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United 2-1 CHELSEA (3-1 agg): Gamble Didn’t Pay Off

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If you’ve come on here looking for a match review, you’ve come to the wrong blog because there’s very little to say. No dramas, no controversy, nothing to excuse defeat – we just weren’t good enough. Pretty galling to admit nevermind accept but United were the better side.

To be honest, I still can’t quite believe Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to bench Drogba and his substitutions didn’t really smack of a man with a clear idea of what ammunition he needed either, in fact, they were about as effective as a water pistol against the SAS.

Not that he should become just another scapegoat at Chelsea, the cracks were already evident before his arrival and whilst he did a good job of papering over them delivering a double last season, there’s only so much a man can do when the structure is already condemned.

Last season he managed to somehow squeeze the last few ounces of effort out of our former key players and whilst we had a cull of sorts with players like Belletti, Ballack, Deco and Carvalho, the start of the clear-out came a season too late. That’s left us in a position where this season, up against a slightly stronger United side than last, we’d gone into it still counting on the same level of performance from players like Drogba, Lampard, Anelka, Malouda and Terry when actually, they haven’t got that in them now.

One of the things that’s struck me as the season’s gone on (quite apart from how poor Lampard, Malouda and Essien have been) is how bloody slow we are at times. The frustration I’ve felt when we’ve looked to walk the ball into the net has slowly turned into a horrible realisation that that’s because half our players don’t have a sprint in them for more than half a game now. And as for fighting spirit and fire in our bellies, we’re definitely more smoke signals than blazing inferno these days.

So what do we do about it? Well, from our point of view I guess we just swallow the fact we’ve had a poor season and hope we can salvage a second or third place finish come May. For the club though, there’s some serious decisions to be made – harsh decisions that mean any sentimentality towards our older players has to be put to one side. And we absolutely have to stop just paying lipservice to bringing academy players through. I know that’s a gamble, but so was keeping some of our older players and that one hasn’t paid off.

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