With just minutes left Cardiff were beating Chelsea on Sunday in what would have been a massive result for the Bluebirds, and a result they would have deserved after a toothless display by Chelsea. But when the final whistle was blown Cardiff had lost the game 2-1 and manager Neil Warnock was left shocked.
Chelsea grabbed their equaliser through Cesar Azpilicueta but the goal was painfully offside and wasn’t even close. It was a beyond poor decision from the officials and something that could end up costing Cardiff their Premier League status. To add salt to the wounds a returning Ruben Loftus-Cheek got a winner for the Londoners which silenced the city of Cardiff on Sunday night.
At the final whistle Warnock calmly walked up to the officials by the centre circle and just stared at them. Face like red stone, they did what they know best and walked past him as if he wasn’t there. Warnock said that his team play in the best league in the world but he couldn’t say the same thing about the officials, and that he was ‘sickened’ by the match.
It’s easy to have sympathy with Warnock and why VAR has been delayed for a season in the Premier League is the real shocker. There have been many decisions where the officials have got it wrong. True human error will happen, but at these critical moments they can punish a team who have done little wrong at precisely the wrong time. Had VAR been in use it would have flagged up an offside- or at least so we hope, and the score would have remained 1-0. Indeed one could fathom that Chelsea got a new wind after the equaliser and a wrong decision is why they went on to win the game.
VAR will be implemented next season in the Premier League but at the same time one has to question the current rule that we must live by. If everyone in the ground knows a goal to be offside therefore it should never have counted why can’t the FA act after the game. If so Cardiff would have at least got a point yesterday.
As it stands Cardiff look like the favourites to be relegated alongside Huddersfield and Fulham. They are 5 points from safety and their next game is away to Manchester City- yikes! After that they face a massive game away to Burnley, the team directly above them, and lose the City game and the Burnley one and Cardiff could be virtually down. Warnock’s side still have to face Liverpool and Manchester United before the season ends and it does look increasingly like they will be playing Championship football again, was this Chelsea loss the defining moment? It seems so.
Late last week we were all told of the news that we already knew, although this brought it home to us that the Argentinian player Emiliano Sala had died in a plane crash. This tragic news is of course beyond comprehension and at only 28 years old with his whole football career and life still ahead of him, Sala has lost that opportunity to shine even more than he already has.
Sala’s plane went down back on January 21st as the player had just agreed terms with Cardiff City to join the Premier League strugglers from Nantes in a deal wort £15m. On reflection this looked like a stunning deal for Neil Warnock and Cardiff and a bad one for Nantes. Sala had already scored 14 goals this season, and it seemed bizarre that Nantes would sell their star striker in the January transfer window. Alas Nantes needed the funds and Cardiff needed the player.
What happened next is incredibly sad. Sala’s plane went missing. There was of course some hope that he would be found in some kind of miracle rescue. But as hours turned into days and days turned into weeks that hope had faded. Everyone knew that he and pilot David Ibbotson had perished in the most horrific way possible. That confirmation hit the world of football hard at the end of last week.
Sala was a versatile player and was on the cusp of making the Argentina national squad, true his great form and scoring ability had started late in life but he had shown over the past 18 months at Nantes that he was developing into a proper centre forward. He would have been the perfect player for Cardiff, and would have saved them from the relegation battle that they face now in the Premier League.
But football of course has to take a step back, when life comes first and it is sad to think of all the great opportunities that Sala will now miss out on. Of course he reached and achieved his dream of being a professional football player but at the same time he was about to make that step up and play in the most competitive league in Europe.
While Sala’s family have at least some sort of closure with his body being recovered the poor family of the pilot Ibbotson do not have that joy, with his body still missing somewhere presumed in the sea.
Sala’s memory will live on and the great cities of Nantes and Cardiff will now be forever connected in this way.
Neil Warnock’s newly-promoted Cardiff City secured their first point of the Premier League season with a 0-0 draw at home against Newcastle United to kick off the weekend, but the number of goals belittled the number of talking points after a fiercely contested 90 minutes.
Midway through the first half after trying to pull one too many tricks out of his bag and losing the ball, Newcastle midfielder Kenedy lashed out, kicking Cardiff City’s Victor Camarasa across the middle of the shin in a move not out of place in a kickboxing match. The referee was standing only a few metres away, but failed to notice the blatant red card offense.