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Old Lady Hit By Big Stage Coach


Dorset

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In black and white terms, it wasn’t a pretty sight. To be honest these accidents seldom are, especially if they occur in the later rounds of a competition and involve multiple crashes, including those of a cultural nature, as well as on and off field confrontations. All that can be said about this little ‘coming together’ was that Chelsea were much better prepared for it than most people in the know, and David Platt, imagined we would be…

When the wagons started to roll Michael Essien was riding shotgun and the maverick who put him there gave us fans a memory-jerking reminder of what strategy and streetwise planning is all about in Champions Leagueville. Not too long ago we looked like a one horse town in need of redevelopment and, mercifully, the mayor called it right - if there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call? - Guus Hiddink! Half a dozen games later and we’re a thriving community once again and the tinker-totting gunslinger called Claudio gets run outta town pronto, even though he is one of the good guys.

Credit to Ranieri last night, however, because he’d had previous experience of being sheriff in these ‘ere parts and knew that we would play a ’typically English’ game sooner rather than later under our new, if temporary, manager. Faced with the likely prospect of a bisonly beefed up midfield he went with the 4-4-2 that most people in the know, and David Platt, anticipated and quickly utilised the space in front of the full backs that our diamond midfield allowed. Having gone a goal down and not really settled in our newfound system, the reaction was heartening and, with any justice, might have seen us go in at halftime ahead rather than on level terms.

Hands up all those who thought that, with 45 minutes to go, the Tinkerman would be quickest on the draw to avoid the draw with a quirky substitution. Yep, you were right, as off came the towering central striker who’d scored and on came a midfielder smaller than Neil McNab and Luca Modric put together. Cue a reactive substitution from Hiddink, as he chose the moment five minutes later to rest Essien and bring on Belletti, but to the surprise of many in the know, and David Platt, the diminutive Giovinco turned out to be a lot better than expected and might even have grown into a big player in the game had he been given an earlier opportunity. That’s Claudio subs for you - ever the unpredictable in outcome.

Sending off and second goals later, we’re through, they’re not and, somewhere between Villa Park and the Emirates Stadium, a certain David Platt is in floods of tears and tearing up a betting slip. Such is life, David, and long may it continue along its seemingly predictable path for us under the stewardship of the Dutchman. No wheels off the wagon so far and the journey with our big stage coach is a lot more enjoyable than it ever was perched precariously in that one trick pony and trap we travelled in before. Can it really all be down to tougher training, strong discipline and an astute tactical brain? If so, there is only one thing left to say… Giddy-up Guus and don’t spare the [work] horses!

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