The Champions League Final has become almost a traditional finale to the football season since they moved it to a Saturday night, but any sense of anticipation I might have had was dulled by the fact that I have little time for either of the participants and really couldn’t have given a toss who won the game.
Chelsea took on Bayern Munich in Munich’s home ground and for most of the game I was irresistably reminded of that 70’s movie called ‘They shoot horses don’t they?’ about Depression-era dance marathons where the last couple standing after however many hours on the dancefloor would win a cash prize. Munich and Chelsea had just about bored one another and the watching millions to a standstill for the first 80 minutes when something extraordinary happened: Munich scored. In truth it was a scruffy goal – Peter Cech should have saved it – but it had the effect of galvanising a completely forgettable game into something approaching genuine entertainment. Didier Drogba scored a great headed equaliser and suddenly we were into extra time. Arjen Robben missed a penalty for Munich early on, after which both teams were really too tired to do anything other than go through the motions. The ensuing penalty shoot-out was as inevitable as the sun rising in the East and there was also a certain inevitability about the fact that Chelsea would win it. In the end, of course, it was Drogba’s penalty that won it for Roberto di Matteo’s team – it was almost as though it was written in the stars that it would be Drogba’s night as he seems to be on the verge of ending his lengthy association with the club – though maybe not after tonight. Perhaps Abramovich will have him stuffed and stand him in his hallway.
Of course, it could be said that after Manchester United’s indifferent performances against Barcelona in the last 2 finals, it’s a bit rich for a United fan to be too critical of either Chelsea or Munich, but in what was supposed to be the seasonal showcase between 2 of Europe’s top teams, I have to say that there was precious little to lift the game out of its defensively-orientated rut and the teams largely cancelled one another out. In many ways, it followed a similar pattern to United’s final against Munich back in 1999: 80 minutes of tedium followed by a few minutes of explosive and dramatic action
As is usually the case, with me, I tried to take some pleasure from the result; I am pleased for my old mate Ian from St Albans, who is an old-school Chelsea fan who stood at The Shed end with his Dad as a kid and has waited all his life for this. I was pleased for Gary Cahill, who had a brilliant game and for Drogba, who, it must be said, I have rather come to admire in the autumn of his years in English football. He truly is a great player and deserves his medal. I am also pleased for Roberto di Matteo, who I think is quite a genial character but I am also sorry for him, because now I think Abramovich will have to give him the job full-time, even though it’s clear that he doesn’t really want to. The Russian has his eyes on some big marquee coach like Guardiola and didn’t really want Di Matteo to have the job, but what choice does he have now? The problem for Di Matteo is that he is pretty much going to have to deliver this level of performance and trophy -winning every year if he’s going to keep the job. What would be great would be if he turned Abramovich down and just walked, but I suspect that won’t happen.
Lastly, a special word for John Terry, whose brainless foul on Alexis Sanchez in the semi-final against Barcelona ensured that he would miss this game.
And that word is ‘Tosser’.
How stupid must he have felt sitting on the touchline as his teammates won the shoot-out? On the other hand, who cares? Maybe one day a couple of random synapses will collide in the wide-open and largely unused expanse of JT’s brain and he will finally understand that there is a price to be paid for the advanced levels of stupidity in which he seems to specialise. The man is a pustule and I’m actually delighted that he was forced to sit out the greatest night in Chelsea’s history. Serves him right, frankly.