Gullit puts brave face on Cup exit

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The Independent Online
Football

Ruud Gullit yesterday dried Chelsea's tears after the heartbreak of FA Cup semi-final defeat and said: "Wembley can wait - there are bigger goals to achieve."

The mercurial Dutchman's header, which put the Blues in front after 35 minutes and seemingly on their way to the famous twin towers, counted for nothing after Manchester United turned the game on its head with a pair of goals in the space of four second-half minutes through Andy Cole and David Beckham.

But Gullit refused to toe the party line almost all foreign players tread when they come to play in England. He insisted: "Just one match at Wembley is not so important to me as seeing this Chelsea team develop and taking shape in the way we want.

"I'm disappointed we got so close and didn't make it to Wembley but playing in the FA Cup final was not a particular goal of mine. I have sympathy for the players but you can't afford to have just one goal to achieve.

"I said this even before the semi-final and I feel no differently now. I'm looking to achieve much more with Chelsea and I'm happy with the way we are going.

"There can be too much attention on one match and it can affect your overall aim. That was the case against Manchester United and we lost because of two points - injuries and the fact that we created two goals for them that they didn't create themselves.

"It was a pity but we will be better for the experience. Maybe we will be a little more cynical in the future when we are in the lead."

Gullit, an out-and-out striker in the second half after the defenders Steve Clarke and Terry Phelan went off injured, causing a major reshuffle in manager Glenn Hoddle's tactical plan, was also first to console the distraught midfielder, Craig Burley, after the Scottish international's attempted overhead clearance flew towards his own goal and put Beckham clean through for a 58th-minute winner.

Gullit said: "I went to Burley straight after that moment and told him not to worry. We did not lose just because he made one mistake. When we win, we win together and when we lose it is together also. He played very well - and it could have been me who made that mistake on another occasion."

Burley's anguish was in stark contrast to the beaming grin of the young match winner, Beckham, who revealed he used to train at Tottenham as a schoolboy - but in United's replica kit. He said: "That didn't go down too well, but even though I come from Leytonstone there has always been only one team for me - United.''

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