Jens Lehmann has claimed that the Nike football used in the Champions League back in 2004 was partly to blame for his side’s loss to Chelsea, along with his side having been punished by the fixture list.
The German joined the club in the summer of 2003, and nobody had any idea of what was to come. Our side made history that season, and our Invincibles campaign is regularly talked about to this day.
Lehmann however seems to still have nightmares about the disasterous week of the season when we were eliminated in both the FA Cup and Champions League competitions, before Arsenal steered the ship back to make history.
He stated: ‘I didn’t understand and sometimes it still happens to big teams that the Premier League puts you on a schedule where you have to perform at the end of the season. In 10 days what happened at the time (we had to play) against top, top teams.
‘No team, however good it is, can perform every two or three days on such a high level. It was our disadvantage against Chelsea.
‘I remember I made a mistake against Chelsea because we played with a brand new Nike ball and it came swerving like that and I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t catch it.
‘It was a draw then with Frank Lampard and then in the last minute all of a sudden, because we were so tired, we couldn’t defend a draw and we lost that game.’
I’m not being funny, but blaming the football in use for his blooper is quite humorous, and that would get a mention ahead of the real reason of tiredness is amusing.
You could argue that with Champions League football after that match, we could have been even more tired for the remaining Premier League matches, and history may not have been made at all.
I say let’s just forget about those other competitions that year, and remember that we earned the only gold Premier League winners trophy to date.