by Steven S
Red was the colour at Stamford Bridge yesterday as Man United recorded their first victory in West London for ten years and Chelsea were reduced to nine men by the end of the game. Following the Blues’ tame performance in the Ukraine midweek they found themselves two goals down after twelve minutes, struggling to contain United’s verve down their right hand side that provided Van Persie with two great opportunities to score. Chelsea dragged themselves back into the game to equalise early in the second half and it seemed as if yet another season would pass with Ferguson walking away from the Bridge without the three points. Ivanovic had different ideas however, taking down Ashley Young as he broke through their defence which would only lead to one conclusion. Meanwhile Torres, having yet another indifferent afternoon, made the most of a slight clip by Evans which was punished with a second yellow by referee Mark Clattenburg. The game was effectively over when Hernandez scored from an offside position to push United back in front and against nine men, they were no longer troubled at the back. Not the desired result by Chelsea but they displayed the right sort of performance to ensure their defeat to Shakhtar didn’t hang over their heads. There will be considerable changes midweek but these two go at it once again midweek in the Miserable Cup.
The Merseyside derby earlier also got off to a cracking start with three goals in the first 22 minutes. The first a deflected own goal off Leyton Baines from a Suarez shot before the little tyke nodded home a Gerrard free kick to put the visitors two nil up. His dive onto the pitch infront of the Everton dugout was of course a reaction to Moyes’ criticism of the Uruguayans habit of falling over, which almost saw the red head managers’ skull explode. A great fight back from Everton drew them back to level terms just before half time although a disallowed Suarez goal in injury time will leave the reds thinking they had been robbed of the full points. Everton have a terrible record against their rivals over the past decade so a point will be welcomed in this unlikely bright start to the season and Brendan Rodgers will also need to find the right formula to keep his team the right side of the table come 5pm every Saturday.
Cole and Ferdinand also came face to face before the start of their game, thankfully shaking hands with no problems. It caps the end of yet another week smothered with talk of racism in the game, much to the satisfaction of the media.
I am sick to death of hearing about John Terry, Suarez, Evra, the Rio brothers, armbands, handshakes, t-shirts…most sensible football fans whether Chelsea fans or otherwise, should not be happy with how a former England captain behaved in that situation. But now is the time to stop picking at the carcass of those ugly events and focus on actually doing something that will change the attitudes of players, coaches and fans on the continent and in our own country. The FA, Premiership, UEFA and the clubs need to be overtly vocal in ensuring there are severe punishments in place and that sort of behaviour will not be accepted or treated leniently at all.
Four games, eight games are not enough. Life bans, public exposure of that behaviour should be given to fans who can think of nothing more to say than insulting a man for his skin colour whilst purporting to support his actions for their team. For once grab the initiative in this situation instead of allowing the media to blow up every associated detail into a stagnant cauldron of bitterness that continues to cloud the game. Not just pages on a website or statements emailed to the press but instead a proactive approach creating a campaign that is not just mingled in with pre-game or half time shows.
The problem is, we are a nation of bureaucrats. Look at the BBC Saville situation, currently stuck in a debate about a documentary as the argument begins to eat itself whilst the real issue and disgusting nature of the problem drifts on. Dithering and worrying about the damage to be repaired whilst urgency gets lost in the conversation, moralising our arguments without galvanising enough action.
Get out there, put it in people’s faces and don’t give anyone a place to hide from its unacceptable place in the game. The FA Chairman David Bernstein has made the right first move in talking about reviewing current sanctions but it needs to be louder, bigger and assertive on all fronts, not just on the pitch. From the ashes of any destructive situation arises the opportunity to create something new and that moment is now.
Goal line technology was given another green light this week as it was signed off by FIFA who then instructed Hawk-Eye and GoalRef to get insurance to cover their hides should clubs decide to throw their toys out over faulty equipment. Although you would imagine a water tight disclaimer should be signed by any club or league wishing to employ it in a division; that would seem the easier, more sensible option. It is expected to appear in our leagues by the start of next season and will be officially used for the first time in a tournament at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December.
Those of us old enough to remember standing sections at football grounds do so with fond memories, although the changes made after Hillsborough always temper what seemed like a cheaper ‘golden age’. In light of the revelations from the disaster, discussions of a return to standing sections is slowly gathering momentum, of course helped by success stories like Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion stadium which contains a 25,000 all standing section. Aston Villa have been the first Premier team to publicly get behind the campaign although it will be a long road before any changes are made to the legislation regarding stadia in this country.
The week was dominated by fall out of John Terry/t-shirt affair so news was pretty scarce. Thomas Hitzlsperger appeared at the edge of the radar joining Everton on a short term contract until January, which may include some cup games but not much action you would imagine. Arsenal were criticised for flying to their previous Premiership game away to Norwich, travelling 115 miles in 14 minutes. Although it is worth remembering that it took Felix Baumgartner 9 minutes to plunge directly to earth 24 miles from the edge of outer space, so at least the Gunners were time efficient.
Game at the week took place at the Madejski Stadium as Reading battled to a 3-3 draw at home to Fulham who were led by the inspirational Dimitar Berbatov. Taking the lead in the first half, the Royals lost the lead to go 2-1, then 3-2 down before a psychotic computer Man Utd legend ancient African footballer saved their bacon at the last. Hal Robson-Kanu (do your research for God sake, it makes sense!) scored the fourth goal to be scored in the final 13 minutes of the game as both sides refused to take the three points and were determined to share the spoils. Reading still wait their first victory of the season and Fulham have nestled in quite nicely to 7th place.
The Capital One Cup rears its terribly name head again midweek with half of the eight games being all Premiership ties. Sexiest of the lot is Utd travelling back to Chelsea after their 3-2 win, where you would imagine Daniel Sturridge and Hernandez will lead the line for their respective teams. Brendan Rodgers faces his old team Swansea at Anfield and there is a bit of a local battle with Sunderland hosting Middlesbrough on Tuesday. Hopefully we can all find something else to talk about apart from Rio, Terry and t-shirts this week before we all turn on each other like some sort of inbred 28 Days Later zombies sick of hearing it all. That just about wraps it up for another week in the mire, so wrap up and prepare for another winter of discontent. Chow.