Lets not beat around the bush – May 2008 was a month to remember, not only for me to roll in a stag do and getting married in Cyprus but to remember May 11th and May 21st – two days that will live long into the memory of any Red. On both occasions, not that I have to tell you, we beat Chelsea – the billionaire boys clubs from the capital. Chelsea have got a little too much stick over the past five years to be honest; their football is dull, they’re arrogant, they have no history and they employ Peter Kenyon – well they should get stick for the last one. You have to start somewhere – yes Chelsea had only won the league once in 1955 – before winning back to back titles in 2005 and 2006. However, their growth indirectly helped us and the English Premier League – Chelsea raised the bar and United, Arsenal and I suppose Liverpool had to raise their game to compete with a football club with the unlimited resource of money.
One criticism that I do have of Chelsea is their massive mistake from last season – getting rid of Jose Mourinho. Phil Scolari is a larger than life character with a superb record spanning a number of countries and most importantly gets the best out of his players – that still doesn’t hide the fact that personal problems between the owner and the manager were the main reason for the sacking of the Portuguese self proclaimed ‘special one’. Yes of course he could be a smug tosser at times but he was an exceptional man manager and knew how to defend his players to the press by placing all the blame and attention on him. He was also tactically astute and Chelsea’s loss last season was indeed the rest of the Premier League’s gain. Avram Grant did something that Mourinho couldn’t do in getting Chelsea past Liverpool in the semi-final of the European Cup apparently – the same Liverpool who twice had fuck all to play for other than a place in the European Cup final against a Chelsea side who were fighting for a number of honours – Mourinho would have done it eventually, its a hard competition to win.
Anyhow – enough on him – the big clash tomorrow between the European Champions and the Runners up. Since the Premier League started, Chelsea have always been considered United’s bogey team. I remember in the 1993/94 season when Chelsea, through Gavin Peacock (without the goatie), did the double over United winning 1-0 in both games. The FA Cup final sort of made up for that, with the comical Frank Sinclair show in full flow bringing down Andrei Kanchelskis and diverting the ball into the path of Sparky to score after Eric had already converted a penalty that Eddie Newton had given away. Choccy finished the scoring off – but I would have to say that this is my favourite victory over Chelsea, which handed us our first double.
Another game that I remember well, over the past twenty years, is the 5-3 FA Cup game in 1998. It was a crazy game, where United went 5-0 up, with a well worked freekick from Beckham who proceeded in clapping his ears in response to the ‘awful remarks’ made towards his ‘amazingly talented’ wife (then girlfriend) Victoria Adams. Another Beckham goal and a brace from best buddies Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham completed the United scoring before Chelsea hit three in a matter of thirteen minutes. I remember macho man Graeme Le Saux scoring a screamer, which would have been met with an ironic ‘waaahey!’ – although when Vialli scored the third – jumped into the goal to retain the ball and sprinted back to the centre circle, I was shitting myself. The game finished 5-3 to United and it was a good quality, old fashioned cup tie.
The subject i’m about to discuss now requires a more in depth analysis into cultural and social differences between the South and the North and most importantly the animosity towards the England national team. I was listen to TalkSport the other day and I heard a Chelsea fan ring up and say something along the lines of:
‘John Terry missing that penalty in Moscow – i’m over that – if he’d have done that for England, i’d have needed counseling’
This was in response to the admission by Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher, who had admitted in his autobiography that winning with Liverpool meant more to him than with England. It would be interesting to hear Chelsea fan’s thoughts on that comment and how they weigh ‘club vs country’ – considering that Chelsea are a southern football club. I could never imagine a red saying those words that the Chelsea fan said – and i’m not placing every Chelsea fan with this opinion – i’m just intrigued to see how differently the English national team is viewed from a North/South divide. Like I said though – this would require a much longer and detailed post, however I would be interesting to get Chelsea fans opinion on this.
So to tomorrow and another mammoth clash, which United must get something out of. From a United perspective there has been a number of great victories over Chelsea in the past twenty years – other than the Moscow penalty shoot out, what would you classify as the best United v.s Chelsea game you’ve seen?