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Torres pick backfires on Ancelotti

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Phil McNulty | 01:49 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Old Trafford

When Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich handed over a £50m cheque to Liverpool in exchange for Fernando Torres, it was with nights like a Champions League quarter-final at Manchester United specifically in mind.

Torres has been portrayed as the ultimate vanity purchase, with even Sir Alex Ferguson convinced his arrival was a sign of Abramovich's grand, but unfulfilled, obsession with Europe's elite competiton.

So it was no surprise, at least not to Ferguson, that Ancelotti was unable or unwilling to resist the forces guiding him to play Torres ahead of Didier Drogba in a game that may well define the immediate future for both the Italian and Chelsea.

Ancelotti's decision backfired spectacularly in front of his notoriously impatient owner as Torres suffered public humiliation on a grand scale, lasting only 45 minutes before being hooked off as United ran out deserved winners, not only on the night but over two legs.

Abramovich slipped away into the Manchester night seconds before the final whistle, leaving Ancelotti to admit he may have botched the biggest decision of his Chelsea career and that his destiny is now out of his hands.

"I have to work," he said. "I have to try to do my best. It's not my decision whether I stay or don't stay. I haven't spoken with Roman Abramovich."

Torres sits in the stands after being replaced at half-time. Photo: AFPTorres sits in the stands after being replaced at half-time. Photo: AFP

Ferguson had expected Torres to start the game, declaring: "Having signed Torres for the money they did, they had to play him. I couldn't see how they could leave him out."

United's boss refuses to apply price-tag logic to his own team selections. A prime example is his continued faith in £6m Javier Hernandez at the expense of £30m Dimitar Berbatov - a decision rewarded again as "The Little Pea" scored the goal that put Ferguson on the way to another Champions League semi-final.

Hernandez was full of movement and menace - in sharp contrast to Torres, who played in a fog of lost confidence, a pale shadow of his former quicksilver and predatory self.

The folly of Ancelotti's decision to cast aside Drogba was underscored by the Ivorian's dynamic second-half display, which brought the goal that gave Chelsea faint hope, albeit until Ji-Sung Park sealed United's win less than a minute later.

Torres, however, was the main talking point - and there was no escaping the feeling that Ancelotti's own tenure at Chelsea may be wrapped up in the decision to play the World Cup winner from the start. Once that decision had been made, it had to bear fruit.

It did anything but as the Spaniard, who was deservedly regarded as one of the world's top strikers not so long ago, went through a form of public torture. Touch too heavy, flimsy in the physical exchanges and the trademark movement nowhere to be seen, he was eventually put out of his misery at half-time when he was replaced by Drogba.

Torres was signed to make defining contributions to meetings of this magnitude. Ancelotti's admission that he had seen enough after only 45 minutes offered a brutal commentary on the former Liverpool forward's current state of play and mind.

Ancelotti effectively admitted the error of his ways when asked if he had made a mistake picking Torres. "Maybe. Could be," he replied. "But I thought for a lot of time before taking this decision. I preferred to start with Fernando for this kind of game, with this kind of tactics. But Didier Drogba played very well in the second half."

Torres cut a lonely figure as he groped for his former greatness, with little support or service it should be stressed, and was reduced to bickering with referee Oligario Benquerenca long before his evening was cut short.

The rush to conclude that Torres is a spent force must be resisted, though, simply because his record deserves greater respect, while the quality he once had does not simply disappear. Still, 693 minutes without a goal at the end of this harrowing experience tells a simple tale.

Torres is also surrounded by the whiff of suspicion, strongly denied by Ancelotti, that he has to play purely because Abramovich spent such a vast sum acquiring him. No-one can doubt, however, that he is proving an uncomfortable fit for Chelsea.

Ancelotti went against his usual instincts to pair Torres and Drogba in the first leg before excluding the latter in the second. Two major decisions in Chelsea's two biggest games of the campaign, contributing to two defeats that effectively condemn them to a season free from silverware.

There will be renewed speculation that Ancelotti will lose his job but should he be under threat less than 12 months after winning the Premier League and FA Cup? Is this not credit in the bank? Is the Champions League the only currency that counts for Abramovich? All will be revealed at season's end.

If Abramovich allowed himself a look around Old Trafford on Tuesday, he will have seen the results of an almost unique model of managerial stability and continuity. Maybe there is another way apart from the default option of sacking his manager?

No such concerns for United or Ferguson as they continue their attempt to repeat the feats of 1999 and win the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.

And after a season struggling to rediscover the old authority, this was a performance that suggests Ferguson has got his squad peaking at exactly the right time.

Giggs and Hernandez celebrate after the latter had opened the scoring. Photo: AFPGiggs and Hernandez celebrate after the latter had opened the scoring. Photo: AFP

There is no older authority playing today than Ryan Giggs. He was magnificent in creating both goals, proving that he can almost be regarded as a freak of nature as well as the consummate professional.

"The man is incredible," said Ferguson. "He's just unique as a person and as a player. His experience and composure is vital."

Giggs vied for top billing with Wayne Rooney, also back to his best when Ferguson needs him most, and Michael Carrick, whose performances in both meetings with Chelsea threaten to embarrass those of us - including many United fans - who scorned the decision to award him a new long-term contract.

United simply knew too much for Chelsea once they had survived some anxious moments in the first 30 minutes. Inter or Schalke will be afforded respect in the semi-final but Ferguson will believe they hold no terrors.

As for Chelsea, they will once again have their noses pressed up against the window when the Champions League trophy is handed out, while Ancelotti must wait to discover if his ill-fated decision to pick Torres is the beginning of the end for him.

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  • Comment number 1.

    As a Liverpool fan, there is a most definite feeling of schadenfreude toward Torres' performances in a blue shirt. I felt sick to the stomach when he jumped ship in January, but not as sick as the Chelsea fans feel now I fear! Why Ancelotti sticks with him I have no idea, I think the headline from the Mirror sums it up perfectly, 'Pea 45' indeed!

  • Comment number 2.

    we still do not know who's privilege it is to lose to Barcelona in the final.

  • Comment number 3.

    Drogba should have started! He was immense when he came on...
    Chelsea never went for it. they should have thrown everything at it towards the end and that was disappointing.


  • Comment number 4.

    Could have been oh so different if Frank had tucked away his chance. Still, we were sterile against a Manchester United team who are far from worldbeaters. Ancellotti out! We need someone who is better tactically... maybe Martin Jol?

  • Comment number 5.

    For me, Torres is all about quick movement and pace. Nearly everything I've ever seen of him involves a quick, sharp movement or quick break away.

    Chelsea's attacking build up just seems to be too slow to benefit him. If they do look for him early, then it seems to be a ball punted up to the height of his neck. For so long, Chelsea have relied of Drogba holding the ball up and bringing Lampard into the game.

    If Torres is to be a success, then Chelsea have to seriously rethink their entire stategy. He needs to be on the shoulder of the last defender, looking to receive through balls to run onto, or into the channels; he's not a player to spend most of the game with his back facing the opposition goal.

    The next question Chelsea have the midfielders to be that creative...?

  • Comment number 6.

    Torres has looked a shadow of the player he was and selling him was hard. I have to say though that looking at Suarez and Carroll now that I am not sorry to see him go. He is too good a player not to come good but even so the future for Liverpool will be different. Whilst not a fan of either club I have to say that Chelsea would not be anything without Ambramovich, at least Man U are a real club and Liverpool's only real rivals in the English game (that was hard to say). Hopefully Barca, Real or maybe Schalke will finish them off!.

  • Comment number 7.

    A victory for football! Fergie legend!

  • Comment number 8.

    Lampard is finished!

  • Comment number 9.

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

  • Comment number 10.

    Chelsea are an ageing squad and I think they lack creativity from midfield - Lamp's is lacking at the mo, and he's the only one with great vision and passing that can open up a defence (ala Giggs)
    The strikers can only take the chances their offered from the midlfield so it's no surprise that none of them are banging in goals. Still; I think Chelsea lack harmony now since Torres came in - In the summer (who ever the manager is) - Abramovich will need to get his check-book out again and start a clear out of the old, rebuilding a team again

  • Comment number 11.

    You have to feel for Ancelotti though, looks like he's getting the boot for a decision that was more or less made by Abramovich. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Torres was poor and with Drogba as a starter things could've been much different.
    But United were brilliant again, I was very pleased with what I saw. Solid at the back, great commitment and industry in the middle of the park, great attacking movement. Perhaps not Barca standards but close. We might just pull a surprise in the final, assuming we get there.

  • Comment number 12.

    Feel sorry for Ancelotti. Not allowed to do his job propperly. What if Ray Wilkins hadn't been sacked one can't help but wonder.

    United deserved to go through over the two legs. Still massively guttered about it though.

    Two things I need to get off my chest:

    A) Yesterday - a perfect example of why Nani isn't nominated for the POY award. What a disgrace! Not what you would call an honourable player... the mind boggles. And before anyone goes on a 'wot about Drogba?' rebute, let me say, he's twice the man Nani is. And not just physically.

    B) Had to endure 90 mins. of Jan Mølby commentry on Danish telly last night... Please, BBC, please, take him back.

  • Comment number 13.

    Chelsea for had no guts or no heart to win yesterday - that was the most disappointing thing for me. Any team going to OT will / would find it hard to win, but you have to start on the front foot.

    Torres, well as a Pool fan, I have to say it is compoundly hilarious he could have moved to a club which may only have the same trophies to contend for as Pool.... i.e. not the CL. He was poor, bad body language, poor movement, poor touch. Looks as though he has lost the love of the game... needs some time out from the sport to rekindle his passion. Then he'll come good.

    Drogba must be thinking that CFC have stabbed him in the back... the biggest game of the season and malouda and Anelka take his spot before him...

    Bringing the team back to 2-1 they must have thought ' get in; ... only for the defence to falter.

    Major rebuilding required.... Essien, Lamps. Malouda, Kalou, Anelka, all need to be replaced....What will Abro wdo with Torres... sell him for 25m...

  • Comment number 14.

    Re 2.
    United can certainly able to beat Barcelona in a one off match at Wembley. Barcelona with a full strength side were 1-0 down to Almeria bottom club in the Spanish league on Saturday before their goalkeeper gave away a penalty and allowed Barcelona to take over.

  • Comment number 15.

    Looks like Louis v Gaal is available at just the right time for Chelski

  • Comment number 16.

    Would be a shame to get rid of Carlo after this season. If you sack managers of such pedigree so willingly, how are you going to encourage top managers to go there again when the only thing that is certain is the sack??

    As Phil states, he won the double last season, that surely has some cachet!

    wrt the game last night, the best team won, there is no disputing that. Chelase were outfought and outthought by a United team which showed some wonderful performances, none more so that by Rooney, who was immense and Park who was tireless.

  • Comment number 17.

    I thought that Edwin Van der Sarr had some real stunning moments of athletic brilliance esp outside his box for an evergreen keeper.

    Do you think that Man Utd can replace him with who they have on the bench particularly the exciting Lindegaard or will they need to do some summer shopping?

  • Comment number 18.

    I think Yellow Peril #5 is right in his assessment of Torres fitting into Chelsea. If they begin to build the team in a different way around Yossi and Torres then perhaps they can be a potent strike force. However, there is an element of gamble involved in this as both players have spent a lot of time injured over the last season or two, has this robbed Torres of that lightning pace that shocked Vidic more than once over the last few years?

    I'm thankful for the Managerial stability at United as I think a lot of the problems Chelsea have in the team not seeming cohesive is down to the chopping and changing of Manager. A period of stability helps in getting the team to play to their strengths but also helps the team evolve over time and adapt to new styles of play and newcomers.

    One thing Chelsea have going for them next season though is that Luiz will not be cup tied and he is phenomenal, I think he will be their stand out player next season.

  • Comment number 19.

    It is impossible, if you have any neutral feelings, not to feel some sympathy for the wretched decline of Fernando Torres (as far as you can feel any sympathy for twenty something multi-millionaires.) I do not think he will ever be a success at Chelsea - the last few months have made that impossible. I hope he will rehabilitate his career somewhere else. Chelsea should have spent the £50 million more wisely - they have an ageing squad which compares unfavourably in many areas to Tottenham, let alone Manchester United. On the positive side, Daniel Sturridge is showing at Bolton that - if played - he can be the type of young, hungry, mobile, confident striker that a certain F Torres was at Atletico Madrid and early doors at Liverpool

  • Comment number 20.

    Carroll and Suarez for Torres - fabulous deal for Liverpool.

  • Comment number 21.

    Look no further than the sacking of Ray Wilkins for the collapse of Chelseas season.

    Their league campaign fell apart at that point, and as a result, Roman took the punt on spending £70m+ as a result.

    United deserved the win but can't imagine they'll win it. Will take a monumental performance to topple Barcelona

  • Comment number 22.

    No sympathy for Torres I'm afraid. He should have stayed at Liverpool but pretty sure Liverpool wouldn't take him back now, not even if Chelsea offered him back for free.

    People forget that Fergie only won the first of his Champions League trophies after 13 years in charge at United. Abramovich would never show that amount of patience for one manager. Who would take the Chelsea job now? Chelsea should have stuck with Mourinho - went to Inter and won the Champions League in two seasons.

  • Comment number 23.

    Yellow Peril is spot on.

    Torres needs to be in a team that plays with pace. He needs feeding early, and passes he can run on to. Chelsea's style of play is very Italian. Slow build up play in numbers, get the opposition box players standing stationery and try to thread passes through.

    I think Man City suffer from the same problem, don't shift the ball quick enough, (another Italian manager)

    Chelsea have got the players to play a fast game, and should revert to the style Mourinho put in place and Avram took forward, that would suit Torres.

    I believe Torres is still a top player, you don't lose class, but having watched him every week at Liverpool, I can say he hasn't been the same player for 18 months and will take time and a style of play that suits him to get back.......but will he be afforded that sort of leniency?.......

  • Comment number 24.

    Chelsea you have be terrorized by a far better team, Man United

    Indeed, if you love and watch football, this was by far a fantastic game to watch. The SAF's game plan and the subsequent results for Man United were magnificence. I thought Rooney, Giggs, Hernandez, Ji sung Park, Nani, O’Shea, Van der sar and Carrick were brilliant. Ancelotti should learn to learn from these kinds of game and stage. However, what I also noticed during the game was the difference between Drogba and Torres. Whilst Torres needs to revitalize his goal scoring, there was a contention that Drogba could have made a huge difference for Chelsea had he been started on the first half. I feared him, but I was at ease as soon as I saw he wasn’t in the starting line for Chelsea. Statistically Drogba was the only Chelsea’s player who managed to shoot many balls on target even after coming from the bench. Needless to say, however, I thought Maruda was fantastic in driving in many passes for Chelsea, but overall Man United were tactically the better team than Chelsea. Go on United and make the history again-1999.

  • Comment number 25.

    "United can certainly beat Barcelona in a one off match at Wembley." - 14

    And then the alarm clock goes off and your day begins.

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm surprised you feel able to comment on the game Phil, considering how you're busy posting on Twitter every two minutes rather than watching everything that's actually happening on the pitch...

  • Comment number 28.

    Torres - Shevchenko mark 2 anyone?

  • Comment number 29.

    This reminds me an awful lot of Shevchenko

  • Comment number 30.

    28. At 08:44am 13th Apr 2011, shred6175 wrote:

    Torres - Shevchenko mark 2 anyone?


    Not quite - Shevchenko scored for Chelsea...

  • Comment number 31.

    This issues of Chelsea's poor season are being masked by Torres right now.
    Sure he's underperforming but it's team game game and the decisons made by Chelsea in the summer to offload some key players (maybe rightly) but not replace them with quality replacements has been their undoing.
    The goals Chelsea conceded were the reason United are through but this seems to be overlooked in the brouhaha surrounding Torres right now.
    I'm not the greatest Ray Wilkins fan but he seemed to have done a good job supporting Ancelotti so why rock the boat mid-season by dumping him?
    You sow what you reap and whilst this isn't a glitttering United team SAF has introduced and developed his players well.
    It sticks in my craw to say this however.
    Chelsea need to have a clear strategy of rebuilding their team in certain key areas.
    However getting rid of yet another manager isn't the answer.
    Neither is trashing Torres.
    Ancelotti won the double last season and is class act.
    As has been proven with SAF, Wegner and more recently Harry Redknapp let the manager manage.
    You get the sense at Chelsea that there is too much interference and the Manager doesn't get a fair crack of the whip.
    Maybe Abramovich should get some of his acolytes to explain this to him.
    Plus the pool of truly great managers is miniscule and they an count Jose out of the reckoning!

  • Comment number 32.

    I genuinely believe that both Torres and Rooney have something in common. Both were made play the last season with Injuries. Rooney fared the better and has come through it. I think Benetez broke Torres. I think it will take him till next year to find his scoring boots. I don't believe the nonsense about we 50million so we have to play him. You play who will get you the win you are looking for. Fault therefore to Ancelotti. Drogba tore United up during the first leg on the left, and he did it again last night. Of course he should have been on from the start. But no mention of a red card Phil. United only one 2:1 against 10 men. Yes United are comming beautifully to the boil. Fit squad, talented squad and plenty of life and ingenuity....I think Ferguson has learned his lesson. Would love to have a Barca v United Final. United will teach them a lesson that no other team can. Hernandez, Valencia are two key players that we didn't have last time out... and it's not like United to make the same mistake twice. Chelsea just keep repeating their own history...

  • Comment number 33.

    You can't blame Ancelotti for picking a player on whom he's just spent £50m. What none of us understand is how hard he had to push Abramovitch to agree the acquisition, and what promises he had to make. Assuming that the owner isn't a total idiot, thats what will drive his decision on the manager and all this stuff about his selection for one night is just so much journalistic sensationalism.

    But for Torres, its a year since he was playing well. Thats a very big chunk of a players career at the top. All the stuff about "doesn't become a bad player overnight" are merely platitudes. People can and do lose form and never get back to the same level and it could happen to Torres. Its not a given that he'll come good in the end at this or any other club.

    So- who bought Torres? And what was the real price measured in promises?

  • Comment number 34.

    Phil, its clear that one person who is not get the credit he deserves in these two games - and indeed the whole Man-U season - is Van Der Sar. He deserves all the credit.

  • Comment number 35.

    I have watched Chelsea since the 1950`s and my view is some of the players are getting past it or were never up to the standard of this competition. Even in the premier league some players stroll around seemingly don`t care afraid its time for a clear out no matter who you are . Lampard`s legs have gone I wonder why !!

  • Comment number 36.

    Ancelotti has simply lost it, it is obvious he doesn't know what he is doing. He doesn't know capabilities, skills and strength the players.

    He can't even justify why he started Didier Drogba from the bench if in his own post-match briefing admits that the striker is stronger and puts pressure on defenders. If that is so, then why start him from the bench ?

    The price tag ($ 80m ) on Torres gives him automatic selection whereas the brand name of "LAMPARD" also gives him automatic selection. As for Malouda, the least said about him the better.

    You don't have to be a super coach to realize that, playing one man up front with a goal down in the 1st leg was wrong. He should have gone for 4-4-2 formation because we needed goals.

    To make matters worst, Ancelotti bought on Ferreira who is a defender while we needed goals and we were also a man down. There was nothing to lose bringing on an offensive midfielders like Zhirkov or Benayoun., we needed goals for God sake.

    Ancelotti must go. Am a strong Chelsea supporter and I don't think Ancelotti is the man for us next season. He must go !!!

  • Comment number 37.

    Come on United! Great performances in both legs, totally agree with you Phil good article. Torres will come good you don't loose class just confidence. Roman needs to look at United and the key word in their success.. Sability, whats the point of getting rid of another manager and who else do they have in mind to take over? Drogba should of started and played well second half, think he'll be going in the summer though. Rooney is finally beinning to repay us fans for all the stories, gossip and poor performances earlier in the season. Park again confirmed his status as a "big game player" and Giggs what a legend!!!! United v Madrid in the final?!

  • Comment number 38.

    I honestly believe the supporters had a lot to do with the result in these games.

    Utd over the two legs are deserved winners, but Chelsea did have the chances to win the first leg.

    I think if their home support, was more vocal, more hostile then some of the key decisions would have gone their way. What ever you say about Utd, in big home games they always generate a good atmosphere which is why they get a lot of the decisions.

    When I watched the first leg I could not believe it was a Champs League Qtr Final. No atmosphere and booing at half time at only 0-1, UNBELIEVABLE!!!....Plus give Torres some support and he may come good, but the crowd were getting on his back.

    In Europe it has a lot to do with the home support that gets you through, look at Liverpool in 2005.

    Chelsea fans seem to expect to be 'entertained' and that they have no part to play.....but instead are self destructing.

    ....United deserved to win both on and off the pitch....

  • Comment number 39.

    25. At 08:41am 13th Apr 2011, sagamix wrote:
    "United can certainly beat Barcelona in a one off match at Wembley." - 14

    And then the alarm clock goes off and your day begins.


    So tired of all this Barcalona brown nosing.
    Yo do know Man Utd hav already beaten a barca siade very similar to the present day team only a few years ago.
    Also, Chelsea were robbed a couple of years back.

    Nobody is disputing how good Barca are. They are exceptional. However, still very much beatable as Inter proved only last year!!

  • Comment number 40.

    I agree with those who suggest Chelsea's slide is linked to the ridiculous sacking of Ray Wilkins. It's an ageing squad but they were still performing until the manager's authority was undermined and he lost a trusted coach. And speaking of the contrast between Chelsea and Man Utd, can anyone imagine Fergie being pressurised to change formation and drop his most reliable striker to accommodate his owner's vanity purchase? Can't see Ancelotti keeping his job but his achievements are there for everyone to see and I'd back him to win a trophy wherever he ends up next season. Not so sure about Chelsea.

  • Comment number 41.

    What about the horrible form of Lampard and Essien? If Anceloti is to get Chelsea and Torres purring then time for some younger, hungrier, sharper and more creative midfielders.

  • Comment number 42.

    As a kop fan, all I can say is that Torres has done playing his best years. His time with LFC was his best. The difference is that, at Anfield the club built he team around him and was given the freedom to be the player he could be and the club and the fans were patient with his on field theatrics. That's is not so at Chelsea where he is a complete misfit. There is no doubt he must be regretting leaving the kop for money and now he is in the most unfriendly territory without much sympathy for his owes.

  • Comment number 43.

    The problem for Ancelotti is that "on-paper" he has a great squad. But there are too many players below par individually and their team play seems half hearted.

    The opposite is true for Man U, they are getting stand out performances from a good portion of the squad [its a squad game, not team - Rio F].

    Its Sir Alex who is the rock of the Man U team which is a massive contrast to all other rivals.

    I do not think any owners have the patience to stick with managers, the exit door at Chelsea is a 'who's who' of top footy managers - it will continue to play into Man U's hands.

    Final point, which is the main thrust of Phils article - Torres £50m or Chico for £6m. The number of high quality signings made by Utd of players age 17-21 over the past few season is highly deserving of a article on its own! Legendary. Treble anyone?!?

  • Comment number 44.

    I bet Chelsea end up loaning Torres out somewhere and eventually selling him on for a fraction of their original outlay. That's the route that a lot of our expensive foreign imports end up going down. For every Drogba there's a couple of Verons.

  • Comment number 45.

    Surely, Ancelotti cannot be sacked after winning the Double last season. The release of Deco, Ballack, Carvalho & Joe Cole have almost definitely had an impact - all experienced players who could have contributed at some point when younger faces were stuttering in their place.

    You only have to look at the impact of Giggs, Scholes and van der Sar for United to see the value of older heads over the course of a season.

    re: Torres - his knees have gone. There's no pace or fluidity left anymore, attributes paramount for a striker whose first touch and natural finishing were never great. His pace and movement was what terrorised defenders and created chances, but they have vanished as a result of his weary limbs.

    He must now adapt his game in similar vein to Alan Shearer in the 90's when his 10-yard burst of pace yielded to knee troubles - work on his aerial ability, hold-up play and strength to become a different type of goalscorer, or risk being labelled as a dead donkey and no doubt tarnish his reputation as one of the world's best front men.

    P.s two season's ago if given the choice of Drogba, Torres or Rooney, I would have plumped for the Spaniard.

  • Comment number 46.

    It's incredible that a team that broke the Premier League scoring record for most goals last season look almost pedestrian with their attacking moves. I think it's a bit harsh to just blame Torres for that especially when Rooney was so awful after he signed his big retainer at Man utd earlier this season.

    Over the two legs Man Utd were better than Chelsea and deservedly go through. The draw has been kind to them as well getting second leg home advantage for both the quarters and semis in avoiding the Spanish giants and whereas I would think Barca or Real would beat them over two legs, in a single game at Wembley against one of them I think they will fancy their chances particulary as the "El Classico"semi will probably result in suspensions for some of their key players.

  • Comment number 47.

    Please don't bash Carlo. He left Didier on the bench in last season's decider and you all praised him, and now you bash him? It was a great substitution, he came on - he scored, and had Lamps buried one of the two easy chances he had over the two legs, had the ref called that pen, had Ramires stayed on the pitch it would've been different. But that's too many IFs. It wasn't a hell of a beating. A gritty affair, two great teams, and Giggs won! What a player! Three assists in two games? That banner at the start of the game "Ripping you apart since '91"was spot on! Legendary. And Van Der Sar's vision of the game and tackling? Monumental. And what about Rooney's long-range passing? Fenomenal.

    Well done United. Now go to Wembley and make England proud!

  • Comment number 48.

    Don't see why Ancelotti should get it in the neck so hard considering Abramovich & co no doubt brought heavy influence on playing Torres from the start. Why aren't they getting the stick?

    Man Utd deserved the win anyway, Torres or no Torres.

  • Comment number 49.

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

  • Comment number 50.

    What's all this fuss about Torres about, everyone knows he downgraded for the gold and is getting exactly what he wanted.

    I wouldn't have him back for free, I might swap him for N'Gog though.

  • Comment number 51.

    Chelsea had a good performance yesterday. They bossed the match for the first 30 minutes while, after Ramires's dismissal, they kept pressing and scored. They created chances; the Anelka efforts were agonisingly close, while Lampard might bury his effort on another day. United did close the gates to the goal, though, apart from the instance where Drogba scored.

    Ancelotti was always going to be in the receiving end of complaints, regarding his selection to start with Torres. Had he included Drogba from the start and Chelsea failed to score early, the cries would be of the same mould.

    Park, Giggs and Vidic were magnificent, in my opinion. Park's industry has become a norm, while I was looking at Vidic when Ferdinand appeared to be carrying a knock. What can you say about Giggs? 3 assists for 3 goals, over two legs.

    After the early waves of Chelsea attacks calmed down, United took possession of proceedings in the match and saw it off, in relative comfort. Park scoring right away after the Drogba goal killed off every Chelsea hope.

    Ramires had to be sent off. You can't tackle from behind on the opponent's achilles, being already on a yellow. Mr Respect Atkinson are you reading?

  • Comment number 52.

    Although Man Utd certainly took the game to Chelsea in both legs, I do believe that Chelsea can feel very hard done by.

    Looking back at the first leg in particular, the amount of serious chances squandered was painful to watch; Lampards slice volley which just so happened to hit Evra on the line where hit anywhere else it would have gone in; Ramires' open header which really should have been a goal as he beat Ferdinand to the ball in the box with Van der Sar routed, and Torres' fabulous header which was briliantly saved by Van der Sar once again.

    You can't tell me that in the second leg, although Man Utd had a goal disallowed and a number of chances also, that Chelsea couldn't have grabbed more away goals. Anelka's poked effort from Torres' lay off had beaten Van der Sar but just moved away from the post, Lampards weak side foot effort from 6 yards out where any kind of power would have been a goal, and Anelka's left foot effort from outside the box which curled just over the bar are just a number of efforts which had they been taken, would have resulted in a completely different game.

    Fair play to Ancelotti for sticking with Torres, a difficult decision to make and even though he struggled to get into the game, it must be said that any Chelsea fan would have envisaged that the stage was set for him to score.

    Man Utd did well to win and go through to the Semi Finals, but I think that any strong criticism aimed at Ancelotti must be withdrawn as the tactics in both legs, be it with a lack of tempo, still offered up numerous goal scoring chances for Chelsea. It may have been down to a lack of luck, lack of confidence or great goalkeeping, but subsequently these chances were not put away.

    I'd like to see a few signings in the summer, in particular atleast one or two pacey/tricky wingers to add to the already strong midlfield as Chelsea were at their best when they had Duff/Robben/SWP/J.Cole; with talk of Robben returning, I sincerely hope this is true. The defence is solid, with Luiz legible to play in the Champions League next season, and with a good summer break I'm sure (and hope!) Torres will find his form next season.

  • Comment number 53.

    25. At 08:41am 13th Apr 2011, sagamix wrote:

    "United can certainly beat Barcelona in a one off match at Wembley." - 14

    And then the alarm clock goes off and your day begins.
    Obviously, you have no clue about football.
    Barca have their own trademark style of football, and when teams try and play football against them they get well and truly beaten.
    But it is not impossible for good teams to beat Barca in one-off games, or even over two legs.With the right mix of tactics, dedicated personnel and extreme hardwork on field, Barca can be beaten.
    Inter (last year over 2 legs); Arsenal (this season);Rubin Kazan (a couple of seasons ago); Hercules (this season); Donetsk (2008); Man Utd (2008) and I am sure there are a few more games where Barca has won 1-0 against weaker Spanish opponents.
    With limited possesion; shots on targer; committed midfield and a good defensive line, Barca have bee beaten, and will lose again in big matches against stronger oppositions (as compared to the weaker La Liga teams they beat week in/week out).

  • Comment number 54.

    When to sell is an attribute of a good manager I think Mr Dalglish got it spot on for Torres like Ferguson with Van Nistelroy.

    Sturridge should be welcomed back with open arms...

  • Comment number 55.

    Thought the main issue with Chelsea is the confidence to flood forward on the break. There were several times in the game when Chelsea were on the break and instead of going for goal and taking a risk, they turned round and started passing backwards.

    Its okay doing this when you are ahead and comfortable with the current score, but when you need goals you should be taking risks like this, as United's defense never really looked too challenged by Chelsea in the last third, most of Chelsea's chance being from outside the box.

    Just felt that Chelsea, for all the possesion they had, just didn't know what to do with the ball in the final third. Combine this with Man United's defense (which some would argue as one of the best in Europe) and Chelsea may of had a huge gun, it was just a shame they were just firing blanks.

  • Comment number 56.

    I don't think it's a coincidence United are hitting form just as Carrick is getting his game back. He was excellent again last night; sharp passing and good tackling and interceptions. The whole team played well, it was a great performance.

    As for Chelsea, they looked seriously disjointed. It's as though the midfielders have no idea how to feed Torres. Still they have a good defence and they shouldn't sack Ancelotti yet...

  • Comment number 57.

    What a pile of tosh i have read on these pages. Let's talk facts shall we!
    Firstly had Chelsea been given the penalty that was so obvious to everyone, including Man U supporters, at stamford bridge last nights game would have benn totally different.
    Had Lampard or Anelka (twice) been able to score last night the result would have changed, no doubt about it.
    It just seems that all everyone wants to talk about is Torres and his lack of goals, it is just journalism at it's very best, he may or may not come good but who really cares? Certainly not us chelsea supporters, we would like people like yourself Phil to stick in some facts every now and again. All that said i think UTD did deserve to win over the two legs but the fact is that some strange decisions in the first leg cost us.
    I have a question for everyone who reads this, Why are there 2 extra officials on the goaline at each end of the pitch? I have watched numerous CL games and have NEVER seen any of the extra two officials actually make a decision so why are they there? Is it purely to see if a ball has crossed the goaline for a goal or are they actually allowed to make a decision over the referee?
    Can you answer this Phil??

  • Comment number 58.

    The problem yesterday wasnt Torres, It's Ancellotti, in the first place he shouldnt have started Torres who is not in form, i thought he was going to start a three pronged attack of Drogba, Anelka and Kalou, and also he should have substituted Ramires for Benayoun in the second half after he has been booked.The match was lost tacticaly...Congratulations to Manchester United

  • Comment number 59.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing Mr. McNulty, and the only reason people are raving so much about Drogba is because of his second half performance. Therefore, where was that performance on Saturday against Wigan? Or perhaps in the First Leg? This season Drogba has been a feeble shadow of his former self, which is why it is both disappointing and surprising that he came on and played so destructively and enthusiasticly, and may I say Ancelotti got the impact and response from Drogba that he wanted and needed!

    I am also disappointed with this blog in terms of undermining Torres, he has been struggling all season, and the pressure of a 50m pound move can hardly have helped the man. He hasn't played poorly in my opinion, he has only lacked the goals, which will come when he has full match sharpness. People should judged him on his exploits next season after a proper rest and pre season inside him.

    Chelsea seem destined to have terrible luck in Europe, penalties, refs etc... but ultimately we didn't take our chances and had we done that, we would have won this tie comfortably.

  • Comment number 60.

    Q: If Deja Vu had a name, what would it be?
    A: Fernando Shevchenko.

    Sorry, I just had to do that.

    The best part about last night was not the victory, it was the United team that won. Granted, Giggs, Oshea, Evra and VDS are ageing players now, but the number of players 25 and under in the team and on the bench was extremely encouraging. Rooney, Hernandez, Nani, Valencia, Smalling all come with lots of promise, not forgetting Anderson, Da Silvas, Welbeck, Evans, Gibson, Bebe (if he is ever to play for United again) and Macheda. In addition, SAF has the experience to balance it off and pass the mantle down progressively, with the very experienced - Giggs, Scholes, VDS - and the reliably experienced and could still play pivotal roles in the next 5 years or so for United, the soul of the team at the moment - Rio, Vidic, Evra, O'Shea, Park, Carrick, Brown, Berbatov.

    I just don't see how Arsenal's Boys2Men and Chelsea's pensioners will match the United's potential power. All United needs in the near future: Sneijder, VDS II, Mourinho!

  • Comment number 61.

    Do you think Ancelotti will get the chop in the summer and who do you see as the man to replace him if so?

  • Comment number 62.

    Funny, I think Torres would be well suited in Man Utd.

  • Comment number 63.

    Could not agree more with No.5 Yellow Peril.

    Torres needs to play on the shoulder of the last defender and be running at opponents when he has/gets the ball. He is an instinctive striker who scored goals galore playing in the Liverpool counter-attacking team under Benetiz.

    Chelsea do not have the players capable of the slide-rule pass, and the team does not play in this style anyway. To me they are an expensive version of the Allardyce Bolton team. Direct and rely on power and dead ball situation to score goals. Granted on their day, they have put 6-7 passed teams, but this is an exception rather than the rule!

    Chelsea are crying out for creative players who can give Fernando Torres the service he craves. You don't become a bad player overnight! Torres struggled this season for a Liverpool team unable to create chances under Hodgson, which seems to have continued at Chelsea.

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 65.

    Maybe this isn't the best United team in years, there are plenty of faults and it really surprised and disappointed me that Sir Alex didn't sign a world class midfielder in the summer to pair with Fletcher but what has to be said is how well he nurtures his players and trusts them.

    Anderson has played really well in stages, Carrick is finally showing the form of old and Giggs has just been incredible in the center of the park.

    I honestly believe we have 3 of the best and most unique Strikers in the league- Berbatov, Rooney and Hernadez all offer something different and each are brilliant in their own way.

    So while I'm cautious, I believe we can win on all fronts. I thought we were brilliant today and we can challenge any team when we play like that.

  • Comment number 66.

    Torres is getting a bit of a raw deal here. The pressure of being a £50m player moving to a new team, expected to be the centre of attention.

    Torres has been hampered by a team that cannot create, with a midfield set out on stopping other teams rather than creating goals. Chelseas attacking power seems to come from their front 3 (Torres/Drogba, Malouda and Anelka) and occasional backup from the poor Lampard and Ashley Cole.

    Ramieres is a waste of a shirt going forward and weak at the back while Essien is just raw strength and defensive ability. It may have worked at AC Milan where opponents are sitting back, defending, allowing space.....but this is the Premier League (Champs League, I know, but two English teams) which is supposedly the best league in the world (self confessed if nothing else)

  • Comment number 67.

    Ancelotti cuts a lonely figure more than anyone. Since Wilkins was cut he looks lost but he shouldnt be sacked. I assume we will see a complete change in style at Chelsea. I think 4-3-3 will stick Lampard now will be a sub as McEachran steps in, the boy who has been overlooked at the moment but could proably help Torres a lot. Sturiddge surely will return and get a look in and one winger to be signed. With luiz at the back and hopefully some young talent getting a go the future can be bright. Lets just hope Roman sticks with Carlo.

  • Comment number 68.

    4. At 08:13am 13th Apr 2011, Joan_Burton wrote:
    Could have been oh so different if Frank had tucked away his chance. Still, we were sterile against a Manchester United team who are far from worldbeaters. Ancellotti out! We need someone who is better tactically... maybe Martin Jol?


    shut up joan, we arent world beaters yet we're top of the league, in the semi's of both major cup comps, yet to lose at home, havent conceeded away in the champs league. Just because everyone else but united are failing dont try to bring us down too

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    12. At 08:29am 13th Apr 2011, EmperorsNewClothes wrote:
    Feel sorry for Ancelotti. Not allowed to do his job propperly. What if Ray Wilkins hadn't been sacked one can't help but wonder.

    United deserved to go through over the two legs. Still massively guttered about it though.

    Two things I need to get off my chest:

    A) Yesterday - a perfect example of why Nani isn't nominated for the POY award. What a disgrace! Not what you would call an honourable player... the mind boggles. And before anyone goes on a 'wot about Drogba?' rebute, let me say, he's twice the man Nani is. And not just physically.


    poor old ivanovic was on a carousel last night, couldnt keep up with nani turning him inside out so had to rugby tackle him off the ball. Yes he goes down easily but no more then what ronaldo used too.

    Drogba is twice the size yet goes down just as easy.........deluded much????

  • Comment number 71.

    We would be more than happy to pay 5 mil to Chelsea for Torres and bring him back to Anfield. Torres + Suarez + Carrol, now that's going to be something special.


  • Comment number 72.

    Mark Bill-------------------------------
    Are you serioesly on the same planet son?
    You talk about our team as pensioners yet UTD's are "experienced" players, yeah Scholes, Giggs, VDS(retiring at the end of this season), Ferdinand, O Shea, Evra, Berbatov?????????
    What makes them so young Er! i mean experienced and the likes of Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Anelka, Malouda, Cole etc etc pensioners, and you mention a load of youngsters for UTD well we have Luiz, Ramires, Torres, Ivanovich, Mikel, Sturridge, Kalou, McEachran, Kakuta, Bruma, Van Aarnholt etc etc
    So look at facts before spurting it off.

  • Comment number 73.

    60. At 09:31am 13th Apr 2011, Mark Bill wrote:
    You just said John O Shea was Ageing... has been in the United setup that long? Given Giggs is 37 I think O Shea, who incidently is vastly under-rated as a player, has some catching up to do. The player of the the two legs for me, with two legs, is Park. I am tired of hearing how crap people think Park and O Shea are. They are not journey men, they are an integral part of very very successful team and United are far more solid with both of them there.

  • Comment number 74.

    For me Torres was never gonna succeed at Chelsea, they dont have enough creative players, they dont move the ball quick enough and they dont counter attack very well. When you have bullied teams into submission for years with players like Obi Mikel, Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Ramires and Malouda it is hard to find space. Chelsea move the ball around at a pace similar to someone carrying an expensive vase. The midfield will pass and pass and pass, not recognising that Torres have made a run down the channels or behind the defence. The movement of his calibre is wasted becuase they are expecting to play up to Torres with him facing his back to the ball. Drogba is that type of player not Torres.

    This can only work for Torres and Chelsea if they change the way they play and change their entire midfield or Torres may as well go as he will be wasting his prime years looking more at Ramires (with his back towards goal) that he actually looks at the goal net.

  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

    For me Torres was never gonna succeed at Chelsea, they dont have enough creative players, they dont move the ball quick enough and they dont counter attack very well. When you have bullied teams into submission for years with players like Obi Mikel, Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Ramires and Malouda it is hard to find space. Chelsea move the ball around at a pace similar to someone carrying an expensive vase. The midfield will pass and pass and pass, not recognising that Torres have made a run down the channels or behind the defence. The movement of his calibre is wasted becuase they are expecting to play up to Torres with him facing his back to the ball. Drogba is that type of player not Torres.

    This can only work for Torres and Chelsea if they change the way they play and change their entire midfield or Torres may as well go as he will be wasting his prime years looking more at Ramires (with his back towards goal) that he actually looks at the goal net.

  • Comment number 77.

    57. Stop Crying. You lost. Get Over It. You were not good enough.

  • Comment number 78.

    Is anyone else having problems posting here this morning?

  • Comment number 79.

    Gary Birtles.

    It happened to United as well many years ago.

  • Comment number 80.

    Sack Ancelloti i just wonder sometimes where people are coming from short memories are not unusal, doing the double last season is a feat in itself.Put the blame where it belongs on the players shoulders under achievers to put it mildly,Chelsea's decline started after the much hyped begginning to the season, where are 3 of those teams now, 2 in the bottom 3 and 1 hanging on by a thread. To blame Torres is way wide of the mark take a close look at the rest of them even before he arrived, he made exactly the right move for the right reasons in leaving Liverpool as Reina will if he has any sense at the end of this season,he will come good at some stage and when he starts scoring he won't stop. Chelsea need to rebuild around Luis and Torres and get rid of the old guard Terry and Lampard.Looking at Man Utds quite invincible impressive home record last night's result was hardly a surprise the best team won although Drogba was outstanding.İrrespective of who we support let's hope they can go all the way because it would be great to have an English team as European champions once again.

  • Comment number 81.

    I do not want to hear about Liverpool fans saying how great a deal they got, the article is about the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE and the match yesterday!!
    I feel Phil's article and many of the media articles in various domains are heavily focused on Torres' poor performance and Ancelotti's decision to pick him. I do not feel enough credit has been given to United for a controlled and measured performance. Maybe Phil should do what he normally does so well and concentrate on the winners performance and give United much more credit. Instead of touching on a few players, there was little mention of the MOM performance and winning goal scorer Ji Sung Park.

  • Comment number 82.

    Park was immense yesterday, and glad he scored a nice goal, which was cushioned into his own path and a drilled finish with his weaker foot. Park is often commended for his doggedness and stamina but not enough credit is given for his footballing brain and positional awareness. His ability to shield the full back, and play inside or interchange with Giggs on the left was great to see.
    The sky pundits and in particular were going well overboard last night with Rooney's performance and not giving enough credit to the other United players.
    For me Park was man of the match, but special mentions to Rooney, Carrick, Giggs and Hernandez.

  • Comment number 83.

    #45 sirbricktop

    Surely, Ancelotti cannot be sacked after winning the Double last season. The release of Deco, Ballack, Carvalho & Joe Cole have almost definitely had an impact - all experienced players who could have contributed at some point when younger faces were stuttering in their place.
    Ancelotti has worked with a management group before (coach, manager, director of football, youth coach etc), and made do there.

    The management group at Chelsea decided that the young players coming through were good enough.

    People can talk about Wilkins, Torres and the players that went, but I think (and have been saying so since before Christmas) that Ancelotti should have used his capital from his first season by dropping 'big' name players in November and December. THAT was the time for Sturridge, for example, to play. He could not have done worse than those that did play at that time. His form at Bolton since then has proved this to an extent.

    If they had slipped Sturridge in to a system that he had spent 18 months in training getting used to, then it wouldn't have disrupted the team in the same way that Torres' arrival seems to have done.

    Anyway, last night was disappointing and over the two legs Man U were better than Chelsea. They took their chances and scored at the right times, leaving Chelsea to chase. That suited Man U and they proved to be able to keep Chelsea mostly at arms length. Well done to them.

  • Comment number 84.

    This was a really good performance from United and makes a mockery of the predictions of "won't finish in the top 4" from rival fans at the start of the season or the one man team calls when Ronaldo left or Rooneys prolific season last year.
    This is now the 4th occasion United have reached the semi final in 5 years in the best club competition and shows the consistency of the team.
    Whilst the treble talk is premature or outlandish, I would settle for number 19, with a FA Cup win, for the third double of Fergusons career to add to the treble of 1999.
    The wind is in our sails, the momentum is with us, now go out and make HISTORY!!

  • Comment number 85.

    Deja Vu Abramovich

    For Shevchenko read Torres

  • Comment number 86.

    I think Torres showed glimpses of what he can do and I think next season we will get goals out of him. I thought the Ramires sending off was harsh considering he slipped and also he never put his feet into the challenge. I think we're just trying too hard. We're a different team to the goal-mongering one last season. It's a shame as this could've been the last chance for Lampard and Terry. Ramires was our best player on the pitch for the first half, we just look so hesitant and nervous, it's scary!

  • Comment number 87.

    77. Different when UTD are given a raw deal isn't it, like SAF bleating over the result at SB a few weeks back.
    Just the usual from UTD supporters everythings OK when it goes for them but bleating when it don't, now it's our

  • Comment number 88.

    72. At 09:42am 13th Apr 2011, nikki7luc wrote:


    One big difference: United's old guard actually turns up with a performance.and speaking of spurting it off, how many times do you see those 'youngsters' starting or even playing at Chelsea. Fine, they are chelsea players, but most are either on loan or eternal benchwarmers. By the time they get integrated into the squad, United will have another 5 trophies in the cabinet, while Chelsea will have another 5 managers in and out of the rotating door!

    73. At 09:43am 13th Apr 2011, collie21 wrote:
    Please don't get me wrong, when I say ageing I do not mean losing form or that they are 'crap'. I just mean logically, they will not be turning up with performances like last night's for the next 5 seasons or so.

  • Comment number 89.

    Well done Phil, half of the match report talking about the same subject you've just spent most of the time talking about in this blog...

    If Torres was still at Liverpool you'd be blaming anyone but Torres for this. How can pundits be taken seriously when they do these about turns in opinions?

    There are many more reasons why United beat Chelsea over the two legs than just Drogba/Torres. Chelsea started strongly yesterday, but in the second half they could not get any momentum going due to United's stength in defence and controlled possession.

    It was a great tie overall for United, thoroughly deserved to go through

  • Comment number 90.

    Rafa Benitez is currently available, and we all know how good his CV is regarding the Champions League....maybe Roman will take a punt on him.

    And prehaps he will get Torres (lol) firing again, although i doubt it as he looks spent. Lost alot of his pace that saw him terrorize teams 2-3 years ago.

  • Comment number 91.

    Seems counter-intuitive to think that Ancelotti's decision to play Torres should result in his demise. Wasn't Torres foisted upon him from above?

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • Comment number 93.

    This article is soo harsh on Ancelotti I don't think he can blamed for this, he put our best players on the pitch and they didn't perform. Don't forget that it most-likely wasn't his decision to get Torres in the first place. Ambrovich wants too much control I think he needs to back off a bit and let the manager do what he wants. I think ever since the shock departure of Wilkins we haven't looked the same, and how was it an awful mistake to play Torres, one of the best striker's in the world and he didn't play 90mins. There are 10 other men on the pitch that can score as well

  • Comment number 94.

    So to sum up drogba scored and torres didn't and this one thing was the match's decisive moment. Blimey mcnulty you do have a knack for massively oversimplifying things

  • Comment number 95.

    Very close tie, no real difference between the teams despite the press's usual black and white Man U (the winners) fantastic, Chelsea (the losers) rubbish.

    All came down to who took thier chances - Man U were better in that respect, Giggs & Rooney brilliant in both matches.

    If Lampard & Anelka had taken thier chnaces last night, the dynamic would have been completely different, Man U were anxious about Chelsea's possibility of scoring away goals, according to both Fergie's and Rio's post match comments.

    As usual in these top-level games the difference betwen the winners & losers is marginal.

  • Comment number 96.

    Wasn't Torres foisted upon him from above?


    no, ancellotti said himself he wanted to sign him in the summer. Quite why people are talking about Torres as some sort of journeyman clogger after spending the last 3 years telling everyone how he's the best striker in the world is quite frankly utterly embarrassing

  • Comment number 97.

    Man u can delude themselves all they want, this season is not over and they haven't won anything yet. Talk of treble is premature, don't count your chickens just yet. If they get to the final, they will lose against Real/Barca.

  • Comment number 98.

    Terrific game last night. United and Chelsea put on a real contest which was tight and enthralling (whilst the drubbings dealt out in the first legs of the other ties were enjoyable to watch they havent presented the same intrigue and balance) which apologies to fans of spurs, inter and shakhtar the other ties haven't really matched due to the one sided first leg results.

    It is clear for the whole world to see that Torres isn't playing well but I think you do an injustice to United by focusing solely on this issue (and it isn't hugely original). Giggs was incredible, and the few lines on him does not do him justice. He is the perfect example to any young footballer and him and scholes show that if you look after your body, work hard and avoid the stereotypical booze and fights all modern footballers appear to engage in you can add a significant amount of time to your career at the top.

    Rooney is back to top form, it has been slowly coming and you look at the last 4 or 5 games he has been on it, he's hungry, he's scoring and he's creating, simply fantastic. I really think you see the best of him playing alongside Chicharito whose pace offers a threat in behind which creates that hole between midfield and defence that Rooney relishes, note the difference in Rooney in the 2nd half against West Ham with Chicharito alongside him. Chicharito clearly a FAR better by than Torres at the moment, Abramovich take note!

  • Comment number 99.

    re #83 MrBlueBurns:

    The management group at Chelsea decided that the young players coming through were good enough.


    There's nothing wrong with bringing through younger players - the da Silva twins, Gibson & Hernandez have featured for United, with Macheda & Welbeck out on loan to get first-team experience (like Sturridge).

    But instead of having to start Ramires every game, or only relying on McEachran off the bench, he could have used Ballack or Deco sparingly to have a short-term impact like Giggs, Scholes and, at times, Gary Neville have done in the last few seasons.

    Neville has now retired, but those three mentioned have been threatening to call it a day for years now, and Fergie no doubt will be tempting van der Sar to consider his future for "just one more season".

  • Comment number 100.

    97. At 10:04am 13th Apr 2011, Montegooner wrote:

    Man u can delude themselves all they want, this season is not over and they haven't won anything yet. Talk of treble is premature, don't count your chickens just yet. If they get to the final, they will lose against Real/Barca.


    I haven't seen a single Utd fan in the 100-odd comments even remotely entertaining the prospect of the treble.

    As myopic as your manager, it seems.


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