Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Chelsea 1 Man Utd 0

Just like those armchair experts who never saw Brexit or Trump coming, we who slated our beloved club for decisions made over the past year have had to admit that we were wrong. Jose Mourinho was not the God we thought he was. He is just as culpable of making mistakes as we all are: although admitting them is a different matter. The questionable signing of Pogba for a world-record sum must be one of them. This Manchester United squad looks barren without Ibrahimovic who will very soon be way past his prime. One less competition for them to play in though so surely a positive result for their leader.

From the outset, the tactic from the visitors was clear. To lob the ball to the right wing where Rashford was meant to torment our defence. This was a mistake – against five men at the back he stood no chance and instead cut a lonely figure. He only looked dangerous once throughout the whole game when through one-on-one during the second half but his inexperience showed at what was a key moment.

Chelsea were strong throughout with crisp, neat passing from front to back. As always, Hazard could only be stopped by continuous fouling throughout the match which deservedly led to a needless second yellow and a red card for Herrera. Costa then embarrassed us with his diving antics like a schoolchild who wishes he was bullied as much as our Belgian talisman in order earn more punishment for the opposition. In truth, we never stepped out of second gear and did not need to.

Kante resembles a hybrid of Essien and Makelele. He tidies up in defence and easily but fairly shoulder barges any midfielder who tries to dribble past him. Even his goal was perfectly placed. What a signing and what a strange decision by the Leicester board of directors to allow him to leave. They should take a note of how Chelsea has progressed and built on our success by never letting our most influential players go during prosperous times.

Manchester United’s continuous mockery of John Terry was easily drowned out by reminders of which team was top of league and salutes to Antonio. After ninety minutes, Mourinho was quite deliberate in his support for their club’s fans and in doing so validated their chants. It was not long ago that he so disapproved Chelsea’s fans of singing a similar song about Gerrard. Now that he is no longer with us, it is clear how he seeks and successfully receives adulation like the leader of a cult. When Porto fans visited Stamford Bridge last campaign, they sang his name still over a decade after he had left their club.

The large minority of us who supported Mourinho to the last; those of us who mocked Emenalo and the signings of Luiz, Alonso and Moses have had to eat our words. There is no downside for us – if we are wrong, then the worst-case scenario is to see the club we love succeed. Jose must feel that he has no such luxury. To admit that he has lost the edge would be an admittance of failure and could have a big impact for his career in the short-term. In the long-term, such a mea culpa would earn him respect among many Chelsea fans who no longer hold him in such high esteem as they once did.

I am glad to have moved on and see my club succeed in competitions that count. A win against the in-form Tottenham would be a strong validation of how far we have come this season.

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