Thursday, 15 March 2012

How the mouthy have fallen! The week in football

Turns out WBA did for both of them!
You'd be forgiven for thinking Arsenal's team was made up of eleven Englishmen after their heroic failure to reach the last eight of the Champions League the previous week. So it was left to Chelsea to fly the flag for the Premier League.

Up a slightly less steep hill than the Gunners but nevertheless still in a tight spot, Chelsea completed a remarkable fightback to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit to win 4-1 over Napoli in extra time at the Bridge.

Since taking the reigns from the deposed Andre Villas Boas, caretaker Roberto di Matteo's galvanised the Blues and critically, it's been the Chelsea pensioners of Terry, Lampard and Drogba who steered them to glory with a goal apiece.

This poses a problem for the next Chelsea boss because even though the thirtysomething trio can still do it at the highest level, ultimately they need replacing. Like Villas-Boas tried before, the new man will have to grasp the nettle. 
Paternity leave beckons
But it should be Di Matteo: he's no ordinary stand-in coach even if he's not Roman Abramovich’s first choice. There’s been grandiose talk of a Mourinho return, Fabio Capello (he who stood down over John Terry), and even Pep Guardiola.

But for me Roby's the man: for a starter, he’s a Chelsea ledge. Scorer of famous goals in Cup Finals and more than served his apprenticeship as an English club manager, and you just can't create that exuberant celebration after beating Napoli that showed he cares so much for the club and the group of players.

He almost gave Fernando Torres whiplash, jumping on the Spaniard from just outside his peripheral vision. If he's overlooked in favour of a bigger star, then Roman’s Empire may just continue to go round in circles.

Special mention for Steven Gerrard: on his 400th appearance for Liverpool, he thumped a hat-trrick to flatten neighbours Everton which also marked David Moyes' decade in charge at Goodison. Moyes has guaranteed the Mersey Blues have continually punched above their weight, but this time it's back to the drawing board for those soft-centred Toffees!

The expectation at Anfield is unbearable. History is a huge burden on the back of this current crop especially as manager Kenny Dalglish was responsible for so much of it. How quickly the League Cup win's been forgotten. It's the Champions League that matters.

Meanwhile, if you're in need of entertainment at your football conference, look no further than Dave Richards after a day of embarrassment for the Premier League chairman.

I can’t believe Richards apologised for being a Yorkshireman for what he called his “broad comments” during a speech in Qatar.

What a complete dill!
Richards said, "England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game. We were its governance. We wrote the rules, designed the pitches and everything else. Then 50 years later some guy came along and said you're liars and they actually stole it. It was called Fifa. Fifty years later, another gang came along called Uefa and stole a bit more."

Even the Premier League distanced themselves from their chairman's comments, claiming the old boy wasn't in Qatar in an official capacity.

But event organisers didn’t need to pour cold water on Richards. He did that himself later by falling into a fountain during a trip round a museum! It’s lucky he was helped back to his feet in doublequick time as he might have been mistaken for one of the relics.

Taxi for Richards!