Let's be honest, we all have players in our clubs that 'cheat' a bit---in the sense that they might have dived to win a penalty or something like that. We also have players in our teams that are entrusted with the dirt work of winning balls no matter what it will take. They are usually disliked by opposing teams and its clear to understand why. Roy Keane was the last sort of player like that for us, and even when he went in with a nasty tackle on a player, you would understand why....in that he never took on a player before forming some kind of rivalry with them or hatred if you like. The point is that at least he had a reason.
Enter Mr. Ballack, the lad is a wonderfully gifted footballer but I've quite never understood the means with which he tries to win the game for his side. I've observed the player since 2002 and interestingly, its not until he joined Chelsea that I thought his behaviour on the pitch changed dramatically. He was a star in my eyes until I realised that he was an artist at winning unfair advantages for his team. In short, I think he's grown into a cheat over the last few seasons (and that has impacted on his attacking contribution for his club).
I'm only too eager to point out the one moment when he exercised his 'cheating stunts' because it was against United and that's just about what concerns this blog.
At the start of the season, United and Chelsea squared up for what was the traditional curtain raiser for the new season----The Community Shield. United took the lead through a pile driver from Nani but Carvalho pulled Chelsea level. Just as we were getting on top of the game once more mid way through the second half, Patrice Evra cleanly made his way past the German in question in in attacking move but Ballack was all too eager to deliberately elbow Evra, rendering our left back in pain on the turf. United players just about switched off their engines as the foul was more or less blatant to all those at Wembley that day. Chelsea quickly won the ball off the victim of that challenge and went on to score their second goal of the game, putting them 2-1 up. Play was halted for a little under three minutes as United players surrounded the referee in search of answers. In the end we had to get on with it anyway.
Rooney went on to tie the game late on but Evra endured the rest of that game being booed by the Chelsea fans for allegedly feigning the foul. Meanwhile, Ballack, instead of doing what all footballers do when they cheat (i.e apologise) refused to acknowledge that it was a foul. It's the least we expected from him but perhaps more importantly, this was to serve as a curtain raiser to controversial decisions going in favour of Chelsea when we were to meet in the season proper. The defeats at Stamford Bridge and OT attest to this.
Dear reader, I've held a grudge against Ballack since that day and I've waited patiently for some sort of retribution and what better way to come than courtesy of his own medicine. From the moment that Boateng went in with that challenge in the Cup final, I was convinced that Ballack wasn't going to South Africa--well as a player that is.
That was, in a certain way, Karma. (I'd like to think so anyway).
Now that you've earned your punishment, we can be friends again eh...Mr. Ballack?