Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Alan Green: If Chelsea can be the kings of Europe, so can England

Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo celebrates with John Terry

One of the consequences of the late finish in Munich and the chaotic transport arrangements after the Champions League final was to force the ‘great and the good’ of the English football media to gather on a station platform near the Arena for a promised train to the city centre that, ultimately, never arrived.

In the frustrating wait we were all agreed that it has been a total barnpot of a season and therefore, the logical conclusion had to be — and not all of us were being frivolous — that England would now surely WIN the European Championship, probably beating Germany on penalties along the way!

Wellif Chelsea could win the Champions League in such ridiculous circumstances, why can’t England prosper too? Yes, I know

Shall I get the ‘bad bits’ out of the way? Of course, Chelsea aren’t, by some distance, the best team in Europe. They aren’t even the best team in England: they finished sixth. But we must remember that the Champions League isn’t a league, it’s a cup. So, the strangest things can happen. A team can triumph despite being comprehensively outplayed by the opposition in both legs of the semi-final and the final.

However, we shouldn’t dwell too much on this and let it detract from the applause due to Chelsea. Wasn’t Liverpool’s win in Istanbul all the sweeter for them being battered by AC Milan in the first half?

No, the only aspect of Munich that I found unsavoury was seeing John Terry switch from ‘suit and tie’ to tracksuit to full playing kit, including shin pads, so that he could muscle his way onto the podium, put a hand on the trophy — luckily Frank Lampard already held the other handle — and push his way through colleagues so that the ‘captain, leader, legend’ would be at the forefront of celebratory pictures. Boy, doesn’t Terry have class: third class.

Naturally, Drogba drew plaudits for his performance. I’m delighted he pushed the theatrics to one side and concentrated on being the immense striker we know him to be. He was stupendous and that he took the winning penalty was in keeping with the feeling that this was all ‘meant to be.’

But my heroes were on the defensive side: Mikel — has he ever played better in blue? — Cahill, Luiz — why did I ever doubt them? — and Cole. Look, we have to acknowledge what an incredible player the left-back is. All he’s ever done to offend was his dismissal of a measly Arsenal offer of an extra £5,000 a week and his treatment of a Tyneside bride who most men fancy.

Questions now dominate the Chelsea agenda though. Does Di Matteo get the job? I remain unconvinced. I still put this extraordinary climax down to a change of attitude and performance by the players rather than the input of the caretaker coach. There must be a ‘mix’ of course but in what proportions? And who can read the mind of Roman Abramovich?

Should Drogba get the two-year contract he craves? Why doesn’t he just sign for one year and see what 2013 brings?

And what do you do about the sulking Torres? You’ll know I’ve argued that the future must be built around him, but what’s happened over the last few weeks certainly alters the perspective. I don’t know.

What is undeniable is that Chelsea have given us all, and particularly those fortunate enough to commentate, nights in the Nou Camp and Munich that we will never forget.

Thank you.

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