issue is he’s being played as a lone striker and may it’s time for Hazard or Mata to get off the fence and play alongside him.

      Add to this the excellent Hazard and Ramires, both of whom had United shitting themselves with every forward run and I’ll take this little blip as just that. Much rather we came to earth this early than at the back end of the season. 

      As for the allegations…I’m intrigued on these ‘business dealings’…so off to Google I run when i have time. I assume the club have thought seriously about this. If Mikel and Mata have complained then no action just looks like the club doesn’t care about the racism issue. If they do then it looks like post-JT sour grapes. Sadly for the club I think they’re damned if they do, or don’t on this one. I can only assume they have witnesses because Mikel looked mightily aggrieved on the pitch and that’s unlike him. Mata hasn’t tweeted yet and again that’s a very unusual trait as win or lose he usually say good stuff to the fans. Sadly I fear it may end up not being good for the club, but I fail to see what else they could do if the players have made those allegations.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Torres is the new Fleck, not the new Anelka, I’m afraid.  Whatever he had at Liverpool is long since gone; if we weren’t collectively too ashamed to admit that the club paid the Scousers £50m for the biggest pup in the history of the transfer market and they’re laughing like drains about it, he’d have been toast by now.

        Simple fact is that he’s now two years into a four (?) year contract and will have hit the magic 30 mark when his contract expires, so we’re never going to extend the deal (I doubt that he wants to either) and we’re going to take a huge bath on the bloke anyway, so best get some money for him now than have him walk away for nothing.  That really would be criminal.

        Re the Clattenburg accusations, the club has done some daft things in its time but I can’t imagine we’d go down this route without some fairly concrete proof of what happened.  It’s going to be monumentally poisonous, though, without a doubt.

        • Ryan

          Agree re:Torres. Everytime I watch Falcao/Lewandowski/Cavani I realise what we were meant to get when we bought him. Disagree that we should get some money for him while we still can. Not in principle, just don’t think anyone would buy him and pay his wages. Maybe Anzhi? PSG? Honestly I’m not even sure they’d be that silly. Best we can hope for is a loan to Atletico (where we pay most of his wages) and a deal for Falcao in January. They’re not in the CL so no worries regarding players being cup-tied either way.

  9. Blue_MikeL

    Not much to add about the game. In terms of refereeing well it is the worst one since Ovrebo.  I just hope that we are able to prove what we have claimed against Cuntenburg.

  10. Blueboydave

    Well, in order not to just repeat much of the entirely justified ranting about the string of injustices perpetrated in one game, just a few thoughts:

    1) much genuine discussion around me in the first 20 minutes wondering if RDM was trying some weird tactical adjustment as Cole did not appear to be playing anything like a conventional left back, spending most of his time in mid-field and in the centre of the pitch – if so, I think we can conclude it’s not one to persevere with 😉

    2) Trust David Moyes, Tony Pulis and assorted hacks feel really proud that they’ve finally helped pressurise a referee into punishing “diving” with yellow cards.

    3) On the inappropriate language stuff, I can understand the club acting after a year of putting up with the JT crap but does anyone seriously think we’ll win this one?

    4) If I remember the rules correctly there is no right of appeal against a yellow card [even one resulting in a sending off] therefore Torres’ suspension can only be rescinded if Clattenburg admits his mistake and recommends so in his referee’s report, which seems even more unlikely after (3).

    • Cunningplan

      I find the whole thing with regard Clattenberg rather odd, in the sense why would Mikel and Mata even remotely go there with regard his claim.
      We know the ref is miked up, and three other officials are privy to what he said, so I find it strange that they’re prepared to follow this through unless there’s something to it.

  11. Petew

    United at home always leaves a bad taste in the mouth. That club that bring out the worst in everybody around them. Horrible, horrible matches. 

  12. Ryan

    Great report mate. Didn’t see the game. Was stuck on the A40/M40/M25. Haven’t got the heart to watch it now. Like everyone else a little nervous about the allegations re:Twattenburg. Remember Anders Frisk? We were told that Jose/Steve Clarke lied about Rijkaard going to see him at half-time but he did. He then retired due to death-threats. Apparently.

    The one thing in our favour is that the FA just CANNOT try to quietly make this go away. Not after the lengths that they’ve gone to to be seen to punish JT. What about our players. If they are speaking out against racist abuse and aren’t believed or backed up by the other officials what message does that send? If you’re a pariah like JT you’re fucked. If you’re employed by the FA as an arbiter of fairness do/say what you like. I doubt that CFC would pursue this frivolously considering how desperate they were to put the JT debacle behind them. So we’ll wait and see. Personally I hope Cuntenburg is sacked, fined £220,000, has his house repossessed and has to go and live with Rio Ferdinand…. Now if only I can get on that “Independent inquiry board”! I’ll check the situations vacant (non-white/males need not apply?) page of the FA’s website.

  13. Cunningplan

    I appreciate what the FA are trying to do with the directive to officials in attempting to stamp out simulation.
    The problem with the current yellow cards for players going to ground is the situation we had with Torres yesterday, a wrong second yellow which pretty much had a direct effect on the game.

    I think a better approach would be if the referee has any doubts, is to cite the player/players after the game and let a panel review the replays. That way we don’t get silly bookings, and if the player is found to have cheated dived or whatever they want to call it, give them an automatic one match ban. I think that would be far more effective and fairer.

    • bluebayou

      They appear to be hell bent on stamping out our simulation. We have received 4 of the 10 cards handed out for the offence. There are 19 other teams for anyone not fully up to speed who might read this.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Tricky area – the authorities don’t generally like refereeing the game retrospectively (although there are exceptions) as it just undermines the referee on the pitch.

      But the basic premise is pretty simple – you only book for simulation if you’re absolutely certain there was zero contact with the opposition player; any doubt, no card which is where Clattenburg failed so miserably yesterday as he wasn’t in a good enough position to make the call correctly.

      • Cunningplan

        I agree, but citing works for Rugby pretty effectively, and besides we get retrospective refereeing from the media every week, which I’m sure affects refereeing  decisions towards players.

        As BB pointed out above, it seems to be our lot taking the brunt. Soccer Saturday with Jeff Stelling did a sizeable segment on our so called antics on the  preview for the Arsenal game after the Stoke game the weekend before. It was a bit like Sky running the Essien tackle on Hamman for about 4 days until Uefa banned him, looks likes referees are taking no prisoners when it comes to our lot.

        • Der_Kaiser

          Not sure standards for rugby can be applied – much of what happens in the egg chasing takes place out of view of the officials anyway; also think it would exacerbate the second point you make, in that there would be even more retrospective guff from the media about whether the video panel were right or wrong.

          It all goes in cycles – I’d say that we’re probably less likely to have a player done for diving now after yesterday; hate to say these things even out as they often don’t, but the media and various managers get a bee in their collective bonnets once or twice a season about diving.  The result is generally over-zealous refereeing and the odd spot of outrage for a few weeks and then return to the status quo.

        • bluebayou

          Didn’t see the Sky thing but it sounds similar to the takedown job MOTD did on the evening of the Stoke game.

          Curious, non? (as we say in Belgium)

      • mark_25

        I’m not happy with this ‘contact’ concept.  When I walk down a busy street and my arm brushes against another pedestrian I’ve never yet fallen over.  The prevailing philosophy is that if there’s contact you’re within your rights to fall over, indeed I’d say it’s now mandatory.

        I think that unless there’s a torn sock, cracked shin pad or blood it’s not a foul.

        Now where did I put that blood capsule?

  14. Blueboydave

    Dear God, now I read that some busybody lawyer keen on a break-away black players’ union has made a formal complaint to the Met Police about whatever it is Chelsea are complaining about – presumably, he has no more idea than the rest of us unless there are now relevant videos turning up on You tube to send us down this merry-go-round again of an endlessly dragged-out court case.

    Speaking of videos, I couldn’t help thinking when Lord Ferg was giving his post match interview and started droning on about how he would never have gone down like Torres that, to quote dear old Kevin Keegan, “I’d just love it” if some techie at BBC Scotland  or STV could unearth some old footage of his playing days to prove him wrong.

    I’m old enough to have been watching football in the Frozen North in my plookie youth at that time, but too many brain cells have perished to leave me any specific memories of him, other than that he got sent off quite a lot – “razor elbows” was his nickname, I’m led to believe.  

  15. Desmond

    The worst thing is that when JT was accused it was all “poor Anton”. Now that Chelsea are doing the accusing it’s become “how dare they accuse St. Clatt? Those vicious, sour-graped bastards are destroying football.”
    No one has waited to see who said what to who, who heard what and when. The Daily Mail is going into an orgasmic meltdown over “Chelsea players act like bouncers and threaten to break legs.” Really? A shitstorm is coming. The amount of anti-Chelsea “I knew it/typical/should be kicked out of the league/” bile on its way will drown us all. I don’t believe that CFC would rush into this over sour grapes or snatches of misinterpreted northern drivel….anybody?

  16. limetreebower

    That’s an if the size of Manhattan.

    Rumour has it Mata didn’t hear anything, and it’s hugely unlikely that the other officials would rat out one of their own even if they did hear unacceptable language.

    I suspect we’ve just made an even more monumental cock-up than we did over l’affaire JT.

  17. WorkingClassPost

    Watched ESPN last night and even the Italia guys were complaining about all this talk of refereeing decisions rather than football in reference to some other weekend game, so in the spirit of let’s not forget the footie, I’d like to say that we was brilliant for at most of the match, and even when down to 10, we looked most likely to take all three points. Was that why we went down to nine, I think so (oops, almost mentioned the ref, think I got away with it).
    First on the footie talk must be Ivan. He’s high on everyone’s favourite player list, but prone to some bizarre behaviour for quite a while now.

    Even in the first exchanges he inexplicably let the ball roll out for their throw, when it would’ve been easier to pass it down the line, we were asserting our authority at the time, and the puzzlement was profound. We lost the initiative, they got the ball and a minute or so later, they had scored.

    For the sending off he was caught wrong side which is disaster for a RB, but not such a big deal when in the CB position, just gotta gain half a yard and make the tackle or nudge, but he tried to get on right-side and clipped the guy’s ankle, not the first time in recent history, and then took the walk. 

    Like LTB I’ll take the moral, or any other, victory on offer.

    But we were so good, so quick and cool, and potentially not just best in PL, but best in Europe or wherever.

    My concern now is not dropping three points, much as it was an inconvenience, but that we spent nearly a quarter of the match chasing with only nine guys, and tiring as that was, the temptation for payback tonight must be resisted because there are far more important games ahead.

    That said, the crapital cup can’t have had a more interesting fixture than this.

  18. Blueboydave

    I’ve just finished listening to the latest Podding Shed and offer The Shedders my congrats on another fine job done.

    As they are now spreading the net far and wide to include astrological influences and with Autumnwatch being on the TV, I was wondering if any of them might like to ponder the significance of what appears to be a small furry animal perched on the tip of John Obi Mikel’s finger in the photo the Beeb have been using on some of their reporting like here:

    Could it be a key witness at the FA inquiry?

  19. limetreebower

    Yes, thank f**k for that.

    Fun game and to be fair to the Mancs they were good, much better than at the weekend. But I’m so glad their fans go home with bugger all tonight.

  20. Benjami

    Not that it matters but the average age of our starting 11 was 23.54, Manchester United – 24.81.  Median Chelsea – 23 / Man Utd 24.

    If you remove the two oldest players from each team (Cech & Giggs) Chelsea 22.9 Manchester Utd 23.5

    Sup Fergie and his young boys excuse sup!

    (End of game with 3 subs on (average of the entire 14 who played) Chelsea 23.28, Man Utd 23.64

  21. bluebayou

     That is superb BBD. It appears to me to be a hand puppet, complete with a puppeteer who’s hand can be seen operating the creature.

    is so strong he is capable of transporting a Harry H Corbett or the
    like around the filed of play to operate a small furry puppet with whom
    he feels the need to converse with in times of stress.

  22. Biggs

    in case there will be no report from the cup game – just how well did moses do, eh? he does remind me of the creature from the predator with his hair, but he had a great game. let’s hope it continues.

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