Chelsea’s Didier Drogba is a man who has a beautiful ability to make headlines, be it good or bad. This weekend, he was the victim of a shocking tackle, no, make that assault from Manchester United’s Johnny Evans. He then had the last laugh, darting across Edwin Van Der Sar in an offside position for John Terry’s late goal. Midway through the second half, a ball was lofted into the Manchester United box, it bounced between Evans and Drogba and as both men leapt to fight the cause for their team, Evans inexplicably jumped with his left boot raised and plunged his studs into Drogba’s shoulder.
At the risk of sounding like Sir Alex Ferguson, how on earth Martin Atkinson could have got a decision so wrong is beyond me. A player has jumped with his foot raised five or six feet off of the ground, thrown his foot into an opponent and gets off scott free, and the man on the ground who is clearly in pain receives a yellow card for what, holding up the game by being on the floor? But of course, the pantomime comedy antics from Drogba just had to come out. Whilst on the floor, the Ivorian threw his legs about as if in some kind of involuntary spasm and Atkinson sheepishly signalled for the Chelsea physios. What I do not understand is why Atkinson booked Drogba if he called for the physios as therefore it cannot have been for diving. Drogba for once put up little fight against the decision so did could not have been cautioned for dissent, but let’s face it, we all raised a smirk at the sight of Drogba’s forlorn demeanour as he trudged to the sidelines with the physios. Drogba threw his arms in the air at the sight of yellow like an incredulous, grumpy infant who had been ordered to go to bed early.
After the match Ferguson routinely verbally lambasted the officials, calling the free kick which lead to Chelsea’s goal “a bad decision.” The Scot ranted “you lose your faith in refereeing, that’s the way players see it.” I begrudgingly admit he had a point. Darren Fletcher won a 50-50 tackle against Ashley Cole with neither player diving in and Cole obliged to hurl his body to the floor, legs flailing higher than any other part of his body like a gymnast hoping for extra points. As John Terry feebly nodded Frank Lampard header past the penalty spot, Drogba was up to his usual gamesmanship tricks and scampered across, bundled Wes Brown over and threw a hopefully boot in the direction of the ball as he strayed offside. Van Der Sar in the United goal saw the ball late and really had no chance. Chelsea were 1-0 up and Drogba was smarting. Justice was done as Drogba should have been awarded at the very least a penalty 20 minutes earlier.
It is such a shame when big games are marred by refereeing decisions as opposed to moments of individual brilliance, and United appear to be gravely missing these moments from Cristiano Ronaldo. United looked toothless going forward and Wayne Rooney single handedly created three or four chances for himself. The likes of Nani and Gabriel Obetan hardly draw fear bubbling in the stomachs of opponents. Despite United’s lack of real magic going forward, they created far more than their opponents and should have won. When his team is on the up and scoring 96th minute goal, Ferguson seems more than willing to laugh and joke with officials, but when the going gets tough and his team doesn’t take their chances, it is a far more bitter pill to swallow. Atkinson evened up his decisions and quite frankly Manchester United are not ones to moan about decisions not going their way when Rooney should have scored two or three with no help from the referee anyway.