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08.12.2005 Football News

Essien supporters defend underfire Chelsea ace

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Michael Essien's supporters have rallied round the Chelsea midfielder after his challenge on Liverpool Didi's Hamann during Tuesday night's Champions League clash. French official Pascal Garibian, who sent off Essien in February when he was playing for Lyon away to Monaco, said: "Michael was not known by us to belong to that category. But he does run the danger of what we call excessive commitment.

"Watching Michael, you could see the potential for him to be over-combative. He has to control himself in tense situations. The physical well-being of the players should not be placed at risk."

Essien has been sent off four times in competitive games in the last three seasons, twice for Bastia and twice for Lyon.

Each dismissal was for two yellow cards. He saw red again on Lyon's pre-season tour of South Korea for the same reason.

Lyon director Bernard Lacombe admitted: "It's true we asked him to tone things down in training.

"That only happened occasionally but he could go in a bit hard on his own team-mates, even his closest friends. That's not what Michael is all about, though. There is no nastiness in him. When he gets into trouble, it's more for the awkwardness of his tackling".

Legendary Chelsea hardman Ron 'Chopper' Harris reckons Hamann had Essien's horror tackle coming to him.

Harris believes German Hamann was due a taste of his own medicine after nearly breaking the leg of Damien Francis, then at Norwich, last September.

Harris said: "Essien's wasn't a good tackle and he needs to cut that out. But Hamann did an absolute shocker against Norwich.

"That was just as bad. If you live by the sword you die by it."

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