Sunday, May 20, 2007

FA Cup Reaction

Yesterday’s FA Cup final held at the new Wembly Stadium in London was hardly a classic, but it was a good example of why Chelsea has been such a successful team these past three years and also why Jose Mourinho is such a good coach.

I would argue that for the past year Manchester United has looked liked the stronger team. They attacked more, and when healthy had a very convincing defense. Emotionally, (and personally) they won me over during their second leg 7-1 thrashing of Roma in the Champions League, when they attacked and attacked with unrelenting flair and pace. I found myself rooting hard for them the rest of the season, almost as hard as I rooted against Chelsea, a team that seemed to win every match in a negative fashion, usually 1-0.

Does that score sound familiar? They ground another one out yesterday, thanks to a fine Didier Drogba goal in the 116th minute of tense extra-time. The game was not particularly exciting, and many of the stars (Christiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, Frank Lampard, etc.) did not play very well. In what was probably the least impressive piece of prognostication ever uttered, I commented to my friend that Drogba would be dangerous if he got in the box with the ball, which is about as sharp as commenting that Diego Maradona was a pretty good footballer. Anyway, Drogba proved me right, and Chelsea came away with an uninspiring win.

The point is, I guess, that Chelsea did win. It’s their second trophy of the season in a year that has been labeled a “down” season and one in which the manager’s job is apparently in jeopardy. Look: if football was judged solely on aesthetics, Mourinho should be fired, and the team should be broken up. But Chelsea wins, even when they are going through a tough time, and you have to admire that, no matter how big the payroll and not matter how negative the football. Congrats to them.

All the same, I will be avoiding their games like the plague until they start playing a little bit more pleasurable soccer. But I will admire them from a distance.

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