Football: Chelsea's `discourtesies' offend Turks

  • @stevetongue
GALATASARAY'S COACH, Fatih Terim, has fanned the flames ahead of tonight's Champions' League game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge by alleging a series of discourtesies which he promises, ominously, will be repaid "with interest" for the return match in Istanbul. As Manchester United, who were greeted with banners reading "welcome to hell" can testify, the Turkish city is not the most hospitable venue at the best of times; Chelsea may discover they have scored an own goal or two in allowing their opponents to become quite so upset.

Terim, who was Turkey's coach at Euro '96, listed his complaints at Galatasaray's Chelsea Harbour base yesterday. The London club, he claimed, had sent nobody to meet the Turks on Sunday at Heathrow, where they were subject to long delays and unnecessary interrogation by customs officials, whose first question to the manager was "why are you here?"; no security of police escort was provided; and a fee of pounds 250 plus VAT had allegedly been demanded for use of a training ground.

"I have to say with a great deal of sadness that it is the first time I have seen this in all our years in Europe," he said. "English courtesy and the English gentleman are known worldwide, but we have not seen that. Whatever we have seen here will be returned with interest. I'm asking that of my officials and directors."

Kingstonian's ground had been made available for practice on Sunday evening, but after being delayed at the airport, Galatasaray felt it was too far to travel. They were then apparently offered Queens Park Rangers training ground and told - though not by Chelsea - that a fee would be payable.

Chelsea's Gwyn Williams said: "We never ever meet visiting teams and when we go away no one ever meets us. We did arrange a training ground and had everything waiting for them but they did not turn up and never even had the courtesy to phone us. We have no influence over what happens at Heathrow - we were delayed there for two hours last week going to Middlesbrough."

That delay may have helped Chelsea as they won for the first time in four games. Gianluca Vialli said: "We are back on track but we've got to work really hard to get some more results."

Vialli's believes Galatasaray, who have won the last three Turkish championships, have a natural instinct to attack. Proof of that came in Milan last week, where they had more than 50 per cent of the possession in a 2-1 defeat, and almost as many shots as the home side. Having been held 2- 2 at home by Hertha Berlin while Chelsea were drawing with Milan, however, means both teams will be desperate to win tonight - anything else may end both teams hopes and the expectation is high at Stamford Bridge.

The visitor's leading players are Romanian pair Gheorghe Hagi and Gica Popescu (late of Tottenham), the Brazilian goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel and the Turkish strike partnership of Arif Erdem, who recently scored a hat-trick against Northern Ireland in Belfast, and Hakan Sukur.

Chelsea's Danish defender Jes Hogh, who had four seasons with Galatasaray's great rivals Fenerbahce, said yesterday: "Hagi was the player who won the championship for the last three years. He's got maybe the best left foot in Europe. Galatasaray is a very technical team and if you give them space they can outplay anybody. They will use everything against you and you have to be very aware of players cheating. Arif is very good on the ball but also good at falling over".

While a certain amount of skulduggery must be expected from a team with Capone playing at centre-back, Hogh believes that they are a side easily put off. "If they feel they have the game in their hand, they can play the most beautiful football in the world. But if they feel the game is slipping away, they are just an ordinary team. We have to put them under pressure. An early goal would be fantastic but if they score it would be a disaster."

Not a disaster in the proper sense of the word, of course; the Turks experienced that with the recent earthquake in their homeland, which Hogh suggested has given Galatasaray a special bond in the Champions' League. "From what I hear from my friends in Turkey, it's like football is keeping the country together. It's the same as in the old Yugoslavia - they use football to bring the country together again and really play with their heart".

Chelsea's players are planning a contribution to the earthquake relief fund, probably to be made before the match in Istanbul next month. Genuine as their feeling may be, they will be in need of some improved PR by the time the Turkish media have gone to town with Terim's revised opinions of the "English gentleman".

Chelsea (probable): De Goey; Ferrer, Leboeuf, Desailly, Le Saux; Petrescu, Wise, Deschamps, Babayaro; Sutton (or Flo), Zola.

Galatasaray (probable): Taffarel; Fatih, Popescu, Capone, Hakan Unsal; Umit, Tugay, Suat (or Emre); Hargi; Hakan Sukur, Arif.