Tony Dorigo: This is A Good Barometer

Tony Dorigo: This is A Good Barometer
Tony Dorigo: This is A Good Barometer

Former Leeds and Chelsea defender looks ahead to FA Cup clash

Ahead of tonight's FA Cup clash with historic rivals Chelsea, Leeds United legend Tony Dorigo spoke exclusively with the club website to discuss his former sides going head-to-head.

Dorigo joined Chelsea from Aston Villa in 1987, winning their Player of the Year award in two years later, helping them get promoted from the Second Division a year later, before scoring the defining goal in the Blues' 1-0 win over Middlesbrough in the Zenith Data Systems Cup.

The defender joined Leeds shortly after, lifting the First Division (now Premier League) title and being named Player of the Year in his first season. A key part of Howard Wilkinson's side, Dorigo also helped the Whites defeat Liverpool in the FA Charity Shield, scoring the second goal in the 4-3 win at Wembley.

Picture of Tony Dorigo and Eric Cantona holding up the Charity Shield
Picture of Tony Dorigo and Eric Cantona holding up the Charity Shield

Tony, your two former clubs come face to face tonight, what can we expect?

"I think what we can always expect is a tough old game between two rivals. I know more than anyone, having played for playing for both sides, the feeling that stands between the two clubs.

"I remember when I first signed for Leeds, going down to Chelsea, playing at Stamford Bridge for the first time, I was booed incessantly just in the warm up, let alone the game.

"With the sets of fans and the teams, there's a great rivalry going back to those clashes in the 70s. So what do I expect? A game full of passion, no doubt.

"It'll also be interesting, because the two clubs are in very, very different situations. Chelsea are certainly under a lot of pressure, having spent all that money, meaning there's a need to get it right. They'll be disappointed after what happened on Sunday.

"Then for us we are really looking to get promotion. That's what our season is all about. So I'd say this game now, is really to go and enjoy it, soak it up, because we have bigger things on the horizon."

Have you watched much of Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea this season?

"I have, I've watched bits and pieces and you don't really know which Chelsea you're going to get.

"There's a very good Chelsea side there, with Caicedo and Fernandez in the midfield. They can dictate the play and they look extremely dangerous.

"Then there's another Chelsea, which just makes mistakes and looks like they put eleven players out who haven't really played together before. It's really strange.

"I think it was Wolves, that they lost at home 4-2, and they were they were awful. Yet they go to to Villa in the Cup and they were absolutely superb.

"So yeah, you know they're really struggling to find that balance and find that momentum and consistency. That's the key, consistency.

They had a had a great chance to win some silverware with the Carabao Cup, but I have to say, I thought they could really go and grab the game by the scruff of the neck, but that's exactly what they didn't do, which I think is hugely disappointing."

Picture of Chelsea's players on the pitch during Carabao Cup Final
Picture of Chelsea's players on the pitch during Carabao Cup Final

What sort of reaction can we expect from that defeat on Sunday?

"Well, it'll be interesting because obviously with that extra time, I thought the Chelsea players looked extremely tired and didn't really play well in that last 30 minutes.

"But, you have to say with the quality that they've got and in front of their home fans, the expectation on them will be to certainly produce a response from what was an extremely disappointing game.

"So it could go absolutely either way. Surely they'll come out thinking, this is their last chance of silverware and to get into Europe."

Who are the danger players Leeds need to keep an eye on?

"If we can try and certainly get on top of the likes of Enzo Fernandez. He's a player that really can make things tick.

"When you go further up the field, they've got a lot of exciting players, like Cole Palmer. I think he's doing absolutely fantastic since he joined from Man City. He wasn't really one that we expected to be relying upon, yet he's the one that is producing at a higher level every single game.

"Gallagher is another one. He really is Chelsea through and through, works extremely hard and always there for a goal. He had a bit of a dry spell but he kept going and he's started to score again.

"Hopefully they're a little bit below par and then we'll have a real chance of giving them a good game."

Picture of Willy Gnonto and Jaidon Anthony celebrating in previous FA Cup game
Picture of Willy Gnonto and Jaidon Anthony celebrating in previous FA Cup game

What are the areas Leeds can potentially take advantage of?

"Well, I think defensively at times, they are certainly not as well drilled. Silva's legs are certainly getting older, he's been an incredible player, but he's been not playing so much recently. I think there are opportunities that we certainly could take advantage of and put them under pressure.

"For us, it's certainly a game where we understand that we're not going to be the favourites, but it's a great game that we can use to look at what what might be on the horizon, fingers crossed, playing in the Premier League next season

"I think every player, the manager and the club, aspires to be sparring with teams like Chelsea, and this is a good barometer, to see where we're at." 

What was it like to play at Stamford Bridge as a player?

"I think it's interesting because the various clubs that I've played at, I always kind of gauge the passion of the club.

"Leeds United supporters have always followed the club in incredible numbers, all around the country, and Chelsea, like us, have fantastic numbers that follow them, so it'll definitely be a very passionate game.

"I managed to play with Chelsea in a cup final and score the winner at Wembley, so I had lots of happy memories there, but going back as a Leeds United player, it surprised me.

I thought I knew how much passion there was between the clubs, but I clearly didn't because of how how loud Chelsea's supporters were against me.

"So yeah, it wasn't a nice place to play, but I don't think it's nowhere near as intimidating as it was, just because of the tough time they're currently going through.

"I think we can go there, certainly with confidence, as we did the first time I went back there. We won two one and fortunately, I was smiling on the way out, which was good."