Carlo Ancelotti wore a nervous look on his face, and you couldn’t help but feel for the Italian. He’d gotten his career an extension, a life-line so to speak, with a recent spate of fortuitous results. But now he was truly staring down the barrel yet again. His team had scrounged together a forward line worth 100 million pounds in anticipation of this very encounter, and yet he couldn’t suppress the chill that ran down his spine.
In a few hours, his team would face one of Europe’s most feared teams – that diabolical Danish side, those deniers of mercy, the destroyers of reputations, the defenders of Hades itself, the dividers of lots, the purveyors of dread, the demolishers of legacies, the club whose initials hinted at what they’d do to you – the one, the only FCK.
Or FC Copenhagen. A side so feared they wore pink on their away travels just to put their victims at ease. They renamed themselves F.C. København, a name so unpronounceable the masses started referring to them as That Club We Do Not Speak Of.
Chelsea would need to muster every ounce of concentration before the clash. This would be a game that they’d still be talking about decades later. Yet, Carlo’s carefully laid game-plan and yoga sessions were disrupted with bad political news from France.
The French president Nicolas Sarkozy had just signed into law, a regulation banning the wearing of any kind of headgear in public. The Catholic Benedictine Order of French nuns cautioned against the move, the umbrella of Jewish groups in France refused to comment while the Islamic Association of France pondered its next move. Outdoing all their measured reactions was Chelsea custodian Petr Cech, who isn’t French, but yet called it a blatant violation of his right to wear a headscarf.
Cech claimed he needed to wear his headscarf to avoid tempting defenders to put a boot in his head. The only exceptions to France’s sweeping new law against headgear was Nicolas Anelka whose bald head was called a national disgrace, and something to be covered up at all times.
It took all of Carlo’s patience and his entire range of English vocabulary, to convince his stars the impending war with the Danes was a far more pressing matter. The Italian manager, a pastmaster of the defensive dark arts, knew it would take more than just a squad of 10 men and 1 Mikel to stop FC Copenhagen. He knew he’d have to find a way to secretly involve the entire bench to give the Blues a numerical superiority on the field.
After a brainstorming session, during which Ramires fainted, it was Frank Lampard who finally had the brainwave. The midfielder opined Chelsea would need to get invisibility cloaks using which they’d be able to cover the men on the bench before surreptitiously bringing them on the field to aid the officially playing eleven. And there was only one man who possessed the special sight-defying wardrobe – the Portuguese wizard and former Chelsea disaster Deco. His reliance on invisibility cloaks during his time at Stamford Bridge ensured he could spend the entire 90 minutes of each game, completely invisible, anonymous and unseen by anyone.
That development soothed the Blues’ nerves to some extent, who then headed out to practice in high spirits. As the club trained, Roman Abramovich who knew better than to trust Carlo’s tactics and invisible cloaks, realized he’d have to pull out yet another rabbit from his hat. He instructed his trusted aides to fax Ståle Solbakken, the Copenhagen manager, about a non-existent security threat at Stamford Bridge and the subsequent postponement of the game. The Danes were advised to stay put till further notice.
Since the Danes never showed up for the kick-off, they were considered to have forfeited the game and Chelsea were awarded direct entry into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. A visibly gleeful Roman did a little jig in the director’s box.
Chelsea nevertheless took the field, so as not to disappoint the 20-odd people who found themselves at Stamford Bridge, most of whom had lost their way in traffic earlier. The opponents were a makeshift team comprising exclusively of 11 inflatable sex dolls found amidst other garbage outside White Hart Lane.
The dolls proved tough competition for the Blues, especially the helium-filled Asian one that served as the goalkeeper. Bobbing up and down, and between the goal posts, the inflatable doll deserved a standing ovation for keeping out Drogba’s best attempts. As one Chelsea player after another unfailingly sent the ball into orbit, Michael Emenalo leaned in and suggested to Roman that renaming the club FC Sputnik might not be a bad idea.
When the Danes, finally discovered they’d been sneakily done in, they were understandably livid. UEFA refused to entertain their protests stating the governing body would only entertain complaints before an incident happened, and not after it had already occurred. When the Danes pointed out that it was humanly impossible to predict incidents in advance, Platini’s newly appointed deputy Hosni Mubarak had the Danes expelled from UEFA.
Jesper Christiansen, FCK’s keeper, gathered reporters outside his residence and held up the diabolical faxed page and accused Chelsea of having progressed using underhanded tactics. He drew a few sniggers when he referred to the page as a textually-transmitted disease, but that was all that anyone would do about it.