When Chelsea sacked Jose Mourinho, we all knew he would come back to haunt them as coach of an opposing team. On his much hyped return to London with Inter Milan, things went very well for the man from Portugal.
As his old team crumbled, his new team stood like giants. And with millions of football fans watching, it was evident the ghost of “the Special One” still lingers and bedevils Chelsea Football Club.
How much do you miss him now Blues fans? Will you ever get over him?
Avram Grant, Phil Scolari, Guus Hiddink and now potentially Carlo Ancelotti have all failed to fill the shoes left wide open by the “Special One.” Sure they won the F.A. Cup with Hiddink and Ancelotti could yet snag the Premier League. But the trophy the club and their Russian billionaire owner so desperately desire has eluded them once again. Will this Chelsea team ever win the Champions League? Does Roman have any regrets sacking Mourinho? Does he wish he could turn back the clock?
Make no mistake. Jose Mourinho is still the “Special One.” He orchestrated that Champions League game better than a conductor guiding the Italian Symphony. The defense stood big and tall like a woodwind section never missing a beat. The midfield men pulled all the strings by plucking and playing the Chelsea team like several fiddles. And in true brass form, the strike force huffed and puffed to a massive crescendo, helping Inter Milan create some beautiful music on the night. It came together as flawlessly as the symphony always does.
As much as Mourinho loves Chelsea, it must have been a sweet victory for him last night. He made Stamford Bridge a fortress during his tenure at Chelsea. They were undefeated at home when he was the boss and he built a sense of invincibility with a Chelsea team that had underachieved for so many years. Chelsea were very little when Mourinho arrived. They had won the F.A. Cup and Carling Cup here and there. But the league eluded them for 50 years. He put Chelsea on the map. Granted he had Roman’s money to do it, but as we’ve all seen, it’s not easy to just buy and win. Go and ask Rafa!
There is so much you can write about Mourinho and there is much you can say about Chelsea and how they have lost their bite since his departure. What I will say about Mourinho is that the man is a born winner. He is a born leader of men. He can win anywhere. The question on all of our lips is where will he go next? I for one would love to see him back in the Premier League, but something tells me he might be heading for Spain.
Wherever he goes, he will inspire, he will deliver and he will be special…
Jermain Defoe scored a record 5 goals in one half of football to help Tottenham secure one of the biggest wins in Premier League history. The blue side of North London battered Wigan 9-1 and reminded everyone they do have what it takes to hang around the top 4 with all the other big boy wannabes. Only Manchester United have scored 9 goals in the Premier League and that was against Ipswich many moons ago. And yes, once upon a time, Ipswich were in the top flight!
Not even ‘Arry Redknapp could believe how his team trounced Wigan. Wigan have been doing some solid business under new manager Roberto Martinez. They have fought well thus far in the Premier League this season and have secured a couple of surprise results including a 3-1 victory over Chelsea. Does this mean Tottenham are better than Chelsea? Of course it doesn’t, but it’s an interesting fact don’t you think? What does it mean when Manchester United lose to Burnely, but Tottenham beat them too? We looked at this trend in the Topsy Turvy post a few weeks ago. We will only know if it means anything at the end of the season and what Spurs really need to do is beat the likes of United, Chelsea and Arsenal to up their game to the next level.
One thing is sure from this result. If injuries are not a factor and form is not an issue, Jermain Defoe will be going to the World Cup with England next summer. And if Aaron Lennon can keep up his current play, he will be on that same flight to South Africa with his Spurs pal. These two players wreaked havoc on Wigan this weekend. They were devastatingly good and there was no stopping them. If they can produce this type of football every week, Tottenham are absolutely a team to be reckoned with and England might benefit from their chemistry at the World Cup.
We have to give credit where credit is due fellow football fans. It’s not easy to score goals in the Premier League. Spurs scored 9. Defoe alone scored 5. Only 3 other players have scored that many in a Premier League game. Spurs were playing against a decent side. The question about Spurs is consistency. Can they bring their “A” game to every game? History has shown us this is not usually the case. But history is there to be altered. Can Tottenham continue the good fight and prove they can hang with the best of them?
Other notes from the weekend…we footie fans needed Manchester United to win so they can keep close to Chelsea. Arsenal blew it against Sunderland. They need to win that game in hand more than ever now. Liverpool look like they are out of the race after a draw with Manchester City. They just don’t look good enough and they don’t have that Liverpool spirit about them. How long will Rafa hang on? Even with Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham all still sniffing around, everyone is starting to talk about the Premier League being a two horse race? I’d hate to think so when there is still so much football to be played. What do you think? I believe anything is possible as long as it’s still this side of Christmas!
The Champions League is proving to be really weird this year people. Barcelona struggled to beat a team that sounds like a really delicious sandwich. Liverpool need to get their prayer mats out and hope for a miracle. Bayern Munich do not look like German giants. Inter Milan are not so special. Real Madrid really need Ronaldo back. And Manchester United should look into cloning Rooney 10 times, despite moving closer to the knockout stages.
Did one of you rival fans put something in their nutritional beverages? Or could it be the clocks going back? That always messes with one’s alignment. Whatever the problem is, these teams need to snap out of it and fast.
Bordeaux, Arsenal, Sevilla, Juventus, Lyon, Chelsea, Fiorentina and FC Porto are looking the best thus far in the competition. Arsenal and Chelsea have been regular cast members in the Champions League group stages. And if you are a player, manager, executive or fan of either of these clubs, you have to believe you have a great shot at winning Europe’s greatest prize, especially when you look around and see the big boys struggling.
I’m sure the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan will make the knockout stages. That’s not what’s in question. What’s in question is how they are playing. Real Madrid should really be beating this particular AC Milan team. They’ve been poor in the Italian league and nobody really thought they were the AC Milan of old when the season started. Ronaldo has been sorely missed by Real Madrid, but after buying so many expensive and quality players this summer, are Real Madrid really a one man team?
Inter Milan were lucky to have walked away with a win against Dynamo Kiev. The Champions League is the piece of silverware the club wants badly. You can see the reflection of the Champions League trophy in Jose Mourinho’s eyes as he observes his team from the touch line. Schevchenko almost came back to haunt the man who didn’t really give him a chance at Chelsea. But a couple of last gasp goals from Milito and Sneijder saved the blushes of Mourinho and his men. And what’s happened to Eto’o since his move from Barcelona to Inter Milan?
Manchester United – although sitting comfortably at the top of their group – just don’t seem to be the same team this season. The loss of Ronaldo has been far greater than even the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson could have imagined. They fought back once Rooney came on as a substitute. But what if Rooney gets injured? What then? Where will their inspiration come from? It’s tricky times at Old Trafford. The amazing thing about United is they are drawing or winning and not playing their best football. They don’t warm up to their sublime best until December/January. The question is, do they have the talent to shift into their usual 5th gear this season?
Liverpool are a mess. Alonso is another player who left for Real Madrid in the summer and Liverpool have not recovered. Aquilani could be the answer, but we just haven’t seen enough of him yet to compare. Voronin and Lucas are not the answer. Benayoun, Kuyt and Torres are the only players that are trying to make an impact and difference on the pitch. Carragher has been a disaster all season and with Gerrard being injured, they don’t have that final driving force in the midfield to make things happen going forward. I don’t like to talk about people losing their jobs, but Benitez is one bad result away from losing his.
Of course this could all change next week and that’s the beauty about the game we fans love! What do you think of the European giants struggling in the Champions League? Which team is looking the most dynamic for you? Is it possible that a Lyon, Fiorentina or Sevilla could win the Champions League? Did you drink wine or beer when watching the games this week?
Liverpool beat their arch enemy Manchester United 2-0 at the weekend and this result is without doubt one of the sweetest for the scouse house in years. Nobody gave them a chance. The media ripped them to pieces. Benitez was ready for the chop. And even John Terry labeled them a two-man team. My how things can change so quickly in football. The magicians of Merseyside pulled the rabbit out of the hat big time with this victory and I believe they surprised us all!
With four losses in a row resulting in one of the worst runs of form in the club’s history, Liverpool appeared as though they were heading into some serious turmoil. As the owners continue to be at each others throats and key players suffer from injuries, the hopes of bringing the title home after so many years was slowly fading fast once again. The walls at Anfield were caving in and the claws were coming out thick and fast from all angles.
Even the Liverpool fans turned on manager Rafa Benitez. The fans have always been Rafa’s security blanket. They feel a sense of loyalty for the Champions League success he has brought to the club. The fans fell in love with Rafa when he secured the Champions League trophy. And then when he took them to another Champions League final, they fell in love with him all over again. And last year when Rafa couldn’t quite finish off United in the title race, the fans showed their support once again. But finally that loyalty was tested after a recent run of bad results, including a dismal loss to Sunderland last week.
Going into the United game, Liverpool football club was under an intense amount of pressure. Rafa Benitez was probably under the microscope more than ever before. Some say that a loss to United could have cost him his job, despite the recent vote of confidence from the board. The entire city needed to get behind the team. The manager needed to pull it together. And the players had to go out, perform heroics and get a result that nobody believed they could. Well somehow it all came together and Liverpool won one of the most important games in their recent history. A loss would have meant their Premier League hopes were all but over. And it could have spelled the end for Rafa. Instead he and his red army get to live and fight another day.
This is what makes the Premier League so exciting. Just when you think a team is down and out, they fight back and show their will to win the biggest prize in domestic football. Credit to Rafa and his team for the togetherness they showed and the team spirit they displayed to win the game over their most hated of rivals. Let’s not sugar coat this in any way. These two teams despise each other and Liverpool’s victory will leave a bitter taste in Manchester United’s mouth. The reigning champions were beaten fair and square. There is no referee to blame it on this time. Perhaps it’s Fergie and his Red Devils that face the pressure now.
How do you think Liverpool will do from here? Can they still win the title? How do you think United will bounce back from this loss? Do United have enough quality in their team to crowned champions again? Does anyone else agree it’s time for John Terry to shut-up?
As we move swiftly into October, the rumour mill is bubbling once again as the next transfer window looms. We’re sure to hear of Barcelona chasing Cesc Fabregas and there’s no doubt Manchester City will be linked with every single player in the universe. What I wasn’t expecting to hear was a move for Robbie Keane to Celtic. Really?
Having fought for a transfer back to his beloved Tottenham, it surprises me to hear that someone somewhere is trying to shift Mr.Keane away from the Lane. The purported move is splashed across the back pages today and you have to wonder, who is responsible for this? Is it Tottenham? Could it be Keane’s agent? Or is Rafa up to no good again?!
Even though Keane bagged 4 goals against Burnley, he has failed to score in 14 of the 21 league games since his return from Liverpool. I thought he made quite the statement with his performance against the Clarets, but it appears even that hasn’t squashed the question marks surrounding Keane’s current form. Something isn’t quite right with the Irishman and most would have thought he’d be happy with life and football once he returned to Tottenham.
According to most media outlets, Keane’s dream is to play for Celtic one day. Celtic is a fantastic club with great tradition and pedigree, but if you’re a hungry player wanting to win things, surely your best best for serious glory is to stick with Spurs? And being the captain, you’d think lifting trophies for the club he fought so hard to return to would be the priority. But it goes back to where did this story originate from and who is angling for Keane to move?
Do you think Keane will leave Spurs? Is ‘Arry looking to shift the Irishman out so he can start Defoe and Crouch up front? Is this the work of an agent? Does Keane really want to go? If you are a Spurs fan, would you like to see him stay or go? One thing is for sure, it would be a superb deal for Celtic…
They say you reap what you sow. And the Gunners can tell you it’s true. Not even a Godly strike from Arshavin could save Arsenal. They lost to Manchester United in a game they absolutely should have won. They gave away a costly penalty and some might think it was the Gods punishing them for Eduardo’s dive against Celtic earlier in the week. Were the Penalty Gods trying to put the world right at Old Trafford on Saturday? Did Arsenal deserve at least a point for their efforts? Will they bounce back in their next game against Manchester City? Do you think Wenger could play up front after showing his water bottle kicking skills?
Manchester United were exceptionally lucky to get a win against Arsenal. I know they came back and gave it a good fight, but in the overall picture of play, Arsenal made United look really average. The penalty decision was questionable and the own goal from Diaby was incredibly unlucky. Arsenal then had a goal disallowed in the dying seconds and again, you’ve seen them given. Rooney was brilliant. He is the spark for United. His passion drives the team and you can’t deny their never say die attitude. Rooney is the engine though. He is United right now. They need him more than ever. The Gods were certainly on the Red Devil’s side in this game.
Tottenham won again. You read that right people. Tottenham won again. What did they put in the juice down at the Lane? Surely they can’t keep this up can they? ‘Arry is doing a superb job so far this season. It’s a shame Modric will be out for 6 weeks. They say it’s a broken leg. What a blow as he’s been sensational. How will this affect Spurs? Lennon has been on fire in the last couple of games and deserves his England recall. Crouch helped change the game when he came on and he too deserves his call-up from Capello. Can Tottenham really win the League? Can they keep this up? Or will they be arguing about ketchup in a couple of months?
Chelsea look dangerous. They demolished Burnley. Remember, Burnley beat Manchester United last week. Interesting that, don’t you think? Chelsea look connected as a team. They look like they are playing for each other. They’ve maintained the spirit Hiddink recreated from the Mourinho days. Ancelotti has added his flavour to the mix and the Blues are looking good. Frank Lampard continues to impress for me. And it might be painful to hear because I know it’s painful to write but…Ashley Cole is having an incredible start to the season. What do you think of Chelsea?
Liverpool were lucky. The good news for them is they had a very average performance and still won the game. It was so typical of Gerrard to hit a winning goal the way he did when he was not really a factor throughout. This will help the team’s confidence and seeing Torres and Gerrard score will help. Not sure about the new signing Kyriakos. Let’s give the guy more time though. Carragher is a liability at the back. Rafa should stop acting with his heart and start acting with his head when it comes to Carra. He’s a good player to have on the bench. If Liverpool want to win, they need to fix their problems at the back.
Manchester City kept their 100% record alive. Adebayor scored again. Gareth Barry is the most impressive of their new signings. He has to be one of the best midfielder’s in the country. Let’s see how City do in the next few weeks when they meet Arsenal and Manchester United. They are doing well, but for me, they are not interesting yet. It was good to see Everton win. I think Distin is a solid signing for them. Villa won their second in a row so that will help them continue to build their confidence. Stoke are in 4th place! Go on Stoke!
What stood out for you this week?
Finally, the agonizing wait is over. The greatest show on earth is back. The passion, the agony and the ecstasy of the Premier League is already in full swing. I loved every single second of opening weekend. How was it for you?
Manchester United put in a reliable performance, Chelsea were predictable, Liverpool looked unsavoury and Arsenal were sublime. Of the other teams challenging to break into the top 4…Tottenham looked impressive, Manchester City dazzled for about 10 minutes and Aston Villa were woeful. Now seeing as this is only week one, we won’t get too carried away with what we’ve seen thus far. Remember how we all thought Deco would be another Zola after Chelsea’s first game last season? Well I’m sure we don’t want to make mistakes like that again as we kick-off the 2009/10 campaign. But as fans, we can’t help ourselves in saying what we see, even if it is just week one!
So here’s what I saw and we’ll start with last season’s top 4…if Arsenal can sustain that type of play throughout the season then they have the ability to carve-up any team in the Premier League and I’m even going to say they looked as good as Barcelona when they are at their best. Vermaelen looks like a great signing and Gallas seemed to play exceptionally comfortably with him. Fabregas and Denilson were on fire and Bendtner shined playing on the right for the Gunners. We know Everton aren’t that crap. But are Arsenal really that good?
Hull were very unlucky. Chelsea got very lucky. 6 minutes of injury time. Really referee? Despite that, you can’t deny Drogba his free-kick winner in the dying minutes. Drogba was Chelsea’s best player. It’s as though he’s playing to redeem himself from the disgusting outburst he had during last year’s Champions League semi-final. If he’s going to play like this all season, he could be the key to the Blues success. Can Drogba deliver this year? For Hull, it could be another struggle. I can see why Michael Turner is attracting the likes of Liverpool. He was a rock for Hull and by far their best player. Does anyone else ever mistake him for Michael Dawson though? Can you say twins?
Manchester United already missed Ronaldo in their first game of the season. Who wouldn’t? He’s one of the world’s best players. Sir Alex Ferguson has said it’s going to be tough without him. And it might well be for United as they defend their title. New signing Antonio Valencia had a solid home debut and Berbatov’s touch at time was exquisite. However, the main man for United this year will be Rooney. They need him to stay fit. Without him, they will struggle. Rooney could have an award winning type of season. The shackles are off. Watch him fly. Can Rooney be a sensation? Do you see United winning 4 in a row?
Not to hit the panic button just yet, but Liverpool didn’t look good at all. There was no invention in their play and it felt as though Alonso was missing from that midfield. Torres and Gerrard were rusty and Benitez should have played Benayoun from the beginning. Babel just can’t cut it and he gave another poor performance. Glen Johnson had a great debut for the reds and was the reason they won that penalty. Benitez might need to buy a couple more players before the transfer window ends. And he needs Aquilano to get fit as soon as possible. Can Liverpool mount a challenge this season?
Now to the top 4 wannabees…Tottenham rolled over Liverpool and looked more like title contenders in this first game. From defense to attack, they dominated and made Liverpool look like a very average Premier League team. Modric, Huddlestone and King controlled the game. Defoe looks ready to rumble. Ekotto is establishing himself as an elite player and Lennon could still use some refnining. Is it me or does Huddlestone remind you of Hoddle? And if it wasn’t for his bum knees, could Ledley King oust Terry or Ferdinand from the England squad?
Manchester City, the new billionaire boys club of the Premier League got off to a great start. Don’t let the score fool you though. Blackburn put up a good fight and could have taken a point from the game. There’s no question Adebayor was flying from the word go, but for me it was the likes of Gareth Barry and Shaun Wright-Phillips that were at the heart of everything good for City. Mark Hughes still has a lot of work to do. They still look suspicious in defense and once again, Robinho had another average game. You can’t help but wonder how this team will react in a moment of adversity. I can see them tearing each other apart. Can you?
Notable mention of course goes to Wigan for a superb start beating Villa. Note to all Wigan fans…just remember how good a start Hull City made last season! And this is just week one. See…I told you it was too hard to keep the ole’ gob shut. Heaven, we’re in heaven…
So Xabi Alonso finally joined Real Madrid for a reported 30 million pounds. The midfield maestro leaves Liverpool after 5 years of quality service. I’m sure the fans are sad today as they loved watching Alonso play alongside Gerrard, Mascherano and his fellow countrymen, Torres. And if the fans are looking for someone to blame for Alonso leaving, they should look no further than their coach Rafa Benitez. After the debacle that was trying to sign Gareth Barry last season, Alonso felt a little insulted and wanted out of Liverpool from then. Well done Rafa!
The Liverpool coach is however hoping to ease the fans pain with the signing of Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani who joins Liverpool from Roma as a replacement for Alonso. Aquilani cost the reds 18 million pounds and is an exciting prospect who has shined for Roma in Serie A and the Champions League. He does have some question marks with regards to injuries, but it seems the Anfield medical crew are happy with his status following the ankle surgery he had in May.
Will Liverpool be as strong in midfield without Alonso? Will this effect Gerrard’s play in any way? What do you think of Aquilani as a replacement? Now Benitez is in charge of transfers, do you think he’s doing a good job with it all so far?
And what about Real Madrid? They have signed Ronaldo, Benzema, Kaka, Alonso and let’s not forget Arbeloa who is also a quality player. If the coach can super glue this talent together, we could see one of the most exciting elite European teams in years. I for one will be watching to see how the new Glacticos fair against the current princes of Spanish football, Barcelona. Can Real Madrid knock the Catalans out of their treble-winning tree?
Alonso has moved on from the Premier League and the Gareth Barry saga to fulfill a childhood dream. Like so many other players, he has always wanted to play for Real Madrid. And for the Spanish international, he certainly feels like he’s back home in the place where he belongs…
Liverpool jumped into the transfer hot tub and closed the deal for Glen Johnson. They had to fend-off the advances of Chelsea and Manchester City , but eventually they got their man for 17 million pounds. Johnson will now need to find ways to spend his whooping 80,000 squids a week. Be sure to save a little a month Glen. You never know what can happen!
This is a superb deal for Johnson. Even Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez admitted they paid over the odds for him. Only a couple of seasons ago he was banished to the Stamford Bridge sidelines by then coach, Jose Mourinho. And, after that dreadful period at Chelsea, he moved to Portsmouth where he rebuilt his reputation as one of the Premier League’s most talented right backs.
The sometimes England international does appear to be back to his best now and he should add value to Liverpool next season. But it’s easy to play in a team like Portsmouth and look good. He was so lost at a big club like Chelsea, so will he have the oomph to show he belongs at a big club like Liverpool? Can he become an Anfield favourite or will he be back at Portsmouth by the January transfer window? Did anyone say Robbie Keane…?
Good luck Glen…
Not that I want this to become a Chelsea blog…but news is news people! Carlo Ancelotti was today named as the successor to Guus Hiddink. Do you think Chelsea hired Ancelotti because he looks a little like Guus? Check out the picture of Guus with the F.A. Cup below and judge for yourselves. Perhaps the owner and executive team hired the Italian master so the players can feel “comfortable” with a familiar face in the dressing room!
Chelsea have hired someone with real pedigree in Carlo Ancelotti. He has been hugely successful in his career as a player and a coach. Ancelotti arrives at Stamford Bridge following a mediocre season at AC Milan, but don’t be fooled…this man has won it all! The Italian Cup, the Super Cup, the World Club Championship, the UEFA Cup and Serie A. He is also part of an elite footballing group being one of only 6 players who have won the Champions League as a player and a coach. The most recent coach to do that was Pep Guardiola this year with Barcelona.
Ancelotti is an interesting character too. I think he’ll live upto that character a lot more than Phil Scolari did. Some people say he’s as fascinating as Jose Mourinho. In order to manage a club like Chelsea or the “big four” in general, you have to have that something special. Hiddink had it, plus he also started to help erase the memory of Mourinho during his time with the Blues. If you look at Ancelotti’s successes as a player and coach, it appears he might be able to erase the memory of Mourinho completely in his first season. Unless he smokes during training of course and gives his players unnecessary respiratory problems to the point where they are unable to compete and have to forfeit their season.
Do you think Chelsea have made the right choice? Can you see them winning the title with Ancelotti next season? Do you think the Italian master will bring any of his ex-players with him from AC Milan? And will he be able to square-up to Rafa Benitez, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger?