ROMAN ABRAMOVICH could probably have dug deeper and found the £32.5million for Robinho but decided to give the money to Frank Lampard instead.
And that was the finest piece of business in the maddest of transfer windows.
Robinho started by kissing the City crest after his opening goal — and ended the night crestfallen.
And Lamps showed that his new contract — valued at the price of a Robinho — boasts the most valuable signature of the summer. After Ricardo Carvalho had cancelled out the Brazilian’s storybook opener, Lampard produced the defining moment of the game and edged Chelsea ahead.
It was left to Nicolas Anelka to confirm the Londoners’ huge superiority and show the sheikhs that City are going to need an awful lot of their money if they are to fulfil the pipedreams going around Eastlands.
Not even John Terry’s harsh, late dismissal — for a tug on Jo some 40 yards out — could take the shine off a shimmering Chelsea performance. Terry now misses Sunday’s crucial clash with Manchester United
City supporters arrived with their heads swathed in towels — the type they usually throw in about now.
The famous fake sheikh routine is clearly catching on.
Had Sven still been here, he probably would have thought they were real ones.
The genuine article had, of course, provided the readies to recruit Robinho, for whom this occasion must have been extremely confusing. From Real to surreal.
And for a little while, he clearly thought he HAD signed for Chelsea. How else can you explain his insistence on passing to Carvalho, Jon Obi Mikel and just about anyone else in a black jersey?
But Robinho has some presence — and a fairly decent scriptwriter.
When ref Mark Halsey — setting the tone early for a pitiful display — mistook Carvalho’s immaculate timing for an infringement against Jo, Robinho’s official introduction somehow seemed inevitable.
If you conveniently forget that a deflection from Mikel’s spiky hair is what kept keeper Petr Cech anchored, then the free-kick was a pleasant taster of Brazilian delights to come.
And at least he kissed the right badge.
But Robinho will soon discover false dawns are a speciality in the land of the blue moon.
And no sooner had he finished sucking a celebratory thumb than his team fell to a sucker-punch. In an interesting departure from the defensive coaching manual, City decided to leave Terry and Carvalho unmarked for a corner.
Novel. Innovative, even. And rank amateurish.
And even though Joe Cole got in the way of Terry’s header — that bang on the head still obviously taking its toll — the Portuguese defender sent the rebound home.
He is some player, Carvalho.
In his civvies, he looks like a mature student. But what he reads is the game. Better than most. And his intervention to lift Jo’s left-footed curler clear of the bar was a typical example of his work.
Terry was crowned the Champions League Defender of the Year.
Many would argue not only is the England skipper not the best defender in Europe, he is not the best in south west London. The type of partnership which has been the bedrock of Chelsea success for so long is one which Micah Richards and Richard Dunne have occasionally threatened to emulate.
And I put the emphasis on occasionally.
They looked like a couple on a blind date. You speak, no you speak.
Which all made Chelsea’s failure to secure a half-time lead bemusing. Anelka, maybe not having emerged from the fantastic sulk with France last week, headed straight at a photographer from Position A and Florent Malouda — showing a verve under Big Phil that had previously been very well-hidden — put his sitter against the angle of bar and post and back into the arms of Joe Hart.
Anelka’s reception was indifferent. From both sets of fans. Unlike the one afforded to Shaun Wright-Phillips. From both sets of fans. The irksome aspect of watching Wright-Phillips buzz as effectively as this is to remember all that wasted time at Stamford Bridge.
He chased the fast buck all the way down the plughole. But Chelsea’s midfield is a tough club to get into.
And its king is still Lampard, who is possibly the most consistent performer in the history of the Premier League. It is the England midfielder’s directness that impresses. And his runs are not physically quick, they are mentally quick.
His half-a-yard advantage over rivals is entirely between the ears.
After laying out a simple pass to Malouda, he anticipated its return, in an instant created a favourable angle and then rolled a superbly-controlled left-footed shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-1. Deco is the perfect foil for Lamps: the intricacy to complement the incisiveness.
The £8million paid out for Deco — and the £32.5m saved on Robinho — might just mean Chelsea, after all, enjoyed the shrewdest summer.
Robinho had certainly faded into obscurity by the time Anelka converted Joe Cole’s cute 69th-minute pass, and confirmed it will take an awful lot of oil money to turn this City into slickers.