x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Samuel's got no defence

Inter Milan player's tactics to stop Didier Drogba from scoring should have earned Chelsea more than one penalty.

Chelsea's Didier Drogba, left, competes with Inter Milan's Walter Samuel in their Champions League match at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea's Didier Drogba, left, competes with Inter Milan's Walter Samuel in their Champions League match at Stamford Bridge.

I thought Inter Milan were terrific on Wednesday night when they knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League. You've got to tip your hat to Jose Mourinho, the Inter coach, for coming up with the goods against his former club. However, the scoreline could and should have been completely different if the referee had taken notice of the Inter defending from corners and other set-pieces.

Walter Samuel, the Inter defender, will always get work as a professional wrestler as he kept body slamming Didier Drogba, after grappling and hugging the Chelsea striker to the ground. It's something Italian teams have been doing for years. The defender rarely looks at the ball, or even the direction from which it's coming. Instead he man-marks the forward by wrapping his arms around him and clinging on for dear life.

I know it may be hard for the referee to see everything going on in the penalty area, but what's the linesman doing? They're called assistant referees nowadays, so come on lads, start assisting. If the referee had seen Samuel and his pals, then he should have given a penalty, probably four penalties in the match, because it's blatant fouling. I'm possibly the only person who's gone off the World Cup in recent years, because amongst other things, the officiating is a joke.

A British referee would probably blow for a penalty on Samuel, but an Italian might not. The sooner someone blows for a penalty and tells defenders they can't wrestle in the box, then the better for all.

I had a laugh with the former Liverpool midfielders, Jason McAteer and Don Hutchison this week, but although we got plenty of stories on our Goals on Monday show, we missed the best of all, as they didn't tip me off until after the programme. McAteer's known as "Trigger" in footballing circles, after the dopy character in the classic British sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. He has made a few gaffes down the years. A pizza man once asked him if he wanted his pizza cut into eight or 16 pieces. "Eight," replied McAteer. "I couldn't eat 16." Up until October, he was the assistant coach at the League One side Tranmere Rovers with John Barnes, and he began telling us about the day they were both sacked.

Apparently Sky Sports News, the 24-hour TV channel, was there to film Barnes's press conference. After he'd finished, the chairman took them both to one side to break the bad news. Barnes always rode a bicycle to work, so McAteer suggested he throw the bike in the back of his Land Rover and the two of them should go for a drink to drown their sorrows. Unfortunately, no matter how they tried, they couldn't get the bike into the car.

"It was like the furniture you bring home and can't get through the front door," he said. "No matter what we did, we just couldn't get it in. "We there for ages and the next minute my phone went and it was a pal telling me to try shifting the handlebars to the left to make it easier squeezing it through the door. "I asked him how he could possibly know what we were doing and he said we were being filmed live on Sky Sports News.

"The whole world was watching us trying to get the stupid bike into the car," McAteer said. Barnes will be a guest of ours on Showtime next month. I might drop that one in when we're live on air. sports@thenational.ae