Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Chelsea and Manchester United in ‘battle of the bridge’ – Get over it!

Graham Fisher in Editorial, English Premier League 30 Apr 2008


It was immediately named ‘The Battle of the Bridge’ by the national newspapers. It has sparked a frenzy of people displaying their moral indignation at the ‘hooligan like’ antics of these over paid primma donnas in the Premier League.

What a load of rubbish. Whilst I will never condone bad behaviour or violence of any sort, I think the reaction of people to the incidents during and after the Chelsea against Manchester United game on Sunday vary between the laughable and the downright hypocritical.

Yes, I will accept that during the game both sets of players sometimes appeared to harass the referee. Yes, I will accept that Rio Ferdinand had to be held back from a confrontation with Mikel. Yes, I will accept that the argument between Drogba and Ballack wasn’t good. Yes, I will accept that the incident of Rio Ferdinand kicking the steward was unfortunate at the very least and yes, I will accept that the scuffle between players and ground staff after the game was unacceptable. What I would ask though is whether any of these incidents actually merit the righteous coverage we have been bombarded with.

I have seen the game described as a ‘dark day for English football’. Are you sure? I thought it was a fast and skilful game with dramatic moments played with real passion. I thought it was a cracking game of Premiership football and contained all the elements that make the Premier League the most watched League in the world.

If we take all the ‘controversial’ incidents in turn it is hard to see what all the fuss has been about. The harassment of the referee was over the top, but in a game of such importance was no more than would always be expected. In fact, referee Alan Wiley was quoted as saying that he was very happy with the behaviour of both teams.

The ‘handbags’ between Ferdinand and Mikel was exactly that. Other players intervened and absolutely nothing happened. Incidents such as this occur in every game of football from the school playground to the world cup final. It is only of note because the media enjoy trying to bring down Rio Ferdinand.

The argument between Ballack and Drogba was certainly unusual and it probably showed that all is not totally well in the Chelsea dressing room. Does anyone know of a group of twenty men working closely together every day who all get on well with each other? They seemed quite friendly after the game anyway. It was an argument between two men with big egos in the heat of the moment. Get over it.

Rio Ferdinand was angry and he kicked out at a wall. He accidentally caught a female steward to whom he immediately apologised, checked she was OK and arranged for her to be sent flowers. The steward accepted the apology. That should be the end of the matter.

Have you seen the scuffle on the pitch after the game involving the ground staff? It was hardly a riot. It was a bit of pushing and shoving and then all the players, the other ground staff and several stewards trying to make sure nothing developed. It was something and nothing. It wasn’t acceptable behaviour, but it wasn’t a disgrace either.

I am getting a little tired of the media’s obsession with the need for young, well paid, usually poorly educated footballers to behave better than the rest of society. The games are built up into a pressure cooker type atmosphere and then when players react in a way that any normal human being would do, they are criticised from pillar to post.

As fans we demand to see some passion from the players but when that passion spills over a little we have article after article, report after report, telling us that footballers are a national disgrace and that their behaviour is shameful.

I didn’t see at the time and haven’t seen since, anything that needs to be investigated to the nth degree. If there was any particularly unpleasant or racist remarks made during or after the scuffle then clearly that need to be dealt with, but otherwise, the whole the thing should be forgotten.

Both Chelsea and Manchester United have been magnificent this season and are tremendous ambassadors for this Country. They are loved around the world and fans in other countries would love to see their club players playing at the intensity and with the passion that they do. Millions of people around the world will have thoroughly enjoyed the game on Sunday.

I think it is a shame that what was nothing more than two sets of players giving absolutely everything for their clubs and actually trying to earn their wages and entertain the public should be so analysed and criticised by our own media and investigated by the FA. The rest of the world must laugh at us trying to take away the types of things that make the English game so popular.

Send warning letters to the players if you want to make a point, but let’s just forget it and move on to the exciting climax to what has been a fascinating season.


Graham Fisher



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Van Basten
Van Basten
14 years ago

Now that we know that we will have 2 British teams playing for the UEFA European Champion’s League trophy, I just hope there won’t be any bad blood between the supporters in Moscow. If they manage to behave there, I think English fans have come a long way since their wild days from the 80’s and 90’s.

Being sent on Siberia to some labor camp doesn’t sound too tempting to me 🙂

Ahmed Bilal
14 years ago

especially since it’ll be so nearby 🙂 cheaper to send them there then bring them back to prosecute them…

Andoya Sylvester
13 years ago

As far as i know,Chelsea remain the best Club in the world.Their victory over Man the beginning of success for the team.COACH Ancelloti should note that young players could also make the difference,SOLOMON KALOU is one of such players.
He should be giving a regular start.
Note,Chelsea should watch out for Nani when playing with Man U
I Love Chelsea and will always pledge my support and loyalty.
From Lagos, Nigeria.

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