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Reds get dose of the blues
Why Chelsea have eclipsed Manchester United.
Tony Cascarino, 04 Dec 2003
The difference between Chelsea and Manchester United this season was summed up during the second half of Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge.
Wanting to freshen things up and cause the opposition defence some different problems, Claudio Ranieri was able to bring on Damien Duff, a proven Premiership performer who, playing for his country the previous week, scored one of the goals of the decade so far. The best Alex Ferguson could do was Cristiano Ronaldo, a promising lad, sure, but no more than a circus act until he can turn his bundle of tricks into positive team play. Apart from one snatch shot, he didn’t cause Chelsea any problems.
Ranieri’s brought in players who’ve improved the team, whereas United’s signings have just made the squad bigger. One thing I always say is: “If you buy five players and all of them work for you, you win the league. If four of them work, you make the top three. Three, you might make Europe. Two, you’re struggling. One, you’re relegated.”
Going back to Sunday, you can’t tell me that Ronaldo is an adequate replacement for David Beckham. Van Nistelrooy’s knocked in his fair share of goals this season, true, but without the service he used to get from Beckham he was restricted to a runner’s role. He was charging down the gullies trying to make things happen, but didn’t have a shot on target.
You’d never have said it about them two or three years ago, but Manchester United were a poor second best to Chelsea in the creativity department. Ryan Giggs is nowhere near as effective on the right as he is on the left, and John O’Shea is not aggressive enough to be a centre-half. He’s got pace and the ability to read the game, but I don’t see him going through players or defending with the authority you’d get from a Martin Keown or a Tony Adams. It’s easier in the full-back position because things are in front of you. You don’t get people running in behind you or dropping into midfield which is part and parcel of the centre-half role.