Cesc Fabregas acted the part of the downtrodden for prize of an early holiday

COMMENT: The Spaniard was sent off in Chelsea's defeat to West Brom - and headed straight for the south of France

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The Independent Football

Coming to a summer fete near you: the Chris Brunt Challenge. Hit a moving Northern Irishman from 20 yards and win a holiday to Nice for you, your family and your nanny.

When it comes to acting, yellow cards are football’s Oscars and this has been a Lord of the Rings year for Chelsea, so it must have been a real disappointment for poor Mike Jones that, having already sent Cesc Fabregas off, he was unable to acknowledge formally the undoubted thespian high point of the long Premier League season in the defeat by West Bromwich on Monday night.

At no point in Cesc’s lengthy remonstrations – backed up, of course, by that fearless speaker of truth to those in power, John Terry – does the Spaniard betray the fact that Mrs Fabregas must have been straight on the easyJet app the moment the ball took flight.

Not once on his long trudge off the pitch did he allow himself to jump in the air and click his heels together. Maintaining that outward sense of injustice even in the certain knowledge that, for the midfielder, the summer hols have suddenly come a week early, and via clipping a perfectly flighted chip into your opponent’s bonce too – well, that’s a once-in-a-generation talent.

It was another Stamford Bridge hero, Frank Leboeuf, who last year diagnosed Eddie Redmayne’s Stephen Hawking with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the film The Theory of Everything, and is the only footballer to have won the World Cup and starred in an Oscar-winning movie. It is an honour he might have expected to hold on to for some years. Not on this evidence.

 

Even when Fabregas landed in the south of France, all the family in tow, and not 12 hours after having had his season terminated, the graphite face shield may have been removed, but the mask still had not slipped, as he sulked his way out of arrivals and into the lenses of the waiting paparazzi.

It is just another incident to add to the never-ending list of rank injustice that Chelsea have bravely borne this season, while still somehow conspiring to win the league title with three matches to spare. “Jesus Christ! It’s harsh,” was Mr Mourinho’s typically restrained assessment, before he could go on to refuse to speculate on what options you leave a referee when you flight a ball at head height directly into the group of players he is talking to, all of whom have their backs turned.

“The ideal scenario would be to be champions, close the shop and go home,” Mourinho said of an unlikely defeat, which he also classily blamed on his rivals for “letting us win the title so early”.

Perhaps he does not know that, thanks to Fabregas’s Chris Brunt Challenge Jackpot, there is still much to play for. With one game to go, that straight red moves Chelsea back down to within touching distance of the bottom of the Fair Play table, where they have spent most of the season. To combine that with the title would be an achievement not even the versatile Mr Leboeuf has managed.

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