Beckoned by destiny

If you did not believe in destiny, chances are that you would now be swayed. Who would have thought that of all the teams that made the knockout phase of the Uefa Champions League, it would be Chelsea walking home with the trophy? In beating hosts Bayern Munich last Saturday, the Blues made a bit of history as they became the first London side to conquer Europe.

For me, once Roberto di Matteo’s men overturned a first-leg 3-1 deficit against Napoli in the round of 16, I developed a feeling that this just might be Chelsea’s year and because pundits had, even with that near-miraculous escape, predicted an all-Spanish final, I actually rallied behind the London giants despite my well-documented strong support for Barcelona. We needed a fairy tale, did we not?

Overcoming Benfica was not so much of a big feat as many would consider the English side superior to their Portuguese opponents but there were just very few of us who gave Roman’s Blue Army a prayer against the Catalan matadors who they met in the semi-finals. Against all odds, Didier Drogba’s tap in at Stamford Bridge set his side on the way to a second final in four years.

Doubts started creeping in when Barcelona went two goals up in the first half with a man’s advantage in the Nou Camp. But once Ramires reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time, I became convinced that Chelsea’s long wait for this coveted prize was about to be over. This belief was cemented as I watched the world’s best player Lionel Messi hit the crossbar after beating goalkeeper Petr Cech from the penalty spot.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, Chelsea’s run to the final took me back to 2005 when my Liverpool made a similarly improbable march to glory. Everyone saw each one of their victory as the last and even after beating what many believe is the best side in world football, our experts and commentators told us that the Blues’ luck would run out in the Allianz Arena against Bayern.

Indeed, as Thomas Mueller headed in his late opener, it seemed that Chelsea’s resilience had been broken. Not if Drogba had anything to do with it. With four minutes remaining on the clock the Ivorian striker renewed his fond relationship with cup finals when he powered in an unstoppable header, his ninth goal in nine cup finals for the London side. The rest, we shall not tire to repeat, is history.

So, after spending millions of pounds hiring and firing (therefore compensating) several managers with lofty reputations, Roman Abramovich finally attained his holy grail. The man who did it for him had only the FA Cup, won only two weeks earlier, to show for his pedigree. Prior to this, he had only coached League One side MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion, where he was fired.

Which brings me back to Liverpool. As I wrote this, the club’s American owners were reported to be in discussions with Wigan manager Roberto Martinez. The link with the Spanish 38-year-old, which emerged within hours of the sacking of Kenny Dalglish, has been met with ridicule from rival fans and consternation among fellow Liverpool fans.

I will say if it were to happen this would not be an appointment that would excite me because the man is not tested at that level. That said, I would not dismiss him, either, for the same reason. As a fan I guess I should not always think that I care more about the club than those who actually use their own money to run the club.

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