DOES ‘DOING A CHELSEA’ REFER TO WINNING MAJOR CUPS?
I understand entirely that people want to see attacking, exciting football, on the big stages such as World Cups, European Championships and in the Champions League. But these teams, aren’t stupid enough to try and play teams at their own game, as they know their chances of success are small. For example with Chelsea last season. We knew that against Barcelona, if we tried to play them at their own game, holding a high line and having 2 strikers on the pitch, we probably wouldn’t have got past them. Not to mention the fact that in the Nou Camp we were down to 10 men for 60 minutes, and knew that counter attacking was our only option in this scenario. However before that I remember a few times when Drogba (legend) caused problems from the long ball from Cech (another legend), which almost led to a goal themselves.
The point is that it’s up to these teams to break the other team down. I remember Stoke City at home last season, who set up in a strong defensive unit and looked to hit us on the break, although we ended up getting a narrow 1-0 draw, but the principle still applies. There’s no point setting up your team, knowing that the other team have more quality and skill in their ranks. And yes, I will say that when talking about Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Barcelona are arguably the best team in the world, and the best team with the ball, especially at the Nou Camp, and Bayern were at home with a wealth of attacking threats, and we knew that their game would be devastating if we had a high line, and they could afford to counter attack on us.
Having said that, there’s a beauty in defending also, as well as attacking. The way we defended in those 3 games was a defensive master class, which I’m sure was admired throughout Europe. 10 men against Barcelona, and we still ended up drawing 2-2 from 2-0 down. Without 2 of our best defenders in Munich in Ivanovic and Terry, and half fit centre back pairing of Luiz and Cahill. We stood strong. And every Chelsea supporter would have been so proud at how well we defended, especially after the shambles our defence had become under AVB.
Pundits and journalists, and even opposing supporters have harked on in my ear about how, we played boring football, we parked the bus, it’s easy to defend and lots more drivel! Well if it’s that easy, how come no one else has done it? I remember, in my short life so far, that when Italy won the World Cup and when AC Milan won the Champions League in 2006 and 2003 respectively, that it was called a defensive masterclass. A beauty of the game to see teams defend so well, and how everyone else should take note, as this was art. Why the sudden opposition to this way of playing now just because we employed it in our team?
The fact is however, we would have won the Champions League, maybe even a number of times playing a different type of football, if it wasn’t for all the controversy and disappointments we had in the Champions League up until Munich. 2004, Evra handball for Monaco, 2005, ghost goal from Garcia, 2006, Del Horno sending off, 2008, that slip, 2009, should have had 4 penalties, 2010, Kalou hacked down in the area at the San Siro and no penalty, 2011, Ramires should have had a penalty in the last minute of the first leg. That’s a long list of controversy and heartache.
I also reject the idea that Chelsea played boring football throughout the entire competition which won us big ears. In fact, Chelsea were the 3rd highest scoring Champions League winners of all time, behind the Real Madrid side of 2000 and the Barcelona side of 2009. Not bad for a side that played ‘boring and non-attacking football’ the whole tournament. No one will forget the attacking performance against Napoli at home from being 3-1 down, or how we battered the goal in Benfica but could only score one. The crucial final group stage game also, to secure a 3-0 win and to actually get us out of the group as winners! No, true Chelsea fans will know that there was a lot of attacking intent in Chelsea’ team last season, when we needed to, and when we could do.
The point is that for that group of players, they knew that this was the last chance saloon for many of them in terms of winning the holy grail. I hated the idea that players like Drogba, Lampard, Terry, Cole and Cech, were never going to win the one piece of silverware which they really deserved, because they had been the main sufferers through the 9 year journey to Munich. We knew that we weren’t as technically gifted as Barcelona or Bayern, but we defended for our lives, and I thought that this was something to be admired.
Let the pundits and commentators, or fans of other clubs go on about how it was justdefending, and how it’s made the game boring, because the fact is that we know they’re just bitter. Not every team can play with the tippy tappy football that Barcelona play with, and everyone has to realise that. There’s many different ways to play the beautiful game, and whilst some may not be as pretty as others, I suppose it doesn’t really matter if it gets you your name on a big trophy. Greece did it in 2004 as underdogs. We did it in 2012, in Munich without 4 key players, and against all the odds. European Champions 19/05 2012, and no one can take that away from us!