At the start, Fenerbahce were run ragged, as if they were a pub team. In the end, it was Chelsea who resembled part-timers. Funny little world init?
Gifting the Turkish club two second-half goals following a dominant first-half performance, the Blues fell 2-1 in Instanbul in the opening leg of the two clubs' Champions League quarterfinal tie. The tie should've been wrapped up, sealed and sent before 30 minutes had passed. But a lack of finishing coupled with an egregious display after the break dealt Chelsea a defeat -- one that could prove costly though the Blues will still be favored to advance next week.
"I don't know what to say," said Avram Grant.
You also don't know what you're doing. If this man doesn't unleash a 4-4-2 soon, I'm going to lose my mind.
Anyways. It was an odd European night to be sure. Chelsea opened superbly. Yeah, Fener was appalling, but I really thought we were absolutely commanding in the opening half. Thirteen minutes in the own-goal from Deivid arrived and from thereon, we produced chance after chance -- none of which were converted. I must admit I was worried, and I think that says a lot about this team in its current form.
Of course, my worries were warranted. We slumped after the break and, by the final whistle, looked horribly poor. Again, management played a role (surprise surprise). Fener's Zico provided the goods when he threw on Kazim Kazim aka the artist formely known as Colin Kazim-Richards, who eventually netted the equalizer -- which coincidentally sparked the side into the match. Grant, as usual, was complacent to negative effect, withdrawing Lampard for Mikel (super positive) in the 76th minute and waiting until the 86th to bring on Anelka. To tell you the truth, his decision making is mind-boggling.
You would think Grant would have recognized the chance for us to settle this tie in the first leg. At 1-1, this was still a possibility. Instead, he chose to ride out his luck. He could have A. brought on Anelka with 30 minutes to go, percievably to make a final push, or B. he could have closed up shop -- like Mourinho would have. He chose neither and what did we get? A bemusing display from the team over the final 30. Sure, Deivid's winner was an uncanny strike, and yeah, we tried to sit on the 1-0 lead (not a bad idea really). But that doesn't hide the fact that we were out-thought in the second half. Changes needed to be made, and they weren't; it's that simple.
Just a quick comment on Drogba. I must say I thought he was dire, especially in the second half. Those two goals against Arsenal have done well to hide how mediocre -- if not poor -- he's been since returning from the African Nations Cup. Most glaring Wednesday was his selfishness, specifically in positions where he had great opportunities to feed teammates. Also, I can't leave without mentioning his ridiculous theatrics. We need him to refocus, now.
Still, this tie is in our favor -- no doubt about that. And I think we'll advance. The real problem, and the one our decent run of results has been hiding, is the deep-rooted sense of disunity that seems to have emerged at the club. It's more prominent than we know if you ask me. Oh yeah, and there's also that little problem of lacking real managerial acumen at the most crucial position. We may need that over the next few weeks. I guess we shall see.