Chelsea’s hollow celebrations don’t indicate Utd failings

Chelsea celebrate

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, Manchester United fans would have a veritable feast in the wake of their Premier League title surrender. Allowing myself a little time to wallow before taking a more rationalised evaluation, you wouldn’t be surprised to find one of my major bugbears lies with the media representation of Chelsea’s one point title win.

They can act like Mike Dean and Steven Gerrard didn’t make the difference; but as Didier “manchild” Drogba argued with teammates through the game and celebrated like a rockstar when he got the toy he asked for for Christmas; as John Terry took his hands off the ball to pick up the trophy; as the country’s scribes finally got to hit “publish” on those long awaited obituary style attacks at Sir Alex Ferguson and United, one can’t help but think how utterly pathetic and hollow their celebrations were.

I’m reading about the West London powerhouse and how they destroyed all in their path with a handful of admittedly impressive avalanche scorelines, even if the last two of those came against a club that has a fundamentally bizarre ABU core and a team that knew the Gods were conspiring against them so got thoroughly deflated when another set of generous refereeing decisions managed to settle any Chelsea nerves. Phil McNulty, the BBC correspondent wrote on Twitter  “all was right with the world” when Drogba finally scored after poncing round like a baby all afternoon. Really, Phil. It would take too long to elaborate just how wrong that is, on so many levels, suffice to say I was questioning the value of my licence fee.

I’ve no problem with Sky’s double channel broadcast and I’ve no problem with the fact that Chelsea had the actual trophy while we had a replica despite being the holders on the brink of history, however unlikely. I’m paying a subscription to Sky though as millions of United fans are, though, so I find it a little annoying that I have to listen to ex-Arsenal forward Alan Smith smugly describing – at great length – a goal celebration from the manchild in the other game. My feelings were perfectly captured by Patrice Evra’s face of thunder as he did the standard end of season lap of honour. It didn’t feel too great. But, before I surrendered my TV for the day, I wanted to stick around long enough to hear Fergie’s address. Stoke fans were predictably classless enough to chant through it so it was made difficult enough as it was, but Sky then force fed us a splitscreen of Chelsea’s celebrations during the speech. No real source of anger but still general annoyance.

I was sent the Sun’s match report of the United game that mentions nothing about the match and is instead the most poorly disguised attack on Sir Alex Ferguson, labelling among others, van der Sar, Scholes and Giggs as past it when they were probably the games outstanding players yesterday!

Regular readers of my articles won’t be surprised to see a mention of Football365 here but their front page this morning leads with how they supported Chelsea on the final day because they were the best team. This is the same website that suggested Blackburn would roll over and die for us a few weeks ago but is now saying Chelsea are the best side by virtue of a one point difference, a few more goals scored and a couple of Merseysiders shaming their profession to literally give them crucial goals.

Basically, it was a nationwide celebration. Football365’s reaction summed it all up. All season, whenever United have lead the table or looked like we might win it, it’s been a terrible season and a sign of decline in standards of mammoth proportions. Chelsea win it by being gifted games in the same manner they were complaining Blackburn would give us 3 points and suddenly it’s been the best ever Premier League season with the best ever winners.

But, this was no defining victory. This is no powershift. The “Premier League/ship pendulum” hasn’t permanently swung back to London. The league wasn’t decided by Chelsea’s impressive goalscoring machine. It was decided by one point, and where that decisive point was gained can be traced back, as I said, to two Merseysiders with no connection to Chelsea but plenty to Liverpool Football Club. Take your pick of the two when deciding which one made the vital difference but they needed both.

I will argue that the decisions made by Mike Dean and Steven Gerrard were intentional; plenty will say I’m bitter, and you know, I can take that. Because in the black and white of the situation, whether or not they were intentional, beyond how disgruntled I am, those are still the moments that have proved the difference between Chelsea winning the title and United not.

It’s not been Frank Lampard’s brilliant second half of the season, Didier Drogba’s golden boot, the team spirit among their core created by Mourinho and rediscovered impressively by Ancelotti. It’s not for any reason forcefed to you by any media outlet or Chelsea fan about the West London club. It’s not for anything to do with Chelsea, it is because Mike Dean and Steven Gerrard made it happen. They are as deserving of a league winners medal as Frank and Didier.

As we reflect on this 1 point difference, what have we learned from our Manchester United team? Were we really one point short of this blue behemoth? Does the lack of medals mean that Antonio Valencia, despite physical evidence to the contrary, has had a disappointing first season at the club? That Wayne Rooney’s 34 goals were not enough? That Nani’s incredible switch from facing the exit door to arguably the league’s most exciting player isn’t so? Sure, we can lament the almost season long injury list that decimated our defence and in particular the pre-Christmas spell where we were playing with Fletcher and Carrick in the back four. Or we could instead say that we got where we did in spite of that. Crippled by injuries all over the pitch all season, United did amazingly well to take it to the last day. The sensible conclusion would be that perhaps with a full complement we would have got a better result at any of the places we dropped points. Just one result would have made the difference, if Valencia or Berbatov had scored at Blackburn when they had great chances.. it’s natural for us to look at our own failings but that would be unfair even on the under-pressure Berbatov, because no matter how you look at it, United’s players did all that was asked of them and their effort should have.. no, their effort was enough to win the title. It’s unfair to look at what we did and say what we could have done because our players did enough to win a fair competition. We can’t be responsible for others’ abuse of their professional positions, and we shouldn’t use that abuse and attribute it to our own players as signs of their shortcomings when it clearly isn’t so.

The league table doesn’t lie, I’ve been told ever since Chelsea made everything “all right with the world”. It doesn’t, and Chelsea are top and got the trophy. However, there’s no gulf in class. Despite all of their good things – and there are plenty – they have won the title because of Mike Dean and Steven Gerrard, and that’s what they were celebrating yesterday. So when Sky were forcefeeding it to me, I couldn’t help but think how hollow it all was.

As hollow as I felt when Pedro Mendes scored that against us from the halfway line, and how pitiful it was that we got a point from it. I couldn’t celebrate that no matter how hard I tried and immediately wished Spurs had won the game just for the sake of fair play so I know just how fundamentally vacuous the rejoice for Chelsea getting the trophy is. That they and the people who report it are being deliberately blissful in their ignorance to the reality of the situation says far more about these people than it does about whatever shortcomings exist in the United team.

Where we got to was an incredible achievement – mother nature could not stamp out the incredible inherent desire that breathes within our players and their drive for the club to succeed, and had it been a fair race then this morning we’d all be nursing slightly sore heads with a haze of happiness, celebrating four titles in a row and a record 19th league title overall.

All being right next season you would say United’s injury list won’t be quite so bad. With a season’s acclimatisation, Antonio Valencia and Nani will flourish in their roles as first choice wingers. With a pacy forward and some more creativity in midfield and hopefully with a fighting fit Anderson, United will have a whole new dynamic. More importantly, though, unless the fixture list conspires to have Liverpool playing Chelsea on the last day or we get Mike Dean in one of our games after March then we won’t see a set of circumstances that can be predicted days in advance pan out before our very eyes. Of fundamental, immediate concern is now the ownership of the club, and hopefully the Glazers will bow to pressure and leave in time for us to build for next season.

If anything, the conclusion we should have reached from the Premier League season is that you can decimate our team but it still needs more than a little outside help to take the title from us – as we look forward, the team who deserved to win the title, as they should be, are the team that look best placed to win it next year. And that team isn’t Chelsea, no matter what the table says.

22 Comments on Chelsea’s hollow celebrations don’t indicate Utd failings

  1. United did have injuries but so did Chelsea.The best attacking fullback in the Premiership Bosingwa missed the whole season.
    World class Essien injured since November(The last time Fletcher scored a league goal before yesterday)Cech out for two months.Ashley Cole three months.Joe Cole,Carvalho and Deco four months.Drogba ,Kalou and Mikel(now injured)six weeks at the AFNC.Injuries are part of the game.Brilliant attacking football,103 goals smashing United’s 99 record.
    Face the facts mate Chelsea will be stronger next season with Carlo bringing in new young players with pace replacing Deco,Ferrera,Belletti,Ballack and maybe Joe Cole.So take the
    blinkers off mate and credit a fantastic team.

  2. Liam, Chelsea are a fantastic team, no doubt about it. Their goalscoring in particular has been impressive. But regardless of how impressive they have been it was a terrible terrible decision from Mike Dean that has proved pivotal and I can’t really find up the good sportsmanship to congratulate a team that finished ahead of us because of something that they didn’t do. I would have preferred to have lost the title by 8 points than have to think about it.

    Can’t really agree with your assessment of injuries though, Essien is without doubt the best all around midfielder in the league but Chelsea’s injury list pales in significance to Uniteds.

  3. No my friend in my humble opinion United lost it by losing
    twice to Chelsea in this season.
    Secondly, Chelseas injury problem was as bad or in fact worse than Uniteds i.e. Essien plus numerous other players.
    Just checkl the list at Chelsea’s site.

  4. I’ll just write this as I read through, as it’s a pretty heft post.

    – First things first, Didier Drogba is a manchild. Lampard should have told him to take a hike, not treat a grown man like he needed coddling. More to the point, TERRY should have told him to buck his ideas up. Throwing a tantrum because things were going the team’s way and not yours? Screw you.

    – I also wholeheartedly agree that this league win is being covered like they’d got it wrapped up with a pile of games to spare.

    – As much as I can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer number of goals Chelsea raked in this year, points are what matters and United ran them very close.

    – As I’ve posted elsewhere, it’s harsh to call Chelsea’s celebrations hollow. Like it or not, we have been gifted games by referees in previous seasons but I didn’t see United’s players refusing to celebrate because of some supposed sullying of the game.

    – Have Stoke fans always been this way at OT? I’d always thought them a relatively cheery lot.

    – Phil McNulty’s favourite team is whoever happens to be doing best at the moment. Have you not read the multitude of textual handjobs he’s given Rooney this season?

    – The Sun are idiots. Nothing new there. They only sell if the exaggerate and sensationalise. I’m pretty sure last year Chelsea were a group of octogenarians good for nothing other than the glue factory.

    – Football365 are twats too.

    To sum up my thoughts:
    We’ve won titles when teams managed by ex-Fergie players have failed to show up on any respectable level in games at key moments of the season. We’ve won titles by small margins in season where we’ve had one or two games swung our way by… let’s say fortuitous refereeing. Some of the things at the end of this season have stuck in the craw somewhat, and whether or not you think Dean and Gerrard wilfully tried to cost us (I don’t) there’s certainly a strong argument that they did. Although his clangers at Old Trafford worked both ways, as he got a slightly lucky goal and Gary Neville’s comedy tackle was lucky not to give away a penalty. Ultimately I don’t buy that Chelsea have no reason to celebrate or that the title was handed to them. I agree that we deserve far more credit than we’re being given considering we ran Chelsea almost as close as humanly possible without being any good for long stretches of the season, but that’s the press. It bores me that Chelsea’s season is being lauded as it is, but it bored me in previous years after United title wins when the press were falling over themselves to applaud United.

    The press are one-eyed glory supporters, Football365 is largely bullshit whenever United are concerned, sometimes teams are evenly-matched and luck or calamity is needed to separate them and sometimes teams wonder what might have been if they’d not had bad injury problems. It’s happened to us this season, and in the future we’ll benefit when it happens to somebody else.

    Life goes on. Football goes on. United will go on.

  5. Ack, god damn the lack of an edit function:

    Correction – “as WE got a slightly lucky goal and Gary Neville’s comedy tackle was lucky not to give away a penalty.”

  6. Wow IAN, I’m genuinely impressed by your common sense. I am a Chelsea fan and believe that no team has ever won a title without the help of referees and some luck (especially the Champions League). I was really gutted when ManUtd won the league when Grant was our manager, because I thought that in the OT head-to-head we didn’t deserve to lose, since Mikel’s sending off was a soft yellow at best and Tevez goal came in the third minute of first half injury time, well after the time was up and although the ball from the corner was kicked out of the box, the referee let the game go on and the ball back in. That year also there was the game vs Everton where an illegal contract clause with Everton unabled the ex-ManUtd keeper playing for Everton, a game in which ManUtd came back from behind to win 3-2 I think and Phil Neville gifted ManUtd a goal. And then in the last day the ref helped ManUtd immensely vs Wigan, who, managed by ex-ManUtd player simply let United take the win. Also this year, United started well on the referee front (the ridiculously-late goal vs ManCity), but SirAlex’s remarks later backfired badly, while Ancelloti’s quiet attitude paid off.

  7. on to the referees’ issue: Chelsea scored an off-side goal vs United, but that was a 2-0 goal, while the goal from United was a clear handball from Macheda. In the game vs Liverpool, ManUtd shouldn’t have had the penalty since Valencia was fouled way outside the box and that was the game changer that day. The 97th-minute goal vs City from Owen was clearly a mistake from the referee and later reports came out that United were the team that had the most minutes added to games when they were chasing results. And this year United scored most of their goals after the 80th minute and an incredible number after the 90th minute.

  8. United had a great season, the fact that we sold the worlds best player and yet it had to be injuries to our back line and front line for us to lose points is pretty god dam impressive.
    Next season our midfield will be much stronger regardless if we sign a new AMC or not, thanks to Anderson and Hargreeves returning.
    We do need a world class GK if we were going to spend the cash this is where i hope Fergie would slash, and a another striker, cuz we just found out how hard it is with only 3 senior strikers specially is one of them is Micheal Owen.
    Berbatov is a classy striker and he has had some bad luck and just needs to settle. Can only imagine how many Forlan would have scored at United if he had gotten a regular spot and a chance to settle in the frontline.
    Tosic has been playing amazing football out on loan and maybe he is now ready to give us another wing option along with Obertran and Gibson in midfield.
    All in all, considering we sold the worlds best player earlier and bought a player from Wigan to replace him. This season has been great to bleed in some youngsters who will have to step in a lot more for Giggs, Scholes and Neville next season.

  9. Stop moaning about Steve G, you had 37 other games to get more points than Chelsea, I dont here you mention the 11 OWN Goals that put you in contention with Chelsea.
    The moaning starts from the top, manager to players to fans.
    Get real your’e on your way down Ha Ha

  10. Re: “the ridiculously-late goal vs ManCity”
    There’s actually justification in the laws of the game for that. I believe a referee can add (up to) 30 seconds for both substitutions and goals, and there were both of them pretty late in the game. Now, the consistency of refereeing in these situations is a very different thing to argue.

    And I don’t think that many Man United fans I’ve seen argued that Macheda’s goal hit his hand. The problem is that Drogba was so utterly, outrageously offside. If Chelsea had scored the goal Macheda did, I’d be grumpy but appreciate that it’s a hard one to spot for anybody who wasn’t in John Terry’s position. Drogba’s goal, however, didn’t exactly require replays to point out that he was a mile past the last defender.

    And as for the “United get loads of extra time at home” thing, I would argue that every one of the so-called “Big Four” gets favours from officials at home in various forms. All of them.

  11. what’s ridiculous is FIFA not allowing video technology in matches, especially with decisions like these. And it wouldn’t protract matches as these decisions always delay matches 3-4 minutes, because of protests from players. Video would sort that out and even prove to make the game flow better if implemented properly.

  12. Ean: I actually meant to mention that in my post. For all my moans about United’s disappointing performances we did so while the squad was downgraded from last year.

    RacerRay: Owen Gohl is gonna be a big player for us, you’ll see. (On a more serious note: You are, presumably, suggesting own goals should count for less? If that’s especially worthy of mention?)

    Keka: Don’t ever underestimate FIFA’s love of sitting on their big fat behinds.

    But Sepp Blatter is another rant for another day.

  13. Ian – cheers for the comments – I see where you’re coming from and perhaps I was a little over zealous but I qualified my reasoning by saying I couldn’t celebrate the fact we didn’t lose against Spurs after the Mendes goal. We didn’t win the title that year, but if we had and that had been the deciding factor? It would have felt a bit cheap, but then again, I think that was a honest mistake, even though it was terrible. The celebrating being hollow part.. well, I’ll stand by it just for the sake of stubbornness really but yeah, we have had generous decisions in the past, nothing on the verge of corruption to decide the destiny of the title though and I think that’s really what gets my goat. That and the fact Chelsea probably didn’t need to do it.

    Keka, thanks for the comments. I can’t actually tell if you’re agreeing with me or disagreeing but the feeling seems to be one of saying “tough luck”.

    Fair enough, to some extent. I’m not talking about the various incidents that happen throughout the season, though. Those things that “even themselves out” or contract clauses, or injury time, that are there for all teams and not just Manchester United. The minutes added to games is a bizarre stat – I’d like to see the proof of that anyway, but my response to that would be any team that is getting a result at Old Trafford wastes an incredible amount of time once they’re in the position. I would have thought you’d have realised that better than most given your team did just that!

    I’m talking about the appointment of a referee who is well known as a Liverpool fan in a game where the outcome would most probably decide the destiny of the title, and did exactly that. He had been removed from a Cup Final because of fears over his impartiality; this game had almost the same consequences surrounding it and despite his general awfulness (you would see from my match report on this site that I thought there was a clear penalty for yourselves in that game, too) he and his team made an unbelievable error when United were in the ascendancy. We’re not just talking about an error, we’re talking about something quite literally unbelievable. It was clear as night and day and alongside the Bolton/Everton decision in 1998 probably the worst in modern memory in the top flight. It’s interesting that you mention the Valencia penalty incident against Liverpool; Mike Dean himself had (again) given an outrageous penalty that was far worse in the Carling Cup for City against us. But given that the official rule then seemed to be if a foul outside the area carries on into the area, surely this falls in the category of “evening itself out” and even then isn’t something in the United favour, it’s a grey area rule that has worked for and against us. I can’t quite decide whether I think it should be a penalty or free kick in those circumstances but given that they’ve gone for and against us I can’t really see how I would be cast as hypocritical in that circumstance anyway. I didn’t go into the numerous decisions I think have gone for and against us, like you have listed, for example I could have mentioned the Terry WWE bodyslam on Valencia at Stamford Bridge – I’m just talking about Mike Dean’s integrity and to a lesser extent that of Steven Gerrard.

    By the way; I’m not saying Chelsea wouldn’t have won the league anyway or wouldn’t have won at Old Trafford or Anfield. They may well have done, but now we’ll never know and for conspiracy theorists or just people like me who are deeply cynical in the integrity of some people at the top level the poser exists. You’re quite correct, the Drogba goal did make it 2-0, but I would say to that, that is the entire point. It made it impossible for United to come back in a game where they were on the up and an equalising goal was looking very likely. For Mike Dean to allow it in all those circumstances; well, I’ve gone on record as saying I think he knew what he was doing. I am not saying that you cheated to win the league, I’m saying it was cheated on your behalf.

    The FA concurred his blunder was so bad they instantly demoted him. Bear in mind that they themselves removed him from a Cup Final over fears on his professionalism and surely it’s logical to see where I’ve drawn my conclusion from.

    From now on at the very least every time we get wronged from a decision I don’t expect a media backlash if our players surround the referee considering we’ve lost a league because of the lack of professional integrity of one of them!!

    Your point about video technology is a valid one because to be fair it would have helped us in the game against you but as I wrote at the time, I don’t believe it would work anyway. The time thing doesn’t bother me but more the fact that the person who is on the other end making the call, it’s still a personal judgement and what if they get it wrong? Some are very clear decisions but some aren’t even with the benefit of replays. The most classic example of course being the Geoff Hurst goal in the World Cup Final in 66.

    RacerRay – that’s a bit of a daft comment to be fair. Yes there were other games we dropped points in but we’re talking about a single incident that defined the outcome of the league. These are fine margins after all. Take the Chelsea game at Old Trafford out of the equation and we’re champions, aren’t we.

  14. I don’t know why, rather than this “How much injury time they should have had?” nonsense FIFA just doesn’t make a rule that when the game stops the clock stops. That way you can’t waste time at set players, teams won’t incessantly be making late subs and we can hear the last of the whole argument.

  15. Liam: ”103 goals smashing United’s 99 record” haha made me laugh that one, would you hear a tennis player say ‘i smashed you’ if they won the game on the very last game of the last set by 2 points? no, because it would be stupid. wouldnt it liam.

  16. @poster,

    All references to the refs bad decision are inconsequential. Chelsea won because on the run of 38games they managed to be 1 point better.

    United – I have watched for long enough – do get refs concession too. The only thing United can moan about there, is no one see it this time it didnt really benefit united.

    The idea that gerrard passed intentionally may be or may not be intentional. Like cases of murder, you cannot prove Intention. And it is perfectly legal to backpass.

    In the end its football, and its loses that you learn to learn the value of victory. As much as it is in real life too.


  17. Simple thing……all man utd. fans r frustruated dat Chelsea won n celebrated…..Man Utd. won d title in 08 by 2 pts. n celebrated like maniacs….we respectd dat….u need 2 suck it up…..U HAD D BEST FORWARD DIS YR…NT D BEST TEAM !!!

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