The Calvin report: OMG! The focus on Spurs and Chelsea's playground squabble is not a LOLing matter
Sunday 29 September 2013
OMG! OMG! Vikki proper dissed Jezza. You'd never guess they were once bessie mates. Vikki custard-pied her. Shook her hand without looking and smiled at the boys on the bench. Jumped on a motorbike at the end, and headed for the airport. Total ledge.
Fight! Fight! Fernando, the creepy Spanish kid, scratched the face of Jan, the Belgian boy who's well fit, btw. Gross! The headmaster sent him to the changing room when they had another ruck. Jezza and her crew went loopy. It was well sick.
Apologies for channelling a hysterical adolescent, but what else do you expect when the tone of one of the season's pivotal fixtures is set by a subplot with all the dignity of a spat between a pair of squabbling schoolgirls?
Listen to some of the chatter, and the pre-match handshake between Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho had the historic resonance of the first meeting between Mao Tse-tung and Richard Nixon. For the record, it was perfunctory and without eye contact.
Whether it required a scrum of photographers and TV cameramen intent on beaming images of reconciliation live around the world was a moot point, because it would have taken an earthquake in Tottenham High Road to prevent such fevered attention.
The fuss was embarrassing and unnecessary. In the words of Mourinho: "What you want, what the people want, we gave. That's a very good football match." As Villas-Boas stressed: "The attention should not have been drawn to the managers, but to the game."
Football is a global village, with a consequential web of human relationships. Friends are rivals. Relationships fracture. The frayed bond linking the Portuguese compatriots, who spent seven years working together before their career paths diverged, is typical. Egos and entourages get in the way.
Each wanted to win, irrespective of the soap-operatic nature of the build-up. Villas-Boas was more visibly engaged, leaning forward on the edge of his seat, legs crossed, arms folded, but unable to sit still. His piercing whistle was his principal form of communication. He's made for a pro-celebrity sheepdog trial.
Mourinho took time to warm up, but was in pantomime villain mode when he wandered over to bicker with Villas-Boas's assistants. Everyone ganged up on the fourth official, who deserved danger money.
The post-match agenda was dictated by referee Mike Dean's response to the running battle between Fernando Torres and Jan Vertonghen, which resulted in a red card for the Spaniard, who spent the second half teetering on the edge of control.
The punishment was undeserved because the Belgian exaggerated the incident, but his dismissal was somehow karmic. When Torres drew his nails down the face of his opponent in a previous clash, he crossed an unspoken boundary.
Mourinho, of course, aligned himself with the angels. He suggested Vertonghen should have been suspended because of his midweek antics – "He left the Villa player naked, but there was no penalty, no red card" – and implied his faith in fair play had been damaged.
It could have been worse. Spurs dictated the first half, while Chelsea were leaden by comparison. The former's goal was created by Christian Eriksen's foresight and precision, Roberto Soldado's touch and Gylfi Sigurdsson's coolness under pressure.
AVB clenched his fists then punched the air. It took a decisive half-time substitution to counteract the lack of urgency and balance of a Chelsea team dependent on the nucleus of players from Mourinho's first regime.
He stood in the technical area while Spurs fans serenaded him with chants of "You're not special any more,'' and allowed Juan Mata to speak for him. The recalled Spanish midfield player, used nominally on the right of a three behind Torres, altered the momentum of the game. Fittingly, it was his free-kick which John Terry headed in to claim a significant point.
Mourinho was understandably animated. "This is the way players have to say, 'I want to play'" he said. " Blah, blah, blah is no good. Conversation with the media is no good. The agents' blah, blah, blah is no good. Good is the effort he made against Swindon, the way he changed the game in the second half."
He still didn't want to talk about Villas-Boas, who dashed off to catch a flight to take part in Porto's 120th anniversary celebrations. Thank heavens for small mercies. Innit?
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