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When I saw the name on the back of the match programme, I shivered and started putting together the excuses for work tomorrow. "Yeah, well we were a bit tired after Milan, and you just can't fight the sort of performance from that guy." I'm talking about Graham Poll of course - JFH we can handle.
Three years ago at Stamford Bridge he pulled off one of the most blinkered performances ever seen by a ref, sending off Alfi Haaland and Gary Kelly while ignoring some outrageous fouls by Chelsea players, and the early indications were that he'd do the same today. It seemed that every time we won the ball fairly the whistle went. Lucas received a long lecture - but no card when he slid in to win the ball from JFH, while the Chelsea centrebacks got away with the same challenges on Smith and Viduka. Today he wasn't that biased - just whistle-happy.
With Ken Bates as the dame, JFH as the villain and Smithy as Principal Boy, this looked like it was going to be an early panto. Every time JFH got the ball he got a volley of abuse from the Leeds end. Some of the people chanting "One Greedy Bastard" sounded like they meant it, but I'm sure I remember the same people chanting the same words at Gary McAllister after his move to Cov for more money (even though he'd not asked for more at Leeds) so either they're just doing it to get a rise from the player or their memories are even more short-term than the average chairman.
After being wrapped up for 15 minutes, the villain looked like turning the tables on his tormentors. A long ball over the top found Lucas struggling for pace and footing. JFH burst into the area but was forced wide by Paul Robinson - keeping a respectful distance no doubt after seeing the tape of JFH's theatrics that earned a red card for Coventry's Chris Kirkland. Robbo sent him just wide enough to stop him hitting the target with his attempt, but the ball still needed clearing from inside the six yard box as Zola turned up at pace. Apart from a couple of long-range efforts, this was just about the last time that Hasselbaink came close to scoring - a tribute to the defensive efforts of Danny Mills and Lucas Radebe who have both been struggling for fitness recently.
Back to the man who wanted to be the star of the show. Ot was a Chelsea man who was first into the book: Desailly hacked Matteo late from behind and Poll's book came out for the first time. Two minutes later it was 1-1, with Gary Kelly booked for an innocuous obstruction on Dennis Wise. Within 3 minutes Chelsea were 3-1 ahead on cards with Dalla Bona hacking Bowyer and - unluckily from where we sat - Dennis Wise for clipping Smith's heels.
This match reflected the many stages of man's life. Halfway through the second half, the PA announcer let the world know that one of the Chelsea fans needed to hotfoot it to the hospital to see his new son (to be named Luca to the delight of the Chelsea fans and Ken Bates too, no doubt). At halftime we had an on-pitch proposal - cue chants of "You don't know what you're doing!" from the crowd, but a positive response from the proposee. Add that to what sounded like quite a serious - almost terminal - request for someone to return home immediately, and there you have it: birth, marriage and death in the space of 90 minutes. Nice day for it anyway...
Second half - more of the same, but at least we got a decent view of Leeds' attacks now. Chelsea have done much to improve the stadium over the last few years, knocking down the Shed, adding hotels, restaurants and bars (you can now watch home games in the Shed Bar if you can't get a seat in the ground), they've got someone called "Multiplex Builders" in on the West Stand (presumably not building a cinema) and all they really need to fully compete with Crystal Palace is their very own supermarket (they do have something called the Mini-Megastore which set me off on a whole Austin Powers train of thought with a 70s motif entirely appropriate to this part of London). But they seem to have forgotten that for the people who actually watch the game: the rake on the stand is pretty poor, so anyone in the bottom half of the stands has little chance of seeing 20% of the pitch.
Where was I: ah - the game! Not entirely against the run of play, we scored! A Lee Bowyer corner was met by Mark Viduka for a simple but well-placed header and we were one up. I would say it silenced the Chelsea fans, but what's below zero on the volume scale? (Spinal Tap moment: the volume control on my amp goes down to -1...). Much celebration from the Leeds end plus "What a waste of money" directed at you-know-who. Chelsea made a triple substitution, and quite an attacking one at that. Jokanovic stayed on the bench, but Flo and Gudjohnsen aren't bad people to bring on.
It didn't take long for the change to work. Although Leeds didn't look too tired after the exertions in Milan on Wednesday, the introduction of three fit, fresh players turned up the pressure and when Poll awarded Chelsea a free kick for another fair challenge, Robbo did well to push a thunderous shot over the bar. From the corner, Poyet - who's always one of the first players I name when people ask me who I'd like to see playing for us - outjumped Dominic Matteo to level. We had a few alarms towards the end, and a final flurry of bookings to make it 4-4, but that was it. A point apiece isn't a bad result at Stamford Bridge, and to have escaped with no red cards when Poll was on the pitch is a minor miracle.
Plus points: Smithy and Viduka again did well up front, though both were injured before the end, Viduka giving way to Forrest just after the equaliser. Lucas Radebe and Danny Mills did well and look to be losing some of the injury-induced rust. We're still not firing in midfield though: Matteo, Bakke and Dacourt all look good from time to time, but it's Lee Bowyer who is charging around closing down, getting forward and keeping the tempo up. He really needs more consistent support from the other three who do seem to be relying on him to close the gaps and put the pressure on the opposition. But it's hard to be churlish after another useful away point and another round of "Marching on Together" conducted by Peter Ridsdale from the upper level of the stand. I'm sure we'll want to sack him one day, but for the moment the man can do no wrong.
An enjoyable day out with the badger, I'd have settled for a point beforehand and was more pleased with the performance than anything. I thought we gave a good team display and that things are generally looking up.
Some beers in Brompton (Prince of Wales, a Fulham pub) was followed by a walk through a squirrel-packed cemetary (nuts out for the lads) and then into the ground. It probably looks ok on the box, but with one main stand under construction the ground looked a bit of a mess from where I was stood (towards the front near the shed-end with the other listers at the game). Their fans were pretty quiet all the game, until they scored and Jimmy got loads of abuse, but not nearly as much as he'll get at our place.
The bogs were also of a standard similar to those found at Bradford, with a narrow (abour 3ft) walkway for both IN and OUT. Not built for us yorkshire slimsters, but everyone was in a jovial mood.
The view was a bit crap from where we were, but it was close enough to verbally abuse hasselbank whenever we got close. Fortunately I heard little or no rascist shite. "One greedy bastard" and "You can stick your f'ing jimmy up your arse" were commonplace, but most stuff was focused on our team and chanting for Bow, Viduka and the lads, which was nice.
Viduka is improving with each game and I think this can only get better now the fans are firmly won over. He greets chants of his name with thumbs up and waves, which took some time to come. Just a shame he had to go and play for oz when he did, although to be fair, he picked up his straps whilst he was over there.
The result was fine, 3pts would have been nice, but it was probably the right result. I don't think we created enough, but Chelsea are no mugs and keeping Jimmy quiet was a compliment to our back 4.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 12/11/2000.
Chelsea and Leeds United kept each other off the pace in the Premiership here yesterday. Though scoring a goal apiece was no small feat in a match dominated by defences, the draw scarcely sent a ripple through the teams immediately above them and was of no consequence at all to the runaway leaders, Manchester United and Arsenal.
A point at Chelsea might not be a bad afternoon's work but Leeds were disappointed that they did not take all three. After Mark Viduka's header had given them the lead a minute past the hour, David O'Leary's side assumed almost complete control of the game and seemed set to win in some style.
Then, with 11 minutes remaining, Gustavo Poyet nodded Chelsea level and thereafter neither side could muster sufficient attacking elan to score a winner. Leeds would have had a better chance of victory had Viduka not gone off with an ankle injury a quarter of an hour from the end.
Copy from The Independent of 11/11/2000.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, desperate to make a point at Stamford Bridge yesterday, helped Chelsea take one against the club he left in such acrimonious circumstances two years ago. Barracked mercilessly by the Leeds United following as a greedy Judas after the club released details of his financial demands, he played his part in forcing the header from Gustavo Poyet that equalised the latest goal from Mark Viduka, Hasselbaink's eventual successor as the Leeds No 9.
It all added up to a lively enough afternoon's entertainment for viewers of Sky Sports' 500th live match, which had begun slowly but built up a head of steam after the referee, Graham Poll, noted four names in six minutes mid-way through the first half. Anyone younger than a Chelsea Pensioner has been brought up on a history of ill-feeling between the two clubs, and at that stage it was odds-on the number of sendings-off in their meetings over the past three seasons reaching a round half-dozen. In the end, the cards were all yellow and, at four apiece, as evenly split as the goals.
The Leeds manager, David O'Leary, was, for obvious reasons, unable to watch the live broadcast, but was keen to study the replays afterwards, which confirmed his view that Chelsea should not have been awarded the free-kick that led to their goal. "It was a clean tackle," he said of a challenge by the excellent Lucas Radebe on Hasselbaink. "The referee didn't blow until the crowd started shouting. We should have won, but after the week we've had, I would have taken a draw before the start."
A home victory would have meant Chelsea climbing above his team into eighth place, but on yesterday's evidence neither team deserved that outcome. The London side are still adjusting to the ways and means of their new manager, Claudio Ranieri, presiding over a perpetually multi-national squad, and demanding more spirito Inglese. Although pleased with the spirit that they showed and delighted to be rewarded with an equaliser immediately after making a triple substitution, the Italian must be aware that his defence still needs a lot of work.
Ranieri had amended the formation from 3-4-3 by dropping Tore Andre Flo and playing Poyet and Gianfranco Zola just behind Hasselbaink, the little Sardinian quickly becoming Chelsea's most influential figure. He was matched and then eclipsed, however, by Lee Bowyer, who would surely be winning a first England cap in Turin on Wednesday but for his pending court case.
Revving his engine as fiercely as ever, Bowyer was involved at both ends of the pitch, driving Leeds' first attempt on goal wide and then racing back to clear almost off the line as Hasselbaink beat Radebe to Zola's lofted pass and eluded the goalkeeper, Paul Robinson.
Robinson demonstrated the potential that has put him on today's trip to Italy by twice blocking thunderous drives from Hasselbaink. He managed to hold an almost equally fierce free-kick just after the interval, but Bowyer ensured that Ed de Goey was kept busy too, and it was Leeds who scored first in the 61st minute when his corner was met by Viduka with a firm header, Mario Melchiot failing to get off the ground for a challenge.
That meant that the Australian, following up his quartet against Liverpool, has now bagged Leeds' last eight Premiership goals. Little wonder the club would claim not to miss Hasselbaink, who nevertheless, contributed to Chelsea's retaliation. First he won the disputed free-kick by holding up a pass with his back to goal in typical fashion. The kick was hit strongly by Poyet and pushed over the bar in handsome fashion by Robinson for a corner that Leeds struggled to clear.
Hasselbaink had two digs at it, both blocked, before the ball veered up for Flo, one of the three substitutes just brought on, to head square for Poyet to nod in.
Eidur Gudjohnsen, another of the replacements, had a late drive held by Robinson, one of many Leeds players who would not have deserved to be on the losing side at the end of a week in which they threatened to make the club into a force in Europe once more. Chelsea's ambitions, equally grand only a few months ago, are now more prosaic.
Copy from SportLive of 12/11/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
Already it seems that Chelsea will again be left relying on the FA Cup to salvage their season and offer a path to Europe.
In terms of reasserting themselves in the Premiership this was a must-win game. But it was Leeds who, by some distance, looked more capable of pursuing Manchester United and Arsenal.
Certainly David O'Leary's team will be involved in the chase for a Champions League place again, but even that seems a tall order for Chelsea now.
After defeat at Southampton they had to shine against one of their rivals. They failed and were fortunate that Gus Poyet won a point that they scarcely deserved.
Since the arrival of manager Claudio Ranieri Chelsea have lost in the UEFA and Worthington cups. But at least they had strung together some decent form at Stamford Bridge - three straight Premier wins and 12 goals to boot.
Given Leeds' exertions against AC Milan in midweek, when they toughed out a draw to reach the second phase of the Champions League, Chelsea might have expected to take advantage.
But, not for the first time, their multi-talented side were one-dimensional against a team who, in contrast, maintained direction and discipline while displaying no obvious signs of tiredness.
Ranieri has adopted 3-5-2 but Chelsea lack genuine width and yesterday's tactics were basically this: get the ball to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink quickly and hope he can conjure something.
In the first half Hasselbaink, who inevitably got stick from the travelling fans, tried his best against his former club and three times got the better of Lucas Radebe.
In the 15th minute Gianfranco Zola hit a gloriously measured pass which enabled Hasselbaink to exploit pace. He sped past Radebe but keeper Paul Robinson did well to drive him wide rather than lunge in and concede a penalty.
The striker still managed a shot but he was off-balance and the angle was poor. It still required the excellent Lee Bowyer to clear, though, before Poyet moved in.
Just before half-time the Dutch striker found room for typical pile-drivers but Robinson, who travels to Italy with England today, was well-positioned.
After that Radebe assumed control and Chelsea ran out of ideas. At that point Leeds had barely created an opening despite excellent touch, turns and running from Alan Smith, who is likely to pull out of England's squad.
Mark Viduka was a willing accomplice and the pair made Frank Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly look uncomfortable in a match in which referee Graham Poll had to intervene frequently to prevent the niggles turning nasty.
Leeds, whose passing and movement in midfield were superior, looked capable of stealing a goal and they did just that in the 62nd minute when, from Lee Bowyer's corner, Viduka beat Mario Melchiot and placed a seven-yard header past Ed de Goey.
The response lacked imagination and Chelsea only offered real menace when Ranieri - after a 10-minute debate with assistant Angelo Antennucci and touchline translations - managed to make a triple substitution.
Tore Andre Flo, Jody Morris and Eidur Gudjohnsen came on in the 75th minute as Chelsea adopted 4-3-3. Within four minutes they had equalised even if O'Leary was upset that Radebe was penalised for a challenge on Hasselbaink.
From the free-kick Robinson was forced to tip over Poyet's deflected drive. Still Leeds failed to clear, a Hasselbaink shot spun upwards and Flo, first to react, set up Poyet's close-range header.
There was no late onslaught, though, and Ranieri hinted at the root of the problems. He sought excuses, suggesting fans should be pleased they had not lost at home to a 'great' team such as Leeds.
What sort of ambition is that for a team who had been tipped as potential champions? Worse. Ranieri was so badly translated that his answers bore no relation to questions. What on earth must team-talks be like?
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 13/11/2000.
SATISFACTION for United, maybe, with a hard-fought point from Stamford Bridge but an individual triumph, certainly, for their immaculate captain, Lucas Radebe.
Faced with one of the most difficult tasks in football, that of marking Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, the South African appeared to grow a foot taller, gain an extra yard of pace and acquire Swiss precision timing as he folded up the Dutchman and put him nicely in his pocket.
Such a shame, then, that Radebe was wrongly adjudged to have fouled his foe, setting up a move which led to the Chelsea equaliser.
Having plotted the downfall of a trio of Italian coaches in Roma's Fabio Capello, AC Milan's Alberto Zaccheroni and Besiktas's Nevio Scala in the last 12 months United manager David O'Leary now got to grips with Chelsea's Claudio Ranieri.
There was a reverential air about Chelsea beforehand, all right, with Ranieri saying: "For this Chelsea team to play against a team which has just finished third in the Premiership - where we were the previous year - and to be doing well in Europe, as we did last year, will help show us at what level we're at this year."
Afterwards he said: "I thought Leeds might be tired after their exertions in Europe but they were flying around like arrows. They are a great team.
"They are certainly one of the best teams I have seen, with a great will to win. One of the most difficult things in football is to play a high-profile match on a Wednesday and go and get a result at the weekend.
"They defended well and were very good on the counter-attack. Hasselbaink was isolated and that was through the merits of Leeds and not any defect of ours. "They restricted us to the fewest chances we have had in any match this season. They managed to cover all our movements."
And skipper Dennis Wise, tipping United to get through the Champions League second phase, said: "Leeds have done very well in Europe. I congratulate them."
Mischievously, Chelsea plastered a picture of former United idol Hasselbaink all over the front cover of their matchday magazine, fanning the flames of what is always a no-love-lost encounter.
In 16 previous Premiership meetings - this marked the 500th live Sky game - there had been no fewer than 67 bookings and once again a walk in autumnal pastures was infinitely preferable than Stamford Bridge as a place for fainthearts to be.
O'Leary was able to field an unchanged team for only the second time this season in 21 league, cup and European matches and was intent on a victory that would keep Leeds on the heels of the Premiership pacesetters.
He saw and took very much on board what happened to Chelsea last season when their Champions League activities hampered their league progress and they had to be satisfied with a UEFA Cup berth.
Radebe's opening challenge on Hasselbaink was at the expense of a free kick and then Wise was spoken to for a foul on Dacourt.
Bowyer's snapshot from Harte's free kick was wide, but Leeds were enjoying by far the better of the opening exchanges until Zola picked out Hasselbaink, who rounded Robinson and sent in an angled shot which demanded a last-ditch clearance from Bowyer.
As the heat was turned up referee Poll booked four players in the space of five minutes.
Chelsea went close when Poyet got in a header from Zola's cross, but Robinson was equal to the task. And when Leeds came back the busy Bowyer curled in a shot from 20 yards which was too close for de Goey's comfort.
Redebe's brilliantly-timed tackle on Hasselbaink again kept Chelsea at bay and when Bowyer was scythed down by Leboeuf on the right Harte's inswinging free kick caused some consternation in the home defence before going out of play.
Dacourt should have done better than to shoot badly wide as attacking options opened for Leeds, then Hasselbaink directed his header from Zola's cross the wrong side of the post.
The former United man brought the best out of Robinson with a wicked left-foot shot from the edge of the box on 42 minutes and, again, a minute later with an angled thunderbolt.
But United, hugely competitive, deserved to be on level terms at the break. And they were ahead in the 62nd minute when Leboeuf, under pressure from Bakke, gave away a corner, Bowyer crossed and Viduka rose above Melchiot to head powerfully home.
Chelsea made a triple substitution with 15 minutes left and the move brought an almost immediate dividend.
Referee Poll sided with baying home fans as Hasselbaink went down. Poyet brought a fine save from Robinson with his free kick and from Wise's corner Flo headed across goal in a real melee and Poyet nodded home from close range.
Said O'Leary: "I'd have taken what's happened this week, a point in Milan in the Champions League and a point here, although I feel we should have got all three against Chelsea.
"They were given a free kick in a dangerous position and I don't think they should have got it. The referee didn't blow until the crowd started shouting. "Lucas was outstanding and didn't give Jimmy a kick. I think Lucas was up for this game. He likes these encounters. It was a good battle and he enjoys these games."
He added: "I've got a good, honest, hardworking group of players and there aren't many of those around."
Chelsea might well find some home truths in that sentiment.