The Seattle match is still a week away but I’m already prepped and ready for New York City. To me, this feels like “the big one” both because it’s in an iconic metropolis and because it’s the first time Chelsea will come face to face with Carlo Ancelotti since his departure from Stamford Bridge.
When the summer tour dates were initially announced, I didn’t even think I’d be able to attend the eastern USA matches, but I’m so glad it worked out. This will be a fantastic game to watch and I must say I’m looking forward to meeting the members of the New York Blues official supporters’ group.
The New York Blues normally watch their Chelsea matches at a bar so cool I’m already certain I won’t want to leave once I’m there. It’s called The Football Factory, it’s large and it apparently shows every match you can think of. Furthermore, it’s directly across from the Empire State Building. As an avid football fan who has never been to New York City, that combination just seems magical to me. I highly recommend checking out their website for a schedule of Chelsea-related festivities occurring around the date of the match, including a meet and greet with legends Ron “Chopper” Harris and Paul Canoville.
If you, like me, are traveling to New York City from elsewhere, I’ve researched some information that might make your trip to the Big Apple easier, so you can focus on what really matters: Chelsea!
In recent days I’ve been hearing many rumours surrounding this match, mainly speculation that some players who may not be able to attend the Seattle game may join the team at this point in the tour. I’m not certain if there is any truth to that, but it gives us something to think about in the time leading up to the match.
If you’re heading to this game, what are you most excited about?
See you in New York City!
Written by Danielle
There is less than a week now until the summer tour kicks off! I can’t express how excited I am, but I suspect if you’re heading to any of the matches you’ll understand how I’m feeling.
If you’re already getting in the tour spirit, here are a few things you’ll want to do before Wednesday’s match in Seattle:
What do you think the highlights of this match will be? Chelsea were successful against the Sounders the last time the clubs met; do you think this time around will draw the same result? Do you think new signings like Eden Hazard could make their Chelsea debut at this game? If you haven’t been to Stamford Bridge in a while, are you crossing your fingers we’ll see our iconic Captain, Leader, Legend John Terry or the curly locks of the delightful David Luiz? Are you hoping to have a photo with the FA and Champions League cups? Or are you equally excited about the whole event?
The countdown until the tour has begun! See you in Seattle next week!
Written by Danielle
The right-back position at Chelsea is still up for grabs and the latest competitor for the position is Maicon, a name we should all know. A few seasons ago the 30-year-old Brazilian was lauded as the best right-back in the world and he is often compared to Ashley Cole, another alleged best in his position. He also helped Inter Milan win the UEFA Champions League in 2010, and has been lauded for his contribution greatly. But more recently we haven’t heard of such appreciation anymore, mainly due to Inter’s terrible season in Serie A. And a man who soon turns 31 doesn’t really show that Chelsea are looking to rejuvenate the squad, is he? So is he still Chelsea material?
My short answer is yes, if used wisely, but I don’t have much to say about this topic that We Ain’t Got No History hasn’t covered yet, so I really recommend reading that article.
In the last few months, Chelsea has been linked with Piszczek, Azpilicueta, Van Der Wiel, Debuchy etc. – all of whom are young and promising, and could be long-term solutions for Chelsea’s right-back position. However, I can give several reasons why I think we would be better off with Maicon:
1) Branislav Ivanovic. The last few seasons have shown that Maicon won’t be the main man in the right-back position anymore. He’s been playing under 30 games a season, yet it doesn’t affect his performances (like in Lampard’s case where according to him, consistency creates results). In fact, as the author of the forementioned article showed, the longer Maicon rests, the better he plays.
We’re comfortable in the centre where we have 4 great options: John Terry, Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic. If it were possible I’d play them all because they are so good, but that’s impossible. But Ivanovic is almost equally good in the centre and right. So he can provide frequent cover for Maicon, and everyone will be pleased as they get their playing time.
2) The academy. Ashley Cole has been playing in his position without experienced cover for some time. The result: Ryan Bertrand has emerged as a valuable young left-back who has already been called up for important games and performed well. In fact, wasn’t he named Man of the Match once this season? He might become the next first choice left-back at Chelsea. Also, Patrick Van Aanholt made a few impressive appearances last season. Why not introduce the same policy in the right back?
Our academy has produced young talents who may join the first team very soon. The first name you might recall is Todd Kane who turns 19 this year. He was an integral part of the team that won the 2012 FA Youth Cup, and like many of our senior defenders he has a scoring ability.
If we go for a young and established foreign player, Kane and other youngsters (Nortey, Gordon, Bangura, et al) might as well just forget about ever emerging from the reserve team.
3) Money, money, money. A young and talented right-back won’t come cheap, but we could get Maicon for £6 million and £80,000 a week, which isn’t so outrageous. And if you still think this price tag is over the top, think about it as a short-term thing.
4) Big games. If you’ve been following Italian football you would know that Maicon likes showing up in big games and scoring beauties. His only two goals from the 2011/12 season were against rivals Juventus and AC Milan, the second of which was a beauty lauded as one of the best goals of the season. It’s not the first time he’s scored against big sides. From Inter’s treble season you might remember Maicon’s goals against (again) Juventus and AC Milan, as well as Barcelona. Chelsea could use a player with such an ability, as big Premier League sides are the Blues’ kryptonite (although Spurs fans might be smirking, remembering how Gareth Bale gave Maicon a run and as a result became the “world’s best”).
5) Chelsea’s style. Maicon is known to be attacking and pacy, although the latter quality might have faded with age a little. He’s got his eye on the goal so can be caught out of position at times (something we’ve seen in Chelsea a lot), so stylistically Chelsea’s defence won’t change much, but its quality will, as Maicon will definitely be an upgrade from Jose Bosingwa who just departed, and Paulo Ferreira who rarely gets a game and doesn’t have the quality to play week in week out.
My only concern is Maicon’s ability to adapt to the English style of playing. EPL has been often referred to as the league where foreign players have to work especially hard. Even the smallest clubs get competitive and give new arrivals a trial. Can Maicon get adapted at the age of 31?
And I repeat – adding Maicon to the squad will only please me if it opens up possibilities for Chelsea’s academy players and he is used sparingly so that other senior defenders will also be happy.
Written by Annely
Another season of association football is over which left behind some good and bad memories, some shocking memories and some angering ones. But it was definitely a memorable season, and everyone, even those not supporting the mighty Chelsea like I do, can look back at this year and instantly think of Chelsea (let’s ignore the fact that Manchester City won the league for the first time in 44 years if my calculations are correct).
Climbing out of the hole dug in the first half of the season Chelsea finished the season on a high. Regardless of the league result which would have left us out of the European competitions next season, we can still consider this our most successful season ever. 19th May 2012 is the day to remember! I for one will never forget this season. Here’s my round-up of the 2011/2012 season as I experienced and remembered it:
This poor little Northern European girl had to depend on TV coverage most of the time as the distance between her house and Stamford Bridge is more than 1,100 miles. But this only frustrates me occasionally (like every weekend). I did attend a few matches though which was only possible because I didn’t buy a single pair of shoes the entire season. For real!
AVB, easy as 123
The most exciting signing in my opinion was the hot new manager who impressed me when he managed Porto the season before. Andre Villas-Boas was only 33 when he became Chelsea’s new manager – younger than some of our senior players. But he brought in an exciting change – different kind of football, young players, rotation and all that, which worked for a while until it didn’t anymore.
The high line football AVB was trying to employ didn’t work the way it should have. Players didn’t adapt to it and many defensive mistakes were made by players who I still consider some of the best defenders in the league. It appeared as if it was impossible for us to keep a clean sheet at all.
As the first signs of Chelsea’s decline occurred, it went downhill fast. In the beginning of the season, AVB seemed to be a man who had it all under control. I was especially impressed when he made the right substitutions when they were needed. It has been said that AVB had his sights on the future, but forgot to attend the present. He tried to rejuvenate the squad, which of course, is exactly what we have wanted for a long time. But maybe the changes were too sudden. Giving Anelka and Alex no first team spot because they announced they wanted to leave in January wasn’t the best way to manage the case. He also upset some other senior players who had a massive influence on the entire team, and gradually he lost their full backing. That led to a chain reaction of bad results, behind-the-scenes drama and players’ underperformance. The result was: by Boxing Day Chelsea was the 3rd club in London, they were knocked out of the Carling Cup by the eventual winners Liverpool, they were on the verge of being knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League, and the inevitable happened – Roman Abramovich had to say goodbye to yet another manager.
Although I hate the fact that we no longer have the best-looking manager in the league (no offence, Robbie, you’re a doll), and that AVB couldn’t finish his project, his sacking proved to be the right thing at the time. Like many have said – he was the right man for the job, but at the wrong time. I will be forever grateful for what AVB has done for Chelsea and I think he deserves a lot of credit for leading Chelsea to another Double.
My 10 days of football
Right after I had handed in my letter of resignation at work I packed my suitcase and flew to London. The 10 days mentioned in the title weren’t actually devoted to attending football matches, but everything I did was football-related.
As soon as I arrived I took a bus to the city of my university – Cardiff. That’s basically the whole reason I had planned to attend Swansea vs. Chelsea in the first place – to go back to the city I have fond memories of (and that’s also why I’m rooting for Cardiff City to win the Championship playoffs every year, with no luck). Swansea was my first away game so it was particularly exciting for me. The match didn’t disappoint either. We managed to pull a last minute equalizer which made it a memorable first away game. Unfortunately for Danielle for whom this was her 2nd attendance, her hero JT was absent again, like the last time. If I only believed in jinxes… And that brings me to another point of the game – Ashley Cole got sent off, and this fed my record of sendings-off per game I attend (one every other game). Let me remind you again: I don’t believe in jinxes!
It was also a pleasure meeting some of the Chelsea faithful I had been talking to online, and whom I ran into at the stadium by accident.
An interesting fact from that match: with 20,526 spectators, Liberty Stadium got a new attendance record. So, I’m now part of their history.
That weekend Chelsea played one of the most anticipated matches of the season with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. By the 50th minute we were 3-0 up which was a great sign considering what a mess we were in (those were the final days of AVB’s reign). The score included David Luiz’ goal who I wanted to put a £10 on but didn’t. But I don’t think anyone saw this coming: the final result was 3:3. Yes, they managed to screw things up.
I spent the rest of my holiday in London, meeting friends I’ve met through mutual passion for Chelsea Football Club. They included Miss SW6′s dear friends from Chelsea Football Fancast, among others. We were invited to their show right after the match, where they had a famous guest – the legendary Mickey Thomas. It was quite an honour meeting one of the former Chelsea players (and I’m yet to meet a current one).
The day after the frustrating draw with Manchester United Danielle and I did something we’ve never done before – the platinum tour at Stamford Bridge. It’s much more convenient to pester the tour guide with questions when there’s only two of you. But the best thing of the day was meeting Roman Abramovich himself. He wasn’t very happy that day but who could blame him after his football team threw away a 3-0 lead. I was in such a great shock that I started speaking in Estonian which humoured Danielle a lot.
Those were the highlights of my first football trip of the season. The rest doesn’t deserve an honourable mention.
This season Chelsea finished 6th in the Premier League, which is the lowest result since 2002 and outside top 4 for the first time during Roman Abramovich’s era. We got to see some pretty frustrating matches (Manchester United home game being an example) and below par performances. I’ll bring out a few that really made me boil with anger.
Getting beaten by Arsenal is in my opinion the ultimate humiliation, and it becomes an absolute nightmare when you get beaten by 5 goals with a hat-trick coming from one of the most irritating men from the red part of London. Irritating because Robin Van Persie is an absolute whinge with a big mouth. Rant over. It’s no secret that the result humbled us and Arsenal have something to feed on until we do the same or until they win something really important.
Our first league visit to Loftus Road since 1996 was the most frustrating, no, anger-infusing match of the season. The 9-man Chelsea was clearly the stronger team, but sadly not strong enough to play against 11 players, Chris Foy showing 7 yellow cards (not including the 2 to QPR) and sending off Bosingwa and Drogba.
The match against QPR brought Chelsea more problems than just a fine for “failure to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion”. An on-pitch incident between Anton Ferdinand and John Terry shadowed the latter’s reputation ever more and he will face trial after the European Championships. Until he’s proven guilty or not guilty, he is not guilty.
Those were just a few lowlights of the season, although I would also like to mention the 3-1 defeat in Naples which nearly cost us the Champions League, drawing at home to Birmingham City which nearly cost us the FA Cup (the only competition we had a fair chance of succeeding in) and Drogba’s theatrics in the Champions League semi final first leg at Stamford Bridge which were simply embarrassing. But those were the results that didn’t do any harm in the end. The highs that followed covered them all.
The return of the heroes
Not only am I talking about the managerial partnership of Robbie Di Matteo and Eddie Newton, the Chelsea legends who took charge of the Blues, but the current players that had been underperforming made a comeback as well. I believe it was Drogba who said that after AVB was dismissed they realised it was their fault and they had to do something to get back to winning ways. The change in the players’ attitudes was instant.
Under RDM’s management things started going smoothly. His first fixture against Birmingham City, which Chelsea managed to win comfortably, kept us in the FA Cup competition. More positive results followed, including a miraculous 4-1 comeback in the 2nd leg against Napoli with a heroic winner from Branislav Ivanovic. Although Chelsea never managed to get back into the top 4, they only lost 3 of 21 fixtures under RDM’s management.
More heroics followed: a comfortable FA Cup win against Leicester, a memorable 5-1 victory over Spurs in the semifinal and the grande finale: lifting the FA Cup after beating our great rivals Liverpool who are a difficult opponent even when they’re terrible (and they’ve had the worst squad in a very long time). Didier Drogba became the first player to score in 4 FA Cup finals, JT the first player to win the FA Cup four times as captain with one club I believe, and Cole the first player to win 7 FA Cups (3 with Arsenal) – something to add into history books. Our goal was reached – one competition was won, and that was enough to forget our terrible league position.
However, the FA Cup wasn’t the most important victory of the season, although it is a competition very dear to Chelsea fans. On 19th May 2012 Chelsea Football Club became the first London club and only the 5th English club to win the Champions League, and they did it beautifully – wins against Napoli, Benfica, Barcelona (the best team in the world) and Bayern (who played the final in their home ground) make Chelsea’s victory convincing.
Petr Cech and Didier Drogba gave some of their best performances of their careers (but other boys – Ash, JT, et al deserve their praise too) - that’s how these heroes returned. Lifting the Holy Grail was Didier Drogba’s swansong – the 34-year-old hero who decided to leave his home club did it the best way possible. Farewell, you legend!
I’ve witnessed history
When I got an unexpected bonus from work I decided it was time to go to Europe with Chelsea – it was now or never (because it could have been our last season in the Champions League for a while). So when Domir Skomina blew the full-time whistle in the quarter final 2nd leg, I booked a flight to Barcelona and I will never regret that decision.
I went to Barcelona knowing it was probably our last game in Europe, so my expectations weren’t high. I just went for the experience, the atmosphere, the company and with the hope of seeing something unforgettable. What I didn’t expect is a 10-man Chelsea (and my booking record still stands with JT being sent off) coming back from a 2-0 defeat with a wonderful strike from Ramires which got him the Goal of the Season award and his own chant, and an equalizer from Fernando Torres who, although he likes scoring against Spanish opponents, has failed to overcome his barren spell with Chelsea. His sprint towards the goal was the most exciting moment of the night and the culmination was incredible. I believe I was hugged by 10 people at the same time.
I don’t care that my first night in Barcelona is something I would like to forget, or that I got my phone nicked outside Camp Nou (so I have no photo evidence of myself there) – I have seen history and that memory lasts a lifetime. Pep Guardiola still hasn’t beaten Chelsea, and we have never seen Lionel Messi score, so everything stayed the way it should be. Chelsea fans were singing loud and proud for 3/4 hours until Camp Nou was empty, then all the way down and on route to the city to celebrate.
Who delivered and who didn’t
Every year there are players who underperform, and when summer comes and the question arises “who should leave?” we can spit out names like Joey Barton spits out venom. The names in my mind are Bosingwa who has been frustrating for the majority of the season, and Kalou, who joined the Blues as a promising youngster who didn’t develop into a world-class force. I believe Malouda is also past his best and even towards the end of the season he didn’t pull himself together, so I don’t see him getting a contract extension next summer. Sadly, at the moment Essien looks the same, but I still have faith in him.
Cech has already received a contract extension and rightly so - he along with Ivanovic have been our top players this season (Alan Davies, a massive Arsenal fan and the presenter of The Tuesday Club podcast, even called Ivanovic the best defender in the league) and show no signs of getting out of form. I even voted for Ivanovic as the Player of the Year, having also considered David Luiz who pulled out some wonderful performances, and is a natural talent who can tackle and throw long balls (and is the love of my life, duh), and JT – the unsung hero whose self-sacrificing saves make him a true inspiration. I chose Ivanovic because he really is the best and since I was choosing between him and Cech last year he had to get the honour this time.
Unless a rival fan reminds us of Chelsea’s league position, we wouldn’t even remember it. The FA Cup and Champions League double made 2011/2012 the best ever season. Long live the Blues!
Enjoy the summer and keep the blue flag flying high!
Written by Annely
It’s been over a week since we were crowned Champions of Europe and it still hasn’t sunk in. To be honest, I don’t really know when it will sink in. I can still close my eyes and see Drogba step up to the penalty spot, take a few steps back, run up to the ball and put it in the back of the net. My voice is still shot from yelling and celebrating. I can still feel that excitement of jumping up and down along with thousands of other supporters, my boyfriend picking me up, giving a hug and kiss to the people around me and yelling in unison, ‘We did it!’. I can see and feel all of that but it still doesn’t seem real.
As I look back on this season it’s hard to imagine that we are Champions League winners. After standing in a crowded ground in Genk and seeing Chelsea throw away a win, to standing in the Leverkusen ground and watching us yet again throw away a win, plus all of our home matches. I never would have guessed that we would have been in the final. Strangely, it was when we lost in Napoli that I said, don’t worry we’ll be in the final. That may sound mental but it’s absolutely true.
My trip to Munich was an interesting one but so was everyone else’s. I boarded a 10 1/2 hour flight from LA into London, landing midday on Friday. It was only a few hours later that my boyfriend and I, along with a few others, piled into the Magic Bus to begin the tedious journey to Munich. Dover to Dunkirk, 2 hours and lots of banter. Off the ferry and on the way to Augsburg after getting stuck in traffic and roadworks for hours, Germany efficiency my arse. It wasn’t until 16:00 that we finally arrived in Augsburg where the inept hotel woman finally gave us a key to our room. A very quick shower then a taxi to Munich for the first real meal we’d had in a day. Beer and pizza never tasted so good.
A walk to Marianplatz to the most densely populated train stop I’ve ever seen. TFL would have had a heart attack. It was then I wondered why I’d bothered to take a shower. Ridiculously hot in that station while we all waited to see what train was coming up to then pile on in the hope to get to the Allianz Arena. Thank you to the Germans for helping us sort that out! A few handbags and a flare being lit later, we finally got into the train. Sitting on Ossie’s lap because there was no other way we’d both be able to fit in that train, not that I’m complaining. The train was buzzing with talk of Moscow, of the final ahead of us and loads of Chelsea songs. Just the way a pre-match should be.
We finally got to the Allianz stop and made the walk down to the ground. What a beautiful site the Allianz Arena was! People mulling about everywhere, buying beer and souvenirs.
We got into the ground and it truly was awe inspiring. The way a final should be.
Chelsea were underdogs before the game kicked off and throughout the whole match we were still underdogs. We were outplayed, it’s as simple as that but our defense did it’s job brilliantly and Cech was magnificent. An absolute gem. When the Germans scored, my heart sank. I sat back in my seat and thought that was it, it’s over. All of this work and that’s it. RDM made the switch bringing Torres on and it made a huge impact. Sitting in my seat when Mata took the corner I thought, “It’s going to go in.” And it did. Drogba with a clinical header into the net. Game on. All of us went mental. At least, I know I did.
Extra time. What I thought would happen from the get go. What everyone was dreading. A missed penalty kick by Robben. A brilliant save from Cech and a bit of cheekiness by Mikel and loads of prayers from me. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
Penalty kicks. I’ve never prayed so much in my entire life. Every kick, praying we scored and praying that Cech could stop the Germans. I like to think that our collective prayers and the player’s (Cech’s especially) preparation won it for us. Maybe it was more preparation than divine intervention but whatever it was, it worked. Cech was crowned a legend and so was Drogba as he stepped up to the dreaded penalty spot. A run up and a ball into the back of the net. We won. We were the Champions of Europe. Finally.
The celebrations were brilliant. Football, the only place where we are all family. Hugging, kissing, screaming, crying. All together. And yes, I cried but only when I saw JT celebrate. JT will always have a special place in my heart after everything he’s endured in the Champions League. I know many gave him stick for what happened in Barcelona but he is a legend in my mind and seeing him finally life that big eared cup the tears started streaming down my face. I’m getting emotional just writing this now.
I still can’t believe we are Champions of Europe. What a night. What a trip (not in a good way). What a way to win the Champions League.
We are the Champions of Europe. I was there.
Written by Miss Gate 17