The Magician They Call Deco

Andrew BarrySenior Analyst ISeptember 22, 2008

At the conclusion of the "Battle Of The Bridge 2" one thing had become clear to both Alex Ferguson and Felipe Scolari. The marginal difference that will seperate the pair in May is a diminutive magician who goes by the name of Deco.

Without the Portuguese star, Chelsea failed to string passes together and threaten United's backline. It was left for Ashley Cole and Boswigna to bombard the box with crosses but too often their final balls were left wanting.

There were many occasions when the Stamford Bridge faithful muttered "If Deco..." when the final ball didn't reach their target or midfield moves had to go backwards. If you cast your mind backwards to the opening day of the season when Portsmouth were dismantled there was an undisputed reason.

Their £8 million singing from Barcelona sat back in front of the defense and allowed their attacking threats to get forward. He received the ball deep and picked clever passes that got his team mates into advanced positions.

Like a conductor instructing an orchestra, Deco picked sublime passes and split Pompey's rearguard with ease. The new number 20 finished the game off with a stunning strike from 25 yards to leave David James with no chance.

Against Wigan and Tottenham, the maestro displayed his cunning once more with excellent displays against both. Beautiful passes and stunning strikes were becoming the expected and many waited in anticipation for Deco's appearance at Stamford Bridge to face the champions.

However a thigh strain intervened and the public robbed of an even greater spectacle. Mikel attempted to fill the massive void vacacted temporarily but the Nigerian was poor. His forward play was rushed and mistimed, his passes heavy and usually behind the targets.

With that Chelsea resorted to the long ball game which although effective is horrible on the eyes. Mikel was forced to pummel balls towards Drogba instead of picking brilliant passes to Joe Cole and Michael Ballack.

Joe Cole showed not once but twice that United's defence was vulnerable to well placed passes and you cannot help but feel if Deco was on the pitch then Chelsea could have buried United already and in September!