Date:Thursday May 15 2008
Avram Grant blames the referees for his own failure. A familiar theme: it must be some kind of Chelsea legacy now.
The manager believes referees played a major part in United's success - but of course conveniently forgetting about the occasions when his was favoured by contentious decisions.
'In England there are some very good referees - but there are some, a few of them, you can influence,' he said. Probably Terry told him who were the ones you can influence - he's an expert at this.
'I think that in the game we played against United at Old Trafford the referee changed the result for sure. We know that. The red card for Mikel was not a red card.
'There should have been a red card for Scholes on Sunday. Then there was the penalty but it's finished. I congratulate United.
'I do not think the world is against Chelsea, or English football, but in this case there were some coincidences for Manchester United.'
Grant is obviously suffering from serious memory disorder. He forgot to mention that in that certain game at Old Trafford, Chelsea should have been down to 10 men much earlier when Joe Cole had fouled Evra as the last man inside the box. And of course the same players' bone-crunching, nasty tackle on Ronaldo should have earned a red - yet Cole was allowed to stay on.
Then of course Grant forgot to mention that Steve Bennett had not awarded us a blatant penalty at Wigan when Scholes had been fouled. And his conspiracy theory is unperturbed by the fact that the title race should never have gone down to the last day.
Why? Well, let's have a look. We've dropped to points at Middlesbrough not least because we were denied a blatant penalty for a handball by Taylor. Then Rob Styles' turn came at Blackburn: United should have had no less than three spot-kicks - one for a challenge on Rooney, one for a bad tackle from behind on Ronaldo and one for a handball by Emerton. He gave none of them.
And Grant is overlooking his side triumph over us: or at least he's overlooking the fact that the referee's decisions played no small part in that victory: two horrible offside decisions against Giggs and Ronaldo, then Ronaldo got wrestled to the floor by Ballack yet there was no penalty. And then Wiley awarded a penalty for a handball that was as far from deliberate as it can be... but Chelsea managers never allow the facts to stand in the way of a little conspiracy theory, do they?
I know it's all part of the mind games and that his target is to influence the referee of the Champions League final. But Avram, let me give you an advice: take a leaf out of Benitez's book and focus on training and coaching your team. The world will be a much better place.
Date:Thursday May 15 2008
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