I’m generally not a fan of players apologizing for poor performances or poor decisions made on the football pitch — my baseline assumption is that no one actually wants to make a mistake, or miss a chance, etc. and that all those proclamations of hard work, learning, and improvement are genuine enough — but I suppose they do show a certain amount of willingness to take responsibility in public. (Or they show some PR awareness and image management if nothing else, if we want to take the cynical route.)
In any case, here’s Ben Chilwell apologizing for his red card in last night’s 2-0 defeat against Real Madrid, calling it a “split second” decision that, upon further reflection, was perhaps a bit rash.
“Slept on it, and just want to apologise to my team mates and the fans. I made a decision in a split second last night and it was a mistake. I always give everything for the team and i will continue to do so. Thank you for the support.”
-Ben Chilwell; source: Instagram
So that’s all well and good, but of course the red card wasn’t strictly Chilly’s fault. He was simply trying to make up for the egregious error by a flat-footed Marc Cucurella that allowed Rodrygo to easily spin behind — made all the more egregious by the fact that Rodrygo did the same move just minutes prior, when Kalidou Koulibaly recovered his position but managed to hurt himself in the process.
Chilwell had no chance to win the ball, so his choice was to let Rodrygo go 1-v-1 with Kepa, or to pull him back and hope for some leniency as the last man. He chose the second and received no leniency.
Unfortunately, the foul was right in the grey zone of when a red card might have been “worth it” — i.e. what gives you the better chance of limiting damage: playing 11-v-11 or holding out for ‘x’ amount of minutes. As it turned out, we were not able to keep it at just a one-goal deficit for the 30 minutes that remained, though the second goal we conceded had little to do with numerical deficiency, and everything to do with attention deficiency, poor concentration and even worse execution.
And unfortunately, the red card also means that Chilwell will be suspended for the second leg, so he won’t be able to help us. Let’s hope that Cucurella, who was Man of the Match in the second leg of the previous round’s comeback, can make up for his error at least.