Chelsea’s season has been nothing short of crazy. 3 months ago, we sacked our manager who had only been in charge for 9 months. “Chelsea’s old guard are over the hill” they said. “Start focusing on the future because this season is done with” others told us.
Struggling to stay in the top 4 in the league and 3-1 down after the first leg of our Champions League round of 16 tie with Napoli, we looked dead and buried. A trophyless season awaited, with no hope of European football next season either.
Step up Roberto “Robbie” Di Matteo, our assistant manager while AVB was in charge and a previous cup winning midfielder at Chelsea in the late 1990s.
His first 3 games in charge saw us beat Birmingham City in the FA Cup, a win against Stoke in the league and a thrilling 4-1 win in extra time against Napoli to take us through to the Quarter Finals of the Champions League.
Personally, that 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge was a massive turning point in our season. It showed us that the “old guard” still had what it took to win against all odds and that our never say die attitude was still strong. One thing I’ll remember after that game was Karina telling me “We going to win this cup, I just know it.” Oh how I wished I believed her back then.
Winning the FA Cup
A few replays had to be played as our form in this competition was nothing short of boring. However, the further we progressed, the better we played. We thoroughly deserved the FA Cup after smashing Spurs 5-1 at Wembley in the semis and outplaying Liverpool for 2/3rds of the final to win 2-1.
Chelsea have now won the FA Cup 4 times out of the last 6 seasons and something we don’t seem to do is choke in finals. We love playing at Wembley and have an amazing win record at the ground. It’s definitely our home away from home.
2 records I have to mention with our FA Cup win is Terry is the first player to captain 1 side to 4 FA Cup wins and Drogba is the first player to score in 4 FA Cup finals.
Chelsea are starting to write their own history it seems.
Let’s not talk about the league…
Our league form left us ending the season in 6th place, our worst league position since Abramovich bought the club in 2003. We struggled to compete with the Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Newcastle and Spurs. The league is becoming so competitive that the “top 4″ we all used to talk about is a thing of the past.
We needed to end in the top 4 this season to automatically qualify for the Champions League for next season and even though we had qualified for the Europa League by winning the FA Cup, it’s not something the top clubs aim to qualify for. It’s Champions League competition or nothing.
Ending the season 25 points from eventual winners Manchester City is a bitter pill to swallow. Our league form over the past 2 seasons has not been great and this needs to change.
The road to Munich ending in glory
I still don’t understand how we managed to win the Champions League. No one gave us a chance after being 3-1 down to Napoli. Then no one gave us even a sniff of a chance in the semis when we came up against the mighty Barcelona. To top it off, we were definitely the underdogs in the final having to play Bayern Munich at their home ground!
I am so damn proud of every single Chelsea player that did their part to get the team to the final and win it. Everyone focuses on John Terry being sent off in the semi and his haters talk about him not deserving to lift the trophy. I’ll ask you, what about his goal against Napoli to help us turn around a 3-1 deficit or his defensive performance at home against Barca to keep them from scoring that all important away goal? Winning the Champions League isn’t just about winning the final – you have to get there first!
Summing up our first Champions League win
I’m going to do the summary in point form. I’ll never do this win justice in this blog post, but I’ll give it my best shot.
- The Chelsea old guard comprising of players such as Terry, Lampard, Cole and Drogba have been unbelievable in the last few months and in helping us win the Champions League.
- Cech was outstanding in helping us beat Barcelona and Bayern. He also guessed the right way to dive in all 6 penalties in the final, saving 3 of them. 10/10 for his homework!
- Cole defended like a demon in the final. He has been and still is the best left back in football.
- Think about Cahill for a second. 6 months ago he was playing for Bolton and they have been relegated. Here he is winning the Champions League.
- Everyone had written off Mikel in the beginning of this season, but he was outstanding during the semis and final of the Champions League. Unsung hero. I bet his pass completion rate was well above 90%.
- Torres still isn’t back at his best, but his performances of the past few games in the build up to the final were great. Who won our only corner in the final in which Drogba scored? Torres.
- Lampard? Super Frankie Lampard. Enough said.
- Ryan Bertrand made his Champions League debut in the final and had a tough time up against Philipp Lahm, Bayerns star defender and captain. He did really well and hats off to Robbie for picking him. That decision took balls.
- We had 2 penalties against us which would of ended our dream. Messi and Robben both couldn’t convert. I can’t explain that.
- Beating Barcalona at home 1-0 and drawing 2-2 at the Camp Nou. We took parking the bus to new levels, but it worked.
- Roberto Di Matteo. Will forever be written into Chelsea’s history as the first manager to win the Champions League for us. Deserves all the praise for turning Chelsea around in 3 months to win 2 trophies and make it the most successful season in our history.
My answer to people who ask me how we managed to win the Champions League in 2012 will always be, it was written in the stars!