Once again last Saturday, Jeff Stelling led his panel of ex-footballers on Sky’s Soccer Saturday show through the hot topics of the last week in football, with Chelsea’s Champions League exit topping the bill.
Paul “Average Joe” Merson was asked to give his opinion on referee Tom Henning Overbo’s performance, Merse failed to mince his words calling the ref “poor and shocking” and arguing that the man in black made four unforgivable mistakes. The former Arsenal man then turned his focus onto Drogba, pointing out how the Ivorian “looked like Herr Flick” when he was substituted.
The panel then went about reviewing each penalty decision one-by-one.
On the Malouda-Alves incident, Thommo defended the ref for having a reasonable get-out excuse for denying a penalty in favour of a free-kick outside the box, while Charlie Nicholas backed up his fellow talking-head claiming the ref got the decision 100% correct.
On the Drogba penalty call, the panel agreed the striker’s reputation denied him the penalty. Matt Le Tissier argued that “without question Drogba is renowned amongst, not just us, but also the refereeing fraternity, as going down too easily.” Jeff Stelling then interjected with the story that at a recent UEFA referees’ meeting a video of Drogba was used as an example of a footballer who dives, leading Merson to blow a fuse in anger.
The full conversation on those issues can be seen here.
Attention then moved onto the third penalty shout, the Gerald Pique handball, with Phil Thompson leading the cat-calls that it was “astonishing. That was so easy. That is frightening. And that’s why it was an inept performance [from the referee] in that one thing alone.” And Paul Merson was equally unerring in his opinion of the Eto’o handball from Michael Ballack’s shot, farting “his hands shouldn’t be like that… It is a penalty.” Thommo disagreed.
The discussion then made way for a dissection of Chelsea’s post match behaviour, with Phil Thompson admitting that he has been far from a perfect choir boy in the past, but the Blues’ actions “far exceeded anything that should be done on the football pitch.” Paul Merson dissented, offering a limited defence of Chelsea by arguing that, for all the money the Chelsea squad earn, at least their actions showed that they cared about going out the competition.
Attention then focused solely on Didier Drogba, Charlie Nicholas labelled Drogba as “totally out of control” and suggested UEFA need to ban him from the competition as his behaviour was “unacceptable.”
The second video from Soccer Saturday capturing the above talking points can be seen here.
Jeff then focused the discussion wondering whether people have been getting too hot under the collar because the team involved is Chelsea, a team who people love to hate. Talking in cliched stereotypes, Thommo farted “there’s something wrong about Chelsea and how they go about things… There is a problem with their image.”
Finally the panel talked about Barcelona. Charlie Nicholas talked up the achievements of the Catalans by arguing that “Chelsea have spent a fortune, and yet they had to kill Barcelona’s game.” Paul Merson once again found himself talking down the Spaniards, bleating “I didn’t even know Eto’o was playing. He was shocking… and Messi was marked out the game.”
The final segment of the discussion can be seen here.