Referee assists Chelsea in squandering three-goal lead
It was basically sickening on Sunday. As soon as Rooney predictably rammed home his second PK of the afternoon I knew the match would end in a draw. Even though Chelsea still led 3-2 at that point, I’ve been around the soccer block too many times to think that the Blues would actually be able to hold off Manchester United for the rest of the match. I was right. Javier Hernandez, that little Man U rascal who is incomprehensibly allowed to wear his cutesy nickname on the back of his jersey rather than his real name, tied the game with a wickedly timed run and header. I hate that I’ve turned into a Chelsea version of a Chicago Cubs fan this season, but Chelsea has choked a few too many times this campaign to retain much optimism in big games (or little ones actually).
What makes last Sunday’s 3-3 draw all the more painful is that for the first hour or so things were falling into place so beautifully! Sturridge showing some speedy signs of life and scoring the opening goal (so what if it was officially a Red Devil own goal?). Then Juan Mata’s hair-raising volley smash on the end of Torres’ cross to kick off the second half! Then David Luiz’s well-timed header goal just moments later! It was all too good to be true.
About those PKs against Chelsea… the first one was probably deserved. Sturridge got a little over-zealous. But the second one against Ivanovic a few minutes later was a ridiculous call! It wasn’t a penalty. Normally I think Howard Webb is one of the world’s better refs. And I don’t envy anyone who has to attempt to officiate matches as big as this one. But Webb had a very off day. Besides the penalty decisions he was wildly inconsistent all afternoon, toward both sides. Top-flight soccer simply must have instant replay for calls inside the penalty box.
I saw the Man U game as a last opportunity to rescue Chelsea’s dismal season – that maybe a victory would spark some life into the sputtering squad and help ensure they at least retain a Champions League spot for next season. Now, the forecast is still very uncertain. They will have to scrap for every remaining point.
Adding to the on-field woes is the recent chatter about locker room disharmony and players having issues with AVB. Piled on top of that are the rather ridiculous rumors (or are they?) of Jose Mourinho wanting to return to Chelsea. What a mess! It would be a mistake to dismiss AVB this early. He’s made some iffy calls along the way, but it’s not his fault the season has gone so poorly (just like Carlo Ancelotti shouldn’t have been blamed for last season’s shortcomings). I don’t know that Mourinho would be able to turn things around any more effectively. Chelsea needs stability right now. They should give AVB two more seasons before reassessing.
What do you think about Andre Villas-Boas’ management this season? Should he be given more time? Feel free to weigh in below…