Saturday 19 August 1995, Stamford Bridge
Previous Match: Blackburn Rovers v Everton Next Match: Everton v Arsenal
Summary from Kermit
Everton started the season displaying the same footballing credentials that carried them through last season under Joe Royle's tutelage. The defence stayed solid and impenetrable, with dependable covering from Watson, Unsworth, and particularly Barrett, who had a very good game. Southall was rarely troubled, except for a bullet reaction shot by his Welsh compatriot Hughes.
The midfield was effective but uninspiring, and the attack was troublesome without producing the goods, despite some glorious chances. If the scoreline read 0-4, Chelsea would have no cause for complaint, and Everton would be making all the headlines, topping the Premier League. Instead, the record books show no goals, and two silly bookings (Ferguson and Limpar). While an away draw is a creditable start to the season, Everton should have won this game, as they did last year.
In attack, Ferguson was a persistent threat to the Chelsea defence, but seemed a second late and yard short when the chances came his way. Is he fully fit? Rideout was determined but quiet, and Limpar was particularly aggressive but in entirely the wrong way. By the end of the match, genial Joe was not smiling; he knew this was a golden opportunity squandered, and he will be steaming at the post-match debriefing session.
Duncan Ferguson was called in the first minute for what seemed an innocent challenge, and the ghosts of last season leapt as the stern ref popped the pea out of his whistle. And towards the end, Ferguson was again involved in an altercation with Johnsen that could have turned very nasty. He missed at least two opportunities to score, and just was not up to his best. And where was Amokachi? With the depth of potential talent in the squad, Joe should consider nominating three outfield subs and taking a gamble that Southall does not get injured in a match.
Chelsea (0) 0 Everton (0) 0
IN THE packed street outside Stamford Bridge the stallholders were doing a splendidly naff line in Ruud Gullit T-shirts. Over Gullit's dreadlocked head were superimposed the words Judge Dread: Chelsea's Ruud Boy: Judge, Jury and Executioner.
Yesterday Chelsea's Ruud boy made his Premiership debut, so England has had almost a month of friendlies to come to terms with Gullit-mania, an infectious passion for a 33-year-old half-Surinamese Dutchman with a sweet smile and dodgy right knee. Gullit may be slower, his joints more creaky, his chimney-brush hairstyle a good few inches shorter than in the days when he graced the world stage, but he can still obliterate a bunch of opponents with one pass, as Everton could testify after yesterday's second half.
Hanging on Chelsea's main gate was a board painted with a single terse message: Sold Out. The stands were full half an hour before kick-off.
Even so, you have to ask why Chelsea when Gullit could have had Monaco, even Japan. It's his policy, apparently. "I didn't choose a big team. In my career I always choose a team that didn't have a lot of luck" - though Chelsea certainly had luck in bundles at one stage midway through the first half, when a shot from Anders Limpar hit the post and rolled along the goal-line away from danger.
But it was not just sympathy for the underdog that made up Gullit's mind. He came for Glenn Hoddle. "You can see very well that he's played in Europe. He knows very well what he wants. You can also see the other players are enthusiastic about him."
Those other players must be enthusiastic about Gullit too. Right from the second minute, when his raking pass out of defence made a perfect touchdown for Mark Stein, it was obvious that the man is different class, a sweeper to the manor born. Soon, he was sprinting to head a sizzling cross from the right from Limpar away from danger.
This was not the calmest of games for Gullit and Mark Hughes to ease themselves into Stamford Bridge. In the opening 10 minutes there was a flurry of clashes and bookings - Limpar and Joe Parkinson for Everton, Gavin Peacock for the home side, and Steve Clarke joined them not long after for a foul on Andy Hinchcliffe.
It was Limpar who proved the dominant man of the first half, supported with increasing determination, not to mention machismo, by Duncan Ferguson. Chelsea did not get their first real crack at goal until just after the half-hour, when Clarke's low shot from the right finally gave Neville Southall some action.
Towards the end of the first half Chelsea increased their pressure when Gullit edged further forward, but we had to wait till much later, well into the second half, to see what he could achieve in attack.
By then, Erland Johnsen had nearly scored with an overhead kick that went just over the bar with 20 minutes left. Soon after, the Dutchman and Hughes took over, with two moves that showed what Chelsea might be capable of when everyone settles in. The Everton defence coped competently with the first but it took a stunning save from Southall after Hughes met perfectly Gullit's curling cross from the right.
Alex Ferguson said recently: "You can buy your life that Hughes will always score a goal in a big game." Well, he didn't yesterday but it's early days yet. Not too early, though, to know that Gullit the Ruud boy is absolute magic. "He's like an 18-year-old among 12-year-olds," said Glenn Hoddle afterwards.
Chelsea: Kharine, Clarke, Myers, Gullitt, Johnsen, Sinclair, Hughes, Stein (Spencer 72), Peacock (Burley 89), Wise, Spackman. Subs Not Used: Hitchcock. Booked: Sinclair, Peacock.
Everton: Southall, Barrett, Hinchcliffe, Unsworth, Watson, Ablett, Rideout, Ferguson, Horne, Limpar (Samways 62), Parkinson. Subs Not Used: Jackson, Kearton. Booked: Ferguson, Limpar.
Ref: M D Reed (Birmingham).
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Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes made the expected impression on their Chelsea debuts. But betting men would still fancy Everton to finish above Chelsea on this evidence.
Hope springs eternal at the start of a season, especially this August at Stamford Bridge. New signing Gullit has already been a commercial success, judging by the dreadlocks and the No 4 shirts adorning the Fulham Road. A Dutch flag with the Chelsea crest waved in the centre circle as the team came out.
Glenn Hoddle, the Chelsea manager, is different from most Premier League bosses. He believes in building from the back, through a sweeper who is the most constructive player in the side. That is why he signed Gullit.
Early bursts from the back and balls that almost picked out Peacock and Stein on the run showed Gullit's range. So did headed interceptions when Ferguson and Limpar threatened. When Chelsea gained possession, he moved in front of Johnsen and Sinclair - but Everton closed the options ahead of him.
No one doubts the Dutchman's touch or vision. Maybe his pace is half a yard short of his greatest days.
Most of all, though, can he stand up to the Premier League's physical challenge where rumbustious forwards like Ferguson and Rideout are the norm and midfielders close down so fast?
Chelsea have signed a rumbustious striker of their own, Hughes. Chelsea's small forwards may be open to intimidation. No one intimidates Hughes. His early duel with Watson was an unsung classic between two wily old pros. Hughes edged it until Everton started catching him offside. As for aggression, Limpar lay prostrate after a Hughes tackle.
If Hoddle represents the beautiful game. Joe Royle's FA Cup holders favour the more pragmatic approach. If a blade of grass twitches, three Everton players tackle it. Ask Wise, constantly pressured by Parkinson. They may lack the creativity to sustain a title challenge, but they are a desperate team to play against.
Kanchelskis would make a difference. But most of Everton's sparkle stems from Limpar.
The Swede remains an enigma, as watching ex-Arsenal boss George Graham would doubtless acknowledge. Needlessly booked for dissent, but sending over a string of teasing passes. He was also unlucky when he shot against a post after 20 minutes following a one two with Rideout. Otherwise Everton rely on Ferguson's height and Hinchcliffe's booming left foot at dead ball kicks.
Hoddle will not make predictions. "Judge us at Christmas," he says.
He. knows he needs more than two star over-30s. If Chelsea are to gatecrash the elite, more cash for more players is required.
It took Chelsea 31 minutes to manage a shot on target, when Southall saved from Clarke. Everton exploited the space behind Chelsea's full backs. Horne played through Ferguson who shot tamely at Kharine as the cup holders carved out the best first-half chances.
Gullit showed more of his range with a rasping free kick as Chelsea opened the second half with more vigour He moved forward with Spackman filling the gap behind him. Hughes dropped deep and Stein pushed up, trying to use his pace against Watson.
Hughes was Chelsea's most potent threat by far. His pass slipped Clark into a gap on the right but the full-back's shot flew wide. Hughes's example, galvanised Chelsea. Stein shot wide from Wise's cross and Johnsen launched an acrobatic shot that nearly caught out Southall.
Limpar remained a frequent threat for Everton. But Hinchcliffe's left boot almost prised an opening goal. Kharine dropped his cross and Ferguson nodded wide of an empty net. It was not the giant Scot's day in the penalty box.
Everton surprisingly took off Limpar and sent on Samways. Gullit charged forward in the closing minutes and created a chance for Hughes, brilliantly snatched by Southall. The keeper grabbed a Spencer curler, too. But Chelsea still looked like a team searching for a pattern.
I went to Stamford Bridge yesterday with my son to see a not-very good match (which didn't seem to be the same one as on Match of the Day, but then I'm old enough to be used to that - PS funny though, the BBC Teletext report is very good).
It seemed that Everton had two main problems, one was someone who could take on full backs and get to the corner (incidentally, will someone tell Anders to lay off the testosterone supplements, he's going to get sent off soon, and is much better as a skillful player than, say, a Dennis Wise wannabe). We also need someone behind Dunc who can hit the ball hard at goal.
The first will (DV) be answered by AK. I suspect he would have had a couple yesterday. Interestingly the only really classy looking player yesterday was Gullit, who played with little speed, but loads of vision.
What IS the problem with Ammo? I only saw a couple of games last year (working in Poland and living in Surrey don't do much for the attendance record) but one was Newcastle at Goodison. He would have been ideal against a defence like Chelsea's and would have fed off Dunc's regularly won high balls. As it was, the chances that came our way were mostly one offs with no one around to follow up. I should have thought that a certain match at Wembley might have taught us the value of someone following up, and yesterday PR wasn't it.
Oh dear, I may also have missed the Man of the Match - the ancient Nev. A couple of saves including from the vile Hughes (has he, in his entire career, EVER won a ball fairly?) were of world class, and Nev didn't even look stretched.
I was also pleased to find that Earl Barrett had a good game. I saw him vs. Newcastle last season and thought the played an intelligent and patient game against Fox, and saw something similar yesterday.
Overall, not a bad start, but not yet the team which annihilated Spurs with football in the semi which is what this list wants!
PS What did happen at the far end when DD went for the ball at the end and there was a mass outbreak of handbagging?
(Response from Michael Kenrick:) Duncan went in on Kharine a little too strongly as the Chelsea goalie smothered a loose ball on the ground. Dunc appeared to leave his foot and almost drag it across Kharine's face as he fell awkwardly over the goalie. Johnsen was onto our Dunc like a Scotsman in a pub brawl, and I held my breath as Dunc struggled back to his feet beneath the full weight of this livid Scandahoovian who was calling him every name in the book.
I really thought Dunc was going to flatten the guy there and then, but miraculous restraint saved the day. Dunc was actually the paragon of virtue (!) as he was ganged up on by 3 or 4 opponents. But the ref broke it up fairly quickly, and promptly showed Dunc the Yellow. Unfairly, he did not do anything to Johnsen.