A blues remix of a timeless classic proved to be top of the pops as ‘Super Frank, Super Frank, Super Frankie Lampard’ went straight to Number 1 at the Etihad Stadium.
Blue was the colour, football was the game with Manchester City and Chelsea fans all together in singing Lampard’s name.
Fair to say the Stamford Bridge legend and City new boy was feeling a ‘Whole Lotta Love’ as he left the pitch, his mind a turbulent cauldron of emotions after scoring City’s 85th minute equaliser.
It may have been a solitary point rather than three, but the draw was a massive moral victory for Manuel Pellegrini’s men. Sadly the Premier League only permit maximum points for actual victories.
Pre-kick off City would never have settled for a draw but, down to 10 men and a goal behind with five minutes of regulation time left, they certainly would.
There was a sense of anticipation mixed with wishful thinking and a hint of karma as City’s new number 18 replaced Kolarov in the 78th minute.
When Lamps signed for New York City and the subsequent loan deal with City, many people, myself included, had not envisaged him being asked, or being willing, to play against the club for whom he scored a record 211 goals in 648 appearances.
The cocky ‘Cockneys’ thought they’d already won the game when their former icon of 13 years entered the fray, but Frank showed himself to be the consummate professional – thank God!
City found themselves outnumbered 12 to 11 from early on, before it worsened to 12 against 10 when Chelsea’s Mike Dean sent off Pablo Zabaleta in the 66th minute.
Up until that point City’s defence marshalled by Kompany and including a magnificent debut from lightning fast centre back, Eliaquim Mangala, had given nothing away – not even the price of a cup of coffee to the cheating, snarling Costa.
Five minutes later City, a man short and Bacary Sagna still finding his bearings, fell behind to Andre Schurrle’s simple tap in.
Maureen’s bus parking manoeuvre looked like being an adequate defensive mechanism and, at 1-0 up the pernicious Portuguese pariah believed his work was done.
He hadn’t factored in City’s ‘fight ‘till the end’ mentality supported by the fact that Moanrinhio lacked the courage to go for a more resounding, but totally undeserved, victory.
Pellegrini made five fully justified changes after the Champions League defeat in Munich. Yaya Toure was back on point, whereas mid-week hero Joe Hart was largely redundant and blameless for Chelsea’s goal.
One point of negativity – and it pains me to say it – would be David Silva’s corner kicks. Merlin is magic but his corner deliveries are both predictable and insipid.
Pellegrini simply has to change things at such set pieces because 14 corners produced nothing.
Man-of-the-Match James Milner capped his own personal triumph (on this showing he must edge Nasri in Pellegrini’s selection process) by providing the assist, as Lampard’s half volley eluded Courtois.
Chelsea’s Frankie Tribute Band fell silent, only for the Lampard lyrics to be seized upon by the Manchester masses…and with such gusto.
Furious City fans had earlier let their contempt and disdain for referee Dean be heard when Chelsea took the lead with a venomous rendition of ‘1-0 to the referee, 1-0 to the referee…’ reverberating around the Etihad.
Premier League officials are poor at the best of times, but Dean was always the best of a bad lot. On this showing he’s now plopped back into the cesspit of over officious and rank (careful with the opening consonant) referees.
It’s probably totally irrelevant at this point to look back and see that Dean was once suspended by his bosses at Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, amid allegations of online betting. The man is obviously squeaky clean, totally without blemish…just like that splendid Mark Clattenburg.
Dean, harshly booked Zabaleta for a debateable first half ‘foul’ on Hazard. This meant he’d backed himself into a corner when he adjudged Zaba’s second half tackle on Costa worthy of a second yellow.
Not so with Costa who is allowed to place his hands around Zaba’s throat – for however fleetingly short a period – and escape with just a caution.
Best not mention the stonewall penalty for Edin Dzeko after Costa bundled him to the floor with Mike Dean perfectly positioned to see. No spot kick awarded and no first yellow given to the Brazilian-Spanish mongrel forward.
Kompany and Mangala neutered Diego the Dog with a series of tough but fair tackles. He did have a shot hit Joe Hart’s post, but only after City had diminished in numbers.
Costa cost £32m, the same fee as Mangala and the money looks better spent on City’s imperious new centre back. Officially clocked as being quicker than Theo Walcott of Arsenal, the 23-year old Frenchman was sublime.
With Demichelis on the bench, City now have a trio of top quality centre backs to address what was once a problematic position.
City were better than Chelsea on a day when well organised defensive units won out over rampant attacking play. It was an absorbing contest, one which must surely have featured the teams who will finish champions and runners-up next May.
Pellegrini – still minus the hugely influential Fernando and the livewire Jovetic – reduced Mourinho to a man who’d come for a point.
Mischievous Manuel described Chelsea as ‘…a small team trying to defend’ adding: “I would not be happy to play that way with 10 defenders defending their own half.”
A clearly irked Maureen countered, when referring to City’s cool Chilean boss: “Many times he says he doesn’t speak about me or my team, but he continues to do so. Don’t ask me about these words.”
Could this be Manuel The Engineer rattling the cage of Chelsea’s Professor of Psychology? Surely not.
In different circumstances this would have been two points dropped for City, but clearly it was a point gained. For Chelsea a draw at the Etihad still represented a good day’s work.
For a certain Frank Lampard it wouldn’t be unprofessional to say it probably represented the best of both worlds, ending with applause from Blues of both persuasions and tears in his eyes. In his own words it had been ‘…a special and weird day.’
By David Walker
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu