Chelsea 4 Wycombe Wanderers 0 (Chelsea win 5-1 on aggregate): Shevchenko finds scoring touch as Blues cruise into the final
Wednesday 24 January 2007
Andrei Shevchenko has had to learn how to impress Jose Mourinho the hard way, and last night the Chelsea manager revealed just how harsh the lesson has been. "Sometimes you kick and sometimes you kiss," Mourinho said and, after scoring two goals to put his team into the Carling Cup final, the £31m man was at last due some of the latter.
Having shared with Frank Lampard the four goals that take Chelsea to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 25 February, Shevchenko might have expected that it would all be about him, but if so he did not reckon on a manager who has a habit of stealing the limelight. Mourinho's extraordinary post-match monologue was a thinly veiled attack on the attitude of his £31m striker and served as a warning that Shevchenko's reputation alone would never guarantee him a place.
The striker came off with seven minutes left to a raucous farewell from the Chelsea fans, his first two goals in 10 games since hitting the net against Levski Sofia on 5 December. This time there was even a handshake from the manager, who pointedly blanked him when he left the pitch at Anfield on Sunday. "One of the principles I have is that the players who perform game after game are the players who are on the pitch," Mourinho said, "I'm very happy Sheva got the message."
The message, according to Mourinho, was that there are no exemptions when it comes to impressing him during the week and in matches, and anyone who thought he had a "personal problem" with Shevchenko was a "silly thought", although in his English it sounded like "silly sod". Yet the manner in which he described the standards expected of his players it sounded exactly like this was a player with whom he had a very serious problem.
"What I have done with him I do with every player whether they cost £30m or£300,000," Mourinho said. "If they work hard and perform, I love them; if they don't work and perform, I hate them. It is not easy [for Shevchenko] to do it with a click. This is a Jose Mourinho team with special qualities and a special philosophy. He needed some time to do that. He must repeat what he did in terms of his movement, his team contribution, his effort."
Implicit in every word was that, thus far, Shevchenko has not impressed a manager who, getting into his stride, said that he did not pick players because "they had beautiful eyes, were the first to training or the last one in the showers". For the first time in a while the Chelsea manager was in full flow and it was no surprise that he could not help himself from discussing the thorny issue of his own future and that of the new contract for his captain John Terry.
If this was his way of bringing Shevchenko to heel it was spectacular, if it was meant to bring the striker back down after two goals against League Two opposition, it was ruthlessly efficient. As an exertion of power in a club that knows a thing or two about struggles for influence, Mourinho's move was decisive. "The intelligent philosophy is the philosophy that makes me happy," he said. "It's the same philosophy that makes Terry, Lampard and [Didier] Drogba happy. That's why we are strong."
All that was missing last night was the silhouette of Roman Abramovich, who is in Moscow on business. There was a prickly atmosphere too, Michael Ballack and the busymidfielder Gary Doherty grappled with each other in the tunnel at half-time. Even the injured John Terry remonstrated with the fourth official.
It was Doherty who gifted Shevchenko his first when he passed square across his own defence, the £31m man ran on to it and slipped the ball past Wycombe's Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo Batista. Three minutes before the interval, Didier Drogba weighted a chip through Wycombe's defence and, just timing his run right, Shevchenko connected with a volley for the second.
Wycombe had their chances but Lampard's first was a real beauty as he controlled a through-ball and beat Batista and defender Sam Stockley to finish with an exquisitely light touch. He added the fourth in injury time from Drogba's cross.
"The principle I have in my work is that the best players, who perform game after game are the ones who play," Mourinho added. "At the moment [Shevchenko] has earned the right to be in the line-up on Sunday."
Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Cech; Diarra, Carvalho, Essien, A Cole (Morais, 84); Makelele; Mikel, Lampard, Ballack (Wright-Phillips, 84); Shevchenko (Kalou, 84), Drogba. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Bridge.
Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Batista; Martin, Williamson, Antwi (Stockley, 60), Golbourne; Betsy, Oakes (Anya, 83), Doherty, Bloomfield (Torres, 65); Mooney, Easter. Substitutes not used: Young (gk), Palmer.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
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