The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “These are two clubs whose modern histories are entangled but Manchester United have made significant progress in separating themselves from Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-final. Considering that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side was supposed to face an ordeal at Stamford Bridge, the victory was achieved with few histrionics. The fact that Wayne Rooney scored the goal was almost taken for granted, highlighting the return to form that has ended debate about his effectiveness, if not his occasional excitability before a microphone.”
Daily Telegraph, Jason Burt: “Carlo Ancelotti had talked about Chelsea’s destiny to win the Champions League this season but there was only one man shaping fate on Wednesday night: Wayne Rooney. He has raged against fortune in recent days – in the past year, to be honest – but on Wednesday he was here, he was there, he was everywhere; and for the right reasons.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “Abused, charged, demonised, banned. It would be enough to finish most people off. Wayne Rooney? He appears to be thriving on it. As the establishment has closed in on Rooney over the last five days so, at last, we are starting to see the best of him. Last night his goal put Manchester United on course for the treble. Today comes the announcement on his appeal against a two-match ban for naughty language. Rooney the rebel is playing like Rooney again.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “Chelsea’s Champions League campaign hangs in the balance after a night of frustration at Stamford Bridge.”
“The whole season rests on this moment” (Carlo, yesterday).
So this is it then.
The two games which will define our season, the future of our manager and the legacy of some of these players are upon us and personally, I can’t wait. Yes the nerves are there and I’ve kind of gone through a load of mood swings today and suddenly feel a bit sick but hey, these are the nights that Chelsea fans should cherish.
Last season something just felt a bit wrong about not being able to feel the rush, the excitement and that heady mix of pain and pleasure of the latter stages of what is without doubt the best club competition in the world. Some say that they can’t stand the refereeing, Platini, the diving, the corporate atmosphere and yes Platini again, but when you hear that ridiculously pompous music, see the flags waving around the Bridge and Roman laughing and joking with his henchmen, everything just feels a little bit special.
That faint, delusional hope of winning the title is gone now and so our season is once again boiling down to that holy grail of chasing the trophy with the Big Ears. Seeing Big Pete talk about our never ending quest to get our hands on it though just makes you become a little fatalistic and forces one to question whether we’re ever going to win it.
This may not be the night for pessimism but it’s only natural isn’t it? We seem to specialise in finding ways to let this competition and that prize slip through our fingers. From Vialli’s suicidal parking of the bus to Claudio’s tinkering against Monaco there have been moments of self-inflicted madness ruining our chances. But on others, you do have to wonder if the footballing gods are just against us.
What have we done to deserve ghost goals against Liverpool? Then the debacle against Barcelona when Tom Henning Ovrebo’s disgraceful, baffling and eccentric performance cost us the chance to claim revenge against Utd in the final in Rome. Sandwiched in between was perhaps the most painful moment in our recent history as JT slipped and sent the ball onto the post in Moscow. Not even when we were one kick away from the Cup would the footballing gods give us that slice of luck that every other side has had on their way to winning this competition. Think of Carsten Jancker hitting the bar for Bayern against Utd just before Beckham sent over that corner. Or Liverpool’s miraculous and lucky comeback win against Milan when Sheva missed that open goal from a yard out. Or Inter last season when Walter Samuel brought down Kalou as he raced through on that one-on-one. Yes, the best team usually wins this competition but when year after year we appear to get a crucial decision go against us, one must wonder what we have to do to change our luck. Surely this run of bad luck and dodgy decisions won’t continue. Surely…
But this night was not just about our old guard and their hard luck stories. It was also about our centurion, Mr Ancelotti. After an unbelievably successful debut season we are now in the seemingly surreal situation where it looks inevitable that he’ll be gone in a matter of months. Roma’s Abramovich style takeover makes a move back to Serie A likely and despite my sadness that we’ll see yet more upheaval and that we’re about to get rid of one of the nicest men in football, this season has made me question my once unflinching belief in Carlo. Calling him a yes man would be unfair but his reluctance to drop big names in our three month blip, or make decisive and game changing substitutions or just get angry and show some fucking passion and fight for the club when decisions go against us has started to piss me off. He’s a lovely man and one of football’s great managers but things just don’t seem right at the moment.
Yes he’s learnt as he drops Didier regularly these days and has switched to a 4-4-2 but it’s all too little too late. This season we’ve looked slow, predictable, one dimensional and strangely stale. It’s not all Carlo’s fault and the fact that this squad has stayed together for at least one season too long can hardly be blamed on him but he appears scared to just say or do what he really believes is right. The players appear to love him and I’m sure they respect him but can you ever seem them fighting for him as much as they did for Jose?
Sadly the answer is no and perhaps a change this summer would be the best for everyone. It’d be wrong to start printing up the Avram Mk.II posters (especially after winning the Double remember!) but seeing the embarrassing ease with which Jose outsmarted him last season did start the alarm bells ringing. Our comeback in the league was remarkable but we stumbled over the line after trying our hardest to throw it away at one stage and against the best in Europe, deep down, something tells me that Carlo is just too cautious and perhaps not quite good enough to win it. I know some of you believe it and personally, I think Roman does too.
But that’s just my naturally pessimistic, Chelsea supporting state. As crazy, bipolar Chelsea nuts we always expect the worst and anything else is a bonus right? Anyway, what do really have to fear? We would be playing the worst Utd side in years whose football is nearly as dull as ours at present and whose first eleven looks one dimensional and bloody elderly. So if we could come out with the right attitude and tactics then this would be a good night. The days of pathetic, timid, error strewn, dismal displays were over right? Oh…
Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Zhirkov, Drogba, Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Benayoun, Mikel, Malouda, Ferreira, Kalou, Anelka.
Any surprises? Not really. I’d have preferred Kalou’s pace and dribbling at home instead of Didier but on paper there were no major shocks. It would also be Lamps’ 500th appearance in a Chelsea shirt and I know I’ve said it before but as every game goes by my belief that he will go down as the greatest player in our history strengthens. He’s a legend really.
I’d like to start by saying that I’ll try and be as fair, rational and calm as possible when writing up this match report but if you’re tired and can’t go on much longer I think dismal sums up the match quite well.
Ok for the rest of you, here goes.
The match started out just as anyone with half a brain would have expected it to: cagily. All that bullshit from the assembled hacks about it being just like any other Premier League game was thrown out as soon as you saw the tempo this game was being played at. If I was being kind I’d say it was pedestrian for the first ten minutes or so and if I was in a bad mood I’d say it was glacial and pathetic in some ways. Whereas Utd looked happy to sit back and play on the counter we instead looked scared to take a risk and do anything at pace.
But at this stage we weren’t playing too badly. Utd looked compact but Bosingwa was enjoying a few runs down the right wing – his final ball was pitiful as always – and our passing looked secure. Fernando also looked lively as he nicked the ball off Evra and raced towards goal only to see his shot easily saved by Van der Sar.
However, something still wasn’t quite right. Our football was sloppy and rushed and mistakes began to creep into our game. Whether it was numerous misplaced passes from Essien, useless defending from Bosingwa or utterly woeful forward play from Didier, we seemed to be trying our hardest to allow Utd to comfortably grow into the game.
This could be summed up best by watching Didier for about five minutes midway through the half. He was at his selfish, abysmal and arrogant worst. Don’t let a few barges on Evra and some crosses in the second half cloud your judgement, he was awful. Whether it was his decision to waste a counter attack by shooting from 50 yards out into the crowd or his baffling reluctance to pass to any other Chelsea player when we had opportunities to break, it seemed like Didier was determined to try and make it all about him. Except that when you’re over the hill, have lost most of your pace and are unable to dribble with any control or poise whatsoever, then doing everything yourself ends up hurting the side.
And so the inevitable build-up of Utd pressure began. Evra appeared to have the beating of Bosingwa at every occasion (any surprise there?), Rooney and Chicharito were combining well and Giggs appeared to be gliding in between our statuesque midfield with ease. In the end one moment of brilliance combined with some embarrassingly inept defending gave United the goal they deserved.
A wonderful Carrick long ball found Giggs on the left wing midway through the half. But we had little to worry about as we still had Bosingwa covering him and three on two in our box. However, Jose decided to fuck this all up by running towards a flighted ball he was never going to reach leaving Giggs the simplest of tasks to cushion it past him into 10 yards of empty space in our box. Branners was then pulled across to cover, leaving Rooney free to tap in Giggs’ cut back from eight yards out. It was a beautifully simply goal and yet would never have happened if Bosingwa knew how to fucking defend!
The commentator then asked “what have Chelsea got in response?”
Erm… the silence was deafening looking back now as until added time in the first half we basically pissed ourselves like little school boys; scared and dumbfounded as to what we should do next. The crowd appeared to have fallen asleep and the players began to panic. They looked to force things with stupid passes to players surrounded by three or four red shirts and resorted to narrow, one dimensional play. When this of course failed we regressed further and began to merely pump aimless, long balls forward. It was depressing stuff and if Rooney’s cross was better weighted, Chicharito would have made it 2-0 and probably got Carlo the sack there and then.
Instead we suddenly woke up after our midfield decided that instead of passing to the useless lump in the number 11 shirt; perhaps we should give Fernando a chance. A nice drop of the shoulder and turn gave Zhirkov his first chance to run at Rafael resulting in a messy Fernando overhead kick but as soon as we got the ball into their box, things began to improve. Essien and Bosingwa both had shots well blocked by the frustratingly amazing Vidic and then a Didier cross was flicked on by Torres on to the post. Lamps was there to surely convert from three yards out but he ran past the ball and was only able to stab the ball tamely towards the line where Evra easily cleared. And that was that for the first half. A few dangerous scrambles in the box apart we were second best by a long way.
So we’d given Utd an away goal and what we needed at the start of the second half was a drastic change in mentality, tempo and perhaps tactics. Scoring one goal was a must but having seen the way we defended in that first half without the cup-tied Luiz and most importantly, with Bosingwa, I feared that not even a 2-1 win would be enough at Old Trafford next week.
So what did we get… oh, nothing! No subs. No tactical tweaks and seemingly no change in mentality really. Yes we were passing the ball a bit better (impossible for it to be any worse mind you) but we weren’t really creating any chances of note. Utd were doing incredibly well to break up the game with three “injuries” within the first ten minutes of the half and so we were already nearing the hour mark before we could build up any sort of concerted pressure. Didier began to target Evra and after beating him with ease his cross was just too high for Ramires to nod home. A few penalty box scrambles and corners then followed but for all the possession, we weren’t really creating anything. Our football was one paced and so predictable that Utd and Fergie felt comfortable enough to move Valencia to right back when Nani had to come on for Rafael. What that says about the impotency of our left wing attacking play scares me really.
And all of a sudden I looked up to find that we’d reached the 68 minute mark and not only had Carlo done fuck all in terms of changing the side but Utd were beginning to look dangerous on the break. Rooney’s world class half volleyed finish on the stretch was ruled out for offside and only a fingertip save from Cech stopped Chicharito sliding in to finish Nani’s teasing cross. We were creating a few openings on the break but time and again the glacial tempo of our counter attacks and insistence on taking so many touches instead of passing (I’m looking at you Didier) caused them to fizzle out.
Carlo then decided to wake up from his siesta on the bench by making two revolutionary and stunning changes! Wait for it… Anelka for Didier – whose response to getting subbed off stunk really – and Malouda for Zhirkov! “Wow” I can hear you bark at me. The switch to 4-3-3 did help but it seemed too cautious and late for me. Why wait for the 70 minute mark when you know that not even a 2-1 win would be considered a good result?
The reluctance to build the side around Torres from kick off was all the more baffling when you saw the effect a shift to a 4-3-3 had on him and the side. His movement wasn’t going to waste anymore as first Ramires narrowly missed out on finding him with a teasing cross and then only a wonder save from Van der Sar stopped Fernando’s brilliant header finding the top corner. Nico then nodded wide from a dangerous Frank free kick and we were slowly building the pressure. But we were nowhere near our best and the decision to bring on Mikel for the final few minutes, resulting in a shift to right back for Essien just smacked of desperation.
But we were gradually building up a head of steam as Branners went close then Nico headed over after some pressure from Evra. Then we saw Lamps play a lovely through ball to Ramires who for the first time had decided to go beyond the striker with a run inside of Evra. His first touch was stunning as it controlled the ball to a position beyond the reach of the defender. Evra’s ridiculous two footed, scissor challenge was nowhere near the ball and a penalty and red card could be the only outcome right? Wrong actually. Despite having five officials on the pitch none of them thought that a two footed lunge through the side of Ramires as he bore down on goal was worthy of a penalty. It was a pathetic, sad yet strangely unsurprising end to the night. Chelsea and awful refereeing decisions seem to go hand in hand in this competition and despite JT, Carlo and a load of our players surrounding the referee at the end we shouldn’t live in denial by saying that a referee has cost us the chance at lifting this trophy at Wembley. We are probably going to go out to the worst Utd side in years and pass up the opportunity of a dream semi-final with Schalke because for too long we looked slow, old, uninspiring, predictable, one dimension and well, pathetic.
- JT and Branners – Didn’t put a foot wrong. Showed passion, commitment and desire as they both strode forward in search of an equaliser. Defensively solid, they were badly let down by those in front of them.
- Valencia – A revelation at right back. Or were Zhirkov and Malouda just that bad?
- Football – The final fifteen minutes apart, it really was woeful. There’s no logic to playing at that kind of tempo at home if you are monopolising possession. We should be popping the ball around at speed and using the flanks to create space but instead we appeared to be at walking pace for much of the game as we slipped from steady if unspectacular keep ball at the back to sloppy, forced passes down the middle and then to aimless long balls. It was depressing to see such a talented side run out of ideas at such an early stage in the match and well, how many still believe that Carlo is the man to turn this around?
- Frank and Essien – They were playing right? Sloppy, slow and anonymous. What happened?
- ITV commentary – We get it. Torres isn’t in the best form and battering him seems to be everyone’s favourite hobby at the minute but some of the stick he gets is ridiculous. Criticising him for not “wanting to get involved” or for deciding to make himself available for the cutback instead of waiting for Bosingwa to flash the ball across the six yard box was unfair and appalling really. Not even an improved second half showing was enough to merit any praise and yet they were both raving about Chicharito who racked up the rather impressive grand total of 0 efforts on goal. Their response to him getting taken off: “his movement is devastating and he’s already developed a telepathic link with Rooney!” Really? Sometimes ITV really are embarrassing.
- Carlo – I hate to say it as I’m one of his biggest fans but this match was a depressing nadir in the tarnishing of his reputation at Chelsea. Looked utterly clueless on the sideline for most of the match and his substitutions were so predictable that they were verging on depressing. Getting outsmarted by Jose is one thing but by Fergie and this Utd side? Is anyone really in any doubt as to why Roman is considering his future?
- Didier – Yes he’s strong. Yes he can bully a few defenders out of the way. But when he is constantly looking to do things on his own, without even acknowledging the movement and presence of his teammates, then I’m sorry but he has to go. He never seems to be in control of the ball when dribbling and in pure footballing terms, he is no longer the asset to us he once was. Personally I see him as a liability and his moronic smirk as he was subbed said it all really. He’s arrogant, selfish and his attitude stinks. It’s a sad way to end his Chelsea career as he is a legend and shouldn’t be forgotten but he’s only got a few months left at Chelsea.
- Bosingwa – He must be killed. Can’t defend, tackle, pass, cross, run, shoot or do anything positive. The worst thing though is his attitude. He doesn’t care when he makes a mistake or loses the ball and that just pisses me off.
- Cech – 7/10 – Didn’t have much to do but played the role of sweeper keeper well.
- Bosingwa – 0/10 – An embarrassment.
- Branners – 7/10 – Rock solid and even did his best Luiz impression with a few trips up field.
- JT – 8/10 – Immaculate at the back and tried his best to get us back into the game.
- Ash – 6/10 – Quiet. Valencia and then Nani did well to keep him occupied in his own half.
- Ramires – 6/10 – Timid.
- Essien – 4/10 – Awful. Overrun by a geriatric left winger and a weedy, England has been. Bravo Sir.
- Lamps – 4/10 – Oh dear. I love him but he was verging on useless.
- Zhirkov – 5/10 – A few direct runs at the end of the first half showed us what he can do when he just takes a risk but for most of the match he seemed happy to play it safe.
- Didier – 4/10 – Woeful. Some see his bulldozing about as a good thing but his arrogance and lack of control of the ball were awful for me.
- Torres – 6/10 – Yes I’m giving him a 6 because if you watch his movement, you’ll see that he would be devastating if our midfield cottoned on to the fact that you have to give him the fucking ball in order for him to score. Just see what happened when we built our side around him in a 4-3-3 for glimpses of what could happen. He’s wasted in a 4-4-2 next to that lump above.
- Malouda (sub) – 5/10 – Poor. So slow that you wonder if he’s forgotten how to run or even jog.
- Anelka (sub) – 5/10 – Anonymous. Spent most of his 20 minutes on the park in the centre circle. Good going for a right winger/forward hey?
- Mikel (sub) – 5/10 – Kept the ball moving well but not the guy you want to see when you need two goals in 10 minutes.
- Carlo – 4/10 – Statuesque on the touchline and made predictable and ineffectual substitutions. In a make or break week to save his job this was a pitiful start.
Man of the Match
I just have so many to choose from right? Well, I’ll give it to JT for his assured defending.
So how about that then?
“Oh it’s not over until it’s over.”
“We can still do it!”
“We only need to score two goals up there!”
Who actually believes that we can still do it? Can anyone see us keeping a clean sheet and scoring twice at Old Trafford? I thought not.
So let’s move on to the meaning of this defeat. Well, our season’s pretty much over. We’ll cruise home in third place probably but seeing as Roman reacted to a defeat against Inter by plotting to sack Ray, dumping a load of the old guard and warning the players and staff about their futures, I fear for some of these players. What’s sad is that one of the best sides in Premiership history will now be broken up having blown their last shot at getting their hands on the biggest trophy of them all. So it’ll be goodbye to Didier, Malouda, Bosingwa, Zhirkov, Hilario and perhaps Nico too and after years of trying their time appears to be up.
Of potentially greater significance though is the future of our manager. Barring a miracle next week this looks like the end for Carlo. It was fun while it lasted but it seems that his easy going manner, inherent caution and inept substitutions have been exposed at the highest level with embarrassing ease. When you get only two shots at beating the best sides in Europe in each knockout round, everything has to be perfectly set up and yet from the first minute, it looked like Fergie had outsmarted him with the mind blowing tactic of defending deep and staying compact! It’s laughable really to think that Carlo and the side couldn’t think of a plan B until the 70th minute and even then very little changed. I’ll be sad when he goes as he really is a nice guy but sometimes nice guys just aren’t right for us and if it can’t be Jose then just look at what that little genius in Porto – Andre Villas Boas – is doing both domestically and in Europe to see what kind of manager we need. We are a side who need to feed off the confidence that exudes from the likes of Pep, Jose and Villas-Boas and sadly, Carlo’s relaxed nature just isn’t doing it for us anymore. Some say it’s ridiculous to even talk of Carlo leaving but it appears inevitable and if we want to win the biggest trophy in Europe then after two inept displays against Inter and Utd, Roman appears to be left with no other option.
i think that we need to replace some players and not carlo. we want stability and with replacing a winning manager AGAIN is a huge mistake,
We don’t need to keep a clean sheet and score 2 to go through. Winning 2-1 would be enough surely?
A close game and I am certainly not that relaxed about the second leg given your record at OT. You definitely have the nous and the experience to pull it back. Will Alex be available for that game?
I was surprised by your team selection (Zhirkov in particular) and by your lack of drive in midfield in the first half.
It was a penalty although I have to admit that initially I thought Evra got something on the ball and I can only assume the referee did too. No excuses for the other official though I agree.
Struggling to give a shit, but utterly perplexed at the criticism of Drogba, who was several million times better than the pandered Torres. Not sure how you can slag off ITV for pointing out the obvious – Torres isn’t playing as well as a £50m striker should – when you are so boss-eyed over DD. He put in a grand effort, had some good chances, and just had one moment when he got pissed off cos he though he’d been fouled (remember Rio had given him a sly elbow in the first half, so he probably felt he was due one). I don’t blame him for looking pissed off when Roman’s favourite stayed on instead of him.
It was obviously a penalty, but I didn’t expect it to get it as we always play CL games with one arm tied behind our backs when it comes to refs, and it was obvious that after recent headlines, United were going to get anything even vaguely contentious in their favour. Also didn’t think Torres dived, Rio’s foot is on and round and his right leg (not the left one which the commentators focussed on). Not a foul, but not a dive. But shit happens and whinging about it doesn’t change a thing.
United weren’t particularly impressive (one chance?) but utterly ruthless, and although we put in a lot of effort and bluster, we weren’t playing with any confidence or guile. Evra and Valencia were both struggling, but we didn’t do a thing about it. Looked so much better with Mikel on the pitch – I’d be tempted to start with the same team that finished the evening (Essien at RB, Mikel in the middle, Malouda and Anelka on the flanks) as DD is better off the bench than FT. And I definitely would never start with FT and DD ever again. It doesn’t work. Full stop.
Expect little at OT – a 0-0 or 1-0 – but really don’t care as we’re only playing for the right to get battered by Barca in the final. More interested in cementing third and continuing the rehaul of the squad over the summer, with Carlo at the helm.
Based on your laissez faire attitude I’m assuing I won’t be able to persude you to bid for 2 match tickets, return train tickets and a hotel reservation 🙂
Almost tempted, just cos I haven;t been to OT for a few years. But I really can’t raise any enthusiasm/interest in the CL after the Barca affair. Can’t take it seriously and cringe every time our players say how important it is – wish they’d just say ‘meh, if we win, we win…’
Incidentally, looked like United didn;t shift all their tickets. a big clump of empty seat at the front of the away section – or was that UEFA policy?
I agree that we should move Essien to RB now. I don’t know if his days as the “bison” of midfield are over but I’d rather have Ramires or Mikel in that position. Plus Essien is better then Bosingwa both going forward and defending.
Drogs played with passion, but loses the ball all to often. He takes free kicks when he should be in the box attacking the ball. Yes he can barge a player off the ball but I would still start Nando ahead of him. I think Drogs makes an excellent super-sub and he really is a plan B if things are not going well. They key though is if we start with Nando … play to his strengths! Cut out the long ball crap and play him in behind defenders!! It’s not rocket science!!
I’ll copy and paste and stand by what I said on the Stoke report, and as DE says it’s not over yet.
WTF is this Bosingwa bashing all the time, lets look for a scapegoat should we??
Lets give credit to Carrick for the pinpoint pass, and the sublime touch from Giggs, it would’nt have made a blind bit of difference if there had been two defenders there, you just have to put your hands up and say brilliant.
The game overall last night wasn’t that enthralling, pretty tedious really, and perhaps a draw would have been a fairer reflection of the game, considering Utd only had a few chances on target.
We can of course mention yet again with regard us, and penalty decisions by European referees, but we should come to expect it now and move on. The tie is far from over, and beating Utd 2-1 at Old Trafford isn’t beyond the realms, yes it might be difficult, but lets wait until the end of 90/120mins of football next Tuesday before the venting starts in earnest.
Oh dear. I still can’t quite decide which was the worse experience yesterday: watching our miserably feeble efforts last night or my trip to the dentist earlier in the day in my ongoing campaign of replacing ancient, decaying fillings, skilfully scheduled just after the latest NHS price increases.
At least the dentist visit had Novocaine to take the edge off the nastier moments, though I wondered if our team had indulged in something similar given how bloodless and lacking in urgency our performance was in this supposedly season-defining game that they were all meant to be really up for.
This attitude seemed to reach the crowd too who seemed remarkably quiet and resigned to our fate as soon as Rooney scored [ never been at a knock-out stage CL game with so little atmosphere]. The main exception was the loud nutcase in the row behind me who seemed to have found the “bad trip” batch of those magic mushrooms that Uncle Ray was on the night before.
This meant he was in fever pitch agonies from kick-off screaming about “cheating Mancs” and “bent refereeing” at every bit of gamesmanship and decision which didn’t go our way [ and he had quite a few to choose from to be fair] and had gone way beyond apoplexy long before the refused penalty claims in stoppage time.
Personally, I thought we were lucky to get out of there only 0-1 down and, theoretically at least, still in the tie.
Can we really play that badly in a crunch game twice in one week? [Probably]
A few thoughts having had some kip and time to reflect on things.
Habs – you make some good points but while bipolarity is the house condition, wild contradiction and talking utter bloody shite to support one’s overtly subjective theories and viewpoints is not.
We get that you’ve got the arsehole with Drogba; enough already. He can be a tart, of course, but that’s hardly news. But to basically state that the midfield was virtually non-existent and then criticise him for trying to do it all by himself seems, well, a bit bloody stupid to me. Given the rest of the side collectively looked about as threatening as neutered gerbil in a pink tutu, he at least looked like he might worry the United backline a little.
Then there’s Torres. Oh dear. Frankly, at the moment he looks like a fucking £50m rhododendron bush with a greenfly problem. Defend him all you like; it doesn’t matter how may times anyone trots out the “He’s not 100% fit / looked sharp, had some nice touches / flicks, good movement off the ball” stock phrases that fans parrot when their star player is misfiring, his job – especially when no-one else looks likely to do so – is to stick the ball in the cunting net. Whether or not anyone is giving him the thing (and he seemed to have a reasonable amount of it last night), is almost an irrelevance – he looks about as comfortable with it as he would trying to dribble, pass and score with his dog’s severed head.
The bloke doesn’t look frustrated, he actually looks ill with worry now. Pale, drawn, shoulders drooping – if this carries on I really fear that we’re going to fuck his career up completely. Seriously, if anyone at the club had any sense – Christ, why am I even saying that? – they’d give him the rest of the season off, tell him to sort his head out and get back in July for a good pre-season.
Elsewhere – Frank, you really need a rest. Essien – you need to learn to pass. Or give way to Mikel, who, upon his introduction seemed to stumble upon the revolutionary idea that keeping the ball and passing to a team mate might just be a good move.
“… if it can’t be Jose…”
For fuck’s sake – HE’S GONE and the near homoerotic longing for the bloke is becoming embarrassing. Get over it.
So let’s all drool over Europe’s next poster boy, Villas Boas instead, shall we? Jose’s natural heir, or Juande the Second? Who knows? But one thing is certain, it matters not whether he’s the bastard love child of Lobanvsky and Sacchi or Dave Basset’s distant suntanned cousin, if he comes here he’ll suffer the same as the rest do under Roman. He’ll get 2-3 years; a honeymoon period, maybe a pot or two, wildly fluctuating levels of investment dependent on whether Roman’s current squeeze is buying art / Vladimir wants something built back home, followed by rumours as to who’s going to replace him when he loses 2 games on the bounce and the inevitable trapdoor and wedge of of cash when he doesn’t deliver Roman’s obsession to him.
And so it continues. Insert your ‘repeating the same thing and expecting different results / madness’ adage here.
On to United. Not brilliant, but controlled the midfield and nicked the goal they needed. Rooney is under the cosh, but he delivers – you listening, Fernando? (I’d be tempted to conjure up some sort of ‘Can you hear the (something), Fernando?’, pun, but it’s too early and I need a coffee.
I think I read that they have never lost a QF CL game when winning the first leg? Enough said. Yes, we have a chance, but for the most part I’d rather the whole bloody season was over with tomorrow.
Of course, the ‘is Carlo in or out come May?’ debate will undoubtedly continue; for me, there is a simple comparison to draw between the two sides and the ethos that runs through them which tells us all we need to know.
From the Telegraph:
He (Ferguson) also played down talk of repeating Manchester United’s treble of 1999 when they won the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup. “I’ve never thought about it,” he said. “We’re in every competition and we’ll try our best. That’s the attitude of Manchester United.”
“The whole season rests on this moment” (Carlo, yesterday).
Yes, I’m sure that simple analysis can be pulled apart, but the point is this – until this ridiculous Euro obsession dies (or by some miracle, gets fulfilled), it will continue to strangle the development and progress of the club and the ridiculous, damaging managerial merry-go-round will carry on until we all die of bloody boredom.
Anyone care to disagree with that?
… so you wont be bidding for a once in a lifetime trip to Old Trafford next Tuesday either …
Kylie is on at the O2. I’m seriously considering it as it’s probably the least likely place on the planet anyone will mention football that night!
And she’s still single so you never know 😉
Surely even Mrs D would understand a night of passion with Kylie would be too much for any straight man?
The diminutive Antipodean pop princess would consider herself very lucky to spend an evening mit Der Kaiser…
* the above statement is probably untrue.
Aaah yes, but it’s that level of positive thinking that I like.
*Must keep saying Kylie loves me again and again
If only i were wearing a hat… i would doth it in your direction
Bravo. Comments like that that keep me coming back.
Your spot on about development and progress.
We had a discussion in the pub before the game about how academies for the top clubs are a waste of money in terms of cost input versus players produced. Spending 20 or 30 million on a player can seem madness but it’s cheaper than running the operation down at Cobham or the like. And so we turned to Josh, PVA and one or two others. And we agreed that at Arsenal and United they would have had far more game time than at Chelsea, due to the constant pressure to deliver, because the manager/coach whatever is always in the first (and usually only) two years of a contract.
I’m not advocating Josh playing a full season and wrecking him too young, but do we seriously see him playing 15 to 20 games next year? And if he doesn’t should he go out on loan? There’s the prospect of he and players like him getting to 21 without proper experience. Then that starts to count against them.
It has to change.
But I’m sure when Avram is Director of Football we’ll see a new dawn of stability…………..
Blimey, neutered gerbils in pink Tutus? You been mixing the Colombian marching powder with Syd Barretts choice of recreational chemicals?
Anyhow, as you all know I’ve never warmed to Ancelotti – I did warm to Guus, but Carlo just doesn’t do it for me. He reminds me of Ranieri in the nice guy stakes, without the tactical fuckwittery that was such a trademark of Claudio. But for me, his rigidity with substitutions, you can almost guess to the minute who it’ll be and who’ll come off, is frustrating. However, as much as I’d love Jose to come back, I do abide by the rule of ‘never going back’ – it’s OK for a reunion shag or two. but the little irritants will remain and before you know it the second break-up is exponentially more bitter and painful than the first.
I am however enamoured by the growing rumour of Guus as DoF, with Marco Van Basten as first team coach. Sounds a bit dream team to me, but I would find it intriguing. If Carlo stays then hey ho, it’ll be interesting to see just how much he changes in the summer. But what if he doesn’t change anything? If that were the case then I’d think he was repeating his AC Milan ethos of ‘sweating the assets’ and we’d have an even older squad moving the ball around even slower. Like I say, he’s a nice guy but he just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe I’m the one who needs time?
As for last night, well I’m with Habs on all but Drogba, and I’m a mile from you and Pete on Torres. Torres is heading into a Kezman like campaign fed by the press and media, whereby if they keep saying he’s crap, then the fans will start to believe it. It’s how propaganda campaigns work. he does look haunted and I refuse to believe all is well in the dressing room between him and some of the seniors. But, £50m is £50m and he badly needs a goal for confidence. Maybe he does need the break, but maybe he also needs the ‘love’ of his team mates. Drogba was good last night, but he’s 33 and at best we’ll get one more useful season from him AT THIS LEVEL. And to be honest if he shows in 15 goals between ow and the end of the season, it’s too little too late to mean anything. One more season and he should go.
I’m starting to think Frank is entering his ‘Scholes/Giggs’ period. No more guaranteed starts but still a place coming on from the bench. Last night he was lousy, no two ways about it. And he’s been like it far too often this season. Maybe the injury was the breaking point, the moment at which a great midfielders career started to decline. It’s happened to others in their 30’s. Essien….stunk the place out and a period on the bench for some re-focusing would be in order. Obi looks far more composed and calm, and as you rightly say he seems to have worked out that passing to a fellow team member is a fundamental part of being a footballer.
Zhirkhov needs regular time, he can add width and guile but Malouda I’m afraid seems very much a mood player. He can rampage and terrorise when he feels like it, but he’s rarely been good enough for the Dog & Duck Sunday side this year, so why is Carlo persevering?
And therein lies my issue with Carlo. Like Sven he seems to glory in picking on reputation rather than form. I genuinely do not see Wenger or Fergie picking players like Essien/Lampard and especially Malouda when they’re in such dismal form, unless they have an injury crisis giving them no choice. Instead, despite what so many of us see, he perseveres with them. No doubt some wise arses will say.’yeah but he sees them on the training ground and they perform there’ …FUCK THAT….I couldn’t give a rats arse about training ground form. Measure them in their fucking day job, when they’re playing other teams in important competitions. Not for what they do, or how much they make the others laugh in training. This is a serious business and we need serious people (what film does that come from?) who for 90 or 120 minutes will run through walls for the fans, the club and the gaffer. Not airy-fucking-fairy johnny come lately’s who want to present the ball to their team mates in the style of a Michelin starred chef’s signature dish. I’m a fan…I want to be sated, my hunger filled by steak and chips football with ice-cream to follow if we’re good. I do not want pretentious bollocks with artistic merit that makes me want to buy Stavros Uber-Mega-Gutbuster Doner Kebab in Batter 10 minutes later. I want a gaffer who is the fucking gaffer, who everyone knows is the gaffer, who players fear and respect. I don’t want him to be their best mate.
Last nights result was NOT a disaster but like most of us Bipolar fans, the pessimist is winning. We’ve a mountain to climb and for me this season is a one too many for a few players. maybe even for some fans. Like many I want 3rd place, the season over, a long close season, with a chance for all of us to refresh, fans, players, club. Fresh hearts and minds for next year. Get some new blood in, bring back Kakuta and Studge. Get Josh in the team. Buy Robben back, or get Sanchez and Albrighton. Lose Bosingwa and Malouda. Tell Drogba he has one more season. Prepare Frank for less starts. Etc etc.
Is Carlo the man for that? I don’t think so, but will happily slice the humble pie if he is. Just don’t hate me for not being able to warm to the man like I did Jose and Guus. And Ruud and GianLuca.
Personally haven’t paid much attention to the media campaign that is willing Torres to be a flop; that was always going to be the case. All I’m basing my opinion on is watching the bloke play. While I’m sure he will come good, Carlo isn’t helping him by leaving the guy on when he’s playing like an absolute dog (although he probably has little choice as Roman wants to see his toy on display).
If he gets any further into the hole that has been dug for him, he’ll start to make Shevchenko look like Kerry Dixon.
‘Until this ridiculous Euro obsession dies (or by some miracle, gets fulfilled), it will continue to strangle the development and progress of the club and the ridiculous, damaging managerial merry-go-round will carry on until we all die of bloody boredom.’
ON THE MONEY! As I said to Mark ‘Can’t take it seriously and cringe every time our players say how important it is – wish they’d just say ‘meh, if we win, we win…’
Erm, bravo KJII. Bravo indeed.
But I do agree with Habs on Bosingwa. Simply not good enough. One improved performance against Stoke cannot hide the fact he’s looked out of his depth all season.
Let’s not get rid of Carlo (let’s be honest, finishing third is going to be our ‘achievement’ this season. So what big name would want the job anyway?). But for Christ sake can we integrate some youth with any new signings next season? Utds midfield was hardly World Class (TM) last night. Would Josh have looked out of his depth? Unlikely. The other thing are the options Carlo currently has. They’re just boringly similar like-for-likes. We need someone unpredictable. Someone with a bit of flair and / or pace out wide. Not a set of identikit bullies which is the mould half the squad come from.
Frustrated from Norwich.
I don’t disagree that much on Bosingwa; all the courage of Zenden and the ball watching abilities of Melchiot. Not a fabulous combination for a full back. The injury may have done for him, or he may need more time which he’s unlikely to get here.
When Carrick gets an easy ride away from home and Giggs can stroll aorund picking up the second balls, you know that there’s something amiss with yer midfield. And I’m not sure what Carlo can do.
Certainly Ramires’ energy would be more usefully expended in the trenches, ’cause a combination of Essien and Lampard just does not seem to have the legs. Defensively they couldn’t deal with United players drifting into the space behind them and going forward they offered very little variety. There just wasn’t enough pressure on United in the centre of the pitch.
Can a combination of Mikel and Ramires work if we’re going to persist with 2 up front and 4 in midfield?
I think one of the central problems all season is the Ancelotti’s successful teams played a tempo and the central engine room was key, well it’s key for any team I suppose. No combination of our midfield has given him that this season and doesn’t seem likely to. Even though the Essien-Lampard combo played in the league win against United, the same problems happened in that game. Last night, with a more experienced defence United were more comfortable and didn’t buckle as they did in the league game.
There’s no change of pace from midfield and whatever about Drogba, Bosingwa et al, that hampers the team big time, because the opposition always have time to adjust defensively and any half decent movement attacking wise will give us problems.
Oh and it helps to pass the ball to each other. Always a sign that a team is lacking self-belief when basic passing is a struggle.
No point in discussing the penalty. Curiously Fergie has been able to clearly see all those decisions that he perceives to have gone against him in the last seven years at the Bridge yet from the same position, generally right on the touchline and well outside the technical area, unmolested by the 4th Official, he couldn’t quite tell what went on with Evra’s challenge. Specsavers Alex, Specsavers.
Thanks for the report Habs. Impassioned and well worth a read as always. Helps to crystallise one’s own thoughts when there’s something to bounce them off.
Give Habs a break! Yes he went a bit over the top on his criticism of Drogba and the midfield, but his analysis of Bosingwa (he must be killed) and Carlo was spot on. With Mourinho (no, I don’t have a homoerotic obsession with him) you knew a sub would be made on 60 mins, or even before, if we weren’t in control of a game. With Carlo you are almost certain it won’t come until 70 mins or after. What a load of shite. Also Bosingwa was at fault for most of Utd’s good play, including the goal.
Bring in Guus, two new wingers (get Robben back?), and a RB, and this team is still capable of winning anything.
I’m thinking that selling Bosingwa, rather than killing him, might be in order. We might get a fee and avoid any murder charges. Everyone’s a winner.
No-one accused you of having a homoerotic obsession with Mourinho, but Habs’ almost unhealthy need to mention the guy’s name whenever things aren’t going right here is all a bit much, for me. Yes, he was brilliant and yes, I’m sure he would have made miraculous, game changing subs on about 50 mins last night, but HE MANAGES REAL MADRID NOW.
I’m all for a spot of nostalgia in it’s right place, but I just think it’s worth reminding folk of that on occasion.
As the favourite son Uncle Claudio never knew he had, I would ask you to focus a little more tightly on that distance and remember a “moment” when we had to play an English team away in a quarter final second leg.
Makele ended up in goal, Mutu was the holding player, Crespo right back and Bridge up front on his own. The result a 2-1 win. Which projected to Tuesday would do nicely. Yes I know, unfortunately we didn’t stick with that formation against Monaco and UC was consigned, as is the fate of all Chelsea managers, to the pants drawer of history..
Fair enough DK.
I think 3-0 is a bit harsh on Claudio though. We’d have been 2-0 after 60 minutes, and then he would have made that game changing substitution (that Carlo seems to be unable to do) which tips the balance in Utd’s favour and we’d have ended up losing 3-2.
Well it looks like I’m in the minority of one, as to not blame Bosingwa for the goal, but then I don’t apportion blame generally to individuals. So perhaps I could be looking who should have been tracking Rooneys free unmarked run into the box, perhaps Boswinga should be blamed for that as well, for not spotting it, and getting across to block the shot.
I think you’re all underplaying your chances next week. God knows if Ferdinand will be fit and Evra looks increasingly suspect at the back.
On a broader point, I think you can’t underplay the difficulty a) of transition in a squad and b) the problems of promoting youth with such an active owner shall we say. I’m not sure Carlo is a master at this element but it’s obviously made more complicated by the need to keep Roman happy. You clearly have a huge amount of talented youngsters but we’ve seen elss of them than almost any other leading team.
I’m certainly not underplaying our chances next week, as a matter of fact I think that the 1-0 scoreline just might have more of an adverse effect on Utd than us. I say that because your lot may just have the mentality that a draw is enough, and that’s always a dangerous way to approach the game, I certainly think thats how Fergie approached the last two PL games agaisnt us and you ended up losing 2-1 each time.
Lets hope it’s going to be three in a row.
If we’re not allowed to kill Bosingwa could we at least organise for him to film a homoerotic movie with Aaron Lennon so at the least Bosingwa may induce a sore throat before the next game?
There’s something to be said about Carlo being too passive which may influence other things around the club. Firstly this translates to substitutions not being adventurous enough, and when they do work the success rate is lower than I would have expected from a manager of his calibre. This may be down to the personnel at his disposal. We don’t have many, if any, creative players (or even any with pace for that matter). We have ones who try hard (sometimes) like our central midfield but that only gets you so far. Benayoun would not have saved us were he fit all season. Furthermore our players are too old for the most part. They cannot cope with playing more than two games in a week, which is natural for a squad with players their age, so why not chuck in some of the youngsters? On paper and probably in training Essien is better than Josh, but looking at Bayern Munich last year where Van Gaal chucked in Thomas Muller (a total nobody at the time), sometimes youthful exuberance is what you need. Essien and/or Lampard clearly needed to be rested a few times, but Carlo didn’t seem to have the guts. There seems to be a sense of things going stale at the club, and playing someone younger (who is very probably a bit worse than the person they’re replacing) might change things up a bit.
Secondly, regarding his passivity, this spreads throughout the club in other ways. He needs a better group of staff around him. This is plainly obvious and talk of bringing back Avram is the last thing we need. He should have demanded a better assistant and support team.
Thirdly he doesn’t appear to be the most inspirational of managers. Tinkering with tactics will not make our players play better. A lot of this is most likely due to some players’ self-inflated egos combined with others’ lack of confidence. As deadly a combination if ever I heard one. There is a distinct lack of movement on the pitch, a clear symptom of being scared to want the ball. The players look to be going from muscle memory and doing what they think they should be doing, but there is a real lack of flair, pace or fluidity about anything we do. Fergie would have fixed this; blamed the media, blamed the referee, given the hairdryer treatment, anything.
I say all these things but I still think Carlo should probably stay. I feel a player overhaul would help things drastically, but only if Carlo got to choose them. Abramovich is the interfering type and Carlo is exactly the type of manager he wants. Roman has the manager he deserves. He can fire his assistant. He can sign the players he wants and put them in Carlo’s squad. No wonder Carlo is the way he is. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place because things will never change with whatever manager we hire when Abramovich is the type of person he is. Either Abramovich changes and allows the manager full control (in which case I think Carlo would be a lot more successful), or he fires Carlo and brings in someone with a bit more fire in his belly yet still tries to control him, and things end up the same (which is what I fear will happen).
Tl;dr – Find a capable manager (we have one already, although Abramovich is probably going to try to get another one in the summer), and let him have full control. A manager in that position would be more assertive (even Carlo), and most likely get rid of the most likely candidates (Drogba, Malouda, Kalou, Bosingwa, Hilario etc), get the players he wants, and feel more free to drop the under-performers for youth or whoever. And Carlo might even make bolder substitution and tactical choices (although I doubt that one!)
P.S. And taking the original report in the context of being emotionally written right after a pretty crappy performance, it’s understandable to say Bosingwa cannot defend (their goal being his fault is debatable but I can see both sides), our midfield created nothing, and therefore Drogba tried to create things himself. But Drogba was still shit at it. He has no touch, but conversely also tried to touch it too much instead of passing it. And whether you think he adds to the team or not, when he’s in it, we tend to punt it up to him and that hardly ever works. It’s desperate stuff. Torres is here to stay whether you like him or not, and Drogba is on the way out, whether you like that or not, so build it around Torres. If it doesn’t quite work out this season, who cares?! We aren’t going to win anything anyway. It will help build a better long term understanding between the teammates who WILL be here next season. And if we are to have a better season next year, start phasing out the people who won’t be here.
Long, probably incohesive, rambling rant over.
Unfortunately Aaron refuses to be associated with my homoerotic movie but good news, Crouchy’s signed up because he’s free next week!
Too bad that intracompany sex is a no-no, mark.
Anyway, the result was perfect. We’re left with absolutely no expectations, the team will almost certainly live up to them, and at the same time we’ll be forced to watch because we’re only a goal down.
On to yesterday: I’m definitely in the camp that sees nothing in Essien and Lampard these days. They’re likely in too much pain to be effective. Even last year, two-a-weeks were way too much for them (well, okay, switch Terry for Lampard from last year to this — Terry seems rejuvenated this season). It’s to the point where perhaps the midfield should be Yossi, Josh and Ramires, and subbing the old farts back in. I realize that the whole midfield would then weigh about 340 lbs, but the speed, energy and passing skills might make up for it. The United midfield aren’t exactly spring chix. Is this too big a game to make such massive changes? Yes. But at least I’d be fascinated with it until it blows up in our faces.
And I don’t like Torres and Drogba together. And I’m not sure which one I want out there. And Nic surely isn’t the answer either. If forced to I think I’ve got to go with Drogs with the old midfield, but Torres with the young one.
Scratch that one comment above. Now I think I remember Essien being injured for most of the two-a-week period last season.
We were shit and dont really deserve to be in the last eight in Europe. I,m steadily losing patience with a manager who keeps playing players who have not played well for ages. If you are not playing well reputation should not earn you a place. Paolo Ferrera is a better right back than Bosingwa. Essien and Lampard are either finished or need a long rest. Drogba still has it but his attitude is shit. All in all a thoroughly depressing night/season.
Reading all the well observed comments I like to chime in with a few of my own.
We all seem to be in 2 minds about Drogba and Torres. I loved Drogs last night, granted I did see the match 35 mins mark. But he seemed confident, strutting like a prize warhorse, though age is catching up. Torres by contrast did look a little like a deer in the headlights and is still bloody unlucky to have not scored. For all the people slagging him off, he didn’t attach a 50 million price to his name, his club did. Does this mean he has an overinflated worth of self, hell no. He is trying desperately to please anyone with a goal to his name, conversely at times he ignores simpler options.
Which brings me to the next simple observation. Lampard and Essien are fucking retarded. I would not have said this yesterday but reading my fellow bloggers observations made me think back to a key instance in the game. Essien attempts a shot at goal outside the box when he has Torres right next to him, unmarked with a clear line of sight at goal.
The biggest problem with our team isn’t that we are disjointed or have a tactically inept manager. Its that everyone low on confidence or coming back from an injury is trying to shoot irrespective of where the hell they are. Especially true of Lamps and Essien. So we have Drogba (goal to stay next season), Torres (goal to prove his worth), Malouda (goal to sooth his ego), Lampard (his confidence), Essien (hey I once scored a great distance drillshot), etc, etc. You cannot have 8+ strikers on the damn field. Because note as the game wears on our defenders too, I presume tired of the utter lack of creativity on part of our midfield and cohesion of the attacking lineup, get in on the lets see if I can score game.
Which brings us too hey where the fuck is the midfield. Drogba breaks takes on 4 utd players, people say he is showboating.
Essien blazes past on left wing fires one into the box, where is everyone. On a picnic ? Chelsea our currently crippled. We lack a central spine connecting the defense and attack. I mean its really sad when JT (awesome for the last 4 games btw) is the one trying to build our attacks, spraying some good passes all the time also intercepting wily young men with ease from breaking on the counter.
The team has to be built around the midfield not Torres and not Drogba. I would nominate Ramires. Its simple to isolate the striker. But the midfileld lesser so. Need we all be reminded that the true nail in our cofffin wasn’t Messi but Iniesta when we played Barca. We have exceptional pace which we never utilise. Ramires, hell even Branners got into the box unchallenged. They need support. They need options. You provide those we should get goals. Lamps is done and dusted for the season. He should be rested. Anyone who saw the game on tv will get it. That one moment before a free kick he had to take. Same look gracing Ricky Ponting during the world cup qf. Part desperation and part hopelessness. Whatever demons are haunting him, I fear the only cure is rest.
Lastly I really hate Chelsea FC’s attitude towards those waiting in the wings. PvA and Josh for e.g umm how long will our club continue to ignore those coming up through the academy. Sure we can argue all we want that hey it wouldn’t have changed anything, they lack exp. But hey players like Giggs didn’t get where he his today by having managers saying umm I’ll play it safe. Seriously Carlo grow a pair and play them. We might lose, we might get humiliated. But hey we might see something brilliant as well. I fear this club is doomed to repeat the same thing next season when again fans will be clamouring over another huge signing and sending those we have out on loan for more ahem experience in quality football a league lower.
Blimey…… There is some serious bile being spewed on here.
My thoughts…… I agree with KJ, in that to critisize Drogba and paint Torres as the answer is fucking ludicrous. He is patently out of form, not linking well with the team, seems to have lost his explosive pace, and has so far cost us about 5mill in wages alone for a return of no goals and no assists. He passes when he should shoot, and shoots when he should pass, and whilst I think he might come good, the evidence of what is now 12 months piss poor form for us and the Scouse scum would suggest time may just pass him by. He reminds me more and more of Sheva, I think he is trying hard (perhaps too hard), but either isn’t fitting the system, or is too inflexible to adapt to change when necessary.
Didier is simply Didier………. Selfish arse one minute, sublime gamebreaker the next, and always a Nancy. He is what he is and we are not gonna change him now. I don’t blame him for being pissed off at the sub….. It should have been Torres, and it should have been 15 minutes sooner.
The midfield I thought were ok…… People spin the same lines, week after week, but they were not outplayed, or outclassed by Utd….. Frank is not the player he was 2 years ago, but Essien has looked better in recent weeks, and perhaps last night was an off match.
I am still optimistic about the second leg…… And in Europe a 1-0 home defeat is never that bad. It means we can go away to Utd, play without fear and not have to be worrying about being cagey in defence. I wouldn’t bet on us going through, but it is certainly not beyond us.
Carlo worries me though……. I like him, but he doesn’t change the game with any substitutions and thats why we always look ponderous and slow….Perhaps it’s the players at his disposal, but it that’s the case, demand some pace and width from Roman.
As for the penalty and refereeing….Not really worth talking about………. It would be comical if it didn’t just feel like Groundhog Day.
we need this guy:
I wonder if the 4-4-2 has also been imposed on Ancelotti. It worked as a one off – a Plan B as people like to call it – but it is not sophisticated enough for prolonged use at the highest level. So I would like to propose a plan C for the 2nd leg; a 3-5-2. It would depend on Alex being fit to form a back 3 with Terry and Ivanovic. Then we have Bosingwa and Cole as wing-backs. That gives us the much needed width, and Bosingwa’s defensive frailties would not be so exposed. Even if Alex is not fit, Cole could become one of the back 3, and Zhirkov could play the wing back role. Then I would see Obi anchoring midfield flanked by Ramires on the right and Essien/Lampard on the left. Or even Malouda/Benayoun. Essien and Lampard are not deserving of their places right at the moment. I will leave it to others to think of a permutation of attackers but I think Anelka has been dire of late: overruns the ball, doesn’t control it, misplaces his passes etc
One thing’s for sure: the solution next Tuesday will not be to play the same players in the same formation
Are Wigan ta win tomorrow?
Let’s go to the Stats.
Wigan have won 2 drawn 2 and lost 6 away from home this season. In those 14 games they have scored 11 goals, that’s less than a goal a game ( or almost 0.8 for the arithmetically challenged).
They have conceded 20 goals on the road, nearly 1.5 goals a game, which is actually better than their home record, where they concede 1.8 goals a game. But they do manage to score about a goal a game at home.
The boys are averaging 2 goals a game, while conceding 0.6 or thereabouts in the course of winning 10 drawing 2 and losing 2 at the Bridge..
To sum up, they usually let in 1.5 and we usually score 2. They score 0.8 but we’re only prepared to concede 0.6.
Coming into this, we have won 3 and drawn 1 of the last 4 PL games. The Latics have won 1 drawn 1 and lost 2.
I felt it was important you all had this information before coming to a reasoned judgement.
For some this game will come a poor second to watching horses being given every chance to be in the next tube of UHU glue you buy, or possibly being served up in a Bistro, but for me, every point is still important.
I thank you heartily for this information and on that basis, I’ll stick my neck out and say we’re good for 3 points. Having heartily berated him in this here thread, I’ll back Torres to score too…
Would much rather be watching the nags, personally, but there are several of our own playing who could well be shipped off to the glue factory come May, so I feel it only right and proper that I should give thanks for their (mostly) sterling service whilst they are still around…
Thank you for the encouraging stats BB, I too think that Torres could bag a couple tomorrow, but probably the headlines will read if he does,”Unable to do it agaisnt the big teams”
But to put a damper on our next league fixture at WBA, another interesting stat for this season, we have failed to win on any of our trips to the midlands so far (2 losses 2 draws).
Must be something in the air, or even the water that’s affecting our lads.
Given that it’s the highest ground above sea level, the thin air affects the movement of the ball and affects the players’ respitory system so that’s always a problem.
Additionally Woy will bore the boys into stupefaction, thus blunting what little attacking power we have left.
This is worrying because I’ve got tickets to WBA.
Do you think I should do some altitude training, like visit the Golden Gallery in St Paul’s for a few hours?
There is a simple blue tablet you can take for high altitude, all to do with increasing blood supply to vital organs, and I’ve been told it has other beneficial side effects as well.
Stops you rolling out of bed, for example…
That explains the failure in the World Cup. In trying to combat the effects of high altitude, England players took drugs to enhance the wrong aspect of their performance.
Hence the high incidence of brass fatigue in South Africa (as reported in Metallurgists Weekly, though I can’t seem to find the link to the article)
I doubt it would be safe for access from a work PC if you could locate it…
Torres Suspended for 4 Games
Yes folks that’s a real headline. Its been a bad week to be Torres. But this refers to a hockey player from the Vancouver Canucks. In a tantilising example of how life is never quite perfect, you need to know his first name.
Yes just a vowel away.
Bet Torres doesn’t start on Saturday after playing the 90 on Weds with Old Trafford to come on Tuesday.
Like Jonny, I do want him to play well and score but the fact is he isn’t doing either. I mean, he’s okay, but hardly £50m of okay, I’m not writing him off in the slightest and think we need to build round him next season, but right here and right now, we’re getting miles more from DD, both as a starter and when he comes off the bench.
I also feel that Kalou has been treated like shit in the last few months given that he has been, I repeat, OUR BEST FORWARD THIS SEASON.
Some more thoughts on Torres: Chelsea haven’t had a successful out-and-out goalscorer since Hasselbaink. The nature of the way the team plays means a striker has to offer a lot more than just score goals – Drogba is one of the most hard-working players around, can defend and takes set pieces; Anelka has been reinvented as a deep-lying playmaker. So did Gudjohnsen, while Kalou has become a very adaptable winger/second forward.
Shevchenko and Kezman didn’t have this sort of ability in their repertoire so failed.
Does Torres? If he is to work, either he needs to adapt or the team needs to change. So far, he isn’t showing enough signs of the former to deserve a place in the team.
I’m all for the team changing in the summer to get more out of FT, but right now I don’t see enough variety from Torres to suggest he’s going to work out in our current team. So why play him?
That’s a very good point.
Your reference to Kalou also raises the problem of having one consistent “go to” forward. They’ve all tended to string a few games together but no-one has nailed the spot down have they? And now Torres also shows no sign of curing that problem.
Does Torres? If he is to work,…….
How on earth is he suppose to work with no service from Lumper?
Are you unwell?
JD and BB I don’t understand what you’re referring to, the side effect I was thinking about was the lowering of blood pressure.
Now of course if you have any links you could post giving examples of what you both mean, it would be very beneficial to me, and probably others on the blog. 😉
Not really my field but this might help
I hear Roman is busy trying to build a time machine so he can go back to January and not sign Torres.
And he buys Suarez like most were suggesting at the time, correct?
Torres has said that he is looking forward to having Yossi in the lineup. While I also think that would be a good thing, might as well give Fernando a chance to fall on that sword before we make any judgments.
Perhaps that time machine can take us back to the last home game against Wigan……. Happy Days
Very detailed report Habs, brought it all back to me, though – not such a good thing.
After a bright start, we really did lose our way and teams always seem to score when we hand over the initiative. Lots of fiddly little passes, then running into tackles instead of passing, and so on.
The biggest positive was getting back into it after conceding and actually creating some good chances.
Goals change games and who knows how it would’ve gone with just a tiny bit of luck (or was our luck in only losing 1-0)?
Strangely, though, 0-1 is a great score to take up there, no more poncing about. No thoughts of maybe a draw, or any other aggregate crap.
We go there needing to win.
We need to score and the more the better – don’t wait for penalties, please.
Wigan tomorrow for the warm up, and try a few changes, then up to the fergydrome for round two.
Should we play the B team today and save our legs for Tuesday?
Or does nobody care and we’ll just switch off till August?
we can’t afford to drop points in the League as our only priority is qualifying for the CL next season. Since our slump started I have been saying that we should even sacrifice CL progression this season if it carries any risk of not gathering enough points to finish in at least 4th place.
Surely we should be playing our B team on Tuesday and making sure we don’t lose our CL slot to Spurs. No CL spot next season and it’s game over for us.
watched the game on a stream so not ideal viewing but seemed we played ok. Torres almost scored, but is he too desperate to score now that he can’t put away easy chances?
Yossi looked good too, I think he was a big miss for us all season.
Looking forward to the match report.
First hour was dire.
But after Yossi and Torres started combining we did play some lovely stuff. This was by far and away Fernando’s best showing for us and but for a wonder save he would have got that goal.
Torres up front on his own with Kalou and Yossi would be my pick for Old Trafford. Nico and Malouda were awful for me and Didier and Torres never works.
Great to see Alex too. Allows Carlo to finally drop Bosingwa in the CL.