Emphatic defeat, importance of managers, a great ambassador
Losing to Chelsea is no disgrace. Until they took the lead on the stroke of half time Stoke had matched them. When Kenwyne Jones squandered a great opportunity early on many of us got the feeling we may have blown our best chance… and so it proved. Throughout a very entertaining first half Chelsea broke with precision and pace and their movement stretched us. It was the fluidity which led to Frank Lampard’s opening bringing an impressive save from Asmir Begovic. We were undone by the aforementioned movement in first half injury time. The overlap and cross by Hazard created confusion in our defence and Jon Walters ensuing own goal proved to be the turning point in the match. We started the second half with a burst of pressure, the highpoint of which was N’Zonzi’s thunderous drive being palmed away by Cech. Unfortunately, having to press and chase the game led to space behind the midfield, space that Chelsea were more than capable of exploiting. When Jon Walters bagged his second own goal of the game it marked the end of the match as a contest. 4 down after 73 minutes we could have been forgiven for fearing a repeat of the 0-7 battering we took at Stamford Bridge in 2010. Thankfully we were spared a repeat of that humiliation. All that remained was for Jon Walters to compound his own miserable day by missing a penalty. Nobody can deny Chelsea’s quality but losing 0-4 at home to anyone is distressing. From being a team with an inpenetrable defence we’ve now conceded ten goals in the last three league games. In the aftermath we can look ahead and disperse many of the gathering clouds in the embryonic stage by bouncing straight back at Swansea. Most importantly, we must remember that while the defence needs work we still have the attacking armory to press forward and win games. Intending to play out 0-0 draws would be as unnecessary and inexcusable as ever.
Much of the media attention has understandably focused on Jon Walters. Scoring two own goals and missing a penalty certainly equates to a bad day at the office! It was great to hear Stoke City fans giving support by singing his name. Hopefully he understands these things happen in football from time to time and much worse things in life can occur. If his two goal haul in the FA Cup replay against Crystal Palace is an indicator he’s coming to terms with it!!
Brisbane Roar are languishing 3 places from the bottom of the A-League. Saturday’s dismal 0-1 defeat at Newcastle was a poor showing from a team whose fall from dominance is as complete as their rise was impressive. The fall from grace is more striking when considering the players are the same ones who became the most successful team in the history of Australian sport. The lesson to be learnt is never to underestimate the manager’s influence. When Ange Postecoglou left the club for Melbourne Victory some demeaned his influence in Brisbane’s success. It was suggested the real mastermind behind the operation was his assistant Rado Vidosic and Vidosic’s promotion to manager would be a seamless transition. As has often been the case internal promotion didn’t work out. Managing a football team can be a good cop bad cop dynamic and often the link between players and manager is the assistant. Vidosic was replaced as manager a month ago but the club’s current malaise can be traced back to the lazy decision to replace Ange Postecoglou with Rado Vidosic.
The speculation is over. Pep Guardiola has confirmed that he’ll be working for Bayern Munich next season. Speculation was rife that he’d move to the Premier League, which, in effect, meant Manchester City or Chelsea. His decision is understandable. In moving to Bayern he’ll get a free rein to fulfill his vision at a club with great stature. Another positive aspect of the move is it increases the prestige of the Bundesliga. In an age when fans in many nations are indoctrinated into believing their exploitation is essential for the clubs to prosper, German clubs have proven there are different methods to sustain success.
The build up to the Arsenal v Manchester City match was dominated by the news of Manchester City being unable to sell their full allocation. The main factor in this was the extortionate 62 pound ticket price. At the match Manchester City fan Richard Taylor protested about the hefty cost of watching his team. His demonstration took the form of displaying a banner asking the simple inoffensive question.. 62pounds!! WHERE WILL IT STOP? A reasonable statement made peacefully. That didn’t stop a steward removing the banner. The steward informed Taylor the banner was in breach of club regulations. An Arsenal official later stated that the only reason the banner was removed was because it impeded the view of supporters. This explanation would carry a semblance of credibility were it not for the fact it was taken away before the match had kicked off.
As a gesture of friendship Bobby Charlton invited families of victims of the Hillsborough disaster into the directors box for Sunday’s Manchester United v Liverpool match. It was a magnificent gesture from English football’s finest ambassador. As a man he exhibits the sheer class he showed as a player. Bobby Charlton is the embodiment of everything that makes football great.