Football: My Chelsea by Tony Banks, the new Minister for Sport

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The Independent Online
Tony Banks has always been a Chelsea fan despite living in West Ham land. Perhaps he should be known as the Minister without Porfirio.

Ruud Gullit: Approaches the match like a Chess Grandmaster. One of the reasons we have been so successful in the Cup has been the manager's ability to read a one-off game. He's a Cup man rather than a League man.

Frode Grodas: Did not start well with Chelsea, on the receiving end of three goals in his first match. I'm always concerned about the failure to communicate in the penalty area, the hesitation in coming for the high ball. He's a good enough goalkeeper to play, but he wasn't our first choice anyway. We've had very bad luck with goalkeepers - I think we've had six this season.

Dan Petrescu: Was one of those who helped bring the transformation of the team about when he was bought by Hoddle. An attacking wing-back with pace, giving us the dimension of width. His ability to score goals is absolutely wonderful. We bought him from Sheffield Wednesday and I remember talking to Roy Hattersley about him and Roy said, "Yes, he's a good player, but he tends to be up the wrong end of the pitch when it really matters." But we've had nothing but good from him and he's a big favourite of the crowd.

Franck Leboeuf: I think he is one of the great stars of the team. A fantastic buy. He's a class act. He's been roughed up a couple of times, but he's learned very quickly. He can read a game so well, his distribution is impeccable, and he is very much the key man at the back. I can't speak too highly of him.

Steve Clarke: Has had a new lease of life. under Gullit. He is a great club servant, and a good supporter of Tony Blair and the Labour Party - I sponsored his testimonial dinner at the House of Commons. He is Mr- Totally-Bloody-Reliable, and at his age he is still prepared to say that he is still learning. My only worry about him is his back: I worry about whether or not he will be fit enough to play. But I hope he does because he deserves his day in the sun.

Craig Burley: Has his admirers and his critics at Stamford Bridge. I think he's an elegant player. He's got some points to prove in view of what has happened in past semi-finals, but he's performed very well on the left for Scotland. A good reader of the game, and a player of great potential.

Dennis Wise: Crucial in the midfield area. Wonderfully creative, links up well behind Zola and Hughes. If Dennis is on song so are the team. He's controlling his temper beautifully now, and his influence on the team is significant. We've got to have him.

Roberto di Matteo: Undoubtedly raises his game according to the significance of the match. I've seen him recently looking very tired and jaded playing for the club, but putting in some spectacular performances for his country. He revels in the atmosphere at Wembley. He's a big-match player and can be a big-match winner.

Frank Sinclair: Frankie is one of the great characters at Chelsea. The sort of person who can have you cheering like mad, or who can break your heart. Does impeccable stuff for 89 minutes, and then can drop you in it in the 90th. For a small guy, his athleticism is fantastic - such ability to jump. I think they should play him up front as a striker, and then he can't cause much damage. At least then, when he misses it, it means that you haven't scored a goal, rather than letting one in. Very good when running at defences, because he is very strong and can burst through.

Gianfranco Zola: Deserves all the superlatives that have been heaped upon him. This man is the match-winner. He is crucial to Chelsea. When he gets the ball, a buzz goes round the ground. The last time I remember the same thing happening was when Jimmy Greaves got the ball - you always felt that there was a goal in the making. Zola has settled down so fast and achieved God-like proportions as far as the supporters are concerned.

Mark Hughes: My man of the year at Chelsea. Why Manchester United were prepared to let him go for pounds 1.6m I do not know. He has the ability to hold up the ball and to absorb punishment, of which he gets a lot. I hope the referee will protect him on Saturday. When he's playing against you, you think "What a Bastard", but what a hero when he's on your side.

Scott Minto: Very inconsistent. He can have a brilliant game and then spoil it with something completely foolish.

Gianluca Vialli: Great attitude - lost his edge. The supporters love him, but his first touch seems to be pretty appalling and his second touch doesn't seem much better. When you sit there with a beer in your hand and a fag, it's not surprising you lose the edge. But a good guy to bring on: by running at defenders he can draw people.

Erland Johnsen: Thoroughly reliable, a hard man at the back. I'm sure he'll be on the bench and it would be nice to get him on if only because it's his last season.

Eddie Newton: Our Paul Ince figure - but he has had a very unhappy season with injuries, and I'm not sure he'll be able to play.

Andy Myers: A star of the future. Reliable as a wing-back or behind the front pair.

Prediction: A 3-2 win for Chelsea.

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