Monday, February 25, 2008

Good triumphs over evil - Margin

Right now I’m sitting at home watching Die Hard 4.0. I booked today off work to nurse my hangover. It is an excellent fourth to a stunning line of Die Hard films. And it works for the same reasons as its predecessors.

The badies have the advantage in the shape of all the finances, technology, helicopters, and machine guns a former Soviet Republic can offer. Meanwhile the goody, Bruce Willis, must overcome the odds with nothing but a police issue revolver and his own impressive endeavor. Not to give the ending away, but civilization survives with far fewer badies in it.

Football rarely follows this simple plot. But Wembley yesterday offered the spectacle of much hated badies with despicable intent being overcome by the glory and honour of noble goodies.

Simply count the ways in which Chelsea are evil. They have a nasty foreign owner who profited from the deprivation of Russia’s huddled masses. They can lose £75million a year without flinching while for most that would mean bankruptcy. They are part of a top four that even some fans of those four clubs wants to see undone. They have bought themselves the most expensive team in history. And in Jose Mourinho’s willingness to talk the talk they sacked the one source of excitement their club has generated in recent times.

As you would expect from a Hollywood script, they did all the sinister things that make badies bad. They turned up for another showcase game intent on strangling the life out of it. They kept things slow, pretended to be injured for two minutes whenever the tempo rose. They played exclusively for occasional free-kicks and corners. And they offered no glory or entertainment to anyone.

Like the best action thriller, the badies were well set to win after Drogba scored. In between pretending he was injured seven times to slow the pace of the game, he stroked home a free-kick that gave his side license to kill the match stone dead.

But what sort of film would it be without valiant goodies willing to fight back. They had done things right throughout. They tried to invent. They tried to score from open play. They tried to use a bit of pace and creativity to overcome the forces of darkness. And eventually they got their just rewards.

Like a car or bus hurtling through the air that misses our hero by mere inches, Bruce Willis, played by Tottenham Hotspur, earned a little good fortune. That good fortune saw the linesman flag a penalty for one of Wayne Bridge’s two handballs under pressure from Tom Huddlestone. With Berbatov’s elegant conversion from the spot the goodies lived to fight on until the film’s finale.

And so to the final half hour when the wonderful Woodgate rose above all others and against the odds scored his first goal in two years. Not that this surprised the audience. At one-nil down Spurs fans remained confident, and I had a fair few texts declaring we would still win. But hey, I guess we don’t go to the flicks thinking John McClane might lose.

That winner led to the end game, which in action films means frenetic gun-toting but ultimately fruitless activity on behalf of badies. In football, that meant Chelsea pumping the ball long and high time after time after time.

That King limped up the steps to claim his prize inspired this interpretation of the day’s events. Bruce Willis is after all, always bleeding by the end of a Die Hard film. And reading the papers today it seems they all saw it this way too, though they have Ramos pegged as the hero.

But I can never help but wonder about the bad guys, and in this case Mr Grant. This was Jose Mourinho’s team playing Jose’ Mourinho’s big game tactics. And the line up was not his replacement’s instinctive choice either, but a compromise for those with greater say than him. So with Roman still breathing when the credits rolled, is a Chelsea decline inevitable? Have the badies been truly vanquished?

You see, I fear a manager needs a big ego to pick the right team instead of buckling to the press, the owner, and influential players. But Roman sacked such a manager for doing just that. Is he capable of hiring another? Or will Chelsea have to be replaced by new badies once they limp away into the shadows?

I guess we have to wait for the next installment to find out.


Yes I know this article is gloating somewhat. But I offer some defence off that. I have a hangover from partying in Tottenham High Road last night, and writing this eased my headache. And as my mate Terry said as we trudged off the pitch after his Broomfield under 14s beat my Chelmsford City under 14s – Why else do we win?


andrewm said...

Ah, I've been waiting for this :)

Out of respect for CE and BD I won't express too much satisfaction - and to be honest I've never had much time for Spurs anyway - but I do like what I know of Ramos and I have a lot of time for Alan Hutton, so I'm pleased with the result. Pleased for you too of course Margin.

I'll also have to revise my long-standing opinion that no competent team could ever feature Jenas. I'm told he was rather good.

Margin said...

I'd completely understand if some Pseuds regulars pretended this article wasn't here AM

But you won't be alone in revising views on Jenas. Lots of people have done just that in recent months. He was something of an unsung hero yesterday as he didn't get to do the spectacular, but ran his legs off to compensate for Chelsea's extra man in midfield.

Ebren said...

Truly magical result. Seeing the minnows ranked a lowly 11th in the list of the world's richest clubs defeat the evil overlords (ranked 4th).

That wonderful romantic Spurs (not even £6 million a year better off than newly-promoted Juventus - and they were in Serie B last season I tell you!) defeating evil Chelsea (3rd in the league) in the ultimate prize of the League Cup. The third most important prize in England!

Thereby securing their rightful place in the Uefa Cup for the third season in the row - denying usurpers like Man Ciy and Portsmouth who hoped to steal their place by the scurvy tactics of being higher up than them in the league.

Well done Ramos, and Spurs always knew than Juande their trophy would come.


munni said...

(Personally I would have been very happy if somehow both sides lost, and as such I should probably keep quiet on this thread, but) as one of those big four fans you mention who would love to see the end of the big four, I am almost, almost really pleased about this result, at least on a detached intellectual level.

Going away now because I find I can't sustain the detached intellectual level for very long.

chelseaexile said...

Its ok andrew, I don't mind. Having seen off Glendenning in the GU yesterday I'm feeling relaxed about the whole gloating thing.

Goes without saying the better team won.

There may be a silver lining attached too as, if rumours are to be beleived, the experiment of whether an inexperienced manager with little or no credentials can manage a top 4 club, may be coming to an end.

As my estimable friend PW75 might say, 'Grant Out'.

Ebren said...

No! ce that was my only hope of becoming a big-time manager. And though the supporters are always sceptical when I take over a club in Championship Manager - but I normally win them round in the end...

Ramos was talked about as Chelsea manager when Jose was under threat. He is now talked about wistfully by my Matthew Harding Lower season ticket holding friend.

I blame Scudamore (mainly because it's fun to).

chelseaexile said...

Wouldn't it be lovely if Roman and Jose met, settled their differences and just got back to what was important...(woken suddenly by a loud snore; my own!)

Sorry day-dreaming again...

If this carries on I'll take much longer, I'll take Houllier.

A pilot friend of mine kindly explained to me that once an aeroplane was at altitude, all that was required were subtle changes in direction and altitude and that nearly anybody with very basic training could keep it flying .

However at take off and landing, you really needed someone who knew what they were doing.

Substitute 'cup-final' for 'take-off' and 'Premier League run-in' for 'landing' and, hey presto! The perfect, totured metaphor for Chelsea under Grant.

Grant out - (someone better) in!

andrewm said...

CE, I saw that and I was impressed.

I've never really had a problem with Chelsea anyway. I find that by the time you're done hating Man U and Arsenal and disliking Everton, there's little left to spare on anyone else. Anyway, I don't think you're any more likely to win a major trophy than Liverpool are in the near future, so you're welcome to do as you please.

Die Hard 2 is on TV tonight.

Margin said...

I should stress that my film analogy was meant to exagerate and thus mock the black and white view of football that days like Sunday foster among fans and pundits alike. (While also expressing my delight).

And I think that's continuing with Chelsea fans coming down so hard on Grant.

The facts that his tactics were working well up until 60 minutes, and that they were the same tactics as Jose used in cup finals - seems to have gone unmentioned.

Likewise people little criticised Jose for the 2-1 defeat at WHL that saw a similar late "hoof it into the box again and again" response from the special one when Jol out-manouvred him to come from a goal down.

So Grant has won nothing yet, but this blind assumption Jose or another manager would have won that game is crazy. It is after all a one off game, and Liverpool's Champions League winning gaffa lost one of those to Barnsley. No one can win them all.

Except Juande obviously.

guitougoal said...

Spurs are lucky to have Ramos and Ramos is lucky to have the spurs because they can play the same style of football Sevilla f.c. used to.-Both are made for each other.There is no question Levy should share the billing after taking so much heat for the change.
Obviously Chelsea misses Jose, Roman replaced a coach looking like greek god for one who looks more like a greek restaurant.
Good analogy Margin,including the special effects by Berbatov it was a good story.

chelseaexile said...

Margin, when you say Grant's tactics were working well for the first 60 mins, you fall into the trap of believing there were tactics in play. If they were they weren't working. It was only due to poor finishing on Spurs part that we weren't 3-1 down at HT.

But setting that aside, its what happened from the 61st minute onwards that really upset most Chelsea fans. Nothing.

Nothing happened. No change in tactics, personnel, formation. Nor until we were a goal behind.

I'm not slating Grant because we lost the final. I'm slating him because he isn't good enough, as I have done consistently.

He is Roman's man and as such has had every advantge.

The results speak for themselves. No wins against the top teams and a loss in his first Cup Final.

DH2 is my favourite, but I got Michael Clayton out on DVD and it has to go back tomorrow..

Grant out.

Margin said...


I have to admit I didn't know about the failure to beat the top two but...

But the "Grant did nothing" notion is a myth.

at 1-0 Spurs bought on Huddlestone (62mins) to vary our approach play cos we hit a brick wall - and it worked, forcing the penalty.

Grant responded by bringing on Kalou for SWP to inject energy up front (72 mins), which led Ramos to sub Malbranque for Tanio to better hold the line (75mins).

Grant then added Ballack for Essien (88 mins) to offer more threat to our box. And he can't be blamed for Ballack failing to perform against Zokora.

Then spurs scored - Grant added Cole for Mikel (98mins) and Ramos countered by shoring up the defence with Kaboul for Keane (102)

No one of Grant's decisions was wrong. They were smart responses to what happened on the pitch. They all happened within ten minutes of the trigger. Its just that they didn't work.

But then - the right decision doesn't always come off.

Margin said...

ps - DH2 is probably the best of the four. Though I was surprised how good DH4 was.

Anonymous said...

From beyond the offside trap and the equator(still anonymous - Ebren, are you trying to lock me out?)

It's amazing how much you miss when you step away from the computer for a couple of days. Seems like I missed a good few feisty blogs. It was a fairly eventful weekend alright, but saturday was a shitty day altogether.

Beginning with the Eduardo thing, "highlights" on TV first thing in the morning, bad for the stomach. Nevermind his career, I just hope the lad can walk again one day.

Then I had to take Mrs offside to the hospital for an x-ray. She's out for four weeks after doing her ankle ligaments on that nasty step at the back of the house. Four weeks on crutches, she'll be in a great mood. Not broken, though, thank Dog for that.

Then that dirty mafioso scumbag and Chirac henchman Gaston Flosse cheated, lied and betrayed his way into getting re-elected as president of French Polynesia. So, that's either five more years of widespread corruption and thuggery, or another lengthy period of instability. Brilliant.

Sunday was a bit better but I didn't see the final, so thanks Margin for your factual, unbiased, hyperbole-free, down to earth account. At least, English football is still highly amusing.

CE, I caught a few of your and PW's exchanges with others on GU. Jaysus, are you guys touchy! May I try to lift your spirits by reminding you that one Didier Deschamps, whom you may remember from his days at the Bridge already, is still out of a job? That's the Frenchman who took Monaco(!) to the CL final, seeing off Ranieri's Chelsea before being (somewhat unluckily) undone by Mourinho's Porto. I think he'd fit right in.

So, Grant out, Dédé in?

Once again, well done, Spurs! Enjoy.


gg said...

If there's one thing I admire, Margin, it's impartiality. I missed the game - I was recovering from celebrating United's 5-1 and England's win over our continental cousins - but heard the result: glad your pigeons came home to roost at last.

sorry to hear about Mrs. Offy's four weeks on crutches. I'm sure you'll be fasting, too - since it is Lent - so I don't envy you your month.

guitougoal said...

All the best to mrs Offside, I guess she is entitled to have her breakfast in bed for a while.Be careful with these crutches though, she may use them on you if the coffee is cold.

pipita said...


Really happy for you that your Spurs at least managed to win a league cup trophy. My Everton have not even achieved that in the last twenty years...


Sincerly sorry to hear about mrs offy's accident. Completely agree with guitou that you'll have to make more extra efforts in order to mitigate her present mood. At least I know I would with ms pipita in such a situation...On another note, today I read an interview with Cavenaghi in an argie newspaper. He says he's delighted at the moment, not just because he's recovered his nack for scoring, but also because he enjoys living in the countryside just outside Bordeaux, where he can hear the hens cackling in the morning just like in the tiny rural town he grew up, amazingly called O'Brien, in the pampas area

chelseaexile said...

Offie, touchie? Moi? Horribly provoked I calls it. I'm sorry I just can't stand that twat Glendenning... he reminds me of a sore leg I once had...

Anyhoo... sorry to hear about Mrs Offie's ankle. Hope she not too uncomfortable.

As this was an injury sustained within the boundary of your home, can I assume that normal husband /wife rules apply and somehow its all your fault?

guitougoal said...

also keep in mind, long legs= long recovery-

offside said...


I have to do the cooking now, so the whole family is fasting. Can't wait for Easter.


the other day, I heard a French TV pundit call Cavenaghi, "le Batistuta de la Ligue 1". Bit early for that, but he does seem to be banging them in for fun in Bordeaux. I hope they pip Lyon to the title.


yeah, I was nowhere near the action, the step didn't even get a yellow card, and I'm the one who's suspended for four weeks. Unless Guitou's theory is right and it's more a case of 6 or 8 weeks.

chelseaexile said...

Women eh, offie? Can't live with 'em. Can't bury them under the patio...

Oops! Gotta go. Mrs Exile wants me.. "Yes dear. Coming dear..."

offside said...


why dig when there's a whole ocean to aim f... 'yes dear, lunch is nearly ready!'

guitougoal said...

go easy on the mayonnaise and don't forget to put the soap in the dishwasher...also the chicken rice formula is for the dogs only.

offside said...

Is it? She doesn't seem to mind. woof!

offside said...

Pipita, Guitou,

did you see Vieira's volleyed cross for Crespo's volley on the post? Poetry, hombres, poetry.

exvanp said...


I wish Mrs. Offside a quick recovery! And I'm sure you'll be doing ALL the housework promptly and without reminders needed.

Btw, did you see Mexes' 1st yellow? Funny, eh?

1) *through gritted teeth* Congratulations on the win. My head was hoping for a loss for both, heart (dumb heart! still aching over Italian bird, offy) was going for Spurs.
2)"DH2 is probably the best of the four. Though I was surprised how good DH4 was." - Always DH3 for me. Epic.

offside said...


no, the first yellow wasn't included in the highlights I saw. Got a clip?

I don't wanna say I told you so but I told you so. Italians are nothing but trouble and heartache. Unless it's 2002 and Wiltord is around. I'm still chuckling about that one. Right in the bottom corner. woops.

offside said...

And by that I meant 2000, of course. 2002 was a whole different kettle of dead, stinking, rotten fish.

exvanp said...

Can't find a clip, but eurosport did a good job desciribng it:

Mexes receives a yellow card for running across the pitch as he tries to get to the halfway line to come back on having gone down injured during the previous chance to Inter

Considering he managed to get sent off 2 minutes later, I found it rather funny. That pass by Vieira was quite sublime, btw.

2002 was that way because Bobby P. was injured. I'm teeling you, had he been playing...

PS, she's a Meeelan fan. Tuesday should be even more interesting :)

guitougoal said...

didn't see it, I was on a plane , I understand Eric and Mickey went to the game from Cannes.The good news is: you are allowed to watch tv by your french patient.

pipita said...

Offy, Guitou

Just read about that Vieira-Crespo double volley act, haven't yet seen it. In Bandini's GU column today he mentions this action, and also claims that Vieira refused to shake hands with Manicni after he was taken off against Sampdoria last sunday. His last season at Inter you reckon??

Margin said...


d'you know what

its the 'through gritted teeth' congratulations that give me the greatest pleaser.

thank you.

guitougoal said...

yes he was pissed, as I was told he needs to improve his fitness with more playing time and he thinks Mancini is being too cautious.
As far as Cavenaghi he is the talk of the town-Bordeaux (btw the most pro-Liverpool town in the world) loves him.

pipita said...


Honestly. Was it necessary to make that Bordeaux-Liverpool connection?? Just hope dear ol cavenaghi -"el torito"- doesen't eventually end up at Anfield,it's bad enough enduring another former River favorite of mine Mascherano wearing that red shirt... Talking about Bordeaux, do you know a beach resort near that city called Arcachon?? Went there ages ago with my mum and aunt.

guitougoal said...

You must remember their oysters, Arcachon's are best in the world.
What's wrong with Mascherano in Liverpool, Crespo with Inter, Tevez Manutd, Messi Barcelonna, it's
reflecting of the Argentinian football culture-one of the best in the world-

pipita said...


Indeed they are, but my mum had one hell of a fright there after she had some mussels which were clearly not in good condition...Re mascherano, my aversion is due to the fact that I support Everton in the UK, therefore I find it hard to wish well to any argie playing for Liverpool

guitougoal said...

rest assured, Liverpool have enough trouble on and off the pitch-to deal with.

offside said...

I did see Vieira coming off the other day, and he did look pissed off. However, I didn't see Mancini profferring his hand, instead he patted Vieira on the back. Vieira didn't take any notice and kicked a bottle before sitting down on the bench.

Storm in a teacup?

munni said...

For some reason I've got this idea in my head that Patrick V. is sweet and angelic. I always get very annoyed when I'm reminded otherwise.

Pipita, well done your boys in the Libertadores last night. Those last four minutes were highly entertaining.

gg said...

I suppose Liverpool would be the most pro-Liverpool town in the universe if the Liverpudlians ever learned to blow their own strumpets.

It's really fun reading this thread, I never knew there were so many hen-pecked Pseuds out there. Mrs. GG says it's about time we men stood up for our rights.

pipita said...


It was a very exciting second half, no doubt. Had to suffer right till the end but thank god Ortega put it in in the 93rd minute, otherwise River's chances for passing to the next stage would have looked pretty dodgy

Professor GG

You bet, I am hen pecked all over. My surmname Gallo literally means male hen (notice my subtelty in avoiding to use the more precise nomenclature) and the team I support, as you may well know, are nicknamed "gallinas" chickens...There you have it mate

bluedaddy said...

I always stand up for my rights, and stay stood up until Mrs BD tells me to sit down again.

Best wishes to Mrs Offside.

Margin, this was an enjoyable piece, and I take your point re the sort of famine or feast outlook on football nowadays. I wasn't happy about GU playing the good vs evil card, but maybe if they'd done it as wittily as this, I'd have been more tolerant.

I disagree with your view on our view on Avi G though. CE's airliner analogy is perfect, and, if I might mix it with your disaster/action hero movie one, it's like Chelsea have got Burt Lancaster and George Kennedy in place, but have sacked Dean Martin and replaced him with Leslie Nielsen. Now that's what I call a disaster waiting to happen.

Don't tell anybody, but I'm glad Spurs are 'back'.

Margin said...


I hope you are right about both Grant being rubbish and Spurs being back.

But while I think Ramos is great, Grant's record really isn't far off Jose's despite having a lot to overcome.

When Jose came in he'd won the lot and the players had won little. So he had instant authority.

Grant (or anyone else now) will have to build authority amid the egos of players who have been to the top and feel they deserve authority of their own.

Given a summer transfer window and a year in charge I sadly fear he'll prove very capable of repeating Jose's success.

bluedaddy said...

Margin, you're Karim Benzema or Pato or Kaka or Eto'o.

Summer comes along and your agent's office door is wide open.

Along comes Fergie, Arsene, Uncle Avi and Liverpool's newly installed Mourinho, and, just for you, The Mighty Ramos, cheque books open, Bic biros poised.

Given that they will all pay you at least £80k a week, plus tips, who do you think will be the most persuasive and the best prospect for still being your boss in 12 months time?

offside said...

Ah, Karim BANG-zema coached and improved by Arsène, and getting some proper service from the flanks... Scary.

bluedaddy said...

Evening/Morning/Afternoon Offy,

How's the patient? How's your patience? I guess it's more Bang-the-Zimmer round your place?

You don't think the new pad could be haunted do you? A sort of Tahitiville Horror?

munni said...

Arsene...cheque book open...£80 a week...? Was that a typo, BD?

And what's all this about hen pecking? All we do is give friendly reminders when it's absolutely necessary. My regards to Mrs. Offside.

offside said...

Howdy BD,

lunchtime here, or thereabouts. The patient is not very patient by nature but she's behaving herself for the time being.

Haunted? I don't know. Offsidedoggy was barking away like mad last night. I went around the garden with a torch but didn't see anything. Lots of people here leave a light on at night for fear of the Tupapau (spirits). So, who knows?

But for the latest accident, I think she's just clumsy. I mean, it's a step, it's not like it lunged at her studs first.

bluedaddy said...

And this would be something you've told her, right Offy?

You let her bring her studs home with her?
You French and your modern ways!

Margin said...


Ramos won't be offering £80k a week - Spurs cap wages at around £60k/w (and only Keane, King and Woodgate get that)

And lets face it - we all said a couple of year back that if top players had the chance to sign for Barca or United why on earth would they pick chelsea?

But they did - in their droves - for Roman's cash. And it isn't like he;s about to pull the plug.

Chelsea can still outbid everyone by a long long way.

Tweet it, digg it