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Champions 3-0 Man United ··· Sunday 30th April 2006
Got into Kings Cross from Finsbury Park cos' of engineering works well in time for breakfast next to the (famous) Flying Scotsman pub.
Got into Brogan's at 11 but only 3 bar staff on - what woz that all about.
So we made a swift cross over the road to the Slug and Lettuce and if I didn't have tickets that would have been my choice of venue for the match - What a fantastic atmosphere - as we left for the ground the place was alive with true blues singing their hearts out - 'kin magic.
Atmosphere inside the ground was the best i've experienced since we beat Vicenza - AWESOME.
Luckily, my seat was right at the end of the West Stand closest to the MHL so I was able to stand all through the game - happy days are here again !
The boys did us proud, Cava had his best game in a blue shirt, Joey Cole's goal saw hugs in the stands like no other, JT on one leg - different class, the only player who wasn't on his game it has to be said was Robben and Jose got a substitution right for a change. All in all a fantastic team performance and I must say Drogba is now getting the respect from the terraces that he deserves - like Maka (who again was world class) the work he puts in goes unrecognised when the man of the match plaudits come in.
After the game it was the Fulham Road sing song - no chance to get into the So Bar so we headed for the Kings Road, the Imperial (hats off to the Maka lookalike on the motorbike) "Have you ever seen Maka ride a bike" quality. Then on to the Front Room, great atmosphere - all the old songs - superb.
Same again in Earls Court, Golden Hair, Wonky nose, Club foot etc ! in O'Neills before being *that pissed* me and my son decided not to meet our train timetable and return to the Bridge and the Shed Bar - and what a move that was.
We met the one and only Kerry Dixon and his lady near the hotel. Had a great chat about his goal at Grimsby and the one against Arsenal first game back in the premiership and he didn't mind I woz pissed out of my head such the nature of the day. Can't remember much after the that but my son seems to remember me talking to two other old players as he called them - apologies to whoever they were. Apparently we had the whole of the train singing on the Picadilly line from Earls Court and we ended back at Peterborough at about midnight somehow.
CHAMPIONS BACK TO BACK !
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Is Scolari The Right Choice? ··· Thursday 27th April 2006
You have to laugh at the FA! Spent 3 months screwing around with the collective heads of Charlton, Bolton and Boro fans, teased everyone with the notion of O'Neill and then ended up with the 'best man for the job'! Would it not have been easier just to ask people to send in their CV's and then interview them in order of preference?
The other joke is that once they appoint him for 4 years or whatever, it will have been the best part of 10 years since an Englishman will have managed the national team when he leaves - in my book that's scandalous. They can't find one bloke of English origin who can manage the team? Pitiful. It's almost as big a joke as having the Arse in the CL final with barely an Englishman amongst them, and everyone being 'delighted' that another English club has reached there. We'll all wake up in 10 years and find the odd Englishman managing a team in this country and even fewer playing, and no-one will be able to complain.
The lead should come from the top. If you keep appointing foreigners to the top job no one can complain if you have foreign managers and players in the clubs. The desire to win has overshadowed the whole notion of international football. Why don't we get young Brazillian players over here, naturalise them and put them in the team? Or maybe that's going to be Phil's first job!
My final word - you play English players and you should have English coaches and managers. Then when you win something you can say YOU won it - it won't have been influenced by any other footballing philosophy or method. The mystery to me is that I'd have thought England would be the last country on Earth to appoint a foreigner and here we are on the verge of appointing a 2nd one!
My final, final word - if anyone thinks England are going to turn into Brazil overnight they need their heads tested!
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Thoughts On The Semi-Final ··· Monday 24th April 2006
I've stayed away from all media outlets for the last 30-plus hours since we lost because I simply do not want to listen to anymore "Liverpool are great...Chelsea is $%#&*@" comments. The loss is hurt enough.
But I do have some thoughts after digesting everything over the last 30 hours.
Purely and simply, we lost this game by the negative tactics for the first hour, and then the inability to open up a very defensive-minded Liverpool consistently when we needed to claw back a two goal deficit.
I'm not going to echo what a lot of fellow fans have already said, e.g. schoolboy defending, missed goal opportunities, etc... as that is clear for anyone to see.
There were just two main points I wanted to make, which I believe are related.
1. Though I understand what Jose was trying to do with Paulo Ferreira - and I believe it was to push back Riise as much as possible and help Geremi defend Liverpool's attacking threat duo of Riise and Kewell - I believe we gave Liverpool TOO MUCH respect. I mean, we're blessed with Claude Makelele and a fine back four, not to mention a fine goalkeeper as well. You'd think this was defensive overkill enough. Now, factor in Essien, who really is a defensive midfielder first and foremost and you can already see our team is defensively unbalanced. To add Ferreira to the mix, even if Liverpool had that attacking threat on their left, was always going to leave us woefully short in the attacking sense.
The diamond has worked for us in the past few matches because we have had Joe Cole or Arjen Robben to spearhead the attacking portion of it. The line-up against Liverpool was always going to struggle in an attacking sense. I'm sure Jose knew that as well, but I know he also thought we'd create enough chances to score goals. However, he really put a tremendous amount of pressure on our players to score from EVERY opportunity we created, because we clearly were not going to create that many chances.
So, while I won't say our tactics were wrong, because we did pretty much stop Liverpool from scoring from build-ups on our right flank, we did suffocate ourselves, which is the biggest disappointment for me.
2. My, when we brought on Robben, Duff and Joe Cole, we looked really good. As comfortable as Liverpool looked in the first hour of play, they looked really bewildered for the last half hour when we brought on our attacking players. Sure, it looked a little hectic at times because I doubt we practice a game plan that involves all our attacking/creative players so it looked a bit ad hoc at times when the player on the ball had to think about what he wanted to do and the rest just had to react. But it looked good and it gave Liverpool plenty of problems, something that did not happen at all in the first hour. That made it doubly disappointing.
But it also leads me to another observation: as sound as the 4-3-3 is, and as good an option as the 4-4-2 diamond gives us for some games, surely a formation that allows us to have all of Duff, Robben, Cole and Lampard on the pitch at the same time must be able to be used a bit more consistently (when we aren't two goals behind). Surely, a 4-1-3-2 or a 4-1-4-1 formation that is more attack minded must become a more consistent thing in Jose's arsenal for the future.
Because although it hurts, and maybe BECAUSE it hurts, I'm done thinking of the past. But I want us to have learnt something as well. We are a team that is still on the up. Okay, maybe it is very likely that we'll be winning our second league title in succession, but we still have much room for improvement. I still cling to the hope that one day Jose will allow us to be more attacking, to loosen the reigns on our attacking players. I'm not holding my breath, but I hope he loosens it just a little.
We can absolutely frighten teams with a line-up filled with attacking potential, much the same way Barcelona must instill fear into their opponents. Compare that to how Liverpool must have felt to see all our attacking, creative players on the bench. Rafa must have had a bit of a laugh, and I wouldn't blame him. It strikes me as being slightly defeatist.
Dorsetblue echoed a lot of Blues fans when he said that a back six, including keeper, of Cech, Geremi/Ferreira, Del Horno/Gallas, Gallas/Carvalho, Terry and Makelele should be able to hold their own against ANYONE. I would add to that that players such as Essien and Lampard have the versatility and tactical acumen to mop up any other threat that may be residual and I'd have liked to type residual in very fine print.
Here's to the future!
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Selective Reporting ··· Wednesday 29th March 2006
Here's an excerpt from an article in The Times today:
Drogba, it emerged, had told the BBC that he did handle the ball for his second goal, that this was part of the game and that he did dive, although when pressed he retracted the last statement. Clearly, this was significant information and a copy of the interview was requested by print journalists. Reluctantly, Chelsea's press officer agreed. Except, when the tape arrived, it had been mysteriously edited. There was a skip, at which point the interviewer asked: "So you are saying you dive?" followed by Drogba's frantic denial.
As an exercise in news management, it was the most ham-fisted operation since the FA's spin-doctor tried to divulge details of the England head coach's sex life to the News of the World to preserve the dalliances of the chief executive. Instantly, Chelsea's attempt to cover up Drogba's admission of cheating became as much the story as the cheating itself, with the suggestion the BBC had been placed under pressure to edit the tape.
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"They are a great squad and I wish them luck. Last season they saw the quarter-final on TV and now we must do the same." ··· Jose Mourinho (Barcelona 1-1 Chelsea)
Barcelona 1-1 Chelsea. Stifled. ··· Wednesday 8th March 2006
I've heard some say we were outplayed in midfield, and i think after a loss most people see what they want to see, but for me, once again the midfielders were not the problem.
Although Lampard played 90 minutes (to save pride for JM admitting a mistake) when he was clearly apprehensive about his injury, I don't think any of our midfielders are significantly better or worse players than theirs- i don't believe that.
Duff showed the same problems- wasn't agressive enough, Cole held the ball too long once when there was a clear opportunity with the only respectable pass to Robben, and Robben had the same lack of support that he has been having all season- BUT WHAT WERE THEY SUPPOSED TO DO?
"Try Harder". "Try Harder" to do what, exactly? There simply were no passes to make. Why play 3 attacking midfielders and a striker who cannot play/pass with them? Drogba- there was no pass to feet, there was no movement and there was no physical superiority because he hardly has a supreme physical speed/strength that would be 'extraordinary' and 'overcoming' when outside of the french league...
The only option for our midfield was to try and dribble wide and cross.
Some would like to say Duff/Cole and the british were taught a lesson about keeping the ball and passing last night, but how can you keep the ball if you can only pass square? or the long pass? or give it to robben/duff to try and dribble obviously on the ball out wide and cross it?
Barca did not need to do anything- and they did not play spectacularly. Seeing Rijkaard on the sideline every 5 minutes telling his players to keep calm by making those arm movements was embarassing. It felt like in the second half, we were not playing to win, but were playing so at the end of the game Mourinho could face the press and say 'barca have never beaten us with 11 against 11'.
For me it is JM's loss totally- It wasn't until the 88th minute that we saw JT 'kick out' at Ronaldinho with anger that we saw the passion that was denied to the players the entire game- that is the spirit the entire match should have been played in and it was only at that moment that I realised it.. There was no tactic- or rather- the obvious tactic was to go for a goal from a SET PIECE (and no other plan!) and then at 1-0, the pressure would mount and the ball would force over the line.
Barca sat back and played calmly at a slow tempo of their own choosing the entire game and our Duff/Cole/Robben and injured lampard had the ball at their feet and only one option- they are as not poor players as the night's showing suggested, although they all did show their flaws: Cole holding on to the ball for too long and missing an obvious and necessary pass, Duff lacking agression with his first touch and in general, and Robben having no support- but, i felt sorry for them- i don't think they were outclassed i think what happened was the same thing that we manage to escape every time Drogba plays in the league because Cole and company are simply great players.
The myth of Mourinho the 'manager' is dying (for those who ever believed it) and you get a true impression of what he is- a mouth- a psychologist who cannot judge a player. It's all empty phrases and a puffed up image that his own players, past and present, admit is not him- that has no basis- from deco to terry. Credit to him- he has accumulated an identity that is one of an unforgiving winner, and his main focus has always been maintaining that strong image for his players in the media- where he does get exposed, is on nights like last night- call it what i said earlier if you please- 'people seeing what they want after a loss', but i simply cannot imagine how anybody with any knowledge of the intricacies of football and how it is played could not only pick drogba in this game, but even sign him.
If you had a manager in the premier league with the same balls and indecency/lack or respect(good) as mourinho to call him- it would evaporate even quicker. The undeniable fact is, that our squad is changing- Turning from a group of techincal and quality players, into a group of players with big personalities- players turned into winners. Ranieri signed this squad, Cole, Duff, Robben, Makelele, Gallas, Cech, Crespo and a good part of it, technically, he did more than sign- he MADE Lampard. With signings like Drogba, Carvalho, Essien and the direction of Duff, that side is slowly dying- and soon it will be time for JM to move on again, and take his shallow image elsewhere for more success, because that is the way he works. HOW IS THAT FOR CONTROVERSY!
» Is the tide turning for The Special One? Talk about it here...
Peter Osgood ··· Wednesday 1st March 2006
My God, what a sad day..... my heart goes to all his family, he was still so young. I have such good memories of him.
I remember Peter, Ron Harris and Alan Hudson visiting us during the summer holidays when I was a kid. Then I met him again in Rome and he was so friendly, nothing was too much trouble. Then me, my husband and 2 friends went to one of the Centenary do's and met up with him again, had our photos taken, a chat and a quick kiss!
He was a gent and one that will be sadly missed!
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The Most Passionate Fans? ··· Sunday 26th February 2006
Watching the pathetic, non-existent support of the Barca fans at 1-0 down on Wednesday night, and the comment of one visiting Barca poster on here who said; "when i go to the stadium i never sing or say anything, I pay for entertaining, not to entertain them", made me laugh out loud but also got me thinking who are the most passionate fans I've seen ?
I'm consider myself lucky in that I've been able to follow Chelsea away to a few other countries and seen us play some big european teams. The spaniards come bottom of the list for me. I was at the Nou Camp for the 5-1 defeat in 2000 and I was very dissapointed in the home support. They cheat a little here and in Italy, because small sections of the crowd are microphoned up and the sound generated is relaid around the stadium by huge amplifiers and speakers. Hence, a relatively small section having a sing-song can make a massive din and seem like the place is rocking, when in truth 80% of the crowd are sitting on their hands like statues. Incidentally, someone told me afterwards that this is against UEFA rules !
Now for an under-statement, the Turks are passionate at a game. Shocked Besiktas away was probably the most hostile and intimidating european away game I've ever been to. 55,000 turks, (virtually all males by way of contrast to our "mixed" crowds), in Gelsenkirchen made a hell of a din. Unfortunately, at 1-0 down they gave up on the vocal passion and went more for the total violence type of support. Many around our little band of 350 Chelsea losing all interest in the game in preference to hurling a continuous volley of missiles and trying to break into our protective enclosure.
The San Siro on the night when Wisey scored his "farking great goal" was one I'll never forget. The "spectaculo", (hope that's the right word Pauly), arranged by AC Milan to honour the return of Marcel Desailly was superb. The Ultra's flags, banners, smoke flares and the singers on the microphone sections were all beautifully arranged and an awesome sight. But the 6,000 travelling Chelsea fan's half-time "spectaculo" was just as beautiful. No flares, huge banners or microphones instead every single person in the away section on their feet singing, chanting and dancing non-stop for the entire half-time break. Deafening. At the end, the Italians stood and applauded our amazing support.
I was also at Old trafford for the Juve V AC Milan Champion's League final a couple of years ago, (I had comps through someone at Fiat). And though the spectaculo's were again wonderfully coreagraphed and everyone had a flag or a scarf to wave the singing and vocal support during the game was spasmodic for both teams. And outside the ground before hand there was no mass singing and chanting as there was with the huge Chelsea contingent in Stockholm '98. In short the atmosphere felt a bit flat for such a mammoth game between two fierce rivals.
I also have a great memory from Bayern away last year. Not actually at the game, but before hand in Munich city centre. A number of Chelsea were in a massive beer keller, (can't remember the name of it but top, top quality beer), and a contingent of Bayern fans were in their local spot having a good old sing song. The Chelsea responded with a 25-30 minute non-stop rendition of "Hello, hello we are the Chelsea boys." No other song or chant. Just that. Non-stop. As the noise grew, more and more Chelsea came in from the street and the place ended up teeming with blues standing on chairs, tables singing at the top of their voices. At the finish two Bayern fans came over to our little group and said they had never heard or seen anything like it. It made me feel proud to be Chelsea.
At 44 years old I don't do the singing and chanting as much these days. But I can still get up for the big games. I sung like a good'un in the Jolly Maltsers before the match on Wedensday. And I stood for the entire 90 minutes in the ground singing, shouting and chanting like a looney. I'm only just getting my voice back. God, I wish it was like that every week.
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Thoughts From Wednesday ··· Friday 24th February 2006
It was a cold cold night in West London that left me shuddering in my West Lower seat in more ways than one.
The wind was bitter, and along with the state of the pitch (which for the record, actually looks worse on TV than at face value) i was hoping that this icy arena may actually put Barca off their normal fast passing game.
To a certain extent i think it did. Barcelona did not look all conquering by any stretch of the imagination for long periods of the game, but once the moment of madness came, be it from Del Horno or from referee Terje Hauge, i knew that it was going to be an almighty struggle.
From where we were sitting, it was very difficult to see what had actually happened as it was in the opposite corner to us, but as soon as the Barca fans went wild with jubilation to my right, i knew we was in trouble...
Regarding the team that Jose sent out, the inclusion of Crespo suprised me a little. He's been in fine form for us recently, but i thought that Mourinho may go for Drogba as he seemed to ruffle Barca's feathers when the two teams met at Camp Nou last season, and i think the change at half time and Drogba's subsequent involvement maybe justified why he should have started, as im sure he will in two weeks time.
Del Horno struggled to cope with Leo Messi, which has been well reported, but i think that even Paulo Ferreira (once switched to left back) found him a real handful in the second half, and you could see that this kid was going to be a constant menace. In our defence, Geremi did his job well, Terry was as imperious as ever, Paulo grew tired as the game went on, and Carvalho was assured. To my mind he had a fine game. Let us all pray that Gallas returns for the away leg, as he is the only defender that may be able to handle young Messi.
As for the rest of the team, well Lampard did his upmost to get things going, Robben seemed our only fast outlet in the second half, Gudjohnson's control and build-up play was as cool as ever and Makelele was, well, Makelele.
Which brings me to Drogba. As gooder job as he does for the team, i dont think that anyone can deny that we need to buy a striker that has his physical attributes, along with a foot that can finish. Adriano is the only guy that springs to my mind, but for how much? We'll have to wait and see i suppose.
Our goal was very fortunate, and a blesssing. However, as the game went on, it was obvious that the lack of an eleventh man would count. Barcelona knew this too and went for the jugular by moving Ronaldinho into the middle to pull the strings and by bringing on more attacking minded players such as Larsson and Sylvinho. Eventually, we crumbled, but to be fair, if it was'nt for JT it could of been alot worse.
Its a huge ask from the players to get the result that's needed in two weeks time. We have risen for the big games away already this season - Anfield, Highbury, West Ham even when we were superb, but Barca?
Time for the Special One to pull off a damn near miracle.
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"I don't think I can talk about the game after that it was not a proper game, but I'm proud of my players." ··· Jose Mourinho (Chelsea 1-2 Barcelona)
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