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All Things Footie | Monday, October 24 | Jordan

Penalties, Scrapping, Chelsea, Shola, Burley

If Arsenal’s … unconventional … penalty had worked, it would have been the greatest piss-take ever. People would talk about it for years, and teams would copy it every other week. It didn’t work, in fact, it completely failed to work. Robert Pires was too casual about performing a very tricky manouevre.

A good parallel would be the famous chipped penalty—if when whoever it was tried one first in recent times (was it Yorke? or Di Canio?) had messed that up, and the keeper had just caught it, you’d never have seen one again. It worked though, so now people do it all the time.

In my opinion, it was a nice bit of semi-improvisation, something different to brighten up what was otherwise an awful game. If it’d worked, Arsenal fans would certainly have had TWO ‘i was there’ moments in a single week.

Weird game between United and Spurs (from the highlights). I couldn’t really work out who was on top, if indeed anyone actually was. It was a truly awful bit of goalkeeping from Paul Robinson, and you can bet your life that if it’d been a foreign goalkeeper (Tim Howard, Fabian Barthez, Jens Lehmann, Jerzy Dudek) it’d get mentioned in every game he plays in for the rest of the season. Not so for daaaahling Englishmen though.

While I’m on about how we seem to judge foreign players differently from home grown players: there’s a different moral code too. When teams like Man City spend a game kicking and ‘scrapping’, commentators can’t help but gush about the wonderful fighting spirit brought to them by the ultimate ‘scrapper’, Stuart Pearce. Their dirtiness, late tackles, high tackles, foul mouths, argumentative streak with referees, is a virtue. When European sides play like that it’s ‘pathetic’ and ‘disgusting’. When David Beckham got his meta-tarsal bone broken by Aldo Duscher, the press practically called for him to be imprisoned for assault, when Paul Scholes or Danny Mills nearly break players legs every game with stupid late tackles, they’re just ‘feisty’ or ‘committed’.

The $64,000 question. Are Chelsea a dead cert?

United won 10 games in a row a few seasons ago and won nothing. Arsenal were supposedly unbeatable with a 14 point lead at christmas and lost the league to United. I’ve seen nothing (and I challenge anyone to find something) to convince me that Chelsea are any better than Arsenal were in 2003, nor United in 1998, they’re just as vulnerable as any other team in the World—football is still as capable of turning on freak moments, bad luck, or just an off day as it was five years ago. Every season, the voice of reason tells us not to make any rash predictions too early in the season—and every season we fall into the same stupid trap. Some seasons (last year, the year before) we’re correct in our rash assumptions, others (2003, 2002) we end up with egg on our faces. To make any kind of prediction at this stage (or any stage for that matter) is fallacy, and to give up hope, at any stage, is weak; and the weak never win.

Chelsea are not invincible, the league is not won. I heard a commentator today say that ‘it was impossible to say Chelsea weren’t going to win the league’. What complete and utter shite. He should lose his job for that kind of talk—it’s as if he can’t remember saying the same thing about Arsenal and United a few years ago. Poor form.

Shoala Ameobi. I rate him. From some adjectives I’ve used about the taller players in the Premiership, you’d think I have something about all lanky forwards, but I really think Ameobi as something to offer. He’s better than Crouch. He’s better than Heskey. If any young player deserves a shot for England, he does.

And finally, George Burley. What an odd one. It’d be easy to say it was the millionaire, power-hungry, Eastern European owner had forced him out, but that would fail to take account of the fact that Burley did exactly the same thing not that long ago at Derby. Has the man got a commitment problem? An attitude problem? Or can he simply not hack the pressure? It’s a crying shame, because he (and Hearts) were in serious danger of making Scottish Football interesting for the first time in 20 years.

(11) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

# Posted by Anonymous Rogue at 6:28 PM
I agree, it's folly to predict a champ this early. Everton have shown that Chelsea aren't immortal.
# Posted by Blogger Jordan at 7:03 PM
A sensible pundit wouldn't have had to wait for Everton. They're only another side, and they're inferior to plenty of the modern greats at this stage. In his first season, with an unlimited budget and over £100m spent on players, Mourinho won less than Wenger (in his first, with only two average priced signings).
# Posted by Anonymous ADC at 12:30 PM
You certainly have a point. I would like to think that it is possible for Chelsea to stumble at some stage in the season but there are difference between this team and the United and Arsenal teams that you were comparing them to:

1. Chelsea have greater strength in squad depth meaning that they can absorb injuries to key players.
2. Neither the United team of '98 or Arsenal of '03 won the premier at a canter the year before.
3. There are no strong challengers - no disrepect intended to fans of Wigan and Charlton!

It's tough to see Chelsea not wrapping this thing up by Christmas, but I'll try to keep an open mind.

You're right on the money with the Hearts comment though. That was shaping up to be the story of the year if not decade. Hopefully Burley's successor can continue where he left off. Not sure about Sir Bobby though. Hasn't he had his own share of run ins with owners in the past?
# Posted by Anonymous Rogue at 7:45 PM
Jordan, you're preaching to the choir, brother.

How many professional "pundits" do you know who are sensible? Almost every one of them wants to be able to say, "I knew it all along. Look at me, I'm the true football prophet." Which usually means, they end up with egg on their faces.
# Posted by Anonymous Pete_AFC at 8:05 PM
"There's only one team winning this now!" Keegan

Still the best ;)
# Posted by Anonymous man at 11:30 PM
i'm from portugal,but that's not why i think chelsea is going to win back2back seasons...mourinho is the control-freak, that's why he's not going to lose such an advantage now that he has got it...he'd rather dig a hole and stay inside it than losing the premier this season...but...the main reason is that there are no competitors...ManUdt are not the team they were three years ago (they should get ride of Queiroz, the man is a fraud)
# Posted by Anonymous ADC at 3:32 AM
You read it here first - Vladimir Putin throws Roman in the slammer, freezes his assets, and Chelsea crumble ala Leeds Utd selling off their prized assets to meet Kenyon's salary obligations. Charlton win the league.

Note to self - must cut back on the whisky.
# Posted by Blogger Jordan at 9:02 AM

good call on Queiroz, I totally agree. You may be interested to hear that the season he left to manage Real, that was blamed for united's drop in form. "The secret", I heard many a Man Utd fan cry, "is Queiroz. We're missing him, that's why we were poor last season."

How wrong can you be?

As for Mourinho -- I'm not sure any top manager wants to not win the league. Sometimes you don't get a choice, your players don't perform, you get a run of bad luck, it just doesn't happen for him.

I don't think he wanted to go out of the Champions League last season either.

All I'm saying is that there's an important lesson for Chelsea's Johnny-come-lately fans, and that's that sometimes, when things are going perfectly, they can just, inexplicably screw up. That's just football.

I doubt if Greece winning Euro 2004 was in the script either...
# Posted by Anonymous fritz at 4:50 PM
Totally agree on the double standards of English commentators - when natives play hard, they are 'committed' and 'gutsy', when a foreign player does it, he's 'dirty'.

The same holds for diving - nobody mentions Heskey's and Owen's dive s(especially when playing for England), or the fact the last act of Shearer's international career was to get yellow carded for diving. Foreigners, of course, are ALL dirty divers...
# Posted by Anonymous Pete_AFC at 10:21 PM
Well, the pundits have already made their first goof of the season - Chelsea are out of the Carling Cup!

Congratulations Charlton, and thank you for knocking those West End boys down a peg or two! :)
# Posted by Anonymous ADC at 3:30 PM
I was fully expecting to read in the papers this morning that the bookies were paying out on wagers that "Sir" Alan Curbishley will replace SGE after the world cup.

Two games = no wins. Must be crisis time at the Bridge!

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