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Mourinho still master at the Bridge

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Phil McNulty | 07:45 UK time, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

At Stamford Bridge

Chelsea's fans did the unthinkable and turned on Jose Mourinho amid the dying embers of their latest failure to win the Champions League.

It was only a noisy minority, but in their fury and colourfully-expressed frustration they were paying the biggest of back-handed compliments to "The Special One" they once idolised.

This is because Mourinho's meticulous preparation, and masterly execution, of Inter Milan's victory that sent Chelsea out in the last 16 showed his former club exactly what they are missing.

Mourinho celebrated victory by polishing off more of his beloved custard creams - but the manner of Inter's deserved win would have felt more like a custard pie to Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti and owner Roman Abramovich.

Mourinho reeled off the story of Chelsea's doomed attempts to win European club football's major prize after Inter made it look further away from realisation than at any time in their recent history.

He said: "This is a team that lost a semi-final to Liverpool with a goal that was not a goal, lost a semi-final to Liverpool on penalties, lost a final to Manchester United on penalties and lost a semi-final to Barcelona in a game that they should have won 3-0 with three penalties."

Grim reading - and the really bad news for Chelsea is that on the evidence of Tuesday's first knockout round exit these Champions League hard luck stories might be as good as it gets for some time.

Mourinho insisted he would still be "The Special One" whether Inter won or lost, but the arrival of Inter's teamsheet was the first sign that he did not regard defeat as a serious option.

Mourinho's tactical nous left counterpart Ancelotti firmly in the background at Stamford Bridge

He fashioned this win during seven dvd re-runs of Inter's first-leg win, rewinding and reviewing his machine into exhaustion until the plan was perfected. It was time well spent as he once again gave the lie to any remaining doubters. He is style, substance and, most importantly, success.

Mourinho explained "creating doubts for Chelsea" was at the heart of his plot. And by fielding an attacking line-up he spooked Ancelotti's side to such an extent that they never fully settled to their task.

He shed the cloak of conservatism to use a three-pronged attack. Samuel Eto'o and Goran Pandev were employed to work the flanks with Diego Milito through the middle, with all supported by the wonderfully rejuvenated Wesley Sneijder.

Chelsea had occasional periods of pressure, but Inter's persistent threats of that crucial away goal allied to a defence that was fiercely protective of keeper Julio Cesar ensured Mourinho's men were superior in all departments.

The man himself took centre stage as ever. He emerged into view for the first time, with perfect timing, signing autographs to the strains of Rainbow's "Since You've Been Gone".

And when the action started the old ham went through all his various stages of over-acting and pantomime villainy. Every perceived injustice was greeted with extravagant gestures, and when Chelsea wanted to take a quick throw Mourinho did just enough to ensure it was beyond them.

Mourinho promised not to celebrate if Inter scored, but when Eto'o completed the formalities of their passage into the last eight with an expert late finish, he could not quite help himself.

The swift fist-pumping was as extravagant as it got - but there was no disguising this was a huge victory for him and Inter, who have spent years stalling at this stage. At the final whistle he was away down the tunnel, breezing in for his post-match inquest with his head, not to mention his hair, held high.

Chelsea, as ever in the Champions League, raged at perceived injustice. It is always the way, it seems. They can back their case for victimisation with a penalty not given to Salomon Kalou in the first game in the San Siro and another open-and-shut case here when Didier Drogba was dragged to the floor by Walter Samuel.

Ancelotti was gracious in defeat and refused to grasp at excuses. The reality, and he knew this, was that Chelsea lost to a better team. Inter were more tactically astute and Chelsea never at any stage had the wit, guile and ideas to progress in the face of Inter's excellence.

Chelsea were pedestrian in midfield, where Inter's Estebian Cambiasso manned the barricades superbly while Lucio's defensive diligence drove Drogba to distraction. They were one-paced, never building any momentum, with Michael Ballack a cumbersome non-presence, one early shot apart.

As ever, Chelsea's Champions League exit was accompanied by an example of Drogba's flawed temperament. To the red card against Manchester United in the Moscow final and the shameful haranguing of officials and even a television camera after the semi-final loss to Barcelona last season, we can now add another sending off for standing on Thiago Motta's foot.

The reaction was theatrical, many were, but Drogba's indiscipline was the stand-out symbol of a night when Chelsea's dreams were dashed once more.

Champions League success is Abramovich's long-held dream, but how much longer can this familiar and time-served Chelsea line-up keep going to the well and coming back empty handed? How many more blows of this sort can they take?

They still have the Premier League and FA Cup to aim for, but this has been an unfulfilling and ultimately chastening European campaign.

Chelsea, unusually, were overpowered by Inter and Ancelotti's team may be in need of fresh blood if the 2008 final loss to Manchester United is not to represent the peak, if that is the right word, of their Champions League achievements.

The face of captain John Terry, expression almost set in concrete, as he walked away after the game showed how much this hurt. He had been in text contact with Mourinho on the day before the game. If there are more messages flying post-match they will not be happy ones.

Mourinho, as ever, can have the final word.

He admitted: "It was difficult for me to prepare myself to come here as an enemy in the place that has been my home. Perhaps today I am not so special for Chelsea supporters who will never forgive me."

Perhaps it was because Mourinho had proved once again he is so special that many were unable to forgive him as they showered scorn on his team and his approach as they filed away from Stamford Bridge.

But if ever he declared an interest in returning to Chelsea, you can bet they would forgive him in a heartbeat.

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Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Jose has that magic touch - hope to see him back in the PL sooner rather than later!

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes, all the pre-match talk of him being a showman, who runs out of ideas after a couple of years managing the team are woefully misplaced. He is a talent, even if you do not like his methods.

    I have to say that Wesley Sneijder was immense last night, the number of balls he placed that sliced the Chelsea defence apart was frightening. I don't think many teams will fancy taking on Inter, and if they do, then you have to stop him from delivering those balls.

    Chelsea can have no real complaints - they looked poor last night, and most worryingly, once they found they could not physically cow the oppostion into submission, ran out of ideas very quickly.

    It is a shame we dont have 3 English teams in the next round though, especially as it means that Chelsea will be even more focused on winning the league now than they were before.

  • Comment number 4.

    Also, i meant to add that i thought the Drogba red card was incredibly harsh, he was effectively rugby tackled in the area lost his balance and then stood on Motta ankle while trying to regain his balance.

    This was not the only occasion where the inter defence thought they were playing in a Six Nations match rather than a football match, and you do have to wonder how the ref did not see any/all of these infringements.

  • Comment number 5.

    First off Inter thoroughly deserved their win. I would like to say Journey-man Ballack was a very strange inclusion for me. The midfield was where the battle was lost.

    Phil, do you think Essien would have made the difference?

  • Comment number 6.

    I must say, I didn’t exactly enjoy watching the game. Inter seem to go down far too easily and dramatically, maybe this was a part of the game plan but even still it didn’t make easy watching with all the starting and stopping. I don’t think Inter look threatening for my team ( UTD ) if we should draw them in the next round.
    The defence looked pretty hard to break down, Eto’o looked awful all night!
    Wesley Sneijder played some great balls in and should of got MOTM, does anyone know who did??

    Surely Barca and UTD are favourites now?
    Obviously as a UTD fan I am glad to see the back of Chelsea, not just for bragging rights but I saw them as a threat.

  • Comment number 7.

    To James...yes, Michael Essien would surely have made a difference, although obviously we will never know how much. Chelsea lacked drive in midfield and possession was conceded too often, too easily. I thought Michael Ballack was very poor and Frank Lampard was subdued.

  • Comment number 8.

    Are we giving too much credence to Mourinho's 'managerial ability'?
    IMO, It was a soccer tale of two thirds., i.e. Chelsea was doing well until CA subbed Ballack out. Thats when Inter started outplaying Chelsea especially on Chelsea's right side. The minute (63rd min) Ballack was subbed out Chelsea's shape went out completely and Inter started dominating with Sneijder liberated. No?
    Case in point Cole was really out of pace, depth & presence to prevent the lob for Diego Milito (65th. min) who came onside to nearly score.

  • Comment number 9.

    Phil - do you agree that Anelka has seemed to almost disappear the last few weeks?
    I feel that they aren't playing the same calibre of football from a month or so back.
    Do you think now Chelsea how mainly just the league to concentrate on that this could work in their favour?

    Essein is a big miss, I am not complaining at all.

    What is your tip of the Prem and the C/L?


  • Comment number 10.

    Same old Chelsea, no variation in attack, no pace or invention down the flanks (Malouda wasteful at times), missed Cole and Boswinga. Always straight down the middle with Chelsea, a method which will only take you so far until you come up against 2 quality centre backs in Lucio and Samuel, and a world class defenise midfielder in Estaban Cambiasso. Lampard, Ballack are too simalar. They really need some new life blood pumped into the team.

    Media spurring Inter to win so they could shower more praise on The Special One. Pathetic.

  • Comment number 11.

    Chelsea did little to win the game and it seems bad luck - if it exists in football - is part of them. When it Comes to CL they are like a person in Permanent Vegetative State with bad luck.

    It was a big win to Mour than Inter. But i don't think Inter will win the Champions league. Chelsea seems to be the only PL opponent that would have handled Inter in that way.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    "...with Michael Ballack a cumbersome non-presence"

    Phil, did you watch the game?

    It was exactly the point in the game that Ballack was substituted that Inter took control of the midfield.

    Chelsea were doing OK until Ballack was subbed for Cole, who was totally ineffective.

    It was when Ballack went off that it became obvious that Chelsea were not going to be able to score and started to look vulnerable at the back.

    Stats show that Ballack consistently runs a higher distance than any other Chelsea player in matches, and although unspectacular he is one of the reasons Chelsea powerfully "run" the midfield in most games.

    Give the guy some credit - you don't play for top European teams for many years and captain Germany if you're a "journeyman".

  • Comment number 14.

    What I liked about his post match interview was the indication that he expected to be coming back as a Premier League manager one day.

    I still reckon he feels that he could follow in SAF's foot steps at United and haunt Chelsea again...

  • Comment number 15.

    Do you still think Arsenal will have problems with Chelsea if they draw them in the next round?.......sorry Phil, I couldn't resist.

  • Comment number 16.

    Mourinho is without doubt a fantastic coach, but I'm getting a little bored of this 'Special One' tag. Fair enough, he has won the Champions League with an unlikely club in the shape of Porto, yet he failed to win it with Chelsea when the generation of players he had at his disposal were arguabley in their prime??

    In my opinion this Chelsea squad may struggle to come back from this. They're an ageing squad and to maintain momentum into next year will need to spend significant funds to bring in proven players. Will Abromovich still be willing to do this??

  • Comment number 17.

    "Chelsea's fans did the unthinkable and turned on Jose Mourinho amid the dying embers of their latest failure to win the Champions League."

    Read: Jose, my love, I would never turn on you! xxx

    ah, 'young' love Phil...


  • Comment number 18.

    What makes me really angry is when people blame drogba for these kind of defeats.

    he played well, should have won a penalty and was given limited service.

    that was never a red card, if anything, it was a penalty.

    For too long has Drogba been the fall-guy, he has single handedly kept us up this season.

  • Comment number 19.

    Where are all the chelsea fans gone. All hiding in mourinhos pocket.

    Totally outplayed. Not good enough.

  • Comment number 20.

    I take it the the phrase

    'Lampard was subdued' is a euphemism for simply not good enough against the very best?

    despite the build up, he really, truly , isnt a world beater, never has been, and like Gerrard , who is even worse form this season, will repeat these 'subdued' performances in the World Cup.

    Please can we now stop referring to an English midfield of Gerrard Lampard, Barry and SWP/Lennon as 'world class' .

    look to Sneijder to see what a world class midfielder is.

    Drogba's indiscipline gets a mention I see (and truthfully, the man he stood on was as bad throughout the game) , but Terrys foul mouthed rant at the offiicials at the end is ignored once more. Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    It was a tale of two halves really, Chelsea dominant in the first - Inter in the second.

    The difference was, Mourinho got his tactics spot on - and Inter's defence played exceptionally well.

    As a UNITED fan I couldn't really care less who we get now, but now Chelsea are out it can only make our chances better.

    Its a shame they can concentrate on the league now though

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.


    This is a man who has remained unbeaten at home since 2002! You think that is a coincidence? You think we are giving him credit where it is not due? Back to back European Championships with Porto, League titles in his first season everywhere he went!

    Wake up man! Your reasoning is blinded by hate/jealousy/envy - delete as appropriate

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    ballack this ballack that. makes no difference. chelsea are out.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think Phil and the BBC will wet themselves if Inter draw Man U or Arsenal in the next round.

    He's just a normal, albeit very cocky bloke. Get over it.

  • Comment number 27.

    You've got to laugh at the Chelsea fans crying injustice about the penalty area shenanigans, as if their own defenders don't do the same things week after week.

    Any complaints to the ref simply disguise the fact that this current Chelsea team are spent at European level. They would never have lost this tie 3 years ago. Abramovich is looking at another £250m bill for another stab at the Champions league, which might not be so appealing. But with an infrastructure that has so far produced 0 players of any quality, he doesn't really have a choice

    Last night, Inter played above the level I thought they were capable of, and will be a tough team to beat.

  • Comment number 28.

    Good ole Mourinho, can never decide entirely whether i love him or hate him but definately agree with other posters that it would be good to see him back in prem.

    I do think the tactics from Jose are being a bit overstated, I thought the game plan from inter mainly was to wind up drogba (don't see how u need to watch a dvd 7 times to know that), the line up was the old 4 3 3 that Mourinho always plays. They are quite a good side though (on last nights evidence, not so much the 1st leg), and i have always thought Sneijder to be a good player everytime i have seen him play. With a bit of luck Jose might bring him with him when he returns to england.

  • Comment number 29.

    7. At 07:52am on 16 Mar 2010, you wrote:


    TIME TO REBUILD................

  • Comment number 30.

    ". At 08:24am on 17 Mar 2010, James wrote:
    First off Inter thoroughly deserved their win. I would like to say Journey-man Ballack was a very strange inclusion for me. The midfield was where the battle was lost."

    I think you'll notice things really changed for the worse after Ballack was substituted.

  • Comment number 31.

    Chelsea heads were looking down even before the goal went in. They didn't have the belief that they could win that match.

    Inter were excellent but their time wasting, injury-faking and rugby tackling were the epitome of everything that needs to be taken out of football. Appalling stuff and I hope the quarter finals are the end of the road for them.

    Joe Cole is a player I've always been a huge fan of, but his impact was non existant last night. Little chance of getting anywhere near the Chelsea starting line-up or on a flight to South Africa this summer based on that.

  • Comment number 32.

    Personally reckon that with Essien and Cole fit, Chelsea would have gone through. Mikel was poor and Zhirkov seemed more at home running on than defending.

  • Comment number 33.

    A lot is said about this cheslea team being to 'old', and in the case or ballack, Id probably say thats a fair case, he looked slow (in pace and mind) against an inter team that isn't exactly youthful itself, but were well organised.

    However, I think the players missing (A. Cole, Essien(most importantly), Boswinga and Cech) made a big difference. I think we lacked any real width because of the loss of both our full backs, which I think will result in another 2nd place in the PL as we struggle to break teams down now and its easy for them to just pack out the middle of the park. I also think we lacked the energy, determination and drive that would have been provided by michael essien. Then, to top it all off, I think the team as a whole were so nervous about turnball having to face a shot (which astounds me, because hes twice as good as hilario), that the defence wouldnt venture out of their own half, in a game we were losing!!

    But, over the two legs, inter were the much better team. I think we looked pathetic in attack against a well organised rather than talented defence. I think more is made about Mourninho returning to Chelsea than what was actually the case. He was always something different tactically, we knew that, and no manager in european football can match him there. So why we even tried to amazes me. We would have been much better off just taking the game to them and being brave, which we certainly didnt do. id have rather seen us lose 3-2 on the night and go out, than lose 1-0 and not even have a meaningful shot.

    and its ironic that we didnt get any penalties last night, as its Mourinho's big mouth (along with Kenyon's dodgy deals) that has taken that right away from us in chapions league football...

  • Comment number 34.

    Phil, like you I was constantly frustrated with Frank Lampard and have been for some time. I find it a constant annoyance to see how little he affects 'big' games. For me, he has every opportunity to make maximum impact on every game he plays by having industry like Ballack and Mikel around him. There isn't many players in football afforded that kind of freedom. He can do exactly as he pleases. Frank Lampard has been one of the best attacking midfielders in the world over the last five or six years, but when push comes to shove, it seems Drogba takes the wieght at Chelsea. He's the real 'game changer'. Worrying for England, because Lampard would start for England as an amputee.

  • Comment number 35.

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  • Comment number 36.

    Cant be bothered to talk about the game or analyse it, I'm just happy that Chelsea are out and had to resort to throwing their toys out of the pram at the final whistle AGAIN. Bunch of overpaid children they are. Football won on the night as it always does against Chelsea.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi Phil

    I think you're spot on. I was reading some of the comments in a recent BBC blog about Jose Mourinho, claiming that he isn't as "special" as he thinks he is. I think his record belies such claims. Undefeated at home for something like seven years, fashioning an unfanciable Porto side to the Uefa Cup and Champions League, and as he rightly points out, losing to Liverpool unluckily at the semi-final stages by a 'phantom' goal and penalties. Not to mention his domestic dominance in Portugal, England and now Italy. The fact is, he rarely gets his tactics wrong.

    I also don't understand why people think this Inter side wasn't strong enough to reach the latter stages of the Champions League. With players like the Brazilian pair of Cesar and Lucio at the back, Sneijder pulling the strings in midfield and possibly the most prolific top-class forward of the Century so far in Samuel Eto'o, I always thought they were given the underdog billing unfairly. I think this represents a Premier League bias which unfairly billed the Inter Milan side as pedestrian, lacking creativity and bite; I think the two legs proved that if any side could be described as such, it was Chelsea. I don't think Inter are the sole favourites, as it's hard to see past the quality of the current Barcelona side, but surely they're one of the better sides to reach the last eight? And with Mourinho, they have one of the best tactical minds at the helm.

    Phil, you raise an interesting point about the age of the Chelsea side; with so many 30-pluses and not much in the way of youthful quality coming through, could next season possibly be the last chance that they will have of winning European silverware in their current guise?

  • Comment number 38.

    No Chelsea or Real in the next round? The Lord works in mysterious ways. Amen to that.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Phil,

    Mourinho said he played the three strikers to limit the full backs of Chelsea, however he knew exactly how to nulify their main threat Drogba.
    Drogba likes to dominate his opposing defenders he terrified Senderos a few times against Arsenal with hs physical dominance and out played Carra a few years ago when he was arguably at his peak. Lucio and Samuel played him superbly, in the first leg they roughed him up there was a point when him and Samuel were wrestling in the box 15 yards away from anyone else! Mourinho knew how to get to him which culminated in frustration and his red card. As much as you hate Mourniho you've gotta love him.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm not a Chelsea fan, and I'm a big fan of Mourinho (and think they were wrong to get rid of him as he would've won them the Champions League eventually), but i certainly don't think this will be the last of them as they were very unlucky in this tie.

    I thought they were the better team in Milan and certainly should have had a penalty, Walter Samuel was also very lucky to not be sent off last night (and also lucky not to give away another penalty). These are the decisions that cost at this level, and if just one of them had gone Chelsea's way i would fancy them to win the tie. So, with the players they had i thought they were unlucky.

    They were also unlucky in that they were missing 4 of their first team, and thats a lot for any Champions league team; Cole, Bosingwa, Essien, and Cech would be challeneging for most world 11's, so to be without all of them is very unlucky. Ivanovic was poor as was Ballack, so to replace them with Essien and Bosingwa adds more drive from the midfield and also more ideas going forward which are what Chelsea lacked at times.

    This was largely due to Mourinho's tactical nouse, and i have to give a special mention to Lucio and Zanetti, who were flawless over both legs, and have been in almost every game i've ever watched them..

    To conclude, I think Chelsea will still be a force for the next couple seasons, and their luck has to turn at some stage. (some part of me tells me that Karma was a big part in Terry missing that winning penalty a couple years ago)

    - Phil, do you think Ancellotti will spend big on the summer for a striker (Sergio Aguero or the like), given that Drogba and Anelka are both over 30?

  • Comment number 41.

    It was a masterclass display of one manager winning a battle of tactics against another..

    I agree with the poster above that Ballack gets wrongly labelled lazy.. and also agree that Joe Cole was a substitution that was never going to work..

    I think folk are needing to calm down over Mourinho.. he is a brilliant manager who is also able to do a very effective PR role in promoting himself and shielding his team... English media are needing to get off their knees with him though..

  • Comment number 42.

    I don't think Ballack is as bad as you make out, but he does go missing in action sometimes.
    No doubt i'll provoke the pitchfork and torches brigade with the next comment.
    I would not have John Terry in the Chelsea side at all, particularly in big matches. He's too slow, gives away stupid fouls, whines like a crop duster, and is far less talented than the smoke and mirrors propaganda he's promoted would have people believe. I think he's disruptive. No doubt the rabidly enthusiastic Blues fans will scream "HERESY!" at this, but aside from the odd header, and brutal tackle, when he's quick enough to catch the forward, he's a dead weight in the defense, and no certainty of success at containing forwards in full flight.
    Carvahlo and Alex work together a lot better than Terry does with anyone. Have a careful look at the replays of last night's game, and see how often the Chelsea defence is pulled out of shape, because Terry "directs" them somewhere they shouldn't be, or he ventures into someone else's space, and forces someone else to take the heat for "not being in the right spot."
    If i were a Ref, i'd send him off quickly for his industrial grade whining, so the rest of the players could get on with playing football.
    Chelsea weren't good last night, but they could have done better with Carvahlo and Alex, both of whom are smarter footballers than Terry, and have a much greater perspective of how to play European Football, than Terry ever will. It would have provided a better core with which to consistently blunt the attack of teams like Inter.
    I'd get rid of Terry before i got rid of Ancelotti.

    So, light your torches, sharpen your pitchforks, but in the process of doing so, take the "Terry's Chelsea through and through" blinkers off, and watch the game again with a greater degree of objectively, then write your responses.
    Chelsea would be further ahead this season without Terry, imho.

    I reckon Roman Abramovich, after watching the replay, might be thinking the same.

  • Comment number 43.

    I was reminded of the Brazil-USA world cup incident where Leonardo(?) was sent off for elbowing a US player who had tried to bring in American Football style blocks into the game, 40 yards away from the ball! We now have a similar attempts at bringing Rugby Football tackles and like into football !! And the referees are sleeping, instead of red carding and booking the Inter player for running at least 15 yards to rugby tackle Drogba to the ground with a grip around the waist, it was Drogba who ended up being sent off. His reaction was the culmination of countless Inter Rugby tackles that the ref was unable to 'see' (especially during corners). Kudos to the Chelsea gentlemen who kept their cool and sense of fair play.The forwards who started running into defenders were quickly put into place by a strategic elbow in the face by Carragher & Co to put an end to that practice (but the recent sending off a PL defender who did just the same says more work needs to be done!). I thing refs should be allowed to see the replay of any OFF THE BALL incident since the agent provocateurs (knowing the ref is preoccupied) are being allowed to besmirch the game and getting away with an extra on top - the sending off of the aggrieved !! Surely this cant be right.

  • Comment number 44.

    Didn't you say in your last post you didn't expect Mourinho to give us an open game? He turned up with three strikers. It should be humble pie time, Philip.

    Also no mention of John Terry's disgraceful antics or Drogba indiscipline.

    I do think Chelsea have peaked, John Terry is still great at dealing with crosses but he was gettin turned around a bit too often. And I still maintain the most important man for Chelsea after Drogba is Essien. Sometimes I wonder whether Hiddink was that good, or whether he was just lucky to come in when Essien was returning from injury. The man is a one man army, he can carry the whole team forward.

    Apart for that, Ancelotti wasn't given money to buy anyone, he must hope they get Pato from Milan next year or he's doomed.

  • Comment number 45.

    Ancelotti's error was taking off ballack for the unfit, out of form Cole.

    Although Ballack wasn't having a great game, did anyone notice how Schneider came alive as soon as he went off and played 3 or 4 cracking through balls from where? The space left behind by Ballack.

  • Comment number 46.

    7. At 08:35am on 17 Mar 2010, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To James...yes, Michael Essien would surely have made a difference, although obviously we will never know how much. Chelsea lacked drive in midfield and possession was conceded too often, too easily. I thought Michael Ballack was very poor and Frank Lampard was subdued.


    Typical, journalists protecting the british players. Understate weaknesses and exaggerate accomplishments. Lampard and Ballack were very poor! Lampard was dominated by better players.

  • Comment number 47.

    #18 wrote:

    "For too long has Drogba been the fall-guy"

    Oh, the irony in that statement! ;)

  • Comment number 48.

    To say Mourinho 'spooked' Chelsea with an attacking line-up seems a fundamental misinterpretation of the formation akin to Southgate's television claims 3 weeks ago that Jose was ''going for it'' by switching to the wide men with 1 up front. As in the away leg, the move was entirely designed to match-up to Chelsea - to ensure their full-backs were pinned back and making the 'free' man on either side a (non-creative without Carvalho) centre-back.
    The tactic would hardly have come as a surprise to Ancelotti, and certainly not spooked him. I doubt it worried him too greatly either because he'd probably have taken 0-0 at half-time as Inter appeared to be buckling. Although, as you say, Ballack was poor, Comment No.13 rightly points out that it was his removal and the switch to a Diamond midfield that turned the game away from Chelsea - suddenly Maicon and Zanetti had more freedom and Inter took control.
    Basically, the easy piece to write is the 'Mourinho is a genius' article. However, he did nothing here out the ordinary.. Ferguson and Benitez would have matched up exactly the same. This was about Sneijder's creativity contrasting beautifully with Chelsea's all-too-easily-stifled offensive players.

  • Comment number 49.

    Good Blog Phil as usual.

    Jose was at his brilliant best when Eto missed a headed oppurtunity during the first half of the match and also on numeroud othet occassions when Milito missed chance after chance. But it was a very efficient, typical Mourinho display by Inter.

    It always is better "Not to concede" and Inter stuck to it. There were several chances for the BLUE's but it was either Lucio or Motta or Zanetti or Samuel blocking the shots from the Chelsea attack which shows how much Inter need this title.

    Chelsea were also very good but it was just not their day. They have a group of somewhat aged line-up and it has to be replaced in the not toooo distant future.

    One more thing that we must consider here iss that "Internazionale" is the only team mounting an Italian challenge for the much sought after trophy which they have not won for a long long time.

    Nobody knows what is coming next for the teams that have qualified for the next round although if Barca are Inter are drawn against each other in the next round, then it is a really mouth watering clash for all the netrals.

    ALL THE BEST for all the TEAMS . . . .

  • Comment number 50.

    I really wish that the English media would give some credit to the Inter players rather than heaping all of the praise for the result on Mourinho. Inter have a really gifted squad, not many teams can boast a forward line as good as Eto'o, Milito, Pandev and Balotelli. Similarly Cesar, Sneijder, Lucio and Cambiasso are among the best in the world in their respective positions.

    I appreciate that the media want to write about Mourinho's potential return to the Premiership as it's the story with the broadest appeal to their readership, however there are a number of other key 'angles' to this story: the end of the cycle for an aging Chelsea squad; the poor form, at various points of the season, of Chelsea's key performers; the importance of Bosingwa and Cole to Chelsea's European gameplan; Inter spearheading a potential Seria A return from the European wilderness.

    Let's not obsess about one, though admittedly talented, manager.

  • Comment number 51.

    No mention of John Terry's foul mouthed rant at the end of the game..oh well, nice to see, like Chelsea not winning the CL, some thngs never change.

  • Comment number 52.

    To Ted_Breakfast...nice one. I'm expecting a few of those if Arsenal win something this season. Don't worry - I can take it!

    Now to the game itself. To Drogba's Strawberry Bootlaces. I certainly wasn't blaming Didier Drogba for Chelsea's defeat. He tried everything against Inter's defence but could not get anywhere, although he was clearly fouled by Walter Samuel when he should have been awarded a penalty in the first half.

    He does seem to be a symbol of how things can go wrong for Chelsea in the Champions League though, as his disciplinary record shows.

    I am sometimes mystified at the rush, from people, outside Chelsea I should stress, to criticise Frank Lampard. He was quiet last night, but did his performances against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals and last eight for two successive seasons not come against top-class opposition, both in terms of the team and the players he was up against?

    Liverpool, for all their faults this season, were flying when Lampard made those key contributions. And did he not score in the Champions League final itself against Manchester United? I have no particular brief for Lampard, but he does seem to be a bit of a fall guy for opposing fans.

    And to onenessuk on the subject of Michael Ballack. He has been a very fine player, a world-class one, at his peak but I thought he was poor last night. Put it this way, I didn't hear too many Chelsea fans around me complaining when he was taken off.

  • Comment number 53.

    33. At 09:33am on 17 Mar 2010, Crumpet14 wrote:


    Chech wouldn't have made a difference last night!!

    Turnball only had to make one good save, and the goal wouldn't of been saved by chech either.

  • Comment number 54.

    Agreed with the thought that the english media are like schoolgirls swooning over Mourinho. Keys last night in the sky box was embarrassing, lecturing european cup winners that it was "all down to the manager, not the players"

  • Comment number 55.

    There is no doubt, that whilst we were hardly breaking Inter's doors down, we did still look capable of winning the match up until Ballack went off. After that substitution, we were simply overrun in midfield.

    Phil, you need to appreciate Ballack more for what he does, he may not be fast, he may not be the player he was at his peak, but he still reads the game brilliantly, he usually plays the right pass, and he is very strong, in CL games is is simply invaluable, and it showed as soon as he went off last night.

    Joe Cole should have come on for Anelka last night who was struggling all match.

    Inter currently have one of the best managers in the world in Jose Mourinho, Chelsea have a good manager, but not a great manager in CA, and he is unlucky to have a squad in decline. CA still deserves the chance to build his own team at Chelsea, I hope he gets it, but who knows?

  • Comment number 56.

    Liverpool, for all their faults this season, were flying when Lampard made those key contributions. And did he not score in the Champions League final itself against Manchester United? I have no particular brief for Lampard, but he does seem to be a bit of a fall guy for opposing fans.


    He is the man who, despite other teams playing more games than England, had more shots on goal at the last world cup than any other player.

    Remind us, Phil, how many he scored.

    He isnt what you build him up to be, that isnt his fault, its yours.

    He's a good midfielder who, due to the tactics of his club that choose personal specifically to free him from any defensive obligation, can spend his time pushing forward and going for goal. He is a good striker of the ball, and so he scores a few.

    In last nights game, he was lost. Why? because Chelsea were up against truly top international players and without Essien to cover up ,his lack of defensive ability, whether talent or willingness to do the job only he could tell you, was exploited repeatedly by Inters players.

    England do not have Essien. They have Barry. This is why his performances for England are also lacklustre.

  • Comment number 57.

    Chelsea and Inter were evenly matched over the 2 legs , the only difference was the ref´s decisions. It was a very , very fine line between defeat and victory for both teams.
    On another day Chelsea would have had a penalty in each game and gone through to the next round. The this blog would have been about Mourinho´s failure not glory.

    Inter bent ( and broke ) the rules in both legs and got away with it to win the tie. Chelsea as you pointed out lacked creativity in the final third. I thought Ballack did O.K. , he bossed his territory in midfield. Lampard was average at best and had little impact. Joe cole had no impact at all when he came on , he will be no loss to Chelsea if he leaves on a free in the summer.

    Finally as a neutral I really am bemused why Chelsea get so many bad decisions against them in Europe year after year. In all probability if the rub of the green had gone the other way they would have won 2 CL´s by now.

  • Comment number 58.

    Lets not kid ourselves guys. Inter are rubbish .. Mark my words, if they play another team of Chelsea's quality (UTD, Barcelona, Arsenal or the now kicked out Real) they would loose.. Just caz they got lucky is no reason to talk down about Chelsea or talk up Inter... Its obvious something is wrong when the last time Chelsea were fairly beaten in the CL was a final defeat in penalties... Maybe it just goes to show if you had to pick between being good and lucky u'd pick being lucky (not so sure its luck thu, seems to be that Chelsea are not allowed to win a penalty as long as they live)
    Bottom line Chelsea deserved to go through if only on the basis that they were playing the right game , Football. What I saw from Inter was nothing short of rugby
    Ill bet my house on the fact that if Inter play Barca/Utd in the next round they are going home... Inter is a Rubbish team (except for Snieder who I must say is immense) and the fact that they are struggling to win their league amidst all the politics in Italy just goes to prove that

  • Comment number 59.


    "Chelsea's fans did the unthinkable and turned on Jose Mourinho amid the dying embers of their latest failure to win the Champions League....

    This is because Mourinho's meticulous preparation, and masterly execution, of Inter Milan's victory that sent Chelsea out in the last 16 showed his former club exactly what they are missing."

    I stopped reading at this point, assuming the rest of the blog is utter tripe as well.

    I was in the Matthew Harding, and i was singing that colourful song. Not because we were outplayed. But because we were frustrated with the cheating, play acting and time wasting behaviour of his Inter players.

    I stood next to a man who seemed to have a personal problem with Ballack. 'Useless', 'clueless', and 'get that German off' were some of the milder things he said. It infuriated me. Funny how things collapsed as soon as he was taken off.

    And then there is Ancellotti. Who seemed to do nothing before, during and after the game to suggest he was even interested in the tie. Or perhaps he really is just a boring man, who is tactically clueless?

  • Comment number 60.

    Chelsea play without shape and width. Playing players like Ballack serves only to congest the midfield; they look like a bunch of shapeless amatuers at times. You need shape and discipline to win a football match - it doesn't matter how good your players are. Playing a random bank of midfielders across the park won't work - at times they weren't sure where they were supposed to be or what job they were supposed to do at any one time. Chelsea made the job of turning over the 2-1 deficit all the harder for themselves by having no particular plan or structure meaning they were effectively chasing the game when it had only just begun. If you have players in 'sensible' positions then they are there to win the ball when defending and there to receive it when in possession. Schoolboy stuff, but Liverpool are guilty too; even United are at times.
    Now, I am loth to see these teams play with shape in such a way in the premier league (that would be unfair on the rest of us!) But it frustrates me when they're representing us in Europe!
    Arsenal, however much i hate even to write the word (i feel sick now just so you know) play with shape and pace and wide men and are now coming up on the outside to try and sneak the championship (heaven forbid!) and their team is probably one of the least talented sides they've had for some time. If you watch any side that plays above the talents of its players (Fulham, Birmingham etc) they all function in an almost chess-like manner; their defences (Fulham in particular) move as one (most of the time) and are so organised that they frustrate other teams and then play with shape and ideology going forward and have success (admittedly to varying degrees), but the point is is that they do well with the limited abilities they have. I'm rambling now, but PlAY WITH WIDTH AND SHAPE AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW....

  • Comment number 61.

    Mc, I think you watch a different game, every time:

    - Ballack DID neutralise Inter. Chelsea lost its pyramide after Cole came in. Inter scored, then.

    - The ref. was quite ordinary. There were some really obvious fouls.
    But then, Inter were tactically (though Mour denies 'tactics') better. They were playing for a cause.

    - It was such a punctuated game that I fear Mourinho is ruining the 'beautiful' aspect of it. He just wants to win the game incorporating all contact and collision sports that he can conjure up.

    The papers are full of him and so are you, Phil. Footballing isn't a war game. Strategic and tactical, yes. But it's not Rugby.

    I'm glad Chelsea are out. But the theatrics of Inter made it less enjoyable.

  • Comment number 62.

    Congrats indeed to JM for this sweep of a series. However, the real story would come if Internazionale can lay aside their CL hoodoo and win a first since the 60's. To me that's where the news would be for a perennial big spender like Inter.

    One area I wouldn't mind Mourinho shutting up on is Liverpool's "ghost goal", his term (I think). Life is full of injustices of indescribable proportions, a fact we all need to deal with and move on. Missing out on a penalty would be like Liverpool dwelling on a goal scored through a beach ball's help.

    As a neutral, the real story was the host, Abramovich, versus Mourinho. In this particular case, the first of such a meeting, the ex-employee won. Good for him.

    Chelsea have not been investing in fresh blood for a while, which I think might have come back to haunt them a bit. Is Essien's absence the main cause of this result? I consider that debatable, alongside the predictability of Ancelotti's tactics. I stil think all the top flight coaches are predictalbe, with a series of tried and tested, predictable systems in constant use. A factor to consider is failure to renew those well traveled legs of Lamps, Terry, Carvalho, Malouda or Drogba, in a long season, was pushing this team a bit far. Unsure if SAF was right in calling Chelsea an ageing squad that might not last till the end of a tough competition.

    Discipline must be adhered to regardless of the game in front of you. This is one area I felt Chelsea could have hang on and sought the needed goals - a thing they're indeed capable of from experience. Now unfortunately, for two season in a row they've lost their heads in the heat of the moment, and for the Drog it's several seasons, in a row, of sending offs. It is near impossible to keep focus when your temper's aroused - see Benitez's rebuke to Torres for his constant mouthing of complaints rather than staying focused on playing.

    It can be a useful, albeit painful, back to the drawing boards for Chelssa but it's congrats to Mourinho. After all the showboating, now lead Inter to a CL, and make the actual news. No team ever sets the goal of failing to grasp the crown at the end.

  • Comment number 63.




















  • Comment number 64.

    Before the first leg I was critical of your assertions re Mourinho Phil in a previous blog but I have to say I was really impressed by Inter's performance last night and will eat humble pie. Sneijder was very impressive and were it not for a misfiring front 3 Inter could have had another two goals off the back of his wonderful passing. For how bad they were though Chelsea built up a good head of steam just before half time and were unlucky to not get a penalty and looked like they would get that crucial goal.
    Well done Inter, but Barca and Man U are still the teams to beat and there is a way to go before Jose can be called special again. For now though, he's done what Mancini could not with Inter in getting to the quarter finals and sometimes over coming the mental barriers of progressing past a point where you've floundered before is harder than you think. Just look at Real Madrid.

  • Comment number 65.

    Key to Inter win last night were the performances of Sneijder & Zanetti, both superb. Eto’o took his goal well but was poor otherwise. Defence was solid. The only Chelsea attacker who played well was Drogba, who was frustrated & eventually provoked into the stamp. Anelka, Lampard, Mikel & Joe Cole were all poor. Ballack was actually OK. Ashley Cole, Bosingwa & of course Essien all much missed, although they haven't been against lesser opposition in recent weeks.

    As for Mourinho, he's a gret manager even if his teams mostly play boring football. Realistically, I hope Inter win the CL just so Manure, the @rse and Barselona don't. Ideally, Stuttgart all the way!

  • Comment number 66.

    Drogba and Terry are a disgrace. Who do they think they are reacting like this every time they loose. They just sum Chelsea up........NO CLASS

  • Comment number 67.

    lt was the 'special one' at the bridge, guys. jose is the difference. while he read the game well and had options A, B, and C, the chelsea branch were clueless.
    With Carlo, we may not win any silverware this season. The man has no games options.
    Roman, please bring BACK the special one. He is just the best.

  • Comment number 68.

    Commiserations to Chelsea -- it would have been nice to have three English teams in the draw for the next round.

    Alex Ferguson is going to be watching the video of this match over and over again, for two reasons:

    1. Just in case Man United meet up with Inter between now and the final;

    2. Beat Chelsea when they visit OT on Saturday 03 April 2010

  • Comment number 69.

    This Chelsea team looks so one-dimensional. They kind of stagnate when they are closed down like they were by Everton and others in the league. I think Deco would have made a big difference, if played on the tip of the diamond. He comes closest to what Wesley Sneijder is for Inter. Plus, I feel that they missed Bosingwa & Cole on the flanks. Zhirkov has not convinced me of his credentials to 18m plus buy.

  • Comment number 70.

    Funny to hear Mourinho's post-match comments:

    "They tried to get back with conflict, long balls and diving in the box but I think everything we did was superior."

    At least something you taught them stuck eh Jose!

  • Comment number 71.

    There seems to be consensus here that Ballack was the worst player in Chelsea's loss. How do you explain then that Chelsea literally disintegrated after he was taken out? Until then both teams played at the same level, with Ballack disrupting Inter's play and controlling the ball in midfield.
    You can not make him the scapegoat for Chelsea's lack of invention in going forward. This is not his primary responsibility at Chelsea. He is a defensive midfielder.

  • Comment number 72.

    67. At 10:17am on 17 Mar 2010, emmy wrote:

    lt was the 'special one' at the bridge, guys. jose is the difference. while he read the game well and had options A, B, and C, the chelsea branch were clueless.
    With Carlo, we may not win any silverware this season. The man has no games options.
    Roman, please bring BACK the special one. He is just the best.


    Aaah, a Man U supporter with a mischievous sense of humour, AND a grasp of irony.

    A wonderful read. :)

  • Comment number 73.

    I think Chelsea are suffering from a dose of 'Bad Karma.'

    Seems that the legend JT whilst being a top class player for England and Chelsea has been at the hub of the misfortune.

    I guess its a case of 'what comes around goes around.' Can't see Chelsea winning the league now.

  • Comment number 74.

    And to (onenessuk ?)on the subject of Michael Ballack. He has been a very fine player, a world-class one, at his peak but I thought he was poor last night. Put it this way, I didn't hear too many Chelsea fans around me complaining when he was taken off.

    I agree Phil, I was at the match too, I think the fans expected the 'old Joe Cole' to come on. Joe is not the player he was, it will take a few more months for that to happen. Ballack has become more of an 'enforcer' now. But he can be petulant as well, I think he was taken off before he was sent off.....But well done Inter they were the better (and stronger) team. We will have to try again next year, we need new players and we need some lucky heather !

  • Comment number 75.

    Full credit to many decent Chelsea fans last night on 606 who didn't moan or complain and just accepted that Inter were the better team. It is as refreshing as it is surprising...

    Yes Murhino brings just a normal intelligence to the game, and I believe his story about the DVD is a great example. He does his homework pure and simple. I don't believe many other managers, neither ancelotti or wenger or mancini for that matter would do the same.......
    there is too much reliance on hearsay and scouts and whatever.......

    It was clear the moment there was booing you would jump on the bandwagon for your blog but is it really relevant? Chlesea in getting rid of Grant have got rid of the one man who got them to the final.... that for me speaks volumes. I also have a conspiracy theory that the powers that be don't want chelsea to win it...... Yeah I should be ashamed shouldn't I, but how else can you explain the litany of near misses, clearly chelsea have been very good and good enough to do it a number of times.....

  • Comment number 76.

    To Raskham21...not ordinary in coaching terms. World class. There are few clubs in the world that would not welcome him as coach of their team. This is not blind admiration, it is simple fact. Study his record.

    To Paul...agree with you that Chelsea looked out of steam and out of ideas even before Eto'o scored. Milito should have put the tie out of the reach a few minutes before the goal.

    To apbats...I never said Mourinho was "going for it", but there was no doubt the presence of such an attacking threat in the shape of Eto'o, Pandev and Milito, supported by the brilliant Sneijder, made Chelsea even more wary of that away goal.

    As Mourinho said, the plans was to place doubts in Chelsea's minds and that is exactly what it did.

    And to bobbieflowers...Mourinho was asked whether there had been any deliberate plan to wind up Drogba. He denied it.

  • Comment number 77.

    As we enter the political season of face-to-face debates, what would we all have given to have been able to watch Mourinho and Brian Clough arguing the football issues of the day.

    I'm a Spurs supporter and I would love to see JM back in the Prem. Anywhere.

  • Comment number 78.

    No one mentioning how ageing this Chelsea side becomes, only one outfield player was under 25 last night. You just wonder how they gonna replace them?! I don’t think roman will throw the money again and Chelsea is not making good revenue like Manchester or arsenal in particular. I think in the next 5 years Chelsea will go back to the background. Arsenal (considering their ever improving financial situation) and Manchester utd to dominate again. Looking at the qualified teams, apart from Barcelona (if they qualify tonight) and inter, arsenal and united must fancy their chances this year.

  • Comment number 79.

    I think a lot of you didn't actually watch the game going by your comments. How can the referee miss 2 clear cut penalties and reward Inter for their dying albatross impressions every time they were tackled.
    Who ever draws them in the q/f will have to do the damage in the first leg as they will be missing several key players thru suspension.
    Barca v Manure final ... maybe

  • Comment number 80.

    philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    'I thought Michael Ballack was very poor and Frank Lampard was subdued'

    Am I the only one who thinks it was the opposite?

    I just think Lampard is way over-rated, name one game against top opposition (domestic or international) where he has been the man who made a difference?

    Lampard is one of those players who seems to flourish against the lesser teams but doesn't have whatever it is, mentality, bottle, ability, to carry it into the big games. Watching it last night it stood out a mile the midfield was the problem!

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    I was quite surprised to see the Chelsea players and fans turn on the referee when they lost.

    Oh no, sorry, I wasn't. With Chelsea it's always someone else's fault. There are no excuses in football. The blame stops with the team. Chelsea were about as blunt as you could get over the two legs. And sometimes, a lot of the time perhaps, that approach may win you a tie. But when you're not taking many risks, playing the safe game, you can't complain when the opposing team has the weapons to rebuff that approach. That's exactly what Inter had. The industrial defending was absolutely fine. Firstly it worked, and when it did step over the line, it was mostly punished - and there weren't any dirty tackles flying around either.

    The difference came with some clinical finishing that the Chelsea striker's could not match. A few months ago I had Chelsea as certs to win this tie. But as time edged closer to it, more doubt crept into my mind. The injuries that Chelsea have make their squad look very narrow and undynamic, while Essien's injury means that they miss class in the midfield - with Mikel only replacing the power aspect - he's a poor replacement.

    Inter were the better prepared, and dare I say it Chelsea's arrogant approach cost them. They thought they could just play their game and beat the opposition, without any real concern for how the excellent opposition might hurt them. That tactic works if you're Barcelona. Chelsea don't have the players to play that type of football. They needed more guidance from Ancelotti.

    Chelsea need investment in the summer if they want to win the Champions League in the near-future. Enough of this self-sustainability rubbish, Chelsea are never going to be like an Arsenal. They are going to have rely on having the dongo to beat the opposition. Chelsea's biggest strength used to be their spending power, but if you refuse to use that to your advantage, you're not going to win the major trophies. Mourinho is right.

    Chelsea could do a lot worse than to re-recruit Arjen Robben in the summer. I know he has this reputation of being injured a lot of the time, but at least you can get 30 games out of him. In Chelsea's first title winning season, he was the best winger in the league by a mile that set the bench mark for Ronaldo to match and surpass a few years later. Now he's still in his prime, has more experience and is still that creative, explosive and mazy winger that creates chances and hurts opposition. Malouda's a good player and has been playing very well recently, but when you're relying on him to create everything and let the other players finish them off, you're going to be in trouble.

    Mr McNulty, a lot of peoples problem with Frank Lampard is that he's very easy to mark and stop in the big games. His numbers will always make him look like an amazing goalscoring midfielder, but he's not in the same mould as someone like Sneijder who can create in tight spaces behind the front two. I'd suggest that Lampard thrives playing behind Drogba with decent wingers, something which just isn't happening at Chelsea. The team needs to suit Lampard to get the best out of him, and once it doesn't, not much happens.

    Chelsea are an excellent team and can still win these major trophies. They may still even win the league, probably. But they need to get their injured players back fit and go out and spend money on some brilliant attackers.

  • Comment number 83.

    And to bobbieflowers...Mourinho was asked whether there had been any deliberate plan to wind up Drogba. He denied it.


    he would do

  • Comment number 84.

    How much longer will it be before Roman concludes that he's not going to win the Champions League with Chelsea and moves on elsewhere? And what are the financial implications for the club when he does so?

  • Comment number 85.

    Yes Murhino brings just a normal intelligence to the game, and I believe his story about the DVD is a great example. He does his homework pure and simple. I don't believe many other managers, neither ancelotti or wenger or mancini for that matter would do the same.......


    Yes they would, they just wouldn't feel the need to announce it to everyone in a press conference! It is just part of their job after all.

  • Comment number 86.

    I believe it was the perfect script.

    ex manager brutally discarded when he was the most successful manager in the history of the club comes back to haunt the team, but also has the graciousness not to celebrate.

    wish I could say the same about some chelsea fans though

  • Comment number 87.

    Its very simple, its Chelsea's bad luck. Last time round we were up against the Barcelona Basketball Club (and the ref was under a UEFA spell) and this time we were up against the Internazionale Rugby League Club and the ref was recuperating from the Munich Beer Festival !!

  • Comment number 88.

    You appear to be evading the numerous requests to comment on Terry's foul mouthed post match rants at the officials ... again.
    Respect ?!

  • Comment number 89.

    Mourinho's capability was never in doubt and frankly this result is only really a shock in this country.

    It is another example of the English Premier League not being as good as the English press and media like to think. Inter are the Itallian champions and have an excellent squad with arguably one of the best managers on the continent. Chelsea also have a great manager but an aging squad which is now past its peak.

    The EPL was undoubtably Eurpoe's top league for the past 5 years or so but that era seems ot be coming to an end. Unfortunately this decline will only increase in pace due to the incredibly high rate of tax that players will have to pay in this country, especially when compared to Italy, Spain etc. The Premier League provides great entertainment every week but it seems like the quality is starting to build again on the Med.

  • Comment number 90.

    This year the Champions League is throwing up some serious surprises! First Liverpool, then Real Madrid, and now Chelsea. Barca are surely favourites but United must be up there as well.

    On a little side note, I'd be happy to draw Inter in the next round. Also, I don't believe there is anybody left in CL we should fear. that includes Barca. After all, to be the best, you have to beat the best!

  • Comment number 91.

    Well done to Jose, if I was a Liverppol fan I'd be praying for Inter to win the CL, Rafa to resign and for the special one to take over!

    Moving slightly away from the special one, the reason I believe Chelsea will not win anything and have been knocked out is the quality in the squad, not the first team, the squad.

    Chelseas first team is undoubtedly when on form up their with the best. But when their players either lose form/are injured or suspended (both of thse kick in at this time of year) they effectively 'lose it'.

    The subs bench is so poor. Only Joe Cole with any hint of a threat and when was the last time he had a good game. Unitl the squad is dramatically improved it is only going to get worse.

    Also, typical Drogba and shame on the booing Chelsea fans, around 10mins of play to go, your team desperately need a goal, we have seen amazing comebacks before even when teams have played poorly all game, and he gets himself sent off!
    And the fans boo Mourinho, I sincerely hope it was a minority as stated as Mourinho acted with dignity regarding his celebrations and general behaviour.

  • Comment number 92.

    I wonder what the executives at Bayern thought when they saw Lucio's magnificent performance against Chelsea. They could'nt get rid of him fast enough and sold him for a paltry 7 Mio Euro to Inter because they thought he was too old, too error-prone and too attack-minded. Now Bayern are stuck with Demichelis and van Buyten who make much more errors, are as old as Lucio and have not nearly Lucio's class.

  • Comment number 93.

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

  • Comment number 94.

    76. At 10:28am on 17 Mar 2010, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:
    To Raskham21...not ordinary in coaching terms. World class. There are few clubs in the world that would not welcome him as coach of their team. This is not blind admiration, it is simple fact. Study his record.


    I didn't question his ability as a coach. He's obviously world class. I was commenting on the fact that he's just a cocky bloke, something which you and most journo's focus on.

  • Comment number 95.

    Speaking as a non-chelsea fan
    1. Ballack was probably the best Chelsea midfielder.

    2. Mourinho is getting too much credit, and the inter team too little.

    3. Drogba gets the focus again, tbh i don't blame him for what he did.

  • Comment number 96.

    Although we lost, i´m not so sad like last year, when we were robbed from a victory against 12 men Barcas. I felt after the match like we had owed Jose something after unjustful termination of his service and yesterday we paid it back. Now that Jose has got his revenge, i feel it has finally lifted the ghost of Mourinho from SB. When Mou returns today, he will be taking all his memories from past 5 years back with him to Italy. That would certainly make us stronger the remainder of the season, and the coming seasons.

  • Comment number 97.


    Good blog apart from you mention Drogba's "shameful haranguing of officials" and yet no mention from yourself and much of the press about Terry's foul mouthed rant at the officials at the end of the game.

    It makes you wonder if they are giving him an easy ride after all the recent "allegations"

  • Comment number 98.

    Kapnag wrote:

    " ….the english media are like schoolgirls swooning over Mourinho. Keys last night in the sky box was embarrassing, lecturing european cup winners that it was "all down to the manager, not the players"

    Come on, Mourinho is pure class. Here is a guy who has the arrogance but can back it up with his results. Was Souness implying own his managerial record was poor because of the team he had out on the park ;-).

    Yes it’s easy to argue that during the 90 minutes it's down to the players but the evidence about great/successful teams is there, think who managed them and you see a common factor, Shankly, Fergusson, Clough, Mourinho Stein etc etc.

    If you need more proof of the difference the manager makes just look at the England set up with Capello (although as a Scotsman it hurts to admit it :-) )

  • Comment number 99.

    Conspiracy theory - Was the ref acting under orders for Platini yet again... he hates the fact that there could be another all english final and ... mark my words ... Manure will face ARSEnil and the winner will face Barcelona /Inter/Bayern in the semi's...what do you think Phil??

  • Comment number 100.


    "AND TO BOBBLERFLOWERS...Mourinho was asked whether there had been any deliberate plan to wind up Drogba. He denied it."

    And you expected Mourinho to admit it? Did you see the Inter defenders high-fiving and hugging each other when the ref pulled out the red card? Their keeper was celebrating with Motta while he lay on the ground 'injured'. I certainly saw it. I was standing 10 yards away from it.


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