Sunday, 9 May 2010

Let's not rain on Chelsea's parade... pieces of eight and a Golden Boot for Didier Drogba

THERE are those who would rain on Chelsea's parade. As they swept to the Premier League title in style yesterday, some would suggest they live in cloud cuckoo land, where the golden eggs are owned by a Russian high-flier called Roman Abramovich.

But until Chelsea's sweetest of sugar daddies decides to fly the nest at Stamford Bridge, we can do nothing but applaud the millionaires of west London.

Their barely credible 8-0 triumph left Manchester United fans - who desperately needed a slip-up against wallopees Wigan - whistling loudly in defiance of their foreign owners, the Glazers as they swept to a 4-0 win over Stoke.

There was no sign of a "green and gold until the club is sold" protest at Stamford Bridge, where Abramovich's debt builds in the background, not in the bright red mortgage department.

Italian Carlo Ancelotti, a champion in his first season, said: "The most important thing is that we enjoyed it. The worst moment was losing to Inter Milan in the Champions League but we had a good reaction.

"Jose Mourinho did fantastic work here, two titles conscutive, but I hope to do the same thing. Now we must win the FA Cup, the double. I hope my players recover quickly!"

John Terry, carrying the trophy and a jubilant Solomon Kalou, said: "It's been a hard three years watching Manchester United lift this. It's been an up-and-down year. We went to Wigan and got beat quite comfortably."

He refused to be drawn on the affair which cost him the England captaincy, and grinned: "Carlo Ancelotti leaves it to us to play our own game. Amazing. This is what it's all about. Forget everything else. We deserved this."

While the nation struggles to comes to terms with a political power struggle after last week's inconclusive general election, the party in Blue grasped leadership emphatically on the last day of League action this winter.

And of course, they've got the FA Cup final against rock-bottom, bankrupt Portsmouth to come at Wembley next week. Aaron Mokoena and crew must be dreading that one after seeing another goal fest at the Bridge. Chelsea's first domestic double is on.

After an unseemly spat over who would take the first penalty - Frank Lampard instructed Didier Drogba it was his job until the title was sealed (above) - the Ivory Coast star struck a second half hat-trick to confirm his status as the Golden Boot wearer, taking his tally to 29. That left him three head of Wayne Rooney, who was substituted, goalless, at Old Trafford in a 4-0 win over Stoke City.

Chelsea started the day on 95 goals for the season, two behind United's Premier League record of 97. As they cruised past the century to a new high of 103, Arsenal were securing third place with a 4-0 win over Fulham, who were probably contemplating their Europa League final against Atletic Madrid at Hamburg.

Spurs, still celebrating their first ever Champions League qualification, had already sealed fourth despite relinquishing a 2-0 lead to go down 4-2 against relegated Burnley. What a shame, blotting manager of the season Harry Redknapp's revival.

For Liverpool, there was to be no reputation-salving end-of-season performance against doomed Hull, just another gormless 0-0 draw against inferior opposition.

West Ham, who finished just above the relegation zone, held crest-fallen Manchester City to a 1-1 draw, Aston Villa were beaten 1-0 at Blackburn, Bolton edged Birmingham 2-1, Wolves saw off Sunderland 2-1 and Everton handed Portsmouth a 1-0 defeat before their Wembley finale.

And so it ends, a season of controversy and conflict, with the nation lifted by the presence of injured England stars like Ashley Cole - who scored Chelsea's eighth - Aaron Lennon and Rooney before the World Cup next month.

But let me leave you with this thought. If the economic collapse which destroyed Greece is really about to sweep through Europe and the big money leaks out of the game, who will be left standing?

With Liverpool seeking new owners, Manchester United seeking to get rid of the Glazers and Chelsea relying on the charity of a Russian while Spurs spend way beyond their means, perhaps the side in third place deserve a final mention.

Arsenal, lowest nett spenders in the top five by a considerable margin since the Premier League began in 1992, may be the last club standing. They live within their means and the stubborn Arsene Wenger will hear nothing of profligacy.

By this time next season, Arsenal might be the only top club to evade the fate Portsmouth suffered this season. But that, I guess, would be raining on Chelsea's parade. And I wouldn't dream of doing that.

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