The Champions League final. With six minutes remaining in extra time before the penalty shoot out, Carlos Tevez kicked the ball out of play, to return possession to Chelsea. Just before, Joe Cole went down ‘injured’ with Chelsea playing the ball in to touch. From the resultant throw-in, United gave the ball back in the form of a throw-in to Chelsea.
In normal circumstances, players usually would be expected to return possession by keeping the ball in play. However, this game was not played in normal circumstances. It was two teams who have battled it out for the league title against each other for the past few seasons, playing for a trophy both clubs desperately craved; Chelsea to win for the first time, United to honour the Busby Babes 50 years after Munich, as well as boost Sir Alex Ferguson’s winning CV.
In the first half of extra time, United were owed possession after kicking the ball out of play for an injury. Instead of returning the ball to Edwin Van der Sar, Ashley Cole kicked the ball out for a throw-in, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson less than impressed. The ITV commentators called Chelsea out on this bad sportsmanship.
Tevez had obviously been taking note of how this game was to be played, not with the usual decencies, so did to Chelsea exactly what they had done to us. Essentially though, it’s not really a big deal, is it? Kicking the ball out of play for a throw-in? Kicking the ball back to the keeper? It’s not going to make or break the match. Sadly for Chelsea fans, their players didn’t see it that way!
John Terry was lying on the deck when this incident was taking place, Makelele tending to the captain’s cramp. Tevez kicked the ball out of play and Ashley Cole made a remark to the Argentinian, obviously not of a nice nature, because Tevez reacted angrily. Cole carried on jogging past him for the throw in and the situation should have been over.
However, John Terry came wading in, having a go at Tevez for kicking the ball out of play. Tevez, pointing, was clearly reminding Terry of the earlier incident when Chelsea had done exactly the same thing. Terry stepped in close to Tevez, raising both his arms wide.
Seeing their captain having a go, up came the cavalry in support. Michael Ballack was the first to join in, shoving Tevez in the chest with both hands. Then Frank Lampard shoved Tevez in the chest. Terry, realising what he had just started, pushed Lampard away.
Nani then took Tevez’s side, standing between his team mate and John Terry, whilst Tevez walked away. Now not under the guidance of his captain, Lampard went after Tevez again, following him, pointing and shouting.
Then Carvalho came over, pushing Tevez in the chest, who at this point, had calmed down and was not walking towards any of the Chelsea players. Makelele was the only helpful one of the lot, carrying the ball and reasoning with Tevez, who held his arms out, shrugging, clearly as baffled as everyone watching over what the fuss was about.
Meanwhile, another group had formed, all shouting and bunching together. Nemanja Vidic and Didier Drogba were at the centre of it, shouting and wrestling free of each others’ grip. Instead of taking hold of his own player, trying to get Drogba out of trouble, Terry was holding on to Vidic. He took hold of his sleeve and pulled him backwards, then Drogba swiped his hand out at Vidic’s face.
Whilst the incident with Vidic and Drogba was taking place, Lampard was one on one with Tevez, pointing in his face and still shouting.
Michael Ballack was the first player in the book, presumably for running over and shoving Tevez at the start of the incident. The referee then walked over to Drogba, showing his the red card. The striker stood with his hands on his hips, faking surprise and confusion. Then he followed John Terry, who was saying something/spitting at Tevez from behind his sleeve, instead of walking off the field. Tevez was then showed the yellow card as Michael Essien wrapped his arms around Drogba’s waist, holding him back from Tevez.
As Drogba finally walked off the field, he made the effort to go via Vidic. Rio Ferdinand sensibly ran between the two players, facing his own team mate to keep him away from Drogba.
Now, we all know that in his head, John Terry already had one hand on the Champions League trophy as he walked up to take that fifth penalty. ‘Mr Chelsea’, as Frank Lampard calls him, knew that he could be the man to hand Chelsea their first European Cup trophy.
Much has been made of the fact he slipped and that without that slip, Chelsea would be Champions of Europe. It always surprises me that not a lot is made of the fact that without Van der Sar’s slip, following the ball deflecting off two United players, the game would have finished 1-0!
Terry shouldn’t have even been taking a penalty, as it was Drogba who was set to be one of their penalty takers. However, following his red card, Terry was bumped up the list and the responsibility was given to him. Whilst not excusing or validating Drogba’s decision to slap Vidic, as obviously, he got exactly what he deserved for such a petulant and stupid act, once we look back at the events within those two minutes, it’s clear that the situation was created solely because Terry couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Had he just bitten his tongue, allowed the game to continue on, then there would have been no trouble, and most importantly, no red card for Chelsea’s top striker.
As I’ve discussed previously, Terry is far too emotional, and it is that emotion that cost Chelsea the European Cup. Whilst it is admirable to have passion and love for your club, particularly in a day and age when players are such mercenaries, there needs to be some control of these emotions, whether they are anger or tears.
United have lost important games, in Europe and in the Premiership, but our players don’t sit about crying. One argument for this could be that United don’t have players who love our club as much as Terry loves Chelsea. But when you look at the likes of Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Wes Brown, to name a few, then obviously we can see that argument doesn’t hold any weight. Whilst our players are dedicated to United, they can take hold of their emotions and ensure that they are focussed on the teams’ success, rather than what role they should be playing in this success.
We have seen John Terry crying after losing European Cup semi-finals against Liverpool, after being knocked out of the World Cup quarter-finals and most recently, the European Cup final. What effect does that have on a team, to see their captain in bits after losing any important match?
The passion of Gary Neville has been shown many times over the years, but it was epitomised with his badge showing tribal dance in front of the dippers. This is inspirational to the team, this is a positive show of passion and love for the club.
When John Terry decided to ignite the situation in the European Cup final, marching after Tevez when the incident had already finished, he had no idea what he was starting. On reflection now though, we can see it wasn’t just his penalty miss that aided us in winning the Champions League last season, rather his failure to control himself and his emotions!