Bridge Banter: Glory and uncertainty
Nothing much to report this week, but I suppose I’d better write something.
Chelsea, 2012 Champions of Europe. How good does that sound? Even the sun’s come out.
What makes it more remarkable is the way it happened.
When Andre Villas-Boas was sacked in early March, the Blues were facing another season of European heartache.
They were 3-1 down to Napoli after the first leg of the Champions League round of 16, and the bookies were offering 37-1 on ‘Chelsea’ being engraved on Old Big Ears. The interim gaffer, with Milton Keynes and West Brom on his managerial CV, didn’t have a prayer.
Yet Chelsea not only knocked out Naples, then Benfica, but incredibly came from behind at the Nou Camp with 10 men to defeat favourites Barcelona.
Bayern had home advantage in the final, while four of Chelsea’s best players were suspended. The stand-in centre backs had just limped back from injury, while the kid on the left wing had never played a European game in his puff.
Bayern scored with seven minutes remaining. Game over. Then Didier Drogba levelled with two minutes to go. As they had done against Barcelona, Chelsea generously gave away a penalty. Once again, the best player on the opposition team stepped forward, and failed to score.
In the penalty shoot-out against Germans, on German soil, the English team inevitably fell behind… then, improbably, triumphed when a drama queen trickled the last spot-kick over the line.
To cap it all, Spurs must cut short their summer hols to play week after week on Channel 5 against teams no one can pronounce, let alone has heard of.
Will Roberto Di Matteo get the manager’s job? Who knows.
That’s the lovely thing about Chelsea – the utter unpredictability of it all.
It would drive most other football fans mad, but – do you know – it somehow suits the remarkable men in royal Blue in SW6, and their bewildered, tear-stained, overjoyed followers.