Chelsea 0 Norwich City 0 match report: Goalless draw hits Blues' Premier League title bid and Norwich's survival hopes
By his own admission, Mourinho said Chelsea started 'lazy and slow'
Jose Mourinho granted the Chelsea supporters the briefest of farewells for the summer before the traditional last home game send-off and then was back down the tunnel to brood, leaving the pitch to his players, their wives, girlfriends, children and even the occasional mother.
Chelsea had started, by Mourinho’s own admission, “lazy and slow” and improved only a little bit in the second half which, aside from a few bad penalty calls that left both teams frustrated, was the classic nothing-to-play-for end-of-season non-event. Chelsea’s season is running out of steam quicker than a Demba Ba counter-attack and even their manager can do nothing about it.
Afterwards David Luiz’s mother joined her son on the pitch - “Mummy Luiz” on the back of her Chelsea shirt - along with assorted WAGs and small children, and Chelsea had failed to win at home for the third game in succession. Mourinho had responded angrily at half-time to an insipid first half by sending on Eden Hazard, admonished on Friday, and Luiz to liven things up and generally it had improved, although that was not saying much.
At the end of the game, Ashley Cole said his farewells with what looked like a few tears shed. It would be no surprise to see the Englishman leave; he is out of contract this summer and went 18 games without featuring in the team this year. Certainly there was no confirmation either way by the Chelsea manager after the game. John Terry and Frank Lampard were both waving goodbye although one would say both are more likely to stay,
Already, Mourinho seemed to have his mind racing ahead to the summer and the long weeks of planning and decision-making in front of him while the focus turns to the World Cup finals and leaves him, for once, out of the public eye.
The Chelsea manager paid tribute to his son Jose junior in his programme notes, an unusually personal heartfelt message to the teenager who sits a few rows behind his dad at every home game. “I want to tell him thanks for being with me every second of every match,” he wrote, “thank you kid, for being my kid.” It was a rare peak behind the battle-lines of the ferocious competitor, and then it was back to normal service.
Mourinho did not want to comment on the two penalty decisions that went against him because, as he says in all contentious situations now, he fears the phone-call from the Football Association. The first was a trip on Andre Schurrle by Alexander Tettey in the 55th minute and the second a lunge by Ryan Bennett at Hazard two minutes later.
The Hazard incident did not feature a first contact between the two players because the Belgian leaped out the way of the challenge but as he was airborne, there was certainly a connection between the two players and the Chelsea man ended up on the ground. There does not necessarily have to be contact if a player takes evasive action and there was a case for that interpretation this time.
He could have claimed a third when Michael Turner thrust an off-the-ball elbow into Ba’s chest during an early attack but the referee Neil Swarbrick appeared to miss it completely. Yet, Mourinho was simply not in the mood to discuss the referee’s performance.
There was cause for regret for Neil Adams, the Norwich City interim manager, over another inexplicable decision by the referee not to give his team a penalty when John Terry slid into Martin Olsson as the winger went in on goal on 11 minutes. Cole had dived in moments earlier and just avoided contact but there was no doubt that Olsson was brought down by Terry who might even have been dismissed.
From then on, the official was desperately trying to even matters up by denying Chelsea anything that came their way and it was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good afternoon for the referee.
Hazard was summoned onto the pitch before the game to receive the fans’ player of the year award, although he was left in no doubt as to how his manager felt about him. A substitute for the start of the game, it was so flat in the first half that Mourinho had little option but to call upon the winger.
Certainly before half-time there was not much in this Chelsea team to suggest that this was a group of players straining every sinew to impress their manager at the fag-end of a season. Cole showed glimpses of attacking threat; Schurrle clipped a post following an excellent tackle and pass by Nemanja Matic, but otherwise it was dreary in the extreme.
As Norwich realised that they could get something from this game, Adams was reluctant to gamble. He had two strikers, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper, on the bench but chose not to use them in the closing stages having brought on Nathan Redmond for Johan Elmander in the second half.
Norwich will surely go down if Sunderland take a point in either of their remaining home games against West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday, or Swansea City on Sunday. Adams justified his approach on the basis that it was too risky to try to win the game when a defeat for Sunderland this week will at least give Norwich some hope going into their last game of the season at home to Arsenal.
That seemed to leave Mourinho perplexed. There was just one chance for Norwich to score in the second half when Robert Snodgrass had a run at Mark Schwarzer’s goal and a brilliant recovering block by Gary Cahill, who has had an outstanding season, put the ball out for a corner. Otherwise the end of the game was a tale of attacks on John Ruddy’s goal, although too few clear-cut chances for a team with such ambitions as Chelsea.
Next time the Chelsea supporters convene at Stamford Bridge there will surely be a new striker in place as Mourinho attacks the second season of his new spell at the club. There will be a few who have played their last game for the club and those who remain will know that another season without a trophy will not be met with as much understanding as it has been this time around.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer 6; Ivanovic 7, Cahill 7, Terry 6, Cole 6; Matic 6 (Torres, 73), Lampard 6 (Luiz 6, ht); Salah 5 (Hazard 6, ht), Willian 6, Schurrle 5; Ba 5.
Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Van Ginkel, Eto’o, Kalas.
Norwich (4-1-4-1): Ruddy 6; Martin 6, R Bennett 6, Turner 6, Whittaker 6; Tettey 5; Snodgrass 7, Johnson 6, Howson 6, Olsson 5; Elmander 5 (Redmond 6, 69).
Substitutes not used: Bunn (gk), Bassong, Van Wolfswinkel, Fer, Hooper, E Bennett.
Booked: Chelsea Ivanovic Norwich R Bennett, Turner, Redmond
Man of the match: Cahill
Referee: N Swarbrick
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