Chelsea reached the Europa League final last night, beating FC Basel 3-1 at Stamford Bridge and 5-2 on aggregate. Their opponents in the final will be Benfica, who as good as they are, will be underdogs to Chelsea. I’m personally undecided who will win the final, as Benfica are a very dangerous team and so are Chelsea, just in a very unpredictable way. On paper at least, Chelsea should be expected to win.
So, theoretically speaking, Chelsea could end this season with a European trophy and a top four finish (which I don’t think they’ll get, but I’m talking in theory). Chelsea also progressed as far as the FA Cup semi-final and Carling Cup semi-final, but were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages. When you take into consideration the investment made on Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin and Demba Ba, even the the most passionate, blind-sighted Chelsea supporter would have to concede this has been a regression from last season’s Champions League and FA Cup double. I’m not saying that Chelsea had to win the Champions League again for this season to match last, but they didn’t even come close to competing for the chance to defend their title. I’d have taken the quarter-finals as good for Chelsea.
For Chelsea Football Club and all they promised after Didier Drogba clinched the Champions League final with his penalty, this season has been a failure; one worth putting in the history books. Then, line a steel safe with weights, fit it with a bomb set to self-time, lock the book inside and launch the safe into the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean and never speak of it again. Then, copying the Joker from the Dark Knight film, Roman Abramovich should kill everybody involved in the destruction of the book…
… Sorry. I got a little carried away just then. It’s not been THAT bad, but it’s certainly been a season worth forgetting about for Chelsea. After reaching such highs, everybody concerned with Chelsea should have been expecting progress in regards to challenging for the title, winning another domestic trophy and at least challenging for the Premier League title.
The counter-productive period that “welcomed” Rafael Benitez really hurt Chelsea. Results were poor for three games and whilst that’s not a massive stretch to go without a win, (they won six games in a row after defeat to West Ham. Not counting the Club World Cup) it was the fan reaction to Benitez joining that hurt the club. The frustration has been that for every positive step that Chelsea take, their is a period of frustration around the corner. For certain periods, it seems as if Chelsea play in the fear of angering their own crowd. For example, if they have one bad result, it tends to manifest into two or three poor matches before they find themselves again.
For me, Chelsea’s problem this season hasn’t been a quality issue, but an atmosphere related one. I’m not saying specifically the crowd, but the atmosphere surrounding the entire club.
Funnily enough, if I were to be asked if I considered Rafael Benitez to be a success at Chelsea, then under the circumstances, I’d say yes. Benites wasn’t responsible for Chelsea for going out of the Champions League and the record books show progress to the semi-finals of both domestic competitions. Put a Europa League trophy into the mix and a potential top four finish, finish the mixture off by speaking of a turbulent time at Chelsea, then this is a period that Benitez can happily put on his CV.
Under the circumstances and if Benitez does win a trophy and finish in the top four, then there’s not much Chelsea can complain about. The overall issue lies with not buying strikers to complement a very talented midfield in the summer, amongst other things.
That’s all from me on this one. Have a good day!