August 05, 2006

a historical game

I read this and it reaffirmed something I keep telling everybody - if there is one game that rates as the turning point in Premier League history, it is one that is under-rated and one nobody ever mentions.


Last weekend of the season. Manyoo had already sewn up the title the previous week. All eyes were on the game between Chelsea and Liverpool. They were both equal on points, although Chelsea had a superior goal difference.

The prize?

At least £10 million - because the winner would finish 4th and get to into the qualifying rounds of the champions league.

Liverpool took the early lead but Chelsea were leading 2-1 at half time. Liverpool needed to win. They needed to push up and try to score two goals. Unfortunately, Gerrard Houllier decided it was best to play football in their own half - something they had been doing all season long. Liverpool lost the game and the Champions League spot. It seemed as if the UEFA Cup wasn't that bad because they had been playing badly all season.

A few weeks later, a certain Russian billionaire bought over Chelsea and he would change the game forever. When asked, "Why Chelsea?", he replied that it was a buy that made the most sense. They weren't a mega team which would have cost him a bomb, yet they weren't a small club either. More importantly though, they were in the Champions League the following season which guaranteed some instant revenue.

He said: "I'm not going to kid you. The club are in severe financial difficulty.

"In fact, we have reached a point of financial crisis. In order to ensure that Chelsea FC will still exist next season you have to make the Champions League. In short, if you fail to beat Liverpool then the club will go out of business."

Claudio Ranieri obviously knew what was going on behind the scenes but wanted us focused on football.

We were determined to get the win and thankfully we won 2-1. But I look back now and wonder what would have happened had we lost.

*Excerpt of Fat Frank's biography*

I always wondered too - what would have happened if Liverpool won that day? Chelsea would have been unattractive. I doubt Roman would have bought Liverpool - too much baggage, too many assets, essentially the same reason Manyoo and Arsenal didn't appeal to him. Next best choice?

Newcastle of course. They finished 3rd that season, you know.

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