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Had John Terry Not Slipped, United Wouldn’t Have Won The European Cup

If I got a pound for every time I read rival fans on this blog write, “United only won the European Cup because John Terry slipped”, I’d be a very rich man indeed. As is part and parcel of football support in this country, your success will always be undermined by your rivals.

I remember distinctly my feelings towards Arsenal fans as I left the Millenium Stadium following our FA Cup defeat to Arsenal in 2005. We’d absolutely thrashed them, from start to finish, yet couldn’t find the back of the net, so lost on penalties. Arsenal fans couldn’t care less that they’d been the second best team that day, because they had their team’s name of the FA Cup.

I’ve still not watched the match in full since that wonderful night in Moscow, I’m saving it for a time where football is leaving me rather depressed (if Liverpool finally manage to beat us in the league again, Mark Hughes’ City knocking us out of the Cup etc.). My half-drunken memories serve me fairly accurately though I imagine and the idea that it was Terry’s slip that gifted us the European Cup is bitter, to say the least.

United absolutely battered Chelsea in the first 45 minutes and should have been 3-0 up, with chances flying in from Tevez and Carrick. Chelsea’s goal came from the ball taking not one, but two deflections off United players, before an Edwin Van der Sar slip on the wet ground meant Lampard had an easy chance to put in to the net.

Regardless, we went in at 1-1 at half time, giving Chelsea all the confidence in the World to come back fighting. If they could be battered in the way they were for the first half, United surprising even the most devout red at the domineering football they played, particularly in light of the league fixtures just weeks before, which Chelsea had controlled, yet still be level, then they certainly had a reason to give it everything they could in the second half.

Chelsea didn’t dominate United in the way they had been in the first 45 minutes, but they were easily the better side. They played with confidence and composure. By the end of the 120 minutes, Chelsea had hit the woodwork twice and United had a shot cleared off the line.

With two teams so close, with just two points separating them on the last day of the Premiership season, penalties were predictably the only way to separate them.

The official UEFA stats show United having 5 shots on target to Chelsea’s 3, as well as possession 58-42 in United’s favour. The only advantage Chelsea have is on the off target shots, which dominated United 15-6, which is a clear indicator of the chances they were creating.

Sky Sports have United down for 5 shots on target, in comparison to Chelsea’s 1 (Lampard’s goal). United’s passing success was 80.4% to Chelsea’s 71.1%. United’s possession at 55.9% to Chelsea’s 44.1%. Again, Chelsea’s dominance in off-target shots was shown 18-5 in their favour. This was shown also on Setanta Sports.

Of course, I’m not going to argue that because United tested Chelsea’s keeper more and had greater possession of the ball, that we have conclusive evidence that United deserved to win. Had United lost in Moscow, it would have been ridiculous to say “Yeh, well, we had more possession than you, therefore we were robbed.” That’s not how it works, as I well know.

However, the fact that we had more shots on target and the fact we saw almost 20% more of the ball than Chelsea did, suggests that it wasn’t just John Terry’s slip that enabled United to win.

But if the stats don’t do it for you, here’s a quick summary.

1. Chelsea would have lost the game 1-0 if not for Van der Sar slipping in the same way that John Terry had. He ended up on his knees, meaning a shot that would have been easily blocked flew over his head. Funnily, it’s only JT’s slip that is remembered as a match defining moment.

2. Didier Drogba was sent off for stupidly slapping Nemanja Vidic. Had he not acted so wrecklessly, he would have been on the field for the remaining four minutes, and therefore able to take the penalty that John Terry missed.

3. Anelka missed a penalty in sudden death. Chelsea had the same opportunity as us to win the shoot-out after 5 penalties had been taken. United took that opportunity.

Essentially though, United could have been battered from start to finish and could have won thanks to a goal off Ronaldo’s arse, it wouldn’t make me feel any better or worse about the fact we are European Champions. I learnt something from the FA Cup final against Arsenal. Whilst as United fans we’ll always strive for entertaining, domineering and exciting football, the most important thing will always be the winning. Picking up points and lifting trophies, that’s what it’s all about. If we can win by playing entertaining football, as we did for large chunks of the final in Moscow, then brilliant, but if we get the win when not the best team on the park, then it isn’t going to change my feelings on the end result. I suppose the point to note is that saying they only lost because of Terry’s slip does make Chelsea fans feel better about the result, and that’s why we keep hearing it. And if we get to be Champions of Europe, they can say it all day long for all I care!

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. olusanjo says:

    sincerely scott if i am to write anything about those rentboys and their fans, i would have said the same like u said. nice one. CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!!!

  2. TinManUnited says:

    Should Coulda Woulda, If Arne Riise hadn’t phucked up royally they wouldn’t have been in the finals. How bout Anderson’s penalty though yah. Pure class that boy. Anderson is my homeboy!!

  3. Finutd says:

    Excellent summary – couldn’t have said it better myself!!

    They are a bunch of moaners who given all the money in the world cannot put together a true CHAMPION!!

  4. smok says:

    If VDS had not slipped (and essiens shot hadnt been deflected twice) United wouldnt have had to need to go to penalties

  5. Craig Mc says:

    Football is all ifs and buts, IF Riise hadn’t put the ball in his own net at L’Pool game, then Chelsea would have not been in the final at all. L’Pool would have on goals away rule. In every trophy win, there will have been an element of good fortune for the winners along the way. Thing is in the CL match Chelski Kremlin boys MISSED two penalties, we only missed one. So come on you REDS.

  6. rooney10 says:

    If VDS didnt slipp MANUTD WOULD OF WON

  7. spindle says:

    Terry’s slip is a lame excuse. They simply were not good enough on the day.
    CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and league champions and I have to add BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD LAST YEAR!
    Come on the Red Devils!

  8. Gary says:

    Its typical of our rivals to undermine our success. I mean we were so obviously lucky to win the premiership, being the run away top scorers in the league with the best defensive record and winning the most games. In Europe we entered the champions league as champions, not a side that finished 3rd or 4th, and we didnt lose a single game and conceded just 2 goals in the 7 knockout stage matches.

    Our success was a hard pill to swallow for our rivals especially Liverpool. I think Liverpool will have to crack out the open top tour bus when they eventually muster a win against United. What really made me laugh is that some Liverpool fans were secrelty happy to go out in the champions league semi final 2nd leg, because they didnt want to play United in the final because of the fear of losing to us in the biggest game in club football.

    Manchester United: England’s most famous and internationaly recognised club are on there way to becoming England’s most successfull club.

  9. UnitedViews says:

    Not my favourite writer by a long chalk but Simon Barnes actually made the point that Terry’s slip and penalty miss was down to bad technique, not bad luck.

    “After all, no one else fell over. Terry was leaning back as he struck the ball, his weight all behind him instead of being over the ball. He fell because, at this defining moment of his life, his technique failed him…We will never look on him in the same way again; and neither, perhaps, will he.”

    It was a poorly taken penalty, just like Ronaldo’s for us. The difference was that we had the character in the team to recover from thst set-back, while they had… Anelka!

  10. Jimmy The Weed says:

    That is a very reasoned and well balanced argument that you make there, sir. I say John terry slipped because he’s gay

  11. Bob Koh says:

    We are League Champions & European Champions and 1.Chelsea, 2.L’pool & 3. Arsenal won was a Double & a Triple over the next best 3 teams. ManUtd’s trophy cupboard was a little more crowded whilst the next best 3 teams’ trophy cupboard are bare.

  12. Myles says:

    I agree with everything you said but to be honest even if we’d have won the European Cup by a ball bouncing in off the back of John Terry’s big head I wouldn’t have given two ticks. Do AC Milan regret their 2003 European Cup win because it was over Juve on penalties in one of the most boring finals ever? No. Cos the history books say: AC Milan Champions League winners 2005. Thats the be all and end all. Man Utd won and Chelsea LOST.

    The anti-United mob can say what they want but we took home the trophy. We were unbeaten in Europe and have the longest home winning streak in the history of the Champions League and I’d settle for 1-0s all the way to the finals and another European Cup on penalties this year as well.

  13. denton davey says:

    “United absolutely battered Chelsea in the first 45 minutes and should have been 3-0 up”

    Absolutely correct and the following point concerning the very, very lucky goal that Lampard got on a double-deflection after VDS slipped meant that UTD had essentially squandered their hard-won advantage.

    For me, the greatest element in UTD’s eventual victory was that the team hung together for the next 75 minutes and never let the RentBoyz get ahead. This was great tribute to that disciplined defensive strategy that had earlier seen off Barcelona. It wasn’t pretty but it worked.

    Terry’s miss was the icing on the cake. It still makes me smile.


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