Date: 23rd September 2007
Match: United vs Chelsea, Premier League
Venue: Old Trafford
Edwin van der Sar
Carlos Tevez *
Louis Saha (79) *
Tal Ben Haim
Florent Malouda *
John Obi Mikel
Andriy Shevchenko **
Joe Cole ***
Claudio Pizarro (76) ***
Salomon Kalou (59) **
Shaun Wright-Phillips (69)
61 mins- Wayne Rooney
73 mins- Joe Cole
80 mins- Wes Brown
83 mins- John Terry
32 mins- Jon Obi Mikel
Final score: United 2-0 Chelsea
United vs Chelsea. A match that usually has great publicity and excitement around it at the best of times but following the drama at Stamford Bridge over the past week, it had a bit of extra spice. One thing's for sure- it was always going to be an explosive game one way or another.
We arrived at Old Trafford to horrible, drizzly rain and I couldn't believe it- it has been sunny at home when I left just a few minutes earlier! We parked up in our usual car park and were amused to see that only 3 away coaches had made the trip up north. I figured that the price Chelsea charge for tickets, their fans can probably afford chauffeurs and private jets back and forth to games anyway!! We headed over to see Keith our program guy to get our match programs and fanzines, and he also gave us the official Sporting paper from the game on Wednesday (there weren't any official programs) which we never saw in Lisbon. We then decided it was a good plan to go into the ground a bit early to get out of the rain as we were getting pretty wet! We got into the concourse and watched the end of the Newcastle game on the plasma screens which was quite entertaining (wanted to keep an eye on Smithy too!) and had a look at the team which seemed to go down well with everyone. We then nipped up into our seats and saw the usual people around- Royal Mail guy (still with no jacket on!!), Tweed Hat, the annoying people that sit next to hubby, the guys that sit in front of us (we had a good chat about the Mourinho situation and decided all round that we found it highly amusing!) and Kirk from Corrie, who was sat behind us again which he does from time to time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the music in the pre-match build up was pretty good- lots of upbeat dance music with minimal interruptions. Then a guy came onto the pitch, and sang 'Take me home United Road' live, and everyone sang along which really helped to build up the atmosphere even more. More United songs then followed and the imminent appearance of the teams was signalled by 'This is the One' blasting out of the loudspeakers. Over in the Stretty, the new SEF banner was unfurled and it was a huge picture of Giggsy and Gaz Nev lifting the Premiership trophy. It looked really good as it made its way from Stretty to North Stand but unfortunately, it never made it over to us!
The teams came out to the usual fanfare and a big roar from the fans. The Yorkshires just about made kick off (even Drunk Bloke amazingly!) and we had a little chat about how their trip to Lisbon was. Tall Bloke asked me about Kiev and Roma and he told me he was doing both. I asked him how long he was planning to go to Roma for and he said, "I'm staying 2 nights but I'll probably be there for another few nights in hospital!" so I took it from that, that he was still a bit apprehensive about going. Before the game started, Ronaldo was presented with the PFA Fans' Player of the Year award which was good to see. Soon, the game kicked off to a crescendo of noise and the will that everyone had to win the game was evident. United fans started off very lively, getting right behind the team and going through the repitoire of United songs as well as some new additions like, "Where's your Special One?" and "Where were you on Tuesday night?" etc. The lads started off very well on the pitch too and attacked right from the off, and we were all encouraging them as best we could. The only time it went quiet in the opening part of the game was when it looked like Rio picked up a knock. A worried hush descended in the ground and Chelsea fans thought it would be a good opportunity to try and be funny. They became rather gobby and started singing, 'It's so quiet' so with quick wit, we all replied, 'it's so empty at Stamford Bridge' which seemed to spell the end for their song! Chelsea fans on the whole were quite poor. They had odd patches of singing but generally they didn't sing much and when they did, they really only had a couple of songs- not an inventive bunch at all! Anyway, as the United lads started to pile on the pressure, things became more and more heated which culminated in the tragic red card for Obi Mikel! The abuse he got from around the ground certainly wasn't being held back. Shouts of, 'Cheerio' and 'You should have signed for a big club' eminated around the ground. The crowd sparked even more into life after that and everyone was screaming at the referee when we had a penalty appeal turned down. The shouts soon turned to cheers however, when Tevez headed home just before half time to open his account in a red shirt, much to the delight of us all. A fan in Stretty was waving an Argentina flag and he ran straight to that when he scored, bless him.
Of course we all piled down to the concourse to watch the half time highlights on the plasma screens and the place was absolutely crammed with people, all desperate to have a look! There was not a spare place to stand anywhere and it was definitely one of the busiest I've ever seen it. The highlights illustrated pretty well how much United had been on top in the half and we all trooped back into our seats, happy at what we'd seen. The annoying bloke next to hubby then told us that he'd actually missed Tevez's goal as he'd nipped to the loo (how much longer would he have had to wait though?!). I managed just to stop of short of telling him that it served him right and I thought back at how many goals he's missed of United's over the couple of seasons he's been in K. When will he ever learn?!
Into the second half and it looked like the goal had served to calm things down a little as United controlled things whilst trying to kill it off a little bit. Consequently, the atmosphere went flat in parts but there were plenty of incidents in the half to keep things lively. Shevchenko was substituted part way through the half to chants of 'What a waste of money' and when Shaun Wright-Phillips came on later on, he was greeted with 'City reject'. Of course there were still chants of 'Champione, Champione', 'Have you ever won the treble, have you ****' and 'Stand up for the Champions' to make sure that Chelsea had the message! Joe Cole's appalling tackle on Ronaldo stirred the atmosphere even more as Fergie was bouncing up and down the touchline in a rage, gesturing and shouting to the fourth official. However if we thought that was bad, it was nothing compared to the reaction of the reds when the Chelsea players failed to give us the ball back after it was put out of play for an injury. The boos and whistles that greeted that particular display of poor sportsmanship was absolutely ear splitting and it didn't cease until we had possession properly again. It certainly left us all in no doubt that Old Trafford CAN be an extremely hostile and intimidating ground to play at. Into the last few minutes, and nerves were getting a little frayed. Although Chelsea really rarely threatened, 1-0 is always a bit of a nervy scoreline as there's always a chance for the opposition to break away and equalise. The fans were still shouting encouragement to the players but with a bit of a nervous and tense edge. That was until Saha came on and won us a penalty. Everyone obviously expected Ronaldo to take it and as he's a pretty good penalty taker, we all felt reasonably confident. But then he began to walk away from the ball and it was clear that Saha was going to be the one who took it. I was beginning to wonder what exactly Ronaldo had done to upset his teammates as he was shoved off an earlier free kick in a good position by Tevez! So, the responsibilty fell to Saha and thankfully, he slotted it into the back of the net to seal the win. The relief washed over us all and although there was only a minute or two left, we could relax just for that little bit of time. And it felt bloody brilliant! Soon, the final whistle went and a huge delighted cheer went up from the reds. Tense grimaces were replaced by sunny smiles in the pouring rain. We had beaten Chelsea, and beaten them well. As we watched Fergie head down the tunnel with his players, I thought- now who really IS the Special One?!
*Credit to Skysports.com for stats
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