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Chelsea FC – So Near, Yet So Far
The last five Champions League games in the last six seasons. As Chelsea’s newly appointed manager, Carlo Ancelotti, said in his first interview, that he is doing very well. However, it is clearly not good enough. The fact that these five semi-finals only made it to the final must be a source of frustration for Chelsea’s billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich, and the club’s supporters – though it is less so for them, perhaps.
The reason long-time Chelsea fans may be a little wiser about ‘only’ reaching the final once in five attempts is that most of them are just getting used to competing for honours. Until 1997, when Chelsea won the FA Cup, the club had won nothing for 26 years – unless you include the former Second Division title. Chelsea’s fortunes in the 1980s, after being bought by Ken Bates for £1, fell so low that they were almost in the third tier of English football.
But how it changed within the last decade of the century. Even before Abramovich arrived in 2003, the recovery process had begun. International managers Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gulli, Gianluca Vialli and Claudio Ranieri all helped establish the club as one of England’s leading outfits and won the FA Cup in 1997 and 2000 as well as the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998. in many ways – with their continental managers and their foreign players in particular – being the first club to field a team without a British or Irish player in a match against Southampton in 1999.
So, when the Russian oil magnate brought in Champions League winner José Mourinho to take over the team in 2004, almost everyone suspected that the ‘special’ would produce a special team.
And so it proved. The Premier League was won twice in a row, as well as the FA Cup again and the League Cup (twice). From March 2004, the club went on an 86-game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge.
With some of England’s best players – John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley and Joe Cole – and with some of the best from abroad – Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Michael Ballack and Nicholas Anelka – the world has been waiting for the trophies to continue. And especially for the ‘white grail’ that Abramovich wanted so much; that Champions League.
And yet for the last two seasons Chelsea have been cheating – much to the dismay of their supporters. There are times when they are so strong that they defeat even the strongest enemies; almost bullying them into submission because of their physical and mental superiority. But it seems that there has been another major problem in the club’s management which has prevented them from making the best of it.
Some have said that it is because some foreign players were not given enough credit; but when they showed their passion and commitment after losing to Barcelona in 2009 the same players were criticized for missing games.
Some have accused successive managers of failing to manage “senior” players – as if it was difficult for someone like Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Others criticized Abramovich for losing patience with Mourinho too early in 2007 or apparently losing his interest in the team for a while.
But now, after failing to convince Guus Hiddink to stay at the club after reviving the team in his short tenure, Chelsea have chosen a man who has won the Champions League Trophy twice as a player and twice as a manager. . Indeed, Stamford Bridge – a spectacular place to watch your football compared to other “lifeless” stadiums – can witness what optimistic fans would have dreamed of twenty years ago. ; a team capable of winning the Champions League.
If Carlo Ancelotti cannot bring the trophy, where will he turn?
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