Monday, 1 March 2010

The last Saturday in February: A sad day

The relationship of Terry and Bridge whose teams, Chelsea and Manchester City, met on Saturday with a rare home defeat 2-4 for Chelsea was given a high profile by the media and by curiosity from the rest of us. Would they shake hands during the pre-match ceremonies? Proferred by Terry, the  hand was ignored by Bridge as the visiting team walked the line formed by the home players.

This kind of 'sad' which involves the relationship two players had with the same woman can be considered to be beside the point in football. The fact that the relationship was unknown to Bridge until reported by a newspaper added public shame to the issue. And of course it does affect the way people in a team, in football and in other kinds of work, think about the way they co-operate.  It can affect respect but can it affect performance? Well, Chelsea lost at home for the first time in 25 matches. And Chelsea had two players sent off.  Was this a coincidence? I think so - there was a fault in squad selection.

The pair sent off were both experienced 33-year old players who have played for their countries. Belletti scored the winning goal for Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final. Ballack is captain of Germany and has played in the last two World Cup competitions. His first yellow card was for complaining needlessly to the referee about a corner-kick. His second, when Chelsea were losing, was for wrapping his legs around an opponent from behind. Off he had to go! Belletti got a red direct when he chased Barry into the box directly behind! The inevitable happened: he seemed to touch feet with Barry, who fell. 

After two such incompetent acts committed when their team was losing and desperately needed goals you have to ask what these two players are even doing in the team playing for Chelsea.Where are their priorities?  Match Report.

What made the day truly sad was that Aaron Ramsey, the 19 year-old Arsenal mid-fielder had his leg broken in the match against Stoke. The faces of those on the field showed their shock and sympathy for the injured player. Shawcross, Stoke, was sent off  for the tackle he made on Ramsey and walked off in tears at what he had done. Match report.

Later in the day Shawcross would hear that  he had been chosen for the England squad for a midweek 'friendly' game against Egypt. His first cap.

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