Thursday, May 22, 2008

What the Champions League final told us

1. History counts for something: Man Utd over egg the historic legacy/club of tradition/do it for Sir Matt stuff. But are Chelsea fans not embarrassed that the only dignitary they can find to lead the team up the steps at the end is Peter Kenyon? United had Sir Bobby Charlton, arguably the most famous English footballer of all time. No doubt Kenyon was relishing leading the winners. Hubris.

2. Edwin van der Sar's honesty: "Fucking hell" is the most refreshing post match quote for some time.

3. England's brave John Terry: Mr Chelsea volunteered to take the final penalty. The culmination of years of believing his own hype. He was the wrong man to take it. An old fashioned centre half (and arguably the worst centre half on the pitch) should be aware that he was the wrong man. He is blind to this because he feels Chelsea's destiny is now linked inexorably to John Terry's destiny. The sight of Terry on his arse, crying gladdened the heart.

4. Frank Lampard: It would now seem official that the media consider Francis to be the only man in Britain to have ever lost a loved one.

5. Take your chances: For all their dominance in the second half Chelsea's only goal was lucky. They couldn't get another. Likewise Manchester United came very, very close to regretting the chances they missed in the first half. Profligacy led to penalties.

6. Ronaldo: Can score against Chelsea and perform on the big nights. But is still prone to stupidity and took the worst penalty of all time. Until John Terry's.

7. Drogba: A moody wastrel. Justice that this big girls blouse should be sent off for handbags. If red wasn't deserved on the night it was deserved for the pathetic figure he has cut this season.

8. Ashley Cole: Is actually a decent player. He should remember that.

9. Rooney: The cross for Tevez and the pass to Ronaldo proved just how good he is. World class, if jettisoned by tactics.

10. Essien: Terry could take lessons in character from his team mate. Roasted by Ronaldo for 45 minutes in the second half he was a man transformed. Quality.

11. John Terry, Referee: Two players are having a minor tiff. Terry sprints across and starts shouting and shoving. This is not peacekeeping. Time and again he does it. Clive and David on ITV thought Vidic over reacted to Terry trying to calm things down. Terry was calming Vidic down by grabbing him round the neck. The man is an idiot and Chelsea should sell him. Ironic really that in a team of millionaire buys it is a homegrown player who has developed the biggest, and potentially most divisive, ego.

12. Avram Grant: A strange looking man who appeared to have some sort of disability at the end. Got them one further than Jose though. That should, but won't, be enough for Abramovich.

13. ITV: Their "Russian" video pre match was patronising and quite probably racist. Never failing in their search to find the lowest common denominator and then lower the bar even further.

14. Ballack: Unlikeable but quality when he chooses. Could have eased the pressure in the first half had he not wanted to spend most of the night copying Jonny Wilkinson. A great player though and looked like he cared at the end, unlike:

15. Anelka: Crap penalty, crap person. As his manager and teammates teetered on the verge of total emotional breakdown he stood and smiled at the end. Odious, stupid or both.

16. Paul Scholes: Ran the first half show. Legs gave way in second half and that helped Chelsea as much as it hindered United. Should have been replaced earlier.

17. Fergie: The greatest of the greatest. Looks stupid without his glasses though. And Nike should be aware that dressing a 66 year old in a white cagoule makes him look like a refugee from a bowls tournament.

18. Andy Townsend: "Chelsea could have done no more, genuinely, they could have done no more." Terry and Anelka could genuinely have scored.

19. Steve Ryder: Copious lacquering or wig. We deserve to know.

20. The game: Was a belter. Thankfully.

And finally:

21. David Taylor: The big UEFA job turns out to be as one of Platini's man servants. In the past eight days must have handed his boss about 1500 medals. Hope he's paid well.