Chelsea hardly go two successive seasons without trophy
Chelsea football club unarguably have become a reckoning force not only in English football but also at the European scene. And, like every other European club side, they have credentials to gun for any title both at local and European arenas. This identity came into existence at the arrival of the Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich who bought the West London club from the then-owner, Ken Bates in 2003.
The Abramovich era changed the looks of the club and made the nomenclature attractive with the English Premier League (EPL) when Jose Mourinho who just won UEFA Champions League for Porto FC arrived at the Stamford Bridge in 2004. In his debut 2004/05 season, Mourinho fondly called the ‘Special One’ won the EPL title, and replicated the same in the following season 2005/06 season, taking prominent clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal by surprise. Mourinho successfully in his first stint claimed six titles at the Bridge. He won two Premier Leagues, two League Cups, one FA Cup and one Community Shield. He left Chelsea in 2007 on ‘mutual consent’ following a disagreement with the board of directors.
It is quite interesting to note that Chelsea are the most successful English club of the last decade after capturing an impressive eleven major titles, and nineteen titles all together under Abramovich. This achievement, however, is contingent upon the policy of spending to get a result which has seen the club sack managers at will, making them probably the club with the highest number of managers in a short period of time. Even the Italian Roberto Di Matteo who was the only manager that has won the UEFA Champions League for Chelsea in 2012, was axed some months later when the club was ousted from the following European campaign which made them hire Rafael Benitez, who guided the team to clinch the Europa League instead in 2013.
The Stamford Bridge outfit is the ninth richest club in the world and fourth in England. Chelsea are worth an estimated of $12.9 billion according to the latest figures released by Sports Show in April 2020. This financial feat and other successes attributed to The Blues are linked to the policy of not going trophy-less in two consecutive seasons. Chelsea, since the advent of Abramovich, cannot go two successive seasons without silverware! And, this is the fact why the club is likely going to win the EPL this season starting Saturday, September 12, 2020; or at least secure either FA Cup or League Cup. It should also be noted that they can’t be ruled out in challenging for titles in Europe. The point here is that Chelsea can only sacrifice a season without a trophy, the next season would not repeat itself. It is either Chelsea spend or sack the handler, or both.
CHELSEA HIRING AND FIRING COACHES TO WIN TROPHIES
Let me take us on this brief journey. After Mourinho left in 2007 having claimed six trophies, Avram Grant took over immediately as a caretaker manager and guided the team to their first Champions League final in Moscow 2008. Manchester United beat Chelsea in 6 – 5 penalty shootout after 1 – 1 draw of regular playtime. In 2008, Chelsea didn’t win any title and Grant was sacked. Brazilian Felipe Scolari started the campaign in 2008 but didn’t finish when woeful results were mounting, and this made Guus Hiddink take over as an interim coach and won FA Cup in 2009. Carlo Ancelotti took over in 2009, claimed the Community Shield in 2009 and won EPL title and FA Cup in 2010. In 2011, nothing was won as Ancelotti was fired bringing Andrea Villas-Boas who had an unsuccessful career as well. It was his assistant and former Chelsea player, Roberto Di Matteo that compensated the club by winning their first historic Champions League in Munich 2012 having first secured FA Cup in the previous weeks.
Roberto Di Matteo’s achievement paved way for his permanent job but didn’t last long before he was shown the door after Chelsea didn’t qualify for the Round of 16 in 2013 Champions League campaign. Former Liverpool boss, Rafael Benitez was consulted to finish the season and won the Europa League that season. In 2014, just 10 years after he first came to West London, Mourinho was appointed again as a manager. Expectedly, he shone brilliantly by winning the EPL and League Cup in 2015. He was axed in 2016 again when results were dwindling. It was Hiddink that came to handle the club as an interim boss but Chelsea finished tenth on the log – it was the worst season Chelsea have ever had in recent time without winning a jack. Antonio Conte came in 2016 and won the League in 2017 and FA Cup in 2018 before he departed having managed to put Chelsea in the fifth position. Maurizio Sarri took charge and spent one season to win the Europa League in 2019.
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Chelsea all-time highest goal scorer, Frank Lampard was hired in July 2019 and didn’t win anything in his first season. One of the reasons is that the club didn’t spend to buy players. Chelsea was banned from the transfer market after FIFA found them guilty of breaching rules guiding their dealings with under-18 players in Europe. In fact, Lampard was considered successful for bringing players from the Academy to play competitive EPL for the first time and thrived to finish fourth on the table. The young players like Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, with a blend of the established players like Willian, Joginho, Mateo Kovacic, N’golo Kante helped Chelsea maintain top four.
Having said that, Lampard’s performance might be overlooked because Chelsea won a title in 2019 and 2020 didn’t count as a big deal, as the case has always been. However, this season starting 2020 to end in 2021 would be a serious business, as at least a trophy must be won. If Di Matteo could be sacked upon winning the most prestigious club trophy for Chelsea, Lampard who hasn’t won anything won’t be spared irrespective of his record for Chelsea as a player.
CHELSEA NEW SIGNINGS REFLECTING THE PAST WINNING FORMULAR
There were many factors responsible for Chelsea’s seasons of wining cups including buying assorted players to match up every department. But, the most important factor was that Chelsea always had two skilful players with a combination of more than 20 goals, a deep-lying midfielder, a box-to-box midfielder, two quick wingers, and a solid defence. This strategy has been with them since 2005. It was a failure in any of this department that usually caused them titles. And, the integral part of these tactics is the fact that Chelsea always won titles when two striking forward players combined efforts to score nothing less than 25 goals.
In 2005, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Frank Lampard had 25 goals; in 2006, Lampard and Didier Drogba had 28 goals and they worked harder in 2010 to increase the tally to 49 goals; in 2015, it was Diego Costa and Eden Hazard that got 34 goals and replicated the same in 2017 with 36 goals. These feats are assisted by the brilliance of wingers and midfielders such as Arjen Robben, Salomon Kalou, Florent Malouda, John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien, Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Ramires, Willian, Oscar, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, N’golo Kante to mention just a few.
In the 2020/21 season, Chelsea have reinforced their squad, and this is an indication that they mean business. This is not to undermine the expenses and signings of other teams, but the factors that worked for Chelsea in the past are already taken care of in their new arrivals this season. The German duo – Timo Werner and Kai Havertz from RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen respectively are a spectacular force to watch out for. They are definitely going to dazzle the fans with Drogba/Lampard or Costa/Hazard pairing. It is not a gainsaying that both also played in the same Bundesliga League amassing 46 goals together. Werner and Havertz had 28 and 18 goals respectively. This is exactly what Chelsea needed and paid the price.
Others like Hakim Ziyech from Ajax, Malang Sarr from Nice, Ben Chilwell from Leicester and Thiago Silva from Paris St. Germaine are signed to strengthen other departments that leaked last season. The crop of the established players that gave their brilliant performances with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic, Joginho, Kante, Reece James, Cesar Azplicueta and a host of others would upgrade their tasks to contend for titles.
Arsenal legend and former England captain, Tony Adams believes Chelsea under Frank Lampard will be competitive. “I think he’s had an exceptional first season and he’s not even there yet…I’ve seen him working with this group of players and they’re building a fantastic squad there, he’s getting it together. Lampard knows this group inside out and him and Jody Morris are made for Chelsea. Both of them are made for Chelsea. It’s just an absolutely perfect fit for me,” Adams said.
This season will indisputably display classic professional performances from players in the EPL, and Chelsea would be an interesting team to watch. They have always been fantastic year-in-year-out, and this season would not be an exception, rather it’s going to be another splendid outing for Chelsea to clinch the EPL title or at worst secure the lowest cup in the entire campaign.