Thursday, 19 April 2012

There's no substitute for experience

The old boys are certainly ruling the roost as this season's trophies are dished out.

It's been a season of two halves for Chelsea. First up, Roman Abramovich got behind a coach barely older than Frank Lampard before getting back to what he knew. The talent to win cups was already at his disposal in the dressing room - not on the drawing board.

33-year-old Andre Villas-Boas was told to grasp the thirtysomething nettle and build a new team.
About-turn: the two faces of Chelsea's season.
But it turned out more revolution than evolution as the The Unspecial One was fired - and though Abramovich has firmly kicked the rebuilding can into the close-season for a squad overhaul, Chelsea suddenly find themselves in the FA Cup Final and at an advantage over mighty Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final.
And they couldn't have made it this far without Plan B: caretaker Roberto Di Matteo and his insistence on letting experience run games.

Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard have played with renewed freedom since Villa-Boas' departure, and granted licence to do so by Di Matteo. The Italian said as much after the Champions League semi-final first-leg win over Barcelona: experience won through. 
Still winning!

Are you wondering how Liverpool reached both domestic Cup Finals despite an appalling league season? It's Gerrard, Carragher and Kuyt's ability to win individual matches over 90 minutes.

Manchester United may be short of European aspiration, but how much has Fergie had to rely on Ryan Giggs and the returning Paul Scholes to see off the Noisy Neighbours in the title race? I'd say a lot.

Aye, I told you so!
Arsenal looked decidedly one-dimensional before the deadline arrivals of Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta, but it's carried them through a turbulent season to finish strongly. Arsene Wenger suspended his principles in the transfer market to bring in that vital ingredient that can only be gathered by years in the game.

This has been a season where the oldies have been decisive. Maybe Alan Hansen's famed "win nothing with kids" comment was made sixteen years too early.