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Abramovich basks in Chelsea victory

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Phil McNulty | 06:35 UK time, Thursday, 15 March 2012

At Stamford Bridge

The sight of Roman Abramovich strolling across Stamford Bridge puffing out his cheeks in relief while exchanging high fives was about as close as Chelsea's owner has ever come to a public comment on club affairs.

Abramovich habitually retreats from view unless emerging to celebrate success or - in an example from more recent history - observing the work of Andre Villas-Boas at close quarters before sacking him.

At Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, he was en route to Chelsea's dressing room to deliver his personal approval and praise to players he recently lambasted for their part in the demise of the young Portuguese who was his personal choice to succeed Carlo Ancelotti.

What a difference a sacking makes.

Roberto di Matteo hugs Frank Lampard

Di Matteo's joy at the final whistle was unconfined. Picture: AP

Eleven days ago, there was gloom and discord leading to Villas-Boas's dismissal following defeat at West Bromwich Albion. But the transformation to the joyous scenes witnessed at the end of an unforgettable night in west London, as Chelsea clawed back Napoli's 3-1 lead from the first leg to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, was truly remarkable.

Caretaker manager Roberto di Matteo, a component of the failed Villas-Boas regime, was kept in place to enjoy one of the finest moments of his career, reacting to German referee Felix Brych's final whistle by racing on to the pitch and leaping straight into the arms of Didier Drogba.

It was Drogba's reward for a performance dragged from memories of his best moments - coupled with some of his worst theatrics - while Di Matteo's follow-up embrace of Fernando Torres appeared to come as quite a shock to the Spaniard.

All it needed was that victory walk across the turf by Abramovich followed by his meeting with Chelsea's players to confirm Stamford Bridge is suddenly a happier place.

It was an ecstatic place on Wednesday as the character, passion, commitment, resilience and grit that was kept hidden from view under Villas-Boas suddenly reappeared when Chelsea and Abramovich needed it most.

The Russian was a picture of relief and delight, relief because he removed Villas-Boas even though this key Champions League game loomed and saw Chelsea prevail and delight because suddenly the door is ajar for them in the Champions League.

To suggest they will win it is fanciful, but to suggest a kind draw offers them real hope of progress into the semi-finals is not.

Abramovich's relief also came from knowing that an exit in the last 16 would have been further illustration of the expensive price he has paid for the instability created by his hiring and firing of managers.

It was a performance and victory by Chelsea that posed further questions about how it all went so badly wrong under Villas-Boas. It also posed questions about the previous attitude of players who performed so limply under their previous manager and yet were able to turn the tap on again when facing Napoli.

Many would have paid more than a penny for the thoughts of Villas-Boas if he was watching this game while the wounds heal from his sacking. He may have wondered how he could have failed so spectacularly to coax a performance on this scale from Chelsea during his nine months at the club.

Even his rare high points such as wins against Valencia and Manchester City were nothing compared to this. It was hardly the sort of show designed to dispel the theory that Chelsea's players did not think a lot of Villas-Boas and stopped performing for him, something which invites criticism of the attitude and approach of both manager and players during that unhappy period.

If Chelsea's players deserve the praise of the owner and elated supporters for what they produced on Wednesday, then they also deserve the criticism and questioning of why they performed so poorly, so timidly, for so long this season.

Central to Villas-Boas' failure was his inability to get the best out of Chelsea's elder statesmen. He was wholehearted in his support of captain John Terry but seemed utterly unconvinced about Frank Lampard and at times appeared happy to see Drogba off the premises.

Yes there was a need for change and Villas-Boas was right in believing a new, younger Chelsea had to be fashioned but somewhere along the line the transition was mishandled.

All the questions were on hold as Chelsea celebrated a magnificent victory after an enthralling game in which Napoli's positive attitude under their electrifying coach Walter Mazzarri made a huge contribution.

This was a night when Chelsea proved there is life in the old guard yet. The key figures were Drogba, Terry and the indefatigable Lampard. Di Matteo has restored them, leaned on them and was rewarded with a magnificent morale-boosting win.

Drogba and Terry put Chelsea on the way, although their path was interrupted by Gokhan Inler's goal until Lampard's penalty forced extra-time and Branislav Ivanovic finished the job.

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Di Matteo's animated celebrations summed up the night, although the victory - like the Italian's appointment until the end of the season - is a short-term cure for problems that will still have to be addressed in the long term.

All those key players were immense and showed they want a last hurrah in a tournament that has brought them little other than grief in these later stages, but the next man beckoned through the door by Abramovich will still have to plot for a future without them.

For now, though, Stamford Bridge was bathed in the sense of a team rediscovering a former identity. Chelsea had to draw on old resources here to survive against a very dangerous Napoli side, the celebrations at the conclusion more akin to winning the trophy itself rather than merely securing a place in the last eight.

It takes an almost impossible leap of the imagination to see Chelsea troubling Barcelona or Real Madrid but there is now an opportunity that looked far distant when they made a bedraggled retreat from the Stadio San Paolo in Naples.

Chelsea are England's last representatives in the Champions League, enabling the Premier League to avoid the ignominy of having no team in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1996 - an achievement in itself given the troubles of this season.

Realistically, they will not win the Champions League, but they are in there and entering familiar territory. Abramovich would have given a lot for that on the day he decided to dispense with Villas-Boas.

Put the pieces together and it is easy to see why Chelsea's owner cut a contented and relieved figure at the end of a wonderful night of football.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    First! Woop woop! Chelsea were very good, every goal was scored at the right time. But the downside may be that Champions League success may mean 5th in the Premiership...

  • Comment number 2.

    I didn't think Chelsea had a chance of progressing. Napoli were very poor.

  • Comment number 3.

    a great result, and really good to see the three old men scoring goals
    perhaps the last hurrah rather than a renaissance, though

  • Comment number 4.

    1.At 08:29 15th Mar 2012, SebbaSpurs wrote:

    "But the downside may be that Champions League success may mean 5th in the Premiership"

    I reckon they will get fourth in the EPL just behind Arsenal.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good performance against a pretty average side. You're right in saying that a favourable draw should see them through to the semis, but it is difficult to see anyone, other than Madrid perhaps, troubling Barca.

    It was interesting to see how isolated Di Matteo was from the players on the bench during the game, and it was he that generally rushed to them rather than the other way round at the final whistle. When Terry was on the bench it looked like he was pulling the strings - perhaps their next manager lies closer to home?

  • Comment number 6.

    Cracking game and a great result for both Chelsea but also English football. Fed up of the nonesense saying 'we're all doomed' on this island.

    Good luck in the next round as i for one (a United fan) will be hoping you go all the way.

  • Comment number 7.

    Firstly - what a badly written article! Look at para 5. Does it make sense to you. Don't you read what you write! Then please stop the carping! Any other team would have been praised from the rooftops for this performance. (eg Arsenal were heralded for losing their tie!!). To win 4-1 in extra time is heroic and shows great composure as well as attacking skills. And the old player power thing - really get a life! VB went because he chose the wrong set ups and employed the wrong tactics. (eg letting Man U back in the game) Matteo hasn't. Lets hear some praise for the team from the media for once. We are the only English team in the CL with a chance of winning!! Come on you Blues!

  • Comment number 8.

    An alarm to the Arsenal FC. I think if Chelsea play like this, they will finish 4th. The fixture of Arsenal is somewhat horrible.

  • Comment number 9.

    Im a United fan and i was cheering Chelsea on last night. Hope they get a favourable draw in the quaters. Need to avoid Barca and Real though. The rest are average teams.

  • Comment number 10.

    First off, people ned to stop dismissing Napoli - they have the best set of forwards in Italy, one of the best in Europe. The only way for Chelsea to win was t ooutscore them, and luckily that is what they did.

    Second of all, yes the 'old guard' need replacing, but the media seem to think that this means getting rid of Lampard, Terry and Drogba - three of our best performers this season. Their time will come, but at the minute the players who need to be shown the door are those who are not performing well - Malouda, Kalou, Mikel, for instance.

    I see no reason why Lampard and Terry cannot 'do a Giggs', and keep playing (for 60 mins a game if needed) until they are in their late 30s. They still have years left in them yet. And it is also not just a case of getting rid of some of our old guard, but replacing them too. And at the minute, we do not have a good enough squad to justify ditching Terry, Lampard and Drogba.

  • Comment number 11.

    I saw that Chelsea played very well. But I didn't understand whether is was the resurrection of Chelsea. Maybe, I observed that Napoli were not good.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great result for Chelsea, but Drogba's cheating is an utter embarrassment for the club and for English football. Doubtless he thinks he is just being clever in getting a freekick, but it just makes me want to throw up. Shame no one has got the guts to order him to stop it...

  • Comment number 13.

    @10.At 08:56 15th Mar 2012, EssexStudent wrote:

    "First off, people ned to stop dismissing Napoli - they have the best set of forwards in Italy, one of the best in Europe"

    The Napoli chairman is quoted as saying that he would not sell Cavani for any money. Based on last night’s performance (and admittedly it is the only time I have had the chance to watch him properly) I would not pay any money for him. He was terrible all through the game.

  • Comment number 14.

    Well done Chelsea. Was it the change of manager? I think not, it was the attitude of the players that changed. They disliked AVB so went on a mental 'go slow' to force him out. It will be the same when anybody attempts to phase out the old guard.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Pathetic to celebrate scraping a victory over a very average Italian team in such a manner. English football is heading for the dark ages. I am actually glad as a nuetral to see Chelsea go through. With a bit of luck they will come up against Barca or Real and get an absolute footballing lesson. With the EPL bubble ready to implode enjoy the last hurrah!

    Ps. Dave Richards - Oh dear or dear, can take them anywhere!

  • Comment number 17.

    " Drogba's cheating is an utter embarrassment for the club and for English football. "


    The match summed up in one sentence Bravo.

  • Comment number 18.

    Have to agree with #5 about the manager, it did seem like Terry was the vocal point of Chelsea's direction. However, I wouldn't be writing Chelsea off just yet in the Champions League. As mentioned, a favourable draw isn't unlikely, and getting into the semi-finals would leave them with every opportunity. I too, can't see past Barca or maybe Real (although Bayern have looked very impressive) BUT never write off a team with renewed confidence, motivation and the kind of experience that cup knock-out competitions require.

    Can Chelsea win? Of course. Look at minnows such as Porto who won in 2004 from unlikely roots (although amid no real goliaths at the time) and Liverpool in 2005 who won whilst suffering domestic turmoil (finishing 5th below Everton). Cup competition is unpredictable, and whilst Barca have had a stranglehold in the last 4 or 5 seasons, their domestic wobbles could point to a potential mental frailty. I'm no Chelsea fan, far from it, but I was happy to see an English team progress to avoid the ignominy of no Champs League football in the next rounds (to the delight of my Spanish and German friends) and I would be hoping to see Chelsea get what Abramovich craves the most, in footballing senses, because I think they have a good chance of causing one or two upsets under the new regime. As Phil points out, this game was full of passion and commitment, 2 traits I think that can act as a catalyst towards potential European glory.

  • Comment number 19.

    @ Colin,

    Agree about Drogba, this is the bad side of him... He'd look good in a Barca Shirt. I seem to remember Terry telling him we don't play that way here, when he first arrived.. Maybe he has forgotten that.

    Anyway Great win and performance last night. Napoli didn't have their shooting boots on last night. One thing I'd like to know is how is it an advantage to the group winners to play the second leg at home ? The scores finished 4-4 but in extra time if Napoli had scored 1, we would need 2 to win.. I think if the scores are exactly the same after 180 mins, then the away goal should not count in extra time.

    Good to see the man U supporters giving their support... I bet it will continue for a week as well ;)

  • Comment number 20.

    Terry, Lampard and Cole. They are an absolute disgrace and typical of the modern day player. Running around kissing badges yet cant be bothered to try for previous manager. Makes you want to vomit.

  • Comment number 21.

    Agreed that Drogba is shockingly bad at cheating...near his face would have been slightly more acceptable. Having said that they all do it and he's just trying to help his team win...and succeeded!

    Though Chelsea were good, seemed to be a togetherness but it still hasn't "clicked"... at least they look like they want to be there now... I'm off to the City match on Wednesday night and getting seriously twitchy now :-s

  • Comment number 22.

    20. At 09:06 15th Mar 2012, davidmcc123 wrote:

    did you wake up on the wrong side of bed this morning ?

  • Comment number 23.

    @ davidmcc123

    You clearly have no clue about football outwith England, have you seen how Napoli have been doing the past few seasons?

    They turned over a brilliant Manchester City team and for Chelsea to put 4 past them and turning round a 3-1 difference is quite simply a fantastic achievement. Your post reeks of bitterness and anger that Chelsea are getting credit for what happened last night, it’s actually hilarious looking at your post.

    As for Phil and his “Realistically, they will not win the Champions League” comment, I wonder if he thought APOEL would ‘realistically’ have a chance of getting to the QF’s when the competition kicked off?

    Maybe he will never learn with his silly predictions.

  • Comment number 24.

    "Maybe he will never learn with his silly predictions"

    Liverpool to win the league a few years back :)

  • Comment number 25.

    I know it's unlikely, but wouldn't it be funny if Chelsea finished fifth in the league but went on to win the CL. The fourth place side (Arsenal or Spurs) would miss out on CL next season.

  • Comment number 26.

    Amazing some the posters here think that Napoli went from a very good , attacking , and exciting team to an average team in a couple of weeks ??

    Chelsea played hard and got stuck in for the first time this season and got the result so congratulations are in order.

    I thought David Luiz was immense , not only did he have Cavavi in his pocket he managed to wind up all the Napoli frontline with his antics :)

  • Comment number 27.

    @19.At 09:06 15th Mar 2012, BritAbroad wrote:

    "Agree about Drogba, this is the bad side of him... He'd look good in a Barca Shirt. I seem to remember Terry telling him we don't play that way here, when he first arrived"

    Drogba wasn't the only one. I think Ivanovic manages 26 rolls on the ground until he realised that the free-kick had gone against him at which point he jumped up to remonstrate with the referee.

  • Comment number 28.

    How things change over a couple of weeks. I love how the supposedly much superior Napoli side with their supposedly world class front three are now supposedly a very average side. Not my words, just what i've read since the first leg. Obviously it's not the result most expected, or indeed wanted, but it's a fantastic result for us. I support all the English teams in europe because it benefits all our clubs in the long run. So good luck to City and United tonight.

  • Comment number 29.

    18.
    At 09:04 15th Mar 2012, All_Rhodes_Lead_To_Wembley wrote:
    it did seem like Terry was the vocal point of Chelsea's direction.
    ____________________________________

    I was amazed to see him shouting instructions to the players from the technical area after he was subbed !

  • Comment number 30.

    Chelsea played as a team for the first time in months. Never stopped moving forward, good game but they must keep up the momentum.

  • Comment number 31.

    Great result for Chelsea last night. Napoli are a strange team, great going forward but one of the worst defences left in the competition so if their attack has an off night, like last night, then they're in trouble. Chelsea took their chances though and Napoli didn't so Chelsea deserved it.

    I don't see the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or even Milan being afraid of playing Chelsea so they'll need a favourable draw on Friday in order to progress. If they can get Apoel or Marseille and let some of the big guns take each other out though then who know's.

  • Comment number 32.

    'character, passion, commitment, resilience and grit' - you've summed up what was missing under AVB.

    Did the players under-perform while he was there? Yes. However, it's worth remembering that old saying 'you can't fit a square peg in a round hole' - Mourinho built his side (the core of which remains) on these virtues. You simply can't turn Terry, Lampard, Essien and Drogba into Iniesta, Messi and co.

    It was always an unrealistic goal and they players looked lost and rather embarrassed by their failure to achieving 'tica-taca' excellence. They shouldn't be - they proved last night that football can embrace many styles and many virtues.

  • Comment number 33.

    no mention of ramires chelseas best player this season

  • Comment number 34.

    Dreadful! Dreadful!
    Chelsea fans should have been booing their team after this performance. Why? Because at Chelsea the tail is well and truly wagging the dog. If ever you needed a better example of player power then read Terry's comments before the match when he talked about RA being the boss-so not the manager then JT? And then the sight of him conducting things from the dug out sent a very clear message-Im in charge here, DiMatteo may be the manager but he doesnt cut it. Then there was the sight of Drogba after the game.
    These players are living in the last chance saloon and they are prepared to play badly to get their own way. Appalling. If you ever needed a picture of how the PL is run now just look at Chelsea's players. And RA acquiesces in this which makes it worse.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well done Chelsea, even though Napoli were poor at the back, 4-1 is a great result. I enjoyed the circus.

    Q. - why couldn't Didier, JT, Cashley and Lamps perform like that for poor AVB?

    Q. - is Drogba the worst cheat you have ever seen? (for me Henry was more sly and despicable).

    Q.- can Chelsea go on to reach the semis? If they perform like last night, they have a chance of beating Apoel or Marseille. Against the other five, in my opinion - no chance.

    Q.- Will Fernando ever score again?. Wow, over 24 hours without a goal. What does he need to do? You would think he would have popped one in by accident. Is he missing deliberately?

  • Comment number 36.

    Great effort by Chelsea. Especially after Inlher's goal-they reacted well to that.

    Napoli played like Champions League virgins at the start, instead of trying to shut Chelski out or lure them forward to hit on the counter. That's the only qualification, because thereafter they started playing like the old Chelsea, believing they could beat anybody, especially at the Bridge.

    It may indeed be Terry was pulling the strings again, but if Di Matteo has helped motivate him, Drogba & Lampard, I suspect Roberto could get the job full-time. He's got the fans onside pretty well straight away-what more do you want?

    Now, JT & co, a repeat of this next Weds at the Etihad would be very welcome, thank you!

  • Comment number 37.

    Great performance and great win against a top team. It makes Abramovich's decision look a good one now even if AVB goes on to do good things in the future. Drogba was immense and people who question his 'theatrics' only need to look at Gerrard, Rooney and Bale who are some of the worst offenders out there.

    Just a pity how people like davidmcc123 who know nothing about football get to comment on these articles! He might want to do his homework on Cavani, Lavezzi and Hamsik. He might also like to consider how the old guard were mostly left on the bench by AVB!

  • Comment number 38.

    I didnt think Chelsea would progress, but fair play they did, well done and good luck in the next round.


    I do wonder why the players wouldn't give that much for their previous manager though.

  • Comment number 39.

    Also, previous stories of premier league footballers on holiday abroad, falling into swimming pools and slating johnny foreigner, terrible behaviour. Worthy of a sharp rebuke by the premier league chairman about standards expected..........

  • Comment number 40.

    33.
    At 09:35 15th Mar 2012, Titus Bramble wrote:
    no mention of ramires chelseas best player this season
    ______________________________________________

    Where does he get his energy from ?
    Brazil should enter him in the marathon at the London Olympics !!!

  • Comment number 41.

    BEWARE OF THE DROG!.

    an excellent header and all round good performance topped off by a truly brilliant dive and even better was the sneaky eye looking for the ref. chelsea by name, chelsea by nature.

    It had to be Terry and Lampard too. would have preferred anybody else scoring then finally we may have been rid of the sight of the both of them.

  • Comment number 42.

    What about the football Mr McNulty? Some of his paragraphs are so badly written I have to read them several times to understand his point.

    Great achievement from Chelsea to come back. Would love to see them go all the way.

    "To suggest they will win it is fanciful". Another example of the author's ignorance of the beautiful game.

  • Comment number 43.

    @40

    he doesnt stop, some people on here slate him but for me hes on par with yaya for the best box to box midfielder in the league, great player!

  • Comment number 44.

    Torres needs to find another job. If last night didn't make him happy then he needs to find something that will. When Di Matteo jumped on his back he looked like someone trudging out of a factory at clocking off time.

  • Comment number 45.

    Well done Chelsea. Great performance. But give credit to Napoli for attacking from the start. Not normal from an Italian team with a two goal lead. They gave Chelsea a torrid first 35 mins. Up to the Mancs to do it tonight. Good luck to them.

  • Comment number 46.

    Fair play Chelsea, a very impressive turnaround. Seemed like the consensus was to throw praise at Arsenal when still being knocked out by Milan, so I suppose Chelsea deserve full credit. I do think Lampard and Terry should be ashamed of themselves over AVB but was probably a bad appointment in the first place.

  • Comment number 47.

    Awesome! What an effort from the players. Great stuff.

    (Does anyone think that Napoli were a touch over hyped by some people? Cavani barely had a sniff last night and Lavezzi only appeared in patches. Hamsik as notable mainly for his haircut!

  • Comment number 48.

    SeeDubya

    That was strange with Torres, he looked in total shock when RDM jumped on his back to celebrate.

    He had a good game last night when he came on, obviosuly the miss will be highlighted (angle was against him but still should be doing better). It's something in the lads head as his all round game is ticking all the boxes bar the one Chelsea paid the silly price for.

  • Comment number 49.

    I heard from a source quite high up at Chelsea it was AVB 's man management skills that got him the tin-tack, not his tactical nuance, Shame, but that will come with age. I was at the game last night, it's was a cracking and stressful night combined, well done to all concerned.

  • Comment number 50.

    #46 DP1982

    I guess it may be going over old ground, but, how much do we KNOW about what, if anything, happened between AVB, Terry and Lampard? People assume they did something, but perhaps to do so is to credit them with power which they don't actually have. Afterall, Terry was out when AVB was given the old Spanish archer and if Lampard wasn't played, he can't be held responsible for performances. He was great against Bolton, but not so against West Brom. Ain't that just football?

  • Comment number 51.

    MrBlueBurns

    I don’t think they were overhyped as they are a very good attacking force they just came with the wrong tactics and to be fair I though the strikers had great movement in the first 40 mins, Cavani could have had a few goals and Hamsik was unlucky with the deflected shot that struck Petr’s legs.

    At 2-1 they seemed to lack the tactics to be able to hold off Chelsea as to me they only know 1 way to play and that is to attack which makes them venerable at the back (Much like Chelsea in recent games).

    Luiz had his best game defensively for me! Solid and passed well from the back, last night he showed he can be a top quality centre half.

  • Comment number 52.

    Napoli totally dominated Chelsea for 30 mins and Drogba's fine goal gave Chelsea the belief to go on and win well. As good as Napoli are going forward they are too poor defensively to be a top side. I'm not a John Terry fan but have to say he (and a few others) was inspirational last night and showed that he is still one of England's best centre backs, if fit. I even saw Torres put some hard work in so well done Chelsea

  • Comment number 53.

    Terry shouting instructions as soon as he comes off does give a bit more credit to the claims that the players have too much control

    And that dive by Drogba was absolutely horrendous, FIFA\UEFA really need to ban players after a match for these kind of things

  • Comment number 54.

    #51 Bear_with_it

    Maybe you're right. But still, the talk was that Napoli would score plenty and do to Chelsea what they have done to Man City, the Man City that have struggled against European opposition this season.

    I just feel to many conclusions were drawn too soon. They are 'only' 4th in Italy, 11 points off the top.

  • Comment number 55.

    @Ivan Drago

    Terry is captain of the team so why should he not be vocal to his team mates when he is on the bench? I thought it was a great show of leadership and RDM did not seem to mind having him beside him on the touchline.

    People like to make the most out of all things Chelsea in the hope it adds to the already mess that has happened in recent weeks.

    Last night was about the players, club and fans and they can all be proud of Chelsea FC.

    I agree about the diving antics of Drogba which were Rivaldo'esq, I do wonder if he realises how stupid he looks as the cameras are going to be on him at those times. I'd happily welcome bans for play acting but sadly that would never happen as Barcelona and Madrid would not have a team to put on the field.

  • Comment number 56.

    Personally I found Di Matteo's celebration embarrassing. It was obvious the players don't care for him very much yet he desperately tried to align himself with their success.

    Good win for Chelsea, hope they get Marseille next.

  • Comment number 57.

    #55 Bear_with_it

    I'd happily welcome bans for play acting but sadly that would never happen as Barcelona and Madrid would not have a team to put on the field.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If UEFA made players go to hospital if they claimed to be injured, Iniesta and Busquests might as well buy themselves rooms there!

  • Comment number 58.

    MrBlueBurns

    Maybe some had them down as a force like Barca or Madrid but I did not think of them like this, they were a dangerous team who took Chelsea apart a few weeks ago. I think with the 3-1 score line plus Chelsea’s form made them overwhelming favourites and most dismissed any chance of a Chelsea come back.

    Last night Napoli were poor and for me it was their worst performance this season, it certainly does not take away from how good a team they are as they have shown for 90% of their time in Europe this season.

  • Comment number 59.

    #56 Russeljones

    It was obvious the players don't care for him very much
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Can you elaborate on this, or is it just a mean spirited anti-Chelsea thing you're on?

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    @55.At 10:06 15th Mar 2012, Bear_with_it wrote:

    "I agree about the diving antics of Drogba which were Rivaldo'esq, I do wonder if he realises how stupid he looks as the cameras are going to be on him at those times. I'd happily welcome bans for play acting but sadly that would never happen as Barcelona and Madrid would not have a team to put on the fiel

    With the amount of playacting where was on the field last night and what has gone on in recent EPL games, how the English have the nerve to point to other leagues just astounds me. Hypocrisy at it's worst.

    Pot, kettle, black!

  • Comment number 62.

    I do love Phil's articles pre and post games but every time I read one about Chelsea, the "old guard" is mentioned every single time, at least once..why??
    Is it ever mentioned when about Utd with Vidic, Ferdinand, Giggs, Scholes etc in their ranks?
    Sometimes it feels its more media pressure to revamp Chelsea rather than a need for Chelsea themselves to want to 'revamp' or get rid of the 'old guard'. Last night illustrated that experience counts for a lot. And over the 2 seasons bringing in players like Ramires, Luiz, Cahill, even Torres and with Sturrdige back they are trying to have a balanced team of younger fresher players and experience.

    Well done Chelsea and the 'old guard' who still know how to deliver

  • Comment number 63.

    @57.At 10:08 15th Mar 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    "If UEFA made players go to hospital if they claimed to be injured, Iniesta and Busquests might as well buy themselves rooms there!"

    More hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 64.

    In my opinion Rooney assaulted the Wigan player

  • Comment number 65.

    #61 It wasnt me A big boy did it and ran away

    How is Bear_with_it being a hypocrite? He says he wants it all banned and then says why he believes is never will be.

    Seems quite simple to me.

  • Comment number 66.

    Don't watch Chelsea play unless they play other teams that I want to watch.
    They sold their soul a long time back. They are responsible for the demise of English football.
    Used to like Chelsea until they were bought over by RA and had that arrogant man who played negative football as their coach..

  • Comment number 67.

    #63 It wasnt me A big boy did it and ran away

    More, lack of understanding.

  • Comment number 68.

    It wasnt me A big boy did it and ran away

    "With the amount of playacting where was on the field last night and what has gone on in recent EPL games, how the English have the nerve to point to other leagues just astounds me. Hypocrisy at it's worst."

    I watch football from far and wide and the Spanish division is rife with this, I am not defending the Premiership because it is bad for this also but nowhere near on the same scale.

    If you watch any El Clasico game from the past decade then you will know what I am talking about, to say otherwise just shows you either don't have a clue about Spanish football or are a liar.

    Players play act it's a fact and it happens in every division in every country I have taken the time to watch...

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    #66 arsenalforlife

    They are responsible for the demise of English football.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tell me, how is the American owned, French managed middle Eastern sponsored club, with a squad with (I believe) less than half of it's number being English, how is it promoting English football?

  • Comment number 71.

    do you mean you're an utter disgrace

  • Comment number 72.

    @65.At 10:20 15th Mar 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    "How is Bear_with_it being a hypocrite? He says he wants it all banned and then says why he believes is never will be."

    He is being a hypocrite because this diving and playacting is just are rampant in the EPL as it is on the continent but whenever the subject comes up, everyone blames Johnny Foreigner.

    Bear_with_it points the finger at Barcelona and Real Madrid saying if a ruling came in, they would not be able to field a team.

    Perhaps a look closer to home should be taken first.

  • Comment number 73.

    A poorly written article but Chelsea deserve all the plaudits. The played with a never-say-die attitude and made Napoli look like a League 1 team at times.
    They can go on and win this, they seem to have the aura of invincibility back, now that they're playing properly again. Poor AVB, he really didn't stand a chance did he?

  • Comment number 74.

    MrBlueBurns if the players don't even look in his direction after the final whistle I think that's telling. If his celebration is not consistent with his post-match words, I think that's also telling. You are one of the posters on these blogs with the most obvious bias but I still think it's sad that you can't graciously accept a comment about CFC, which was after all complimentary.

  • Comment number 75.

    Found the article interesting but think you may have watched a different game to me. Lampard played a poor game, he was generally off the pace and his passing stats are probably quite awful. Drogba for most of the first half had the touch of Goliath but managed to 'earn' a good number of free kicks, plays well against centre backs who try to dominate him because his strenght and knowledge work well for him. Terry I still feel is important for the team and I hope remains fit to be a central part of the set-up for at least a couple more seasons.

    My biggest concern is that performances like last night are papering over some of the cracks at Chelsea, performances have not been what they should. Change is required on the pitch with stabilty in the back room, a so far elusive mixture.

    Let's hope whoever comes in after Di Matteo can win over the dressing room as well as an impatient owner.

    Carefree for ever.

  • Comment number 76.

    66.
    At 10:22 15th Mar 2012, arsenalforlife wrote:


    Don't watch Chelsea play unless they play other teams that I want to watch.
    ............................................................................................................

    You head is as empty as the Emirates trophy room.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ It wasnt me A big boy did it and ran away

    "He is being a hypocrite because this diving and playacting is just are rampant in the EPL as it is on the continent but whenever the subject comes up, everyone blames Johnny Foreigner.

    Bear_with_it points the finger at Barcelona and Real Madrid saying if a ruling came in, they would not be able to field a team.

    Perhaps a look closer to home should be taken first."


    If you bother to read my posts you will find I was pointing to Drogba and his playacting before any talk of other teams or continents came into it.

    Play acting is a disgrace and Drogba is one of the worst offenders in England and of course there are many others, all of whom I think should be fined or banned to get this in order. However if you went down this road I pointed out that teams such as Real and Barca would be in trouble because they are the worst offenders, it's not a debate for me because the proof is there in the games.

  • Comment number 78.

    # 70 Mr Blue Burns
    As essay cominmg up to answer your question.
    Irrespective of who the owners are (as now the EPL are owned by a lot of foreigners), a club should live by what it earns on and off the field. Before RA if Chelsea ever got success I was happy for them since they earned it as a club. Since RA took over you became the first club in the EPL to offer salaries of over £100,000 a week. RA could afford to pay it but not the club. Chelsea FC, even now, doesnt earn that much money that they can pay an average salary of over £100,000 a week. Because you guys started it, other clubs (in order to attract players) were forced to increase their salaries as well beyond what they can afford. Because of this situation, we are now seeing a trend where the clubs are going bust, but players and agents are becoming richer. You guys have started the trend beyond obscene and now Man city is following suit. Hence my comment that you have ruined the EPL.

  • Comment number 79.

    @25 Sciatika

    I never thought of that before just now. That would be superb if it happened. Not because I dislike either club, but purely for the comedy value it supplies! I hope this happens.

  • Comment number 80.

    @68.At 10:23 15th Mar 2012, Bear_with_it wrote:

    "I watch football from far and wide and the Spanish division is rife with this, I am not defending the Premiership because it is bad for this also but nowhere near on the same scale"

    "If you watch any El Clasico game from the past decade then you will know what I am talking about, to say otherwise just shows you either don't have a clue about Spanish football or are a liar"

    Watch last nights game again followed by any El Classico and you will see that they are not so different.

    I do watch Spanish football. Let's not drop to the level of trading insults.

  • Comment number 81.

    @Bear with it

    Terry is captain of the team so why should he not be vocal to his team mates when he is on the bench? I thought it was a great show of leadership and RDM did not seem to mind having him beside him on the touchline.
    ------------------------------------

    No problem with a teams captain giving encouragement, but he looked to be giving instructions, which, in my opinion, should be solely down to the manager. If RDM seemed like he didn't mind, maybe that's because he doesn't want to get on the bad side of the senior players given what's happened with previous managers?

  • Comment number 82.

    #66 Adholus...
    Is that all you think about trophies.....what about the soul and spirit of your club...what about fairness and competetion? At least Man city is doing it right by investing in the redevelopment of eastlands....Maybe because they have class...owned by royals instead of a political opportunistic who used his kremlin connections to take everything over in USSR.......one day the Russians will want their money back (what rightfully belongs to the people of Russia) and what will happen to Chelsea and your bought trophies then???

  • Comment number 83.

    I always thought Sol Campbell was the first 100k a week player..?

  • Comment number 84.

    This rather illustrates just how poorly Villas-Boas managed the situation at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are going to have to rebuild their squad in the coming seasons but that was no reason for the older players to be cast aside when they clearly still have much to offer. Experience is vital in the Champions league.

    Chelsea look unlikely to actually win the competition with Barcelona, Real and Bayern all looking powerful. Surely procuring a top four place is the priority for the blues. Roberto Di Matteo has been smart in allowing the senior players to have a big say in what happens. That is a situation which cannot go on for long but until the end of the season, it could bring some success.

    Chelsea are a club in transition. They need to find young players with the same talent levels as the likes of Drogba, Lampard and Terry. These players were superb last night but they cannot go on for ever. Gaining champions league football next season is critical for Chelsea, without that they will find it hard to attract a top manager and even harder to attract top players.

  • Comment number 85.

    @Ivan Drago
    “No problem with a teams captain giving encouragement, but he looked to be giving instructions, which, in my opinion, should be solely down to the manager. If RDM seemed like he didn't mind, maybe that's because he doesn't want to get on the bad side of the senior players given what's happened with previous managers?”

    I can’t see how it would harm the manager if the captain of the team who has been there for years is helping on the sidelines? He was shouting at Essien to stay back and cover for the injured Luiz while RDM was giving out other instructions, I don’t see the problem given RDM will not be the manger anyway.

    This was Chelsea’s biggest game of the season and most important, the man clearly has a passion for his club and he couldn’t help anymore on the pitch so this was his way of doing his bit. No issue for me and unless RDM did not want JT to do this then it should not be an issue for anyone else.

  • Comment number 86.

    #83 maybe when he went to portsmouth...but definitely not in red and white...

  • Comment number 87.

    Another Chelsea blog? I never would've guessed the content of this one ;-)

    Anyway, who's in the wrong here? AVB for changing too much, too quickly, RA for his little version of Russian roulette or the players for their mutiny?

    A little bit of everything methinks.

    Here's hope Chelsea win it for 2 reasons:

    1) To make Barca and Real suck it and,
    2) To further paper over the cracks of a distinctly aging, average team and give them an even more increased feeling of self-worth and ensure yet another manager bites the dust next season for benching the old guard.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ It wasnt me A big boy did it and ran away

    "Watch last nights game again followed by any El Classico and you will see that they are not so different."

    We will have to disagree with this issue because as bad as some Chelsea players were last night it for me is nowhere near as bad as I see from those 2 teams in question.

    If all players were punished for this then it would suit all and I hope one day this will happen.

  • Comment number 89.

    76.At 10:33 15th Mar 2012, Adolphus Spriggs wrote:
    66.
    At 10:22 15th Mar 2012, arsenalforlife wrote:


    Don't watch Chelsea play unless they play other teams that I want to watch.
    ............................................................................................................

    You head is as empty as the Emirates trophy room.

    --------------

    Now, now, they do house the Emirates Cup there.

  • Comment number 90.

    There wouldn't be half as much diving in the Premier League if the referees did their job properly. If a player is fouled it should be a free kick, whether he goes down or not. The game would also be a better spectacle if they did what happens in Rugby, play advantage for a few seconds and then bring play back for a free kick if no advantage is gained. Then there would be no incentive to roll around on the ground because if a player does manage to stay on his feet he almost always has the defence in a more disorganized state than they would be in for a free kick.

  • Comment number 91.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/8265851/How-footballers-wages-have-changed-over-the-years-in-numbers.html Gives an insight @86. Not saying it's totally correct, but i seem to remember he was able to get those wages because he signed on a free..?

  • Comment number 92.

    To be fair, Sol probably needed half that £100k a week just for security in North London.

  • Comment number 93.

    Anyways have to start working...so well done to chelsea for being the only englsh team in the quarter finals of the chamions league. In spite of our success being bought, I am happy for you and as football fans you should be allowed to enjy this moment.

  • Comment number 94.

    Have to agree with @56 RusselJones as well,

    I thought Di Matteo's celebrations were quite pathetic. It was obvious none of the players felt the need to celebrate with him, yet he felt as if he needed to align himself with these players. Quite sad.

  • Comment number 95.

    A triumph of guts, will and a little skill over technically superior opponents. The problem is that the so called "old guard" seem to need occasions like last night to get a good performance out of them. The allure of an away fixture at West Brom doesn't seem to be quite as strong [no disrespect to Baggies fans]
    As long as we avoid Messi and co, I think we could reach the final

  • Comment number 96.

    arsenalforlife - wake up pal! why else would campbell leave spurs unless it was for the big pay day???

  • Comment number 97.

    @Berbas_tailor

    "I thought Di Matteo's celebrations were quite pathetic. It was obvious none of the players felt the need to celebrate with him, yet he felt as if he needed to align himself with these players. Quite sad."



    You clearly didn’t watch the game then or must have switched off at the final whistle because all players bar Torres were celebrating.

    Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Malouda, Mikel and a few others were on the pitch for a good 5-10 mins after the final whistle applauding the fans for the support and celebrating progressing to the next round.

    It would be embarrassing for a team who have just lost a manager, been playing average football all season and who just turned around a 3-1 deficit not to celebrate making the QF’s of the biggest club competition on the planet.

    The post you typed out is much more sad imo.

  • Comment number 98.

    @88.At 10:45 15th Mar 2012, Bear_with_it wrote:

    "If all players were punished for this then it would suit all and I hope one day this will happen."

    Let's agree on that :-)

  • Comment number 99.

    Its an absolute disgrace the underlying bias against Chelsea in the press all the time, particularly on the BBC, Phil Mcnulty should take a look back at the corresponding blog entry about arsenal last week and realise how even though Chelsea did better than arsenal, this article is still so negative in comparison. Give Chelsea a break. All this talk of how Napoli are this unstoppable team who chelsea did not have a chance in hell of beating them, have now all disappeared into descriptions of how Napoli are suddenly and miraculously a team that is average at best. This is correct although the reason is is that Chelsea made them look average. That is what good teams do, and for all the press to jump on the 'hate Chelsea' bandwagon is frankly a disgrace. If this had been Man U, Arsenal, City, Liverpool, this result would be celebrated and praised for weeks, whereas for Chelsea all they get is derogatory comments like "Realistically, they will not win the Champions League". Give them a break and Phil, given that you're the chief football writer of the BBC, do your job properly and learn how to write mate.

  • Comment number 100.

    Great result (another Man U fan hoping they go all the way).
    People who follow football have very short memories - England have one bad season in the CL, and despite dominating the latter stages for a number of years suddenly everyone reckons that our top teams can't cut it any more.

    English teams are the best in the world and we will prove it next season with four English teams in the last 8!

 

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