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Blessed Is Roy - The Peacemaker!
Tony Cascarino on the Man u-Arsenal row, Chelsea’s progress and why Glen Hoddle had to go.
Tony Cascarino, 25 Sep 2003
Everybody’s going on about what happened at the end of the Man U/Arsenal game, but it was nothing compared to Lucas Neill’s horrendous tackle the week previous on Jamie Carragher. Him saying that there was no intent and he didn’t deliberately go over the top doesn’t wash. It was a coward’s challenge and one that the F.A. should be far more concerned about than the playground pushing and shoving we saw at Old Trafford. Martin Keown’s goading of Ruud Van Nistelrooy may have been silly and childish, but it didn’t result in somebody being rushed to hospital with a potentially career-ending injury. I played with Paul Elliot and saw how his whole world caved in when a bad challenge by Dean Saunders forced him to retire.
Returning to Sunday, the one thing that did shock me was Roy Keane acting as peacemaker! I think back to the arguments we had at dinner and in training and wonder, “Is it the same person?” He could be very hard work. Fair play to Roy, though. He’s managed to cool his temper without losing the aggression that’s essential to his game. A couple of seasons ago, he’d have been starting the melee not ending it!
You can never write Manchester United or Arsenal off in terms of winning the title, but more and more I’m thinking that Chelsea might just sneak in ahead of them.
Whatever about Seven-Goran Erikkson taking over after Euro 2004 and already having an input into which players come to Stamford Bridge, Ranieri has done a tremendous job of knitting all that talent together. People will say, “How could he fail with the players he’s got at his disposal?”, but there were no blank cheques last season and he still managed to get Chelsea into the Champions’ League.
Publicly, Ranieri might chastise Damien Duff for complaining that he’s being substituted all the time, but privately he’ll be delighted that he’s so desperate to be out there on the pitch. Damien’s been reported in the papers as saying, “I’m not prepared to spend half the season sitting on the bench”, but there’s no way he’s going to walk away from a side that has Cudicini, Desailly, Makelele, Crespo and Mutu in it.