CFCnet would like to offer up its ‘End of Decade’ Review. Not all our choices will be universally popular and no doubt the ‘Comments’ section below and Forums will set us straight, but we’d like to throw our hat in the ring and outline what we consider to be our highlights of the decade below.
Most Important Moment of the Decade
In the summer of 2003 Chelsea found itself in a parlous financial situation. Whilst legalities prevent us pouring over the dying embers of the Bates regime, needles to say if Roman Abramovich hadn’t stepped in, we could have gone the same way as Leeds United. Roman’s purchase of Chelsea FC and our subsequent elevation to become one of the top 4 Clubs in Europe is the moment of the decade.
Match of the Decade
So many classic matches deserve mention that it is an almost impossible job to single out one game in what has been Chelsea’s most successful decade ever. Still, call us brave or simply mad, we’ve chosen the 2004 Champions League Quarter Final against Arsenal at Highbury as the greatest match of the decade. Why? Arsenal hadn’t been defeated in any meaningful match against Chelsea for over 13 years. One Coca Cola Cup victory against Arsenal reserves aside, the Highbury outfit had consistently humiliated us year in year out, the nadir being our FA Cup Final defeat in 2002.
With Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ already 1-1 after the Stamford Bridge first leg, the team – who didn’t lose a Premiership game all season, let alone lose at Highbury – faced a relatively simple tie at home against the Blues to progress to the Champions League Semi Finals. Cue Wayne Bridge and a breathtaking goal in the final minutes of the match to beat Arsenal on their home patch. Never has work on a Wednesday morning been so eagerly awaited.
That game saw the end of Arsenal’s hoodoo over Chelsea and since the tie, Chelsea have exerted five years of complete dominance, as witnessed by 2 Premierships, 2 FA cups and 2 Carling Cups. Arsenal’s haul? Nothing. Just to rub it in, we played Arsenal three times in 2009 and won all three (9 scored, 2 conceded). As one CFCnet member noted, “revenge is a dish best served at Wembley or Cardiff”.
Signing of the Decade
When Frank Lampard signed for Chelsea in 2001, many people thought that Claudio Ranieri had been on the Barolo. £11 million? For that? Frank’s first season was tame, average at best, but it was under Jose Mourinho’s tutelage that Frank blossomed into the greatest midfielder Chelsea has ever seen. Runner up World Player of the Year in 2005, Frank also landed three Chelsea player of the Year awards, scored twenty goals a season for five consecutive years and has made more Premiership appearances this decade than any other player from any team. Who would have guessed?
Player of the Decade
Whilst it’s a close run thing between John Terry and Frank, JT takes the honour for being a home grown youth product who not only made it through Chelsea’s ranks but also went on to become captain of England. Turning down sizeable offers from Arsenal earlier in the decade and more recently Man City, our captain colossus has turned in world-class performances season after season and has been chosen in FIFAPro’s World XI four times. PFA Player of the Year in 2005 and Chelsea Player of the Year in 2001 and 2006, JT’s moment of the decade must be his winner against Barcelona in 2005. JT, we salute you.
Worst signing of the Decade
Too many players to mention but Andriy Shevchenko arrived at the Bridge with a reputation only matched by Christ himself. Whether the ‘Jesus’ mutterings in the Shed Upper were related to this one can only wonder but like a tired racehorse ready for the knackers yard, Shevchenko was a massive disappointment. Nice guy though.
Rival of the Decade
Barcelona. Our spats with Barca made the whole of Europe take notice but it’s interesting to note that it is only when Barca play a ten-man Chelsea that they ever seem to win. Man Utd also deserve a mention but our FA Cup victory in 2007 and 3-0 home win to lift the 2006 title gave us revenge in spades. Who can forget Fergie’s beetroot face when Carvalho scored our third? Priceless.
Manager of the Decade
Jose Mourinho is Chelsea’s most successful manager ever. A one-man trophy machine, our three full seasons under Jose were the best of our lives with two Premierships, one FA Cup and two Carling Cups. Throw in a Charity Shield and Jose won a clean sweep of UK top flight honours. A legend.
Disappointment of the Decade
Three inches of Russian wood. Need we say more?
Most despised opposition of the Decade
With sensitivities on Merseyside on perpetual red alert, CFCnet has to bite its tongue but suffice to say that we stand side by side with Arsenal, Man Utd and Everton with our mutual loathing of Liverpool FC. Whilst CFCnet was moved by Merseyside’s 29,000 strong homage to the victims of Hillsborough, we wonder how many will turn up for the 25th anniversary of the Heysel Stadium disaster in 2010? Our bet’s in single figures.
Highlight of the Decade
Bolton 2005. On a par with Gianfranco’s wonder goal in Stockholm to win us the European Cup Winners Cup and Di Matteo’s 1997 FA Cup Final strike, Bolton away in 2005 remains one of our all time highlights. With the game precariously poised at 1-0 to the Blues, we needed just one more goal to lift our first top flight title for 50 years. Cue Frank Lampard who bore down on goal with Carvalho to his right. “Pass Frank, PASS!” we screamed whilst Lamps ignored us, rounded Jasskelainen and scored.
The away end went pandemonium, not just for one minute but for a whole hour. Even when the ground was completely empty of Bolton fans, song after song echoed around the Reebok as the players celebrated with us. Magical doesn’t begin to describe the experience of being there.
So, that’s it. The best Chelsea decade ever.
Finally, a big thanks to all the 400 staff at Chelsea FC who made all our dreams come true, not just once, but time after time after time. It’s been the ride of our lives and we’re deeply grateful to everyone at the Club, especially a certain Roman Abramovich.
And, if you’ve read this far, don’t take our success for granted and make sure you support our team under every circumstance. Ask yourself, would you still be there watching if we faced relegation? If not, read Chelsea’s history and SING UP!