David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.
Only seconds after Chelsea's Premiership casket had been lowered into the ground at Emirates Stadium, Jose Mourinho and his two most loyal soldiers, Frank Lampard and John Terry, hugged it out on the touchline in the kind of tearful embrace not seen since David Hasselhoff and his daughter went on Dr. Phil. It was difficult not to be moved by these three manly men, all paragons of humility and grace in their own right, blubbering like babies.
But I'm happy to report that I managed.
And it turns out that I wasn't the only one. In fact, Arsenal may have to resod their state of the art field because of all the people dancing on Chelsea's grave.
Repeat after me: Chelsea are dead. Chelsea are dead. Chelsea are dead. I can't say it enough times. That it was Arsenal who finally spaded them under and gift-wrapped the title to ManU is just one of life's delicious ironies. As is the fact that in those final frantic minutes when he made two world-class saves on Lampard and Kalou, I found myself chanting — please forgive me, Dad — "Lehmann Uber Alles!" And how fitting that the man who would condemn the defending champions to their place in Also-Ran Hell would be the same man who Mourinho had called a "filho da puta" (son of a whore) during a match earlier in the season.
(more after the jump)
Yes, it was referee Mike Riley who called the fateful penalty yesterday and ejected Khalid Boulahrouz when the oafish Chelsea defender bundled over Gilberto Silva in the box. Perhaps that explains why Mourinho didn't even leave his seat when Riley pointed to the spot, opting to let Terry and assistant coach Steve Clarke throw the requisite hissy fit over the latest example of the Premiership's conspiracy against Chelsea. Or maybe the Deluded One had finally accepted that the league was lost and decided that his only chance to salvage the season was to husband his resources for the upcoming FA Cup final against United. How else to justify leaving out Drogba, Ashley Cole and Ricardo Carvalho and starting Boulahrouz, the central defender who Mourinho only plays when the kit boy is unavailable to suit up?
To be fair — something I've never been toward Chelsea — injuries have decimated the relentless, ruthless juggernaut that dominated English football for the past two years. But so have some strange signings that only the KGB could unravel. Boulahrouz, for instance, cost $15 million and has appeared in only four Prem games. The official reason for his inactivity was a "knee ligament problem," but it didn't help that whenever he played, the Dutchman looked as wooden as his shoes. And then there's Shevchenko and Ballack, who together cost more than the entire Wigan payroll and have been as effective as, say, Emile Heskey. Neither of the overpaid mercenaries was available yesterday due to injuries to their ankle and thigh, respectively. But Mourinho hinted afterwards that their real problem might best be diagnosed as a shriveled ball sack. "This was a game for people who want to succeed in this Chelsea," he said, implying that Ballack and Sheva should be careful not to let the door hit them in the ass on their way out.
Chelsea's sheen of invincibility, of course, had disappeared long ago, as evidenced by their flaccid performance over two legs against Liverpool in the Champion's League semifinals. But yesterday, led by the indomitable Michael Essian, they showed a fighting spirit in the last 20 minutes that made Mayweather-De La Hoya look like a stroll on the beach. When Wright-Phillips drilled a low cross in from the right flank and Essian came out of nowhere to dive headfirst just beyond Gallas' high boot and glance the ball across the face of the goal into the far corner, I thought of the movie Carrie, when, just when you were sure she was dead, a fist comes crashing through the floor. I am not about to regret that their gallant comeback fell short, but I can understand why Lampard and Terry buried their heads in Mourinho's shoulder afterwards.
And if you could read Mourinho's lips, you'd also know the words he used to comfort them: "Chins up, boys, next season we'll be at Real Madrid and rid of all these filho da puta."