21st August 2011. Juan Manuel Mata Garcia was snapped up by Chelsea for £23.5 million. He was awarded the no 10 shirt from Yossi Benayoun. He made an immediate impact, scoring on his debut after coming on as a substitute. A bunch of great performances through out the season earned him the player of the season for Chelsea, who went on to win their maiden Champions League title.
Eden Hazard, on 29th May, after a long transfer saga, involving flirting with the top English clubs, tweeted-
I'm signing for the champion's league winner.
For £32 million, especially after a failed backheel against City in the Community Shield, people might have deemed him very overrated, but he silenced doubters bagging the man of the match in his first four Premier League starts for Chelsea.
Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Junior signed for Chelsea on 16th July for an undisclosed fee of the region of £20-25 million. Missing the first few games for Chelsea, he stamped his authority against Juventus in a Champions League match, scoring a wonderful second goal, which even the opposition keeper Buffon ended up acknowledging!
Since that Juventus match, they have played together just behind the lone striker. They have formed a union fondly known as the Mazacar! Although the most significant contribution was a win against Arsenal, their first real test was against 19 time Champions Manchester United- at Stamford Bridge- where they had failed to win for the last decade.
Chelsea were without John Terry- facing a suspension due to the FA terming him a racist, even when a civilian court had cleared him of the offense. Luiz and Cahill at the center of the defense, it was always going to be shaky for Chelsea!
Chelsea went two goals down in just over 10 minutes, and all seemed over- well, we still had Mazacar! Chelsea came into the game steadily and started dominating- Mata scoring with a wonderful free kick, and Mikel almost forcing an own goal out of Evans.
Chelsea started the second half exactly where they left- and scored through Ramires. Chelsea looked on to go and get the winner, when Robin van Persie gifted Young a mouth watering through ball. Ivanovic had no choice but to bring him down- a professional foul denying a clear goal scoring opportunity- a straight red (but with a one game ban). Down to ten men, Chelsea still looked like they could win- but disaster struck.
Torres was given a second yellow for simulation. Here's why it was wrong.
- There was contact by Evans. Torres' reaction was a bit more than what it should have been, but it was NOT a dive.
- Chelsea were already down to 10 men. You don't produce a second red so easily.
- Chelsea were about to replace Torres for Sturridge. They would have done it, had the linesman not been late and United took a quick free kick, which resulted in the card.
|Mark Clattenburg- The True Red Devil|
Let's get back to the referee. Mark Clattenburg, who was the official in City's huge 6-1 win over United at Old Trafford last season, was officiating a United match first time after that night. He had a history with United. According to Wikipedia, in 2005, Tottenham's Pedro Mendes had a long-range shot fumbled over the line by United goalkeeper Roy Carroll, neither Clattenburg or his assistants were in a position to award the goal. Five years later, in October 2010, he allowed to stand a United goal scored under controversial circumstances (although strictly correct under game laws) when Nani tapped the ball into the net while Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes believed his team had a free-kick.
Coming back to the game, Chelsea were down to 9 men, and still attacking- Cole and Luiz making forward runs. United looked like they might score, but Chelsea were hanging on- it looked like we could salvage a point out of the match, but the officials cost us again. Hernandez, offside by atleast a yard, tapped the ball in from close range- Cech was out of position as he had just pulled off a magnificent save. Chelsea went forward, but nothing could be done.
On an unrelated note, those who talk of the Drogba offside goal in 2009, which won us the title, must NOT forget the Macheda handball goal the same match! So, that was cancelled out anyways!
|Macheda hand ball goal- 3rd April 2010|
This is the third time this season United have been favored by the referee- Liverpool and Southampton being the other victims. None of the matches did United deserve to win. I wonder whether there is a Calciopoli going on in England as well- only time will tell... Or will it?
Rafa Benitez said something very true once-
You cannot have an impartial Football Association when members of the board are ALSO executive members of Manchester United Football Club."
One thing I can say is that Alex Ferguson better not bitch about the refereeing. Ever. Not even when he wants a different amount of extra time added. With the kind of pressure he puts on the referees with his press conferences, and his decades of bullying- it's high time he stops. Chelsea were, by far, the better side. I can say we deserved all three points. With Howard Webb refereeing the match of United Arsenal next week, one can only wonder.
Ferguson's comment after the game were even worse.
“Did he [Torres] intend to dive when he could've gone through? I thought he went down. I think Jonny [Evans] may have just caught him a little bit but you can either carry on running, which he could've done, or gone down. He could've carried on and scored that, which I can't understand about goalscorers. I would never have missed that chance - I'd have taken it any time and never gone down. He did go down and had already been booked so it's his own fault.”
I wonder why he doesn't tell the same to Ashley Young.
Di Matteo was quick to mention the poor refereeing in the match. But what can he do. Looking at the positive, Chelsea are still at the top of the table.
The moments after the match were worse than the match itself. Twitter and Facebook were flooded by frustrated fans. It was more like a war-zone- it was a battle- with me just a spectator- helping fellow fans with the ammunition- throwing abuses- saying things which I would not have under normal circumstances!
The saga doesn't end here. We have the chance for revenge on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge- even though it's the Capital One Cup and Terry, Torres and Ivanovic are missing the game, a win would still be sweet! Meanwhile, Ferguson has already put pressure on the referee by wishing him best of luck for the game.
Matters did get ugly after the match. Chelsea have registered a complaint with the FA against Clattenburg for using "inappropriate" language against two players, one of which was racial in nature, believed to be directed towards Mikel after the offside goal.
I have never hated any team- not even Barcelona, even after that fateful night in 2009, but after yesterday's match, I have pure hatred for a team from the bottom of my heart- Manchester United. A part of me died on 28th October 2012- and I can never forget the night.