There are some games that you care about more than others. This was certainly one of those. We’ve had such a dreadful season that most of us fans have sat back and just hoped that we didn’t embarrass ourselves in some of these late games, but we didn’t want to lose this one. I mean, a chance to deny Tottenham the chance to win the league? Who wouldn’t want that?
This was the one game that I thought that we should go with perhaps less young players, simply because this game meant so much to some of the supporters. I would have perhaps liked to have seen Ruben Loftus-Cheek start though because he is undoubtedly the most talented of our youngsters. However clearly Guus Hiddink thinks that experience is the best way to go.
The first half was possibly the worst I have seen us play this season. There was not enough pressing of the ball, and the less said about our passing, the better. For the first goal we got nowhere near close enough to Lamela, who to be honest is a pretty average footballer if you close him down, and then nobody followed Harry Kane, and it was an easy enough finish. The second goal though is even worse. Branislav Ivanovic, who I keep saying doesn’t deserve to be here next season, plays a shocking pass to give the ball away, and then we are always on the back foot. Son Heung-min is given a simple run into the box, and again it is an easy finish.
Obviously this is a London derby, so it was always going to be a bit feisty. But this one simply went too far. Tottenham’s players seemed to have got it into their minds that because this was a game they needed to win, they could go around having a kick at as many Chelsea players as they could. When it gets tough, Kyle Walker is nothing short of a thug, and the fact many are saying he should be England’s first choice right back at the Euros shows just how bad that tournament could be for us. He could easily have been sent off in that first half, as could Danny Rose, who to be honest is pretty similar to Walker in these situations. The worst of it though came from Mousa Dembele. What Diego Costa does is wrong, but it’s just taking cheap shots. None of it is really ever going to end up in injuries. Eye gouging however, is absolutely disgraceful, and a ten game ban would be the right response from the FA.
I keep saying I want him out of the club, but to be fair, Eden Hazard changed the game in the second half. He looked good on the ball, and it was like we’d turned back the clocks a year and were watching the player who won the PFA Player of the Year award last year. Shame it has taken him a year to return to football after his sabbatical. We deserved to get the two goals back that we did, firstly an excellent finish from Gary Cahill from a corner. I’m pretty sure he would be better than Falcao if we played him up front. Hazard’s goal though was absolutely magnificent. He turned well on the halfway line and after a good one-two with Costa, curled a wonder goal into the top corner. If he can produce those moments at regular intervals next season, I will forgive him for the performances this season, but two good games won’t be good enough for that.
It was at this stage that Tottenham didn’t just lose the league title, they lost their heads as well. There is a way to lose a title, and that wasn’t it. If this is how they play when things don’t go their way, god knows how they’ll get on in the Champions League next season. How they ended up with eleven players still on the pitch at the end was almost as much of a miracle as Hazard scoring. Lamela, Dier and Ryan Mason all made challenges that on another day could have resulted in red cards, and it just became a bit of a farce in the end. There could easily have been calls made to the police for the force of some of their tackles, well they weren’t really tackles, but it was simply a disgraceful showing from a team that we have been praising for most of the season.
Mauricio Pochettino made no attempts to curve his players aggression, and then his decision to run on the pitch to confront Willian should really have seen him sent to the stands. It was totally unacceptable for him and some of his coaching staff to get involved in a scuffle in the tunnel after the full time whistle, and for this to end up in Guus Hiddink, a 69-year-old who had no interest in getting involved in any controversy, pushed into the dugouts, was embarrassing for Tottenham, and anyone at that club, or any of its fans, who are proud of what they did that night, should be ashamed of themselves.
Speaking of managers, the last word must go for Claudio Ranieri (my new favourite human being), who has pulled off one of the greatest sporting achievements in history by leading Leicester City to the Premier League title. I would love to see a statue of the Italian built outside the King Power Stadium, as never before has a man united an entire nation behind a club. He is a great character, and a fantastic man manager. I can think of few men more deserving, or more popular.