Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's only a game...

Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United F.C.Image via Wikipedia It had everything agony, ecstasy, anger, suspense, desperation and now I feel totally crushed having just watched Chelsea lose in the Champions League final. Another season where we came so close but fail to get our hands on the trophy we want the most, this season we came closer than we had before. Making our debut in the Champions League final and were unfortunate to not to win in the end as I think we were unlucky and at times the better team for long periods.

Manchester United entered the game as favourites and deservedly so as they have Ronaldo who is the best player on the planet at the moment. I headed out with some friends, one also a Chelsea supporter and another a Newchulster Unicity (Newcastle+Hull City+Manchester United) fan. The bar we chose didn't have the best of sound but to be honest I only needed my eyes as the sound of the United fans there in the bar was enough for me to switch off my ears and use my sight only.

The Final kicked off and after a slow 10-15 minutes Man Utd took control of the game and when they attacked they looked really threatening. The boy they call Ronaldo scored in the 26th minute as Wes Brown combined with Paul Scholes and lifted a cross over to the far post where Ronaldo was waiting. He jumped and everything else seemed to stand still, the ball hit the back of the net and although Chelsea were almost straight back in it they had the momentum and it looked certain they would add to their lead. Cech kept us in it with two superb saves from Tevez and Carrick and my heart was racing. My Newchulster Unicity fan was getting well into it and he had every reason to as his 'team' was on the ascendancy. Then right on half time Chelsea were back in it as Lampard latched on to a loose ball that cannoned off the United defenders before sitting up for Frank who scored what was a lucky goal.

The second half I felt was all Chelsea, United were not the dominating team from the first half and it was looking increasingly like the Blues would score again. I was worried that Chelsea would slip off the pace and concede at the end but they kept going. Drogba was creating problems and with the prematch build up and statistics showing him to be the player of big games it was the occasion for him to settle the score.

The game moved into extra time and Chelsea hit the bar and also the post and there were many anxious faces all around the bar. A guy behind me was yelling about it being an omen that United would win as Bayern Munich did the same back in '99. The clock was slowly ticking down and then Drogba left his mark all over the game and likely all over the newspapers for weeks to come. And for the wrong reasons as he was given his marching orders for slapping Vidic around the face. Typical, I remember back at the Camp Nou he was also sent to the dressing rooms a few seasons ago and that cost us. With him off and Chelsea down to ten men it was destined to go to Penalties and that it did.

I hate penalties, I have seen England fail so many times, Chelsea also as recent as last season against Liverpool and here we are again going into the biggest game of our history and the lottery begins. Every second I could feel my heart pounding, every goal felt like it echoed around inside my body, reverberating from the cheers in the bar. I probably looked a wreck to my friends, and I suppose I know I take it too serious but that's how I define support for my team. When Ronaldo missed my fists were clenched for the four penalties that followed waiting and hoping.

Then with the score 4-4 on penalties our captain John Terry began the long walk to the penalty spot, his kick would/would not win it for us. I always look at the players face before they take their run up and he looked confident. Our captain, our leader now to create history with everything in his hands and likely pressing down on his shoulders as well. As his foot reached the ball his left leg gave way and the ball lifted up and rebounded off of the post and away. At that moment I knew it was over, even though four more penalties followed and Anelka eventually missed to hand United the trophy. Fate had spoken, the Busby Babes were remembered in the most emphatic way and Chelsea were left to rue the missed chance. Until the next season as they say but this will hurt for a very long time!!