When Chelsea fans booed Wayne Bridge a couple of months ago I slated them. I said they were a bunch of wankers who were a poor excuse for football fans. I talked about how our feelings for Ryan Giggs would change if it emerged that he had been shagging the mother of Nicky Butt or Phil Neville’s kid. I talked about how they had no class and this came as no surprise given that any major success they had since the 1950’s came from the money of a corrupt billionaire.
Today, their loudest chants were “USA!”, “Are you Norwich in disguise?” and “You’re all wankers”. As the final whistle blew today, and I was so disappointed that we didn’t get anything out of the game, and I watched their players celebrate at the away corner, I thought, thank fuck I’m not one of them.
Let’s be honest. We were dreadful in the first half today and I was quite grateful we went in only 1-0 down. Chelsea weren’t anything special but we gave the ball away at every opportunity (it’s quite remarkable to see that Sky Sports show us as having a higher pass completion rate). We didn’t attack their goal and we really struggled to find our rhythm.
Darren Fletcher, who has brilliant for us so far this season, looked absolutely knackered. I’m not using our midweek trip to Germany as an excuse, but our most effective player for the big games didn’t have a say in the first half. I’m not doubting his effort, because he obviously loves the club and gives the best he can for every minute he plays, but he had no joy in making a difference for us.
Paul Scholes, whose presence was actually missed after he was subbed off, misplaced too many passes. In the second half he played a simple ball from our half straight to the opposition, and when it came to him to make amends, he put the ball out of play.
Dimitar Berbatov had a few headed efforts, but generally cut a dissatisfied figure and didn’t put in the shift we had hoped.
Antonio Valencia used his left foot to put a ball in, much to our surprise, and managed to cut inside on a few occasions, but failed to put in the killer ball we hoped from him. Whilst I loved his strength to knock his opponents sideways on a few occasions, I desperately wanted to see more from him.
Park ran around, as did Giggs, and kept the ball in situations I expected him to lose it, but didn’t provide the pass we needed.
In summary, we didn’t play well enough. If we won yesterday, the press would rightly claim it was daylight robbery, because we spent the first half fucking about and looking intimidated. We’re the fucking champions of England and there should be no team that comes to Old Trafford who makes us feel we should be reserved. But Chelsea managed that.
But the disappointing thing is they didn’t even play that well. They kept possession successfully for periods of the game, but they rarely looked threatening. Aside from their first goal and the effort the linesman should have flagged for offside, Edwin Van der Sar had little to do. Even when he raced down the pitch for a last minute corner, Chelsea showed little desire to make the most of the break for our empty goal.
Still, football can often have nothing to do with the best team, but more to do with the team that wanted it more. Based on Saturday’s performance, neither team seemed to want it more. Neither team put more in to their 50-50s and with Petr Cech wasting time from the goalkick with just an hour on the clock, neither team were busting a gut to get all three points.
Essentially, Chelsea were easily the better side for the first half and United were easily the better side for the second. Neither forced any brilliant saves from the goalie, but Chelsea were allowed to play on from an offside position and score. There were occasions when Patrice Evra or Ryan Giggs picked up the ball in a dangerous position and the linesman rightly flagged them for offside. We could have scored from those positions but were rightly halted. Depressingly, Chelsea were not halted and Drogba got the winner.
United fans can talk about the difference Rooney would have made and slagged Berbatov off, but I would argue they were a different set of fans to those who watched the 92 minutes of football at the Allianz earlier this week, when Rooney failed to leave any impact on the 88 minutes he played after the opening goal he scored, thanks to a deflection from the freekick in to the box. Berbatov can only be as good as the players behind him, and unfortunately for him and us, the players behind him weren’t good enough.
The fact that Nani set up our only goal and Federico Macheda scored it asks questions of the starting line-up Ferguson selected. Hindsight is a beautiful thing but you have to wonder whether the tactics were right when two of our substitutes created our only goal. As for whether it was handball, the first angle looks as though the ball came off his hand, whilst from the second angle you can see it making contact with his chest, not his arm, before bundling over the line.
When we go to Blackburn our manager has to be more ruthless and play 442. Berbatov has been successful in the lone striker role on a few occasions but it is obvious it doesn’t come naturally to him. He likes to pick up the ball just inside their half and becomes frustrated waiting in the box for the ball that never comes. Put Kiko up there and leave Berbatov to feed it to him and he will be successful. Wasn’t this a tactic that worked nicely in the pre-season when Owen played up front?
We had the same shots on target, we had more shots in total, we completed more passes, we had a higher possession, and in a game so tight, you need officials to be on the ball. From the stands at the other end of the ground it was clear Drogba was offside, so how the linesman missed it is unforgivable. When considering this is the second game this season that poor officiating has given Chelsea the win against us, you are well within your rights to be fucked off.
Still, there are five games to go, and whilst it is no longer in our hands, you have to keep the faith. Chelsea aren’t going to be given three points by the linesman every week and they aren’t that good. We’ve got an uphill struggle without Rooney but we are still capable of winning the title.
If we don’t win the league it is annoying, given that a fourth title in a row would make us record breakers, but I would still fancy us to win the league next season ahead of Chelsea, because we won’t suffer the freak injuries at the back we’ve put up with this season. Our best players our still in their prime, whilst Chelsea’s are in their 30’s. At the start of next season, Rooney will be 24 and Fletcher will be 26, whilst Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba will both be 32.
It was a painful day for United, because you never want to lose to your title rivals at home, but we are a better side, we have better players and this title is well within our capabilities.
So keep your head held high, wear that scarf with pride, and whatever happens, know that life will always be better as a red than a blue. It’s not over until the fat… boy kisses his wedding ring and points to the sky.
COME ON UNITED!