During the season, we always talked about why this was a completely wrecked campaign. We’ve experienced all those Murphy’s laws in just one season. I’ve just grouped below the major reasons in my opinion, that have resulted in Chelsea ending up 6 points lesser than Man Utd.
The most popular, most logical and most correct reason. I once took the entire squad list to see how many did not get injured this season. I could count with my fingers in one hand. People say that we are not the worst hit by injuries as there was also Newcastle etc but c’mon, they could climb by two spots at the max.
I know that injuries are part and parcel of football but what happened to us looked like to be a curse by a red nosed witch. There were quite a few times this season I thought ‘god! this is unreal’ – especially, when two goalies were knocked off within 90 minutes, when Bridge got injured without even seeing his effort cross the line, when Scott Sinclair got injured etc. The red nosed witch put the spell so perfectly that even the ex-Chelsea players such as Gallas, Duff, Gudjohnsen etc got injured badly (may be the code was slightly incorrect!).
I dont think even the non-Chelsea fans would deny the fact that there is no English club team can beat a fully fit-Chelsea. I’d even extend that to the whole of Europe.
This is just a corollary of the earlier point. The second choice will never be as good as the first choice and that’s why first choice is first choice and second choice is second choice. The quality of the back ups in the team was good but not good enough to sustain for long periods of time with consistency and certainly not good enough to get us 90+ points.
The maximum points lost per game was under Hilario’s goalkeeping. He did quite decently and played as well as you would expect him to. The lack of trust on Hilario’s goalkeeping pulled back the defensive line and it did impact Chelsea’s game. When we are on all-out attack, we are almost unstoppable and we saw that many times this season.
Psychologically, there was an air of caution and fear in everyone’s mind which restricted Chelsea’s game and there was no surprise that whenever we were pushed to the wall, the real Chelsea came out blazing.
The ‘Just Arrived’ Club
It’s not uncommon to see five players playing in their first season for a club in another league. What could be uncommon is all these players having to play crucial roles and play/start lots of matches and be disturbed constantly by injuries. In the order of their success – Ashley Cole, Ballack, Shevchenko, Hilario and Boulahrouz – all had a challenging season.
There were instances where all these five had to play in the same match. Though few of them were all meant to be first teamers, I would not put all these players in the same team, time and again in the first season itself. But Jose had no other option and he had to do this. It certainly impacts the team’s playing style, mentality and team chemistry.
Compare this with Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal. How many first season players, the other clubs had to play in the same match and for long did this continue?
Man Utd played well (grrrrr. . .)
Yes, credit to them. I always thought they would crumble under pressure. They played well together as a team and they played with a mission to accomplish. They had their slices of luck, which we will discuss later, but I’d never be able to say that they did not deserve to be champions this time.
Remember, the same 89 points would have still kept them as runner-up in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Like they say in Cricket, ‘it was not a winning total’. Luckily for them, when they improved their tally, we helped them by slipping about 10 points.
Fixtures, penalties, favours from buddies, brothers, uncles & aunts
The ‘randomly’ generated fixtures list was so damn dubious that it looked superbly handpicked by a Man Utd well-wisher. Mostly they played before we did and put pressure on us and when we got a chance to play first, we won and they lost. FA allowed the premiership dates to clash with FA Cup dates and had to move the Stamford Bridge match against Man Utd from mid April to May. Had we beaten them in mid-April, anything could have happened.
Truly, Cristiano Ronaldiver was in supreme form in all those unique skills of his. He had a great season but he knew what to do when things dont go as planned – just race through, do flip-flap, feint-double feint and when the defender gets closer enough, fall down like he was shot by a sniper. Can anyone compute the worth of his dives this season? Wouldn’t it be more than 6 points?
We gotta read Howard’s contract to know why he didn’t keep against Man Utd. May be, he is too straightforward in his approach and thus may not have been helpful. May be he should learn from Phil Neville. Looks like the Neville family was keen on winning the title, while one Neville couldnt even dream about it atleast he can help the other Neville lift it. For a defender, that was a superb finish. Well done bro!
The Chelsea Civil War
The mid-season confusion on Jose’s future was the second worst thing to happen this season after our injuries. It took the minds of players and staff away from where they should have been. Players rallying around the coach and also expressing concern about the happenings. I’d never be able to concentrate on my work if I’m unsure of what might happen to my job next week.
The ego clash or ‘I am the boss’ exercise also meant there were no reinforcements in January when we needed them the most. Finally, it was all clarified by Kenyon few months later, by which time the Press had eaten Mourinho’s head.
The Quadruple Dream
This was the secret dream of many Chelsea fans. We had the team that can do it and the coach that can lead them to do it. Due to the injuries, the squad size shrunk to two-thirds, which was simply not enough to win four trophies. In the last 4 weeks of the season, you could see that Chelsea slipping away only because of the fatigue factor.
In hindsight, it would be easy to say that we should have played for only two or three of the competitions. With all these trouble we have still won two cups and came close in the other two. Not bad for all that had happened this season. May be with some luck, we could have had it all. If the first team players had played only in Premiership matches and Champions League matches, I bet we would have won both, but again this is hindsight and this is biased guess in a hypothetical situation.
Next season, I’m curious to see which of the above would not repeat. Point 5 could repeat as it has done for more than a decade. I dont think the other points could repeat for Chelsea the next season. It was a peculiar season which even by the law of averages should not repeat in the near future. If these do not repeat for Chelsea next season, you can image what we can accomplish!
This post was published at Blue Champions on 09-Jun-07.