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Chelsea 2 - 1 Everton

Half-time: 2 - 1


Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #37
3pm Saturday 5 May 2001
Stamford Bridge, London
Att: 35,196
« Bradford City (h) Ref: Rob Styles Sunderland (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 15th [ Results &  Table ]
 MATCH SUMMARY
Kevin Campbell A great start by Everton came after just 71 seconds, when Steve Watson whipped in a cross from a poorly defended Corner and there was SuperKev, unmarked to head in the goal that puts him into double figures (wow!) for the season (League and Cup).

But it led to very little as Chelsea proceeded to completely outplay the Toffees, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink eventually scoring twice in two minutes before half-time descended with some relief for the beleaguered Evertonians.  The foreign legion threatened to run rampant over a tired and disorganized Everton side who were glad to walk off at half-time just the one goal behind.

Everton came at the home team strongly in the second half, with some good chances falling to Tal, and Naysmith returning from a two-month injury lay-off to good effect.  But Everton simply could not score again, and the game ended with no further goals.  

Everton can now finish no higher than 14th after another dire season of inadequacy.  But there are few signs that Walter Smith will be going anywhere...  What price a nice job managing Scotland?

 

  

 MATCH FACTS
   GOALSCORERS  Debuts
Chelsea: Hasselbaink (32', 35')
EVERTON: Campbell (2')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
Chelsea: Cudicini; Le Saux, Desailly, Gudjohnsen (62' Gronkjaer),; Terry, Morris, Wise, Melchiot, Poyet (72' Babayaro); Zola (84' Jokanovic), Hasselbaink. De Goey, Dalla Bona.
EVERTON: Gerrard; Watson, Weir, Ball, Unsworth; Alexandersson (46' Naysmith), Gemmill, Pembridge (82' McLeod), Tal; Moore (68' Jevons), Campbell.
Unavailable: Pistone, Xavier (
suspended); Ferguson, Gascoigne, Gough, Jeffers, Xavier (injured); Nyarko (AWOL/quit); Myhre (on loan). 
Simonsen, Hibbert.
   Playing Strips  Formations
Chelsea: Blue shirts; blue shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
EVERTON: Yellow shirts; yellow shorts; yellow socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Chelsea: Terry (66')
EVERTON: Gemmill (27')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats    

 

 MATCH REPORTS
 REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS
Mickey Blue Eyes Psycho-corporate death at the Bates Motel
Squire of SE26 Village People
Alex Bell What price positivity?
 NEWSPAPER REPORTS
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Hasselbaink props up fading Chelsea
by David Alexander
THE SUNDAY TIMES Blues scrape victory
by Rob Hughes
THE TIMES Ranieri's impatience gives Chelsea that individual look
by Alyson Rudd
 LINKS TO NEWSPAPER REPORTS
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THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited
LIVERPOOL ECHO Link to Echo Report
 LINKS TO OTHER INTERNET REPORTS
EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

BBC SPORTS Link to BBC Sports Match Report
SKY SPORTS Link to Sky Sports Match Report
SPORTING LIFE Link to PA Sports Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
FA PREMIER Link to FA Premier Match Report

 
 Psycho-corporate death at the Bates Motel
Mickey Blue Eyes
 

Pellow’s Tours were late.  I sat smugly on The Coach and grinned at Texyla.  “Ha ha,” I gloated, “s’not me this time la.”  So I belled the guilty party on me moby and got told, “We’re only a few minutes away....”  Turned out, ha ha, that just as he said that he realised he was on the approach road to the Runcorn Bridge.  Said lousy navigators duly arrived suffused with guilty looks, muttering about road atlases and Look I Didn’t Even Have Time To Shave.  I was insufferably imperious and considerate. 

Bright sunshine, open road and much talking ensued – particularly about latest threats to our Kings Dock bid, and new inside information about reviewers gleaned during the last few days.  Like good soldiers everywhere, we will deploy our weapons and use them to our best advantage.  The battle goes on, and we will ensure the responsible ones get the same treatment meted out to the Balkans War criminals.  

Before we’re done, win or lose, the bid-reviewing miscreants will be sorry they twisted the process to suit their new composition. We won’t rest until the truth is known and out in the public domain.  The next few weeks are going to be VERY interesting.  Loyal Evertonians are queuing up to reinforce our position.  Which is good, because we don’t want any of the usual tiny minority of whiners, moaners or other pieces of inadequate flotsam and jetsam getting in our way… they can go out with the tide – and good riddance.

The general concensus was that we were going to get pasted at the Bridge, but What The Hell Do We Care?  Well, a hell of a lot actually...  Nobody contemplates torture by a thousand cuts with equanimity.  But spirits were high anyway (and out of the bottle in the seat in front of me) so all was well with the planet. 

Subsequently, the orbit wobbled a bit.  Nevertheless, the new crew on The Coach melded perfectly.  I recall the late, great Danny Blanchflower once hitched a ride on a midweek West Ham team bus because they were due to play Spurs in the next game.  Danny, honest as ever, wrote, “I figured I could psychoanalyse their personalities.  It was a crazy idea.  They were all different.”  Quite right, Danny, quite right.  Same on The Coach.

The delay caused by Pellow’s Tours meant we arrived late.  Given the hour, I was surprised at how relatively quiet the streets were.  So we disgorged and made our way to... er... Bootsy Bogan’s – an... er... “Irish theme pub.”

Why, you moan inwardly, do the English DO this to themselves.  The place was awful but convivial and crowded enough to make you feel welcome.  After paying absurd prices for low-level alcohol, I cast an eye around the other customers and an inevitable question forced its way into my head: Why are so many Chelsea fans intent on having fat beer bellies, shaved heads, and sounding like Alf Garnett will never fade into well-deserved oblivion?  It is a potent image which they seem in no hurry to diffuse.

We stood by the bar and eventually moved into a corner, gossiping in a sort of corral, and reviewed movies, food, footy players and our imminent playing doom.  The Squire and Cockney Toffee tried to explain why they make determined combined efforts to destroy their livers while Lil looked on and wrinkled her VERY pretty nose.  Meanwhile, Jimmy was in the corner, absolutely arse-holed and trying to sing.  The only thing holding him vertical was the wall behind him and the stool under him.  I must consult my structural engineering tomes again because I’ve never seen such an unlikely combo withstand the force of gravity.

Irene hooked her loving arm through Jimmy’s, held him up, and we made our way to the ground.  Well, that Chelsea Village is something else isn’t it?  It has all the taste of the Awful Eighties combined with the aesthetic sensitivity of Ken Bates wallpapering his bijou abode in Laura Ashley while delivering a diatribe on Why Rupert Murdoch Is Worthwhile.  I wanted to throw up all the way from the Blue Spice curry house to the Fish ‘n’ Chips shop.  

But inside, the stadium is a good deal better than expected… surprisingly cramped, newly two tiered, but with a lower roof behind each goal.  The new stand was finished but not available for use, except for a tiny knot of Suits and Suitettes in the centre, picking at prawn-filled croissants.  The new roof architecture is a reasonably attractive bit, curved and well thought through.

Smiffy had largely picked the team I would have, so not many complaints from me.  Especially as we went straight down their end from the kick off and caught them cold.  A corner on our left went over to the right, where Stevie tricked his way around a lumbering defender and hooked it back from near the edge of the goal area to the opposite side of said area… where SuperKev bulleted one in with his head.  Cor, stone the crows, guv!

Which was all very well... but then we got battered for the remainder of the half.  And I do mean BATTERED.  It wasn’t unexpected, though, so you won’t get many moans from me.  Anyway, I was far too busy perfecting my new and entirely legal and unarrestable method for winding up the other fans something rotten.  Next season will see this used to full affect until the bizzies puzzle out a way to stop it.  They will of course, fucking nazis.

Out on the pitch, it was like watching the tide flood in.  The ball got played around us, under us, over us, through us… anywhere in fact that highly expensive players’ skills could make it go.  And that was seemingly in five dimensions.  At the heart of it all was the little ageing genius, Zola.  You can’t help but love him.  No bugger can get near him when he’s in this mood.  So we were reduced to howling at the appalling referee – a real zombie homer if ever I saw one; trying to destroy the remainder of Le Saux’s sexual confidence; and roaring on any remote breakaway we made.  At times like this, you know how Captain Oates must have felt before going for a stroll.

The inevitable happened midway through the half when they got a couple of deserved goals in the space of a few minutes.  Needless to say, they came from Hazelbank, or is it Hesselbank, or maybe even Nasalbank.  Anyway, the brilliant fucking Cheesehead got two untidy goals quite out of keeping with their general play.  

The first came when he got a couple of lucky rebounds just inside the arc of the penalty area and found himself with only Paul to beat.  The second when he again got clear in strangely similar circumstances and lobbed an advancing Paul for the winner.  Well, the more possession you’ve got, the more luck you’re likely get.  It’s a pretty simple formula.  For us, it was a pity that our two best players, Davey Weir and Bally, were left with slightly unprofessional egg on their faces.  Ah well....

Half-time arrived mercifully while we digested the possibility of another pasting, studied the sky, our shoes, and prayed for a deluge of rain to wash the match out.

But it didn’t turn out that way.  For all it’s current and temporary rotteness, mostly defended by a useless media, it’s still just a game.  You can never really tell.

Substitutions brought on Jevons and Hibbert and a different team formation had us battling it to a standstill.  We got a string of corners and free kicks which we were unable to take advantage of as Chelsea fell back to eleven men in the box for a good deal of the time.

It was all very commendable but it was never really convincing, except for two absolutely magnificent efforts: the first was from Idan Tal – a superb cross shot from the right edge of the penalty area; and the second from Phil Jevons.  Had the latter gone in, it would have been one of the goals of the season… an Unsy cross from our left came in at thigh height, edge of the left-side goal area, and the boy jumped into the air, let it go through his legs and flicked it in with the inside of his left boot.  It screamed past the post without touching anybody.  So, naturally, referee Styles gave a goal kick.  Well, we had a couple of reasonable penalty appeals too but he was never going to give them.

Chelsea had a couple of useful breakaways but failed to capitalise.  Mostly, they retreated Italian-style, a la Ranieri – an uncomfortable memory of Catenaccio and how it nearly strangled the game altogether.  But their overall shape is strange: a seeming combination of fear and skill.  Very Italian old-style and very unwelcome.  It banished my puzzlement as to how they haven’t done better.  They are a disparate, fractious lot and I can’t see it really improving for them unless they stop being afraid.

At the end, a nice gesture: most of our team came over to where we were and applauded the fans, and it was duly reciprocated.  English footy fans will forgive you almost ANYTHING if you at least look like you’re trying.

There was also an appropriately tasteless, cringe-making ceremony on the pitch at the end when fat Ken Bates said farewell to their sponsors in a display of corporate arse-licking you won’t find outside the average middle management structure.  Needless to say, he got verbally slaughtered by the nearby Everton contingent who did their best to disrupt the whole nonsense.  Nonsense, that is, if you love football and loathe the likes of Ken Bates running our game into the ground.  Or, in his case, into the Wembley ground.

So ends our away campaign for a fourth straight mortifying season.  The kids were in the team and they let nobody down, especially themselves.  Light at the end of the tunnel?  Is Smiffy digging it.... or a hole for himself?


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Village People
The Squire of SE26
 
Well, well, well...  We appear to arrived at the end of the season with two games to spare.  No danger of going down, we leave that to the likes of Bradford ‘two penalties and yer still can’t stay up’ City.  S

So, a general atmosphere of ennui tainted with a desire to be entertained beyond belief (or, indeed, reason) permeates the air.  Coventry, Derby, Boro, Man City.... so feckin’ what, we’re in Laaaandahn and we’re at Chelsea, home of the pre-match smorgasbord and the ‘theatrical tradition’.  

The pre-match anaesthetic was taken in ‘Bertie Bogtrotters’ or whatever the ‘Irish theme bar’ that convinces the locals around Fulham Broadway they’re in touch with ‘the real life experience’ is called.  All we needed to complete the cliché would be a bicycle hanging in the ceiling.  However, it was banged out, it was a short walk from the ground, and the Guinness was passable so it would do for our purposes.  

Much talk was expounded about somebody called Hasselbaink, apparently he was a bit sharp and was gonna rip us to bits.  Still, not to worry, I’m sure that Uncle Walter would some up with a tactical masterstroke to contain the lad..... er......

It’s a surreal experience, walking up to Chelsea’s stadium, or should I say ‘entertainment complex’ before some red-braced twat laywer called Miles rings me up and kicks me arse.  You walk through fairly narrow thoroughfares in a reasonably comfortable area – the kind of place that you can imagine had a close-knit community in the good old days before money started to talk – and, as you turn the corner to find your entrance, your are faced with the Chelsea Village, as proud a monolith of Thatcherite bad taste as you are ever likely to encounter.  

It’s the real estate equivalent of corporate power-dressing; stick something flash, pricey and vulgar in front of the poor impoverished Northerners and watch them be cowed in complete awe and roll over in submission.  And, if they were winning the league time and time again, it might work... but, like the whole edifice of Thatcherism, it’s like a big chocolate Easter Egg: flashy on the outside with feck-all inside.  The ultimate expression of football as a multi-million-pound business without an arse in its kecks.

A quick scan of the teamsheets reveals something quite bizarre: Walter appeared to have been listening into alehouse arguments about team selection on County Road and had picked a side approaching the fanfare for the common man.  Christ, are we trying to snatch a win here or what?  And, two minutes after the kickoff, it looks as though the arse end of the season should have come at the front end, as a cross from the right is completely misdefended by the Chelsea exotica and SuperKev heads home from eight yards . 0-1, ballistic scenes in the Lower East stand.

And then, reality bit, hard.  To be brutal, the difference in this game lay purely and simply in the quality of the respective forwards.  Hasselbaink and Campbell may be comparable in terms of pure ability (if one forgets the age difference, and the fact that Hasselbaink’s on fire currently)...  but we simply haven’t got anybody like Gianfranco Zola.  I would give my right leg for a player who could get the ball with his back to goal, turn and go at the defence without a care in the world the way that he does.  He caused us no end of trouble.

It wasn’t long before their relentless pressure paid off, with Hasselbaink smartly turning in the box and slotting past Gerrard in the most nonchalant manner you can imagine.  As The Shed end bounced up and down, I decided that a tactical widdle was called for to take the pressure off our beleaguered defence, and I should have gone for a shite really as my return was marked by Hasselbaink taking advantage of a defensive cock up to lob the ball over Gerrard.

The prompted some soft gitt being kicked out by the stewards for using precisely the wrong adjective the describe Hasselbaink – and it wasn’t ‘cunt’.  When will these halfwits learn?  It might have escaped their notice that Everton have one or two black faces in the squad, and the fact that we are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society these days.  Good riddance you fecking turd, I hope you had to walk home.

The pressure continued to half time, and the whistle went to our palpable relief at going in just 2-1 down.

A swift twist of the Rubik Cube from Walter saw Alexandersson go off, and young Gary Naysmith come on.  I’ve been more and more impressed with this lad every time I’ve seen him.  We went to a three at the back, with a five man midfield with Tal on the right and Unzie (yes, that tricky winger UNZIE!) on the left.  And, I’m not kidding, Chelsea didn’t know what to make of it.  Things got even more interesting when the little Yank was replaced by Phil Jevons.  Another youngster that Walter has seen fit to ignore, with an assurance, physical presence and belief in his ability that belies his years.

You could see Chelsea rocking; ‘Hey, we’re the mutli-national, multi-talented, multi-millionaires of football; we’re too good for this?’  This is the simple reason that Chelsea will never win anything so long as I’ve got a hole in my arse.  Their team matches their entire setup; superficially massively impressive but with as much depth as Anthea Turner’s Philosophy Course.  

True, they looked dangerous on the break but they looked utterly vulnerable and any side with slightly more quality than we can muster at present would have taken them to pieces, with Tal being desperately unlucky with an overhead kick, Jevons going close with a 20-yarder, and countless other heart-stopping moments – none of which you’ll see on Match of The Day, thanks to ‘Charlie Horse’-fuelled editing by the Chelsea-friendly BBC.

Unfortunately for us, time ran out before we could stick the ball in the net, and a slightly disappointed Bluenose faithful gave the lads a rapturous cheer off the field, well deserved for probably the best 45 minute spell away from home that I’ve seen for some time.  One thing did catch my eye though; Scot Gemmill said something to the bench at the end and seemed in a terrible hurry to get off down the tunnel.  Watch this space for more Nyarko-esque thrills and spills.

As we shuffled our way to the exits, news came through of Coventry’s two-goal lead having been overturned by Villa, and their loss of top-class status for the first time in thirty four years.  There but for the grace of God...  nothing but an injection of serious (and cheap) quality will do for next season.  I have my own ideas about where it should come from (a trip to Heart of Midlothian, for example, would be an eye opener for the neutral; Colin Cameron and Andy Kirk anyone?), but one thing seems certain.  We’ll still have our ‘world-class’ management structure in place for the next campaign.

Only joking..... Or am I?


   Up to Reports Index ]
 What price positivity?
Alex Bell
 
First couple of minutes... a bit of early pressure and the ball breaks from a corner to Watson, who crosses it to an umarked Campbell, who heads in from around 6 yards.

After that, we decide in true Walter Smith fashion to hold out for the next 87 minutes.  Which is suicide at Chelsea.  Cue half an hour or so of us holding a line on the edge of our box, with Chelsea having total possession, although Gerrard is not kept very busy.

Then Hasselbaink receives the ball 18 yards out with his back to goal.  He succeeds in turning Ball who appeared to have him covered but pulled out of making a challenge – I presume out of fear of conceding a penalty.  The finish is across Gerrard into the far corner and he could do nothing about it.

Two minutes later, Gudjohnsen receives the ball out on the right of the box and springs the offside trap with a delightful chipped pass to Hasselbaink who runs through and clips it over the advancing Gerrard.

Half-time and the totally ineffectual Alexandersson – who's only contribution in the first half is to several times head the ball vertically in the air and then be beaten to the rebound by Le Saux – is replaced by Naysmith, with Tal switching to the right.  The most obvious change though is ignored with Moore – who on the few occasions he touched the ball never once passed it on to another yellow shirt – staying on when Campbell is crying out for Jevons to come on and provide him with some support.  Naysmith (at left-back) and Unsworth (now left-wing) combine to good effect at times, doubling up on Melchiot and taking advantage of Zola's defensive deficiencies.

After half time, the midfield ups the tempo and we get a bit of possession for the first time.  Still though Chelsea look the more dangerous and repeatedly break at pace towards our box.  Each time, owing either to good defending (especially Weir) or poor/greedy play from the Chelsea attack, the moves break down.

Just after the hour mark the tide begins to turn and we start to gain much more possession as Chelsea begin to defend much deeper.  Ranieri plays somewhat into our hands by taking off Gudjohnsen for Gronkjaer, meaning that Zola (their most effective attacking player) is now playing further up the pitch and is therefore much more easily marked.

Tal looks especially lively and, despite losing the ball on occasion, looks by far the most likely source of inspiration for the team (why doesn't he play more often???).  His best moment comes at the death when he has a bicycle kick from around 8 yards that whistles past the post.

The overdue arrival of Jevons after 70 mins in place of Moore gives us an extra dimension up front and takes the pressure off the ever-willing Super-Kev.  Chelsea continue to make defensive substitutions (Babayaro & Jokanovic replacing Poyet & Zola) and are clearly intent on holding on to what they have – which just invites us on to them all the more.

The Tal opportunity aside, the best chance at the end of the game is good a cross from (I think) Naysmith to the near post which is met by Jevons, who cleverly flicks it towards goal but unfortunately the excellent John Terry is behind him and bundles it out for a corner.  There were also a couple of penalty shouts – one handball (looked more like ball to hand though), and one when someone is knocked over in a melee from a corner.

The final 25 minutes of the game are almost entirely Everton and we could well have snatched a not-undeserved point.  It is just a shame that we played so defensively in the first half, which is criminal against Chelsea, as players with the ball-skills of Gudjohnsen and Zola are only going to take so long to unpick a defense.  Had we played positively throughout we could well have come away with all of the points, all the same not a bad performance.


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Hasselbaink props up fading Chelsea
David Alexander, Electronic Telegraph
 
THE refurbishment of Stamford Bridge may be finished, but Chelsea are going to need a rebuilding job this summer.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink became the first player to score 20 League goals for the club in 12 years, but the laboured manner in which his side beat Everton on Saturday suggests that Chelsea's time as a power may be coming to an end.

Chelsea's failure to reach the Champions League and the fact that they were not certain of qualifying for Europe at all shows how quickly football changes.

Last season's European run seems a long way away.  Was it something to do with an inexplicable managerial change perhaps?

Everton, for their part, are relieved just to have secured their top-flight status for another year.

Things did not look good for Chelsea when they conceded a goal after just 70 seconds.  Steve Watson latched on to a poor clearance from a corner and his cross was headed in by Kevin Campbell at the far post.

From then on Chelsea predictably took control, although for all their possession they created little. Hasselbaink eventually came to their rescue, scoring twice in two minutes to turn the game on its head.

His first goal came after a neat pass by Gustavo Poyet, the Dutchman turning Michael Ball before nudging the ball past Paul Gerrard.

Hasselbaink then started and finished a clever move which resulted in a lob over Gerrard that took his tally to 14 goals in 15 games at Stamford Bridge.

Everton seemed devoid of the necessary inspiration to pull themselves back into the game.  Rarely did they string a handful of passes together, and their use of the long ball betrayed a lack of quality.

The home side continued to enjoy plenty of possession but with the exception of Zola, who signed a new contract this week, they too seemed content to play out the game.

The visitors came back into it as if sensing Chelsea's lack of ambition.  Idal Tal took advantage of a slip by Marcel Desailly cut inside and fired straight at Carlo Cudicini.

Boosted by that they started to press forward more readily.  Substitute Phil Jevons forced Cudicini into a fine save with a decent low effort and Tal's ambitious bicycle-kick flew just wide.

Chelsea were clearly happy with what they had, removing Poyet and Zola for more defensive players to the annoyance of the home fans, who began chanting the name of Watford's new manager, their former favourite Gianluca Vialli.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Blues scrape victory
by Rob Hughes, The Sunday Times
 
THIS match was Chelsea's season encapsulated.  They were superior in quality and in technique; they were confused about their ever-changing formation and they allowed a side solid in spirit, but not their equal in the things that should matter, to give them such a hard time that a draw would have been fitting.  Immediately after this strange encounter, the Chelsea players came out to walk a lap of honour; a tribute to a season barely fulfilled.  "They deserved something better than what we offered in the second half, what we offered this season," admitted Gianfranco Zola. "I don't really know what the manager's going to do."

And as to our perception that the tactics were confusing, Zola confessed: "The confusion should be for the opposition."

As it is, Chelsea need three points from their remaining games, away to Liverpool and Manchester City, to assure themselves of participation in the Uefa Cup next season.

From the start, they were caught comatose, slumbering while Everton stole the lead after just 74 seconds.  From a corner on the left, Steve Watson slipped past Graeme Le Saux and set up the goal with a cross which Kevin Campbell almost nonchalantly headed home past the groping hand of Carlo Cudicini.

How to fathom the tactical mind of Claudio Ranieri?  The Italian coach appeared to celebrate the new four-year contract granted to Zola by stranding the little maestro on the right flank.  It took 30 minutes before he was released into a more central role.  Within minutes of that, the probing of Gustavo Poyet from the left earned the equaliser.

Most things inspirational sprang from Poyet, including the delicate ball he played for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.  The Dutchman defeated Michael Ball with a deft touch and turn, which gave him the space to hit the ball beyond Paul Gerrard.

Three minutes later, in the 35th minute, Hasselbaink had made it two – and 23 goals for him this season.  This, at last, was a move that emphasised something superb about the under-achieving home team.

Zola, Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen combined to bemuse Everton. Finally, from Gudjohnsen's deliberate through ball, Hasselbaink, so sure of his touch, allowed the ball to bounce and then lobbed it over the defenceless Gerrard.

Then Everton's spirit took over.  With muscle and will they attempted to come back, only for Cudicini to deny them with saves from Tal and Jevons.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Ranieri's impatience gives Chelsea that individual look
by Alyson Rudd, The Times
 
ONE OF the most impressive elements in the appointment at Watford of Gianluca Vialli, the former Chelsea manager, is the degree of patience he is prepared to show.  At Stamford Bridge, Vialli mixed with the elite and collected plenty of silverware.  Glory will come more slowly in Hertfordshire.  

His successor at Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri, does not appear to count patience as a virtue.  He could have given his players a system and let them gradually become comfortable with it.  But he tinkers with his formations as if bored with the match he is watching, his mind having drifted to the one to be played next week.

“I think the manager likes to change his teams — he’s always done it,” Gianfranco Zola said.  This season, Chelsea have rarely produced a complete performance.  And again, against Everton, they drifted from sluggish to sublime and on to distracted.  The impression is of a bunch of talented individuals refusing to give their all.  But, according to Zola, they are “a bit too worried about what is going to happen.  So we drop back and really get into trouble.”

Chelsea, then, are racked by insecurities — an undesirable trait when points are required from their final two matches — away to Liverpool and Manchester City — to qualify for the Uefa Cup.  Yet the club is blessed.  It seems able to afford high wages and have had good luck with injuries.

More than that, they have a striker who could win the Premiership’s Golden Boot award.  Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took his league tally for the season to 20 and they were both fine efforts.  He collected Gustavo Poyet’s pass and shrugged off Michael Ball for the equaliser and, for the winner, rounded off a neat build-up, in which he played a one-two with Eidur Gudjohnsen, with an arrogant lob.

Both goals came towards the end of the first half as Chelsea hit their stride.  Despite the comfort of their early opener, a header by Kevin Campbell, Walter Smith’s side looked destined to be bludgeoned in the second half.  But Chelsea became troubled and allowed Everton, through Idan Tal and Phil Jevons, to come close to stealing a point.

This was supposed to be the season that Chelsea nibbled at the ears of Manchester United.  Instead, they have been reduced to scrambling for a place in Europe, having to save the fanfares for routine announcements, such as the fact that a player has decided not to leave.  Clearly it is hoped that Zola’s decision to stay will stop an exodus by the overseas players.  It will be interesting to see what Ranieri does to address the weaknesses.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
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