The Cup goes to Chelsea then, and all the praise goes to Guus Hiddink for his miraculous achievement of winning the cup with a squad packed with internationals.
Now I’m not knocking him, he seems like a thoroughly decent bloke and one that would be of benefit to the Premier League should he return, but the praise he is receiving is a bit over the top considering he inherited one of the best squads in Europe. Their main problem seemed to be that the players didn’t like their last manager \’big Phil’ Scolari and, if tabloid rumour is to be believed, refused to play for him.
Therefore all \’big’ Guus needed to do was turn on the Dutch charm and massage those huge egos that are found in the Stamford Bridge dressing room. Perhaps compliment them on their hair, their flashy cars or latest Gucci man bag?
Whatever he said it worked on Saturday, well from 25 seconds onwards. Louis Saha reminded everyone that when he isn’t on the treatment table he can play, smashing a volley past Peter Cech in the opening minute. Unfortunately for Everton it came 89 minutes too early and, stunned at the thought of hanging on to a lead for 89 minutes, they proceeded to sit back and let Chelsea play. And play they did, winning the game with a spectacular strike from Lampard.
For Everton the defeat looked hard to take. The fans, cooking in the afternoon sun, haven’t tasted success for 14 years and sang like they really wanted it. “Our biggest game” and “my greatest achievement” were some of the quotes from the players before the match.
Champion of wig-sellers everywhere, Marouane Fellaini, ran off the pitch in tears at the final whistle, though that could be because his mid-season promise not to get a hair-cut until the end of the season now means the scissors are not far away.
What makes it more galling for the Everton players is the reaction of the Chelsea players and fans. Many of them saw the Cup only as a consolation prize following their Champions League defeat, as well as a nice parting gift for their departing boss. A bit like the office whip round that didn’t raise as much as they would like. So instead of the toaster all they could get was a nice big card and a box of chocolates.
“Two years is too long without a trophy,” John Terry declared, rubbing salt in Evertonian wounds as they trudged off contemplating a 15th year without so much as an Intertoto cup for their efforts.
But what may have cheered them up a bit was the frankly bizarre sight of Hiddink and Roman Abramovich doing some strange dancing ritual around the Chelsea room. Hiddink, complete with huge cigar, looked every bit like an embarrassing Uncle trying to dance at a wedding while Abramovich had that familiar puzzled expression on his face that belays the fact he is a ruthless billionaire oil baron.
Rumours however that Roman and Hiddink will join up with Phil \’Pavarotti’ Brown to form a musical dance trio and enter the next series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ are unconfirmed.