Date:Thursday May 10 2007
Sir Alex Ferguson mocked Chelsea's guard of honour by naming a side whose vast majority did not play a significant role in our title win.
Honestly, who would have thought that Fangzhuo Dong, Chris Eagles and Kieran Lee would start a Premiership game at Stamford Bridge of all places? I must say it was breathtaking cheek from our greatest Scot but it worked as we've achieved an acceptable goalless draw.
Chelsea had Terry, SWP, Kalou, Makelele, Essien, Mikel in the starting line-up and brought on Joe Cole later but still could not find a way through as our youngsters impressed. Tomasz Kuszczak seemed to be supporting Chelsea as he always managed to be caught in no man's land whenever a Chelsea player whipped in a corner. But it wasn't enough for the Blues.
I could say that that's why we are champions, even our second team get a result at the Bridge but of course the circumstances made this game a real anti-climax, a mockery of the great battle that lies ahead on May 19.
Still, I'm proud of Chris Eagles and Kieran Lee: both rose to the challenge magnificently against much experienced opponents. Lee managed to deal with Salomon Kalou who had a good spring and Eagles was never intimidated by Essien, Makelele or Mikel, though the latter tried to unsettle him by a series of nasty tackles. Wisely, I'd say, Mourinho hauled him off at the interval.
Dong never really got going but we should not dismiss his talents right now as the much more experienced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was anonymous, too. Our lads were OK, Fletcher did a good job and even Richardson looked like a footballer sometimes but honestly, we could not have expected eye-catching attacks at Stamford Bridge. We were content to defend our goal, something we did to great effect, limiting Chelsea to very few chances - until the 80th minute. In the last 10 minutes, they pressed hard for a winner but could only threaten from corners and free-kicks - Kuszczak dropped the ball at one stage, a blunder that was horribly similar to Turner's but fortunately, there was no O'Shea to turn it in.
I was a bit disappointed with Heinze, again and it was strange to see him wearing the armband. Now feel free to laugh at me but I believe Brown or Fletcher (yes, that Fletcher) would have been a better candidate for captaincy. The Argentine was a bit out of his depth again and failed to be a leader.
But I repeat, all in all it was a relatively good performance and if you consider we haven't got a point at the Bridge since 2002, it's amazing that our reserve team broke this duck. They deserved that guard of honour, mind you.
Date:Thursday May 10 2007
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