- History of Chelsea F.C.
Chelsea Football Club, as one of the most famous Association Football clubs in
England, has a long, unique and idiosyncratic history, and has experienced both the highs and the lows of the game. From its early days as the butt of a music hall joke for their lack of success, to being 1954-55 Champions following a revamp. From the glamourous, talented and flamboyant team which emerged in swinging Londonin the mid-1960s to put the club on the footballing map for the first time, to the financial and on-pitch woes that almost forced its extinction in the early 1980s. From the rejuvenated side of the mid-1980s that returned it to stability, to the cosmopolitan renaissanceof the late-1990s, which saw it challenge for honours again, to a takeover in June 2003 which contributed to its current status as one of the dominant teams in the country.
For a more general overview of the club, see
In 1896, Henry Augustus "Gus" Mears, football enthusiast and businessman, along with his brother,
Joseph Mears, purchased the Stamford Bridge Athletics Ground in Fulham, West London, with the intention of staging first-class football matches there, though they had to wait until 1904 to buy the freehold, when the previous owner died. They failed to persuade Fulham Football Club to adopt the ground as their home after a dispute over the rent, so Mears considered selling to the Great Western Railway Company, who wanted to use the land as a coal-dumping yard. There is an unconfirmed story regarding the incident that claims Mears was on the verge of selling, and was being persuaded by his colleague Fred Parkernot to, when Mears' scotch terrierbit Parker on the leg. Parker took the incident in good spirit so Mears, impressed by this, decided to take his colleague's advice and found a new football club to play at Stamford Bridge.
Early Years (1905-18)
Chelsea F.C. was founded on
March 14 1905at The Rising Sun pub (now The Butcher's Hook) opposite today's main entrance to the ground on the Fulham Road. Since there was already a team named Fulham in the borough, the name of the adjacent borough, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, was settled on after "London FC", "Kensington FC" and "Stamford Bridge FC" had been rejected. Chelsea were denied entry to the Southern League following objections from Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, so instead applied for admission to the Football League. Their candidacy was endorsed at the Football League AGM on May 29, 1905, with a speech by Parker, which emphasised the new club's financial stability and its impressive new stadium and team playing an important part. Blue shirts were adopted by Mears, after the racing colors of Lord Chelsea, along with white shortsand dark blue socks. The club's first league match took place away at Stockport County on September 2, 1905. They lost the game 1-0. Their first home match was against Liverpool in a friendly. They won 4-0.
Scottish international half-back
John Tait Robertsonwas recruited to be the club's first player-manager. The club began with established players recruited from other teams, such as 308 pound goalkeeper William "Fatty" Foulke, who was an FA Cupwinner with Sheffield United, and inside forward Jimmy Windridgewho came from Small Heath. The club finished a respectable 3rd in their first season, but Robertson steadily saw his position undermined by board room interference. He lost the power to select the team in November 1906, and by January 1907 he had left for Glossop. Club secretary William Lewis took temporary charge and led the team to promotion at the end of the season, thanks largely to the goals of Windridge and George "Gatling Gun" Hilsdon. The latter was the first of many prolific strikers/forwards to play for Chelsea; he scored five goals on his debut and 27 in the promotion season en route to becoming the first player to score 100 goals for the club. Lewis was succeeded by David Calderhead, who was to manage Chelsea for the next 26 years. The club's early seasons produced little success, and they yo-yoed between the First and Second divisions. They were relegated in 1909-10, promoted in 1911-12 and finished second-bottom in 1914-15, the final competitive season before football in England was abandoned owing to World War I. The club would normally have been relegated, but the league was expanded after the war, and Chelsea were invited to re-join the First Division.
In spite of their checkered fortunes, Chelsea became one of the best-supported teams in the country, with fans attracted by the team's reputation for playing entertaining attacking football and for signing star players, notably defensive back
Ben Warrenand striker Bob Whittingham. 67,000 people attended the league game against Manchester United on Good Friday 1906, a then-record for a Second Division match. 55,000 attended the first-ever London derby in the top division, against Woolwich Arsenal, a record for a First Division match. 77,952 attended the fourth round FA Cup tie against Swindon on 13 April 1911.
In 1915, under the shadow of the
First World War, Chelsea reached their first FA Cupfinal, the so-called "Khaki" cup final, owing to the large number of uniformed soldiersin attendance. The match against Sheffield United was played in a sombre atmosphere and staged at Old Trafford in Manchesterto avoid disruption in London. Chelsea, minus their top amateur striker, Vivian Woodward, who had sportingly insisted that the team who reached the final ought to keep their places, were seemingly unnerved by the occasion and outplayed for much of the match. Goalkeeper Jim Molyneux's mistake allowed United to score before half-time, but the Blues held out until the final six minutes, when their opponents added two more to win 3-0.
Between the wars
1919-20, the first full season following the war, was Chelsea's most successful up to that point. Led by 24 goal striker
Jack Cock, the club's latest glamour signing, they finished 3rd in the league - the highest league finish for a London club - and reached the FA Cup semi-finals, only to be denied by eventual winners Aston Villa, which saw them miss out on a chance to play in the final at Stamford Bridge. The club were relegated again in 1923-24 and in four of the next five seasons were to narrowly miss out on promotion, finishing 5th, 3rd, 4th and 3rd. They finally reached the First Division again in 1929-30, where they were to remain for the next 32 years.
To capitalise on the 1930 promotion, the club spent £25,000 ($49,000) on three big-name players; Scots
Hughie Gallacher, Alex Jacksonand Alec Cheyne. Gallacher in particular was one of the biggest talents of his era, known for his goalscoring and for having captained Newcastle to a championship in 1926-27. He and Jackson had also been members of the famous Wembley Wizardsteam, the Scotland team which beat England 5-1 at Wembley in 1928. However, though the team occasionally clicked, such as in a 6-2 win over Manchester United and a 5-0 win over Sunderland, none of the trio had the desired impact. Gallacher was Chelsea's top scorer in each of his four seasons, scoring 81 goals in total, but his time in West Londonwas filled by long suspensions for indiscipline. Jackson and Cheyne struggled to settle at the club and were unable re-capture their previous achievements. The trio didn't make 300 appearances between them and by 1936 all had left at a significant financial loss to the club. Their disappointment epitomised Chelsea's flaws throughout the decade, whereby performances and results rarely matched the calibre of players at the club. Money was spent, but some feel it was too often spent on inappropriate players, especially forwards, while the defence remained neglected.
The FA Cup was to be the closest the club came to silverware. In 1932, the team secured impressive wins over Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday, and were drawn against Newcastle United in the semi-finals.
Tommy Langinspired Newcastle to a 2-0 lead, before Gallacher pulled one back for Chelsea. The Blues laid siege to the United goal in the second half, but were unable to make a breakthrough and the Geordies went on to lift the trophy.
Calderhead stepped down in 1933 and was replaced by
Leslie Knighton, but the appointment saw little change in Chelsea's fortunes. At different times during the decade the club had on its books the likes of Tommy Law, Sam Weaver, Syd Bishop, Harry Burgess, Dick Spenceand Joe Bambrick, all established internationals, yet their highest league finish in the decade was 8th. Ironically, two of the club's most reliable players during the decade cost them nothing: goalkeeper Vic Woodley, who was to win 19 consecutive caps for England, and centre-forward George Mills, the first player to score 100 league goals for Chelsea. They avoided relegation by two points in 1932-33 and 1933-34, and by one point in 1938-39. Another promising cup run in 1939, which included wins over Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday, petered out with a home loss to Grimsby Town in the quarter-finals.
The club continued to be one of the country's best-supported teams. The visit of Arsenal on
12 October 1935attracted 82,905 to Stamford Bridge, which remains a club record and the second highest ever attendance at an English league match. Crowds of almost 50,000 attended Gallacher and Jackson's home debuts. In 1939, with the club having come no closer to on-field success, Knighton stepped down. He was succeeded by Scotsman and former Queens Park Rangers manager, Billy Birrell, a man whose brainchild was to radically change the club's fortunes.
The War, The Visit Of Dynamo and The New Youth System (1940-52)
Birrell was appointed Chelsea manager shortly before the outbreak of the
Second World War. Three games into the 1939-40 season, first class football was abandoned in Britain for the duration of the conflict, meaning that all wartime results are only regarded as unofficial. Chelsea competed in a series of regional competitions and, like every other club, saw their squad severely depleted by the war effort (only two members of Chelsea's 1938-39 team ever played for them again). The club thus fielded a series of "guest" players, most notably Matt Busby, Walter Winterbottomand Eddie Hapgood. They also competed in the Football League War Cup, during which they made their Wembley debut, losing 1-3 to Charlton Athletic in the 1944 final, and beating Millwall 2-0 a year later in front of crowds of over 80,000. After the latter match, John Harris became the first Chelsea captain to lift a trophy at Wembley, receiving the cup from Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
In October 1945, with the War having just ended, the English football authorities sought a way to celebrate the return of the peace-time game. As part of a
goodwillgesture, it was announced that FC Dynamo Moscow, reigning champions of the Soviet Union, would tour the United Kingdomand play several home teams, including Chelsea. The match took place on 13 Novemberat Stamford Bridge with Chelsea wearing an unfamiliar red uniform due to a clash of colors with Dynamo's uniform. Before kick-off, the Dynamo players presented a bouquet of flowers to their opposite number. Despite British people viewing this as a faux pas, the Russian team surprised many observers with their talent and tenacity by fighting back from 0-2 and 2-3 down to a 3-3 draw, albeit with a goal some feel should have been rules out as offside. An estimated crowd of over 100,000 people attended the match, with thousands entering the ground illegally. This crowd is the highest ever recorded at Stamford Bridge. Spectators watched from numerous obscure places, including many on the dog track and on the top of stands. [The Stamford Bridge turnstiles were closed with 74,496 in the stadium, but thousands continued to enter illegally. The actual attendance is invariably put at 100,000. See Chelsea's [http://www.chelseafc.com/article.asp?article=103435&Title=History+-+The+Team+Part+1&lid=Navigation+-+History&sub=History+-+The+Team+Part+1&nav=&sublid= Official website] . For a firsthand account of the match, see Mears (2004) pp 81-88.]
Following the war, Chelsea again spent big, and again bought three big-name forwards, this time
Tommy Lawton, Len Gouldenand Tommy Walker, for around £22,000. The trio provided both goals and entertainment - Lawton scored 26 goals in 34 league games in 1946-47 - but Chelsea finished 15th that season and never finished above 13th under Birrell. Birrell's biggest contribution to Chelsea was off the field. He oversaw the development of an extensive new youth and scouting programme, headed by ex-players Dickie Foss, Dick Spenceand Jimmy Thompson. Over the next three decades in particular, the policy was to produce a seemingly unending stream of top-class talent for the first team. The period also the saw the arrival of striker Roy Bentley, signed from Newcastle United for £11,500 in 1948 following Lawton's departure.
1950 seemed at last to be Chelsea's year in the FA Cup. After beating Manchester United 2-0 in a pulsating quarter-final, they were drawn to face London rivals Arsenal at
White Hart Lane. Two goals from Bentley put Chelsea in control, but a freak goal from Arsenal (Chelsea's goalkeeper misjudged a corner and punched it into his own net) just before half-time turned the game. Chelsea seemed unable to recover from the blow and Arsenal scored 15 minutes from from full-time and then won the replay 1-0. A year later, Chelsea seemed destined for relegation: with four games remaining, they were six points behind, at the bottom of the table, and without a win in fourteen matches. After unexpectedly winning the first three, Chelsea went into their final match needing to beat Bolton Wanderers and hoping for the right result between fellow relegation candidates Everton and Sheffield Wednesday. Chelsea won 4-0 and Wednesday beat Everton 6-0, thus ensuring Chelsea's survival on goal averageby 0.44 of a goal. In 1952, Chelsea again faced Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals and after a 1-1 tie in the first match, lost the replay 3-0. Birrell resigned shortly afterwards.
Ted Drake: Modernisation and the Championship (1952-61)
In 1952, former Arsenal and England striker
Ted Drakewas appointed manager. One of the first "tracksuit managers" who used to shake each player by the hand and wish them "all the best" before each match, Drake proceeded to modernise the club, both on and off the field. One of his first actions was to remove the image of a Chelsea pensionerfrom the match programme and the club's old nicknamewas no more. From then on they were to be known as "the Blues". He improved the training regime, introducing ballwork to training sessions, a practice rare in Englandat the time; the youth and scouting systems begun by his predecessor were extended and he abandoned the club's old recruiting policy of signing often unreliable stars, opting instead for reliable and honest players from the lower divisions. He also urged the club's fans to be more partisan and to get behind the team. Drake's early years were unpromising, as Chelsea finished 19th and just a point away from relegation in his first season and 8th in his second.
In 1954-55, the club's jubilee year, everything clicked. The team found a consistency rate not previously there as Chelsea unexpectedly won the First Division title with a team notable for the lack of star players. It included
goalkeeperCharlie 'Chic' Thomson, amateur players Derek Saundersand Jim Lewis, central midfielder Johnny 'Jock' McNichol, winger Eric "Rabbit" Parsons, outside-left Frank Blunstone, defender Peter Sillettand future England manager Ron Greenwoodat central defender, as well old club stalwarts, right back Ken Armstrong, left-back Stan Willemseand veterandefender John Harris. Perhaps the only genuine star in the side was captain, top-scorer (with 21 league goals) and England international Roy Bentley.Chelsea had begun the season much as they had finished the last, with four consecutive defeats, including a thrilling 5-6 loss to Manchester United, leaving them 12th in November. From there the team went on a remarkable run, losing just 3 of the next 25 games and won the title with a game to spare after a 3-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday on St George's Day. Key to the success were two league wins against principal rivals and eventual runners-up Wolverhampton Wanderers. The first was a dramatic 4-3 win at Molineux- a game in which Chelsea were trailing 2-3 going into stoppage time - and a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in April, secured with a Sillett penalty awarded after Wolves captain Billy Wright had punched a goal-bound shot over the bar. Chelsea's points total of 52 for that season remains one of the lowest to have secured the English League title since the First World War. In the final game of the season, Chelsea, now champions, were given a guard of honourby Matt Busby's Manchester United Busby Babes. That same season saw the club complete a unique quadruple, with the reserve, 'A' and junior sides also winning their respective leagues.
Winning the Championship should have ensured that Chelsea became the first English participants in the inaugural European Champions' Cup competition to be staged the following season. Indeed, they were drawn to face Swedish champions Djurgårdens in the first round. However, Chelsea were denied by the intervention of the Football League and the F.A., many of whose leading members were opposed to the idea and felt that primacy should be given to domestic competitions, so the club were persuaded to withdraw. [The pressure put on club chairman Joe Mears by the English footballing authorities to withdraw is referenced in this [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2005/04/06/sfnphi06.xml&sSheet=/sport/2005/04/06/ixfooty.html "Telegraph" article] . The objections of Football League Secretary Alan Hardaker are discussed [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,762-1586242,00.html here] .] Chelsea did play an unofficial UK championship friendly against Scottish champions Aberdeen, which Aberdeen won. Chelsea presented a plate with the club crest to Aberdeen as a reward.
Chelsea were unable to build on their title success, and finished a disappointing 16th the following season. The team was aging and there followed a succession of uninspiring mid-table finishes; the one major bright spot in this period being the emergence of the ultra-prolific goalscorer
Jimmy Greaves, one of Chelsea's best ever youth products, who scored 122 league goals in four seasons. Along with Greaves, a series of other impressive youngsters, informally known as "Drake's Duckings", emerged in the first team, though their inexperience ensured that performances remained erratic. One of the lowest points for the club in this period was being knocked out of the FA Cupin the 3rd round by Fourth Division side, Crewe Alexandra, in January 1961. When Greaves was sold to AC Milanin June 1961 the writing was on the wall and, without his goals, the club's performances slumped. Drake was sacked in September after a 4-0 loss to Blackpool with Chelsea bottom of the league table. He was replaced by 33-year-old player-coach Tommy Docherty.
swinging sixtiesushered in an era that saw football and inimitable style merge in the heart of London; with the fashionable King's Road at the heart of the swagger. Superstars of the time, including Michael Caine, Steve McQueen, Raquel Welch, Terence Stampand Richard Attenborough(now Life Vice President of the club) were regularly seen at Stamford Bridge as the team became one of the most glamorous and fashionable in the country. A 60s Chelsea side that oozed charisma and class established the club as a big name for the first time, but ultimately failed to match its swagger with on-field triumphs, and endured several near-misses.
Docherty imposed a regime of strict discipline, sold off many of the club's older players, and replaced them with the talented youngsters beginning to emerge from Birrell's youth system and some shrewd transfers. By the time he took over in January 1962, the team were already all but doomed to relegation and he used the time to experiment and plan for the future. Chelsea were duly relegated and in Docherty's first full season as manager he led them back to promotion as Second Division runners-up, secured with a crucial and hard-fought 1-0 win at rivals Sunderland (and a goal scored via
Tommy Harmer's groin) and a 7-0 final day win over Portsmouth.
Chelsea thus returned to the First Division with a new, youthful team which included the uncompromising Ron "Chopper" Harris,
goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, prolific goalscoring winger Bobby Tambling(whose 202 goals remain a club record), midfielder John Hollins, full-back Ken Shellito, striker Barry Bridges, winger Bert Murrayand captain and playmaker Terry Venables, all products of the youth system. To these, Docherty added striker George Graham, left-back Eddie McCreadieand elegant defender Marvin Hintonfor minimal fees to complete the "Diamonds" line-up - Docherty had referred to the team as his "little diamonds" during a TV documentary and the name stuck.
Chelsea finished a credible 5th in their first season back in the top-flight, and in the next were on course for a domestic "treble" of league,
FA Cupand League Cup. Playing a brand of football based on high energy and quick passing - they were also one of the first English teams to use overlapping full-backs; consequently they were twice invited to play against the Germany national football team, containing the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Uwe Seelerand Berti Vogts. Chelsea won 3-1 and drew the other 3-3 [cite book | author=Glanvill, Rick | title=Chelsea FC: The Official Biography - The Definitive Story of the First 100 Years| publisher=Headline Book Publishing Ltd| year=2006| id=ISBN 0-7553-1466-2, pp. 243-44] - Chelsea set the early pace and emerged in a three-way tussle for the league title with Manchester United and Leeds United. The League Cup was secured thanks to a 3-2 first leg win against Leicester City, with a memorable solo effort from McCreadie proving to be the difference between the sides, and then a hard-fought 0-0 draw in the second leg at Filbert Street.
However, cracks were also beginning to appear, as the temperamental Docherty increasingly clashed with some of the strong personalities within the dressing room, particularly Venables. The team were beaten by title rivals Manchester United in March and lost 2-0 in their
FA Cupsemi-final against Liverpool, despite going into the latter match as favourites. They were nonetheless top with four games remaining. Docherty then sent home eight key players (Venables, Graham, Bridges, Hollins, McCreadie, Hinton, Bert Murray and Joe Fascione) for breaking a curfewbefore a crucial match against Burnley. The bare bones of the team that remained, a collection of reserves and youngsters, were beaten 6-2 as the title challenge collapsed; Chelsea eventually finished 3rd.
The following season proved equally eventful, if ultimately unsuccessful, with Chelsea challenging in the League, the FA Cup and the Fairs Cup. Playing a then-club record total of 60 games in the three competitions in the days before substitutes, the team were hit hard by the fixture pile-up. They finished 5th in the League, while in the FA Cup, Chelsea gained revenge for their semi-final defeat by knocking-out holders Liverpool at
Anfielden route to another semi-final, where they were drawn to face Sheffield Wednesday, again at Villa Park. Favourites to reach the final, the side froze on the day and were beaten 2-0 by the Yorkshireclub.
Their Fairs Cup run, taking in wins over
AS Roma(a violent encounter, during which the Chelsea team coach was ambushed by Roma fans), TSV 1860 Münchenand AC Milan(the last on the toss of a coin after the teams had finished level), ended in a semi-final loss to FC Barcelona. Both home sides won 2-0 and on another coin toss, the replay was staged at the Nou Camp, with Barca winning 5-0. Docherty, his relationship with several players having reached breaking point, then made the decision to break up a team with an average age of 21. Venables, Graham, Bridges and Murray were all sold during the close-season, while classy Scottish winger Charlie Cooke joined for £72,000, as did midfielder Tommy Baldwin, who arrived in part-exchange for Graham. Also emerging from the youth set-up was a highly-rated teenage striker named Peter Osgood.
Docherty's transfer manoeuvrings initially paid off. Chelsea, with Osgood at the heart of the team, topped the league table in October 1966, the only unbeaten side after ten league games. But Osgood broke his leg in a League Cup tie and the side's momentum was disrupted. To replace Osgood, Docherty broke the club's transfer record immediately in signing striker
Tony Hateleyfor £100,000, but Hateley's aerial game didn't suit Chelsea's style and he struggled to fit in. They drifted down the league and finished 9th. The highlight of that season was reaching the FA Cup final. En route to that final was a win over Leeds United in the semis, the game widely seen [cite book | author=Glanvill, Rick | title=Chelsea FC: The Official Biography - The Definitive Story of the First 100 Years| publisher=Headline Book Publishing Ltd| year=2006| id=ISBN 0-7553-1466-2, p. 321] as the one which kicked off the fierce rivalry between the two clubs. In his finest moment for Chelsea, Hateley headed in what proved to be the winner, but in a hotly-contested match, Leeds had two goals disallowed, one for offside and one for a Peter Lorimerfree-kick taken too quickly.
Chelsea competed with Tottenham Hotspur in the first all-London
FA Cupfinal, known as the "Cockney Cup Final". It was Chelsea's first appearance in the final since 1915 and their first ever appearance in the final at Wembley. In leading out the side, Ron Harris, at 22, was the youngest ever captain to take to the field in the competition's finale. In a game which failed to match the anticipation, Chelsea underperformed and a late Tambling header was not enough to prevent a 2-1 loss to a Spurs side containing both Venables and Jimmy Greaves. Docherty, always a controversial figure, was sacked shortly into the next season with the team having won two of their opening ten games, amidst rumours of dressing room unrest over bonus payments and whilst serving a 28-day ban from football management handed out by the FA.
In the first match after Docherty's departure, Chelsea lost 7-0 against Leeds United, equalling the club's highest-ever margin of defeat (in 1953-54, they had lost 8-1 to Wolves).
Dave Sexton, ex-Chelsea coach and Leyton Orient manager, and a character far more calm and reserved than Docherty, was appointed manager. The core of the side inherited from Docherty remained largely unchanged, and he added more steel to the defence with the signings of John Dempsey and David Webb, as well as signing striker Ian Hutchinson, giving mercurial midfielder Alan Hudsonhis debut and recalling winger Peter Houseman. Sexton proved a stablising influence and led Chelsea to two more top six finishes, as well as a brief foray into the Fairs Cup in 1968-69, where they were knocked out by DWS Amsterdam on a coin toss.
The club finished 3rd in 1969-70, with Osgood and Hutchinson scoring 53 goals between them, and reached another FA Cup final in the same season. This time the opponents were Leeds United, reigning league champions and one of the dominant (and most uncompromising) sides of the era. Chelsea were generally second best in the first match at Wembley played on a boggy pitch, but twice came from behind to gain a 2-2 draw, first through Houseman and then a late headed equaliser (four minutes from full time) from Hutchinson. The replay was staged at Old Trafford a
fortnightlater and is as well known for the extremely physical tactics employed by both sides as the skill and talent on display. Chelsea again went behind but equalised for the third time in the match with a diving header from Osgood from Cooke's cross. As the game went into extra time, Chelsea took the lead for the first time when Webb headed in a Hutchinson throw-into seal a 2-1 win.
Winning the Cup qualified Chelsea to play in the
UEFA Cup Winners' Cupfor the first time. Straightforward wins over Aris Thessalonikiand CSKA Sofiatook them to the quarter-finals, where they knocked out Club Bruggethanks to a dramatic comeback. Trailing 2-0 after the first leg, it took an Osgood goal nine minutes from the end of normal time in a tense match to put Chelsea level on aggregate. They went on to win the game 4-0 after extra time. Fellow English side (and holders) Manchester City were dispatched in the semi-final. The first final match against Real Madridfinished 1-1 but a rare goal from Dempsey and another strike from Osgood in the replay - played just two days later - were enough to secure a 2-1 win and Chelsea's first European honour. The song Blue is the Colour was released in 1972 with members of the squad singing, and it reached number five in the UK Singles Chart. The song was to become one of the most famous English football songs, and forever associated with the Chelsea team of that era.
Troubled Times (1972-83)
There was no further success in the decade as several major problems combined to almost bring the club to its knees. From the early 1970s, the discipline of the team began to degenerate, as Sexton fell out with several key players, most notably Osgood, Hudson and Baldwin over their attitude and lifestyle. As the spirit of the team declined, so too did results. Chelsea were knocked out of the 1971-72 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup by little-known
Åtvidabergs FF, the FA Cup by Second Division Leyton Orient despite having led 2-0, and lost in the League Cup final to Stoke City; on each occasion the team had lost to a technically inferior side despite having dominated for large spells. They finished 12th in 1972-73 and 17th the following season. The feud between Sexton and Osgood and Hudson reached its peak after a 2-4 home defeat to West Ham United on Boxing Day1973; the pair were both sold a few months later. Sexton himself was sacked early into the 1974-75 season after a poor start, and succeeded by his assistant, Ron Suart, who was unable to reverse the club's decline and they were relegated in 1975.
The building of the pioneering East Stand (which retains its place even in the modern stadium) as part of a plan to create a 60,000 all-seater stadium added to the club's woes. The project had been described as "the most ambitious ever undertaken in Britain". [John Parsons, "
Daily Mail". Quoted Mears (2002), p. 192.] It coincided with a world economic crisis and was hit by delays, a builders' strike and shortages of materials, all of which sent the cost escalating out of control, to the extent that the club were £3.4m in debt by 1976. As a result, between August 1974 and June 1978, Chelsea were unable to buy a single player. The decline of the team was matched by a decline in attendances - those who remained were marred by a fierce reputation for violenceamongst a section of the Chelsea support (the boundary between passion and hooliganismbeing dangerously narrow in those days). The late 1970s and the 1980s were the " golden age" of football firms in England; Chelsea's own such firm, the Chelsea Headhunters, were particularly notorious, known for their violence and links to extremist political groups and would blight the club throughout the following years.
Eddie McCreadiebecame manager shortly before Chelsea's relegation in 1975 and, after a year of consolidation in 1975-76, led the side to promotion again in 1976-77 with a team composed of youth players, most notably Ray Wilkinsand 24-goal striker Steve Finnieston, and veterans from more successful times like Cooke, Harris and Bonetti. But McCreadie left following a contract dispute with Brian Mearsover a company car and another ex-player was appointed, this time former right-back Ken Shellito.
Shellito kept Chelsea in the First Division in 1977-78, though the highlight of that season was a 4-2 win over European champions Liverpool in the FA Cup. Shellito resigned midway through the following season with the club having won just three league games by
Christmas. Even the brief return of Peter Osgooddid little to improve the club's fortunes. Shellito's successor, former double-winning Tottenham Hotspur captain Danny Blanchflowerwas unable to stem the slump and the club were relegatedagain with just five league wins and 27 defeats, bringing in one of the bleakest periods in Chelsea's history. Wilkins, one of the club's few remaining stars, was sold to Manchester United and England's 1966 World Cup final hero Geoff Hurstbecame manager in September 1979 with Bobby Gouldas his assistant. Their arrival saw an immediate upturn in Chelsea's form, and for a large period Chelsea topped the table, but a late collapse saw them finish 4th, meaning the club missed out on promotion on goal difference. In the next season the team struggled to score goals, going on a nine-match run without one, winning only three matches in twenty and finishing 12th in 1980-81. Hurst was sacked.
In 1981 Brian Mears resigned as chairman, ending his family's 76-year association with the club. One of Mears' last actions was to appoint former Wrexham boss John Neal as manager. A year later, Chelsea Football & Athletic Company, heavily in debt and unable to pay its players, was, at the nadir of its fortunes, acquired from the Mears family interests by businessman and one-time chairman of Oldham Athletic,
Ken Bates, for the princely sum of £1, though he declined to buy the stadium and its substantially larger debts, a move he was later to regret. Bates proved to be a real fighter as the new chairman, although his opponents included supporters (who did not take kindly to his suggestion of electrified fences to keep them off the pitch) as well as property developers Marler Estates, to whom David Mears, brother of Brian, had sold his share of the Stamford Bridge freehold instead.
1981-82, an otherwise forgettable season during which Chelsea again finished 12th, Chelsea went on their first significant FA Cup run for years and drew European champions Liverpool in the fifth round. They outplayed their illustrious opponents and won 2-0. In the quarter-finals, they were pitted against old rivals Tottenham Hotspur who, in a pulsating game, won 3-2, despite Chelsea taking the lead through
Mike Fillery. 1982-83 season proved to be the worst in Chelsea's history. Following a bright start, the team slumped dramatically, going on a nine-match winless run as the season drew to a close and faced relegation to the Third Division which, given the club's financial troubles, could well have dealt it a killer blow. In the penultimate game of the season at fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers, Clive Walkerhit a last-minute winner from convert|25|yd to ensure a crucial 1-0 win. A draw at home to Middlesbrough in the final game ensured the club's survival by two points.
A New Beginning (1983-89)
The summer of 1983 marked a turning point in Chelsea's history as manager John Neal made a series of signings who were to be crucial in turning around the club's fortunes. In came striker
Kerry Dixonfrom Reading, skillful and pacy winger Pat Nevinfrom Clyde, midfielder Nigel Spackmanfrom Bournemouth and goalkeeper Eddie Niedzwieckifrom Wrexham in addition to John Hollinsreturning as player-coach, all for a combined total of less than £500,000. Dixon struck up a prolific strike partnership with fellow Neal signing David Speedieand both linked up well with Nevin, a combination that would produce almost 200 goals in three years. The new-look Chelsea began the 1983-84 season with a 5-0 win against Derby County on the opening day and rarely looked back, winning 5-3 at Fulham and beating Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United 4-0. Dixon hit 36 goals in all competitions - a seasonal record bettered only by Bobby Tamblingand Jimmy Greaves- and promotion was sealed with another 5-0 win over old adversaries Leeds United. The team were crowned Second Division champions on the final day with a win away at Grimsby Town, with some 10,000 Chelsea fans making the trip to Lincolnshire.
Upon their return to the First Division, Chelsea were unlikely
European contenders in 1984-85, eventually finishing 6th. They were also on course to reach their third League Cup final, drawing relegation candidates Sunderland in the semi-finals. Ex-Chelsea winger Clive Walkerinspired his team to a 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge (5-2 on aggregate), which was followed by a near-riot; the game continued with mounted policeand supporters on the pitch, with the violence later spilling over onto the streets. Neal retired at the end of the season due to ill health, and was replaced by Hollins.
and in spite of the opposition fighting back from 1-5 down.
Following this new beginning, the form of the side slumped again, finishing 14th in the next season. The spirit of the side began to disintegrate after Hollins had fallen out with several key players, notably Speedie and Spackman, who were subsequently sold off. Hollins was sacked in March the following season with the side again in
relegationtrouble. Bobby Campbell took over in March but couldn't prevent Chelsea's relegation via the short-lived play-off system with a loss to Middlesbrough, a match which was again followed by crowd trouble and an attempted pitch invasion, resulting in a six-match closure of the terraces the following season. Nevertheless, the club bounced back immediately and emphatically, despite failing to win any of their opening six league games, and were promoted as Second Division champions with 99 points, 17 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City.
The 1990s: Back On Track
Chelsea had an impressive return to the First Division in 1989-90. Manager Bobby Campbell guided a squad of mostly unremarkable players to a creditable fifth place in the final table. Although the ban on English clubs in European football was lifted that year, Chelsea missed out on a
UEFA Cupplace because the only English place in the competition that year went to runners-up Aston Villa. In the same season, he led Chelsea to their second Full Members Cupsuccess, with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough in the final at Wembley. Campbell resigned a year later and he was replaced by Ian Porterfield, who helped Chelsea finish high enough in 1991-92 to qualify for the first-ever season of the Premier League. He quit halfway through the season and was replaced on a caretaker basis by another member of Chelsea's 1970 FA Cup side, David Webb, who guided the team to an 11th place finish. Webb was replaced at the end of the season by 35-year-old former England midfielder Glenn Hoddle, who had just won promotion to the Premiership as player-manager of Swindon Town.
Meanwhile, in 1992, following over a decade of uncertainty about Stamford Bridge and its future, leading to several acrimonious
legaldisputes and the long-running "Save the Bridge" campaign, Bates finally outmanoeuvred the property developers and reunited the freehold with the Club, by seeing them go bust after a market crash and doing a deal with their banks. This led to the creation of Chelsea Pitch Owners, who in 1997 purchased the freehold of the stadium, the club's naming rightsand the pitch to ensure that such a situation could never happen again. Following this, work was begun to renovate the entire stadium (bar the East Stand), making it all-seater and bringing the stands closer to the pitch and under cover, which was finally completed by the millennium.
Hoddle's first season as manager saw Chelsea's league form dip slightly, and for a time they were threatened by relegation, with the goals of £1,500,000 signing
Mark Steinplaying an important part in survival. In the same season Chelsea reached the FA Cup final, where they faced Premiership champions Manchester United, a team Chelsea had beaten 1-0 in both league games that season. After going in 0-0 at half-time, United were awarded two second-half penalties in the space of 5 minutes, both of which were scored. With Chelsea having to attack, it left gaps in defence and United eventually won 4-0. This was nevertheless sufficient to qualify Chelsea to compete in Europe for the 1994-95 Cup Winners Cup (since Manchester United had independently qualified for the Champions League). They reached the semi-finals of the competition and went out by one goal to eventual winners Real Zaragoza.
Chelsea now had a decent squad with several top class players, the most significant of which was inspirational captain
Dennis Wise. But chairman Ken Bates and director Matthew Hardingwere making millions of pounds available for the club to spend on players, and two world-famous players were signed in the summer of 1995 - Dutch legend Ruud Gullit(free transfer from Sampdoria) and Manchester United's high-scoring striker Mark Hughes(£1.5 m), along with talented Romanian full-back Dan Petrescu. Hoddle guided Chelsea to another 11th place finish in 1995-96, and another FA Cup semi-final, and then quit to become manager of the England team.
Renaissance: Gullit, Vialli and Zola (1996-2000)
Gullit was appointed player-manager for the 1996-97 season, and added several top-class players to the side, including European Cup-winning
Juventusstriker Gianluca Vialli, cultured French defender Frank Leboeufand Italian internationals Gianfranco Zola(whose skill would make him a firm favourite with the crowd and see him become one of Chelsea's greatest ever players) and Roberto Di Matteo(the latter for a club record £4,900,000). They were later joined by the powerful and prolific Uruguayanmidfielder Gustavo Poyetand Norwegian "super-sub" Tore André Flo. With such players, it was under Gullit and his successor that Chelsea emerged as one of England's top sides again and gained a reputation for playing a neat, entertaining and attractive passing game performed by technically gifted players, which was informally dubbed "sexy football", though the club's inconsistency against supposed "smaller" teams remained. Gullit capped an impressive first season in management by leading Chelsea to their highest league placing since 1990 (6th) and ending their 26-year wait for a major trophy by winning the FA Cup. Perhaps the most memorable match of the run was a remarkable 4th round comeback against Liverpool. Trailing 2-0 at half-time, Hughes was brought on and immediately ruffled Liverpool, scoring within minutes and then setting up Zola for a curler from convert|25|yd. The comeback was completed after two late goals by Vialli. The 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the final at Wembley got off to a frantic start with Di Matteo scoring the fastest ever Cup final goal after 43 seconds; Eddie Newton's late goal clinched it. The win was a happy end to a season which had looked to be dominated by sadness after the death in October of popular director and financial benefactor Matthew Hardingin a helicoptercrash following a League Cup match against Bolton Wanderers.
Gullit was suddenly sacked in February 1998, ostensibly after a contract dispute, [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1998/02/13/nruu13.html Gullit sacked] . URL accessed on
May 18 2006.] with the team 2nd in the Premiership, and in the semi-finals of two cup competitions. Another player-managerwas appointed - the 33-year-old Vialli. Vialli began his management career in style by winning two trophies in two months. The League Cup was secured with another 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at Wembley (with Di Matteo again on the scoresheet). Chelsea reached the Cup Winners' Cupfinal following a dramatic semi-final win against Vicenza. Having lost the away leg 1-0 and then conceded an away goal, Chelsea bounced back to win 3-1 on the night and go through, with Hughes again the catalyst. They won their second Cup Winners' Cup title with a 1-0 victory against VfB Stuttgartat the Råsunda Stadiumin Stockholm, with Zola scoring with his first touch having been on the pitch for just 17 seconds. Following that, Vialli led the club to a 1-0 win over European champions Real Madridin the Super Cup at the Stade Louis IIin Monaco.
During the 1998-99 Premiership campaign, Chelsea made their first sustained challenge for the title for years. Despite an opening day loss against Coventry City, the side were not beaten in the League again until January and topped the table at
Christmas. Their title chances eventually disappeared after a home loss to West Ham Unitedand consecutive draws against Middlesbrough, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday in April, which saw the Blues finish 3rd, four points behind winners Manchester United. A season which promised much ultimately ended trophyless, with Chelsea's defence of their Cup Winners' Cup title ending in a semi-final loss against RCD Mallorcawhile they were knocked out of both the other cups in the quarter-finals. Third place in the league was nevertheless high enough for a first-ever appearance in the Champions League.
44 years after being denied entry to the inaugural championship, Chelsea made their debut in Europe's premier competition in August 1999 and they put in a series of impressive performances en route to a quarter-final tie against
FC Barcelona. It included memorable draws at the San Siroand the Stadio Olimpicoagainst AC Milanand SS Laziorespectively, as well as a thumping 5-0 win against Turkish side Galatasaray at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium. During the first leg of the quarter-final against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea took a 3-0 lead, only to concede a late Luís Figoaway goal. Trailing 2-1 during the second leg at the Camp Nou, the team were just seven minutes away from the semi-finals, but conceded a third and were eventually beaten 5-1 after extra time, losing 6-4 on aggregate.
By now, Chelsea had a top-notch multi-national squad which included Zola, Di Matteo, Poyet, Dutch goalkeeper
Ed de Goey, and French World Cup-winning trio Frank Leboeuf, Marcel Desaillyand Didier Deschamps. Under Vialli, Chelsea would become the first side in English football to field a starting 11 composed entirely of foreign players, highlighting the increasing internationalization of the game. The 1999-2000 season saw inconsistency return to Chelsea's league form as the side struggled to juggle Premier League and Champions League commitments, ultimately finishing a disappointing 5th. Vialli did lead the team to a second FA Cup win in four years that season - this time against Aston Villa, with Di Matteo again scoring the winner - in the last final to be played at Wembley before its redevelopment. The Charity Shieldwas added in August with a 2-0 win against Manchester United, to make Vialli Chelsea's then most successful manager.
Claudio Ranieri (2000-2004)
Vialli spent almost £26 m on new players during the summer, including high-scoring Dutchman
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbainkand talented Icelandic striker Eiður Guðjohnsen, but was dismissed in September 2000 after winning just one of the opening five matches and, once again, with rumours circulating that the manager had fallen out with important players. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2000/09/13/sfnwin13.xml Dressing-room support sapped in Zola backlash] . URL accessed 11 August 2006] He was replaced by another Italian, Claudio Ranieri, who, in spite of his initial problems with the English language, guided them to another top six finish in his first season. Ranieri gradually re-built the side, reducing the average age of the squad by selling some older players, including Wise and Poyet, and replacing them with John Terry, William Gallas, Frank Lampardand Jesper Grønkjær.
Ranieri's second season saw some more progress, mainly in the cups, with Chelsea reaching the League Cup semi-finals and another FA Cup final, but was unable to prevent them from losing to double winners Arsenal in the latter. League form saw little improvement, though, and Chelsea again finished 6th. With rumours of the club's perilous financial state circulating, Ranieri was unable to sign any more players. As a result, expectations of Chelsea in the 2002-03 season were more limited. Chelsea nevertheless made an unexpected title challenge and, in perhaps one of the most significant matches in the club's history, defeated Liverpool 2-1 in the final game of the season to finish 4th and secure the final Champions League berth ahead of the
With the club facing an apparent financial crisis, [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml;$sessionid$CHJ0QWLEZOQUFQFIQMGSFF4AVCBQWIV0?xml=/sport/2003/07/08/sfnbos08.xml&sSheet=/sport/2003/07/08/ixfooty.html Chelsea saviour arrived in time for £23 m bill] . URL accessed on
April 11 2006.] Bates unexpectedly sold Chelsea F.C. in June 2003 for £60 million. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml;jsessionid=T1NQDJACRCOETQFIQMGCFGGAVCBQUIV0?xml=/sport/2003/07/02/sfnche02.xml Bates sells off Chelsea to a Russian billionaire] . URL accessed on April 11 2006.] In so doing, he reportedly recognised a personal profit of £17 million on the club he had bought for £1 in 1982 (his stake had been diluted to just below 30% over the years). The club's new owner was Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who also took on responsibility for the club's £80 million of debt, quickly paying most of it . He then went on a £100 million spending spree before the start of the season and landed players like Claude Makélélé, Geremi, Glen Johnson, Joe Cole and Damien Duff.
The spending saw a good return, with Chelsea finishing as Premiership runners-up (their best league finish for 49 years) and reaching the Champions League semi-finals after dramatically beating Arsenal in the quarter-finals. But Ranieri may have been sacked because of some bizarre tactical decisions in the semi-final loss against
AS Monaco(for example, switching central midfielder Scott Parker to right-back and right-back Glen Johnson to centre-back to accommodate more attackers in the team) and for ending the season trophyless. Nevertheless, Ranieri was given a hero's send-off in his final match in charge. That match also gave Chelsea fans a glimpse of what could easily have been if not for Abramovich's takeover, as Chelsea handily beat Leeds United, who were relegated, managerless, virtually bankrupt and seemingly destined for oblivion. In Ranieri's place, Abramovich recruited José Mourinho(who had lifted two Portuguese league titles, a Portuguese Cup, a European Cup and a UEFA Cupwith FC Porto) as the club's new manager. Abramovich also brought legendary Dutch scout Piet de Visser, who scouted Ronaldoand Romariofor PSV Eindhoven, and is considered one of the greatest scouts in history.
José Mourinho: Double League Champions (2004-2007)
2004-05 was the most successful season in the history of Chelsea Football Club. After a slow start to the league season, scoring eight goals in their first nine games and trailing leaders Arsenal by five points, Chelsea's title campaign gradually picked up momentum, driven by the high-scoring
Frank Lampardand the return from injury of brilliant young Dutch winger Arjen Robben- with the latter in the side, Chelsea both won more and scored more. They topped the table after a win against Everton in November 2004 and never relinquished their lead, losing only one league game all season and winning a record 29, gaining a record 95 points in the process. A record-breaking defence, led by captain John Terry, the versatile William Gallas, midfield linchpin Claude Makéléléand talented goalkeeper Petr Čech, provided the backbone of the side, conceding just 15 goals all season and keeping 25 clean sheets while Čech went a Premiership-record 1025 minutes without conceding a goal. Chelsea eventually secured the title with a 2-0 away win at Bolton Wanderers thanks to two goals from Lampard, almost fifty years to the day since they had won their last league title. Winning the league completed a domestic double for the club, since Chelsea had already won the League Cup in February after a thrilling 3-2 win over Liverpool in the final at the Millennium Stadium.
In the Champions League, Chelsea coasted through the group stages, qualifying for the knockout phase with two games to spare, and were drawn against
FC Barcelona, one of the strongest sides in Europe. In the first leg at the Nou Camp, Chelsea took a 1-0 lead but had Didier Drogbacontroversially sent-off in the second half with Chelsea still ahead, and the Catalans eventually won 2-1. Mourinho claimed that Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaardhad spoken to referee Anders Friskat half-time - a claim later proved correct - and that the result had been "adulterated". [cite web
title=Uefa: Rijkaard did approach Frisk
work=The Guardian | accessdate=5 October
accessyear=2006 ] After receiving
death threatsfrom Chelsea fans, Frisk retired and Mourinho received a two-match touchline ban for bringing the game into disrepute. Chelsea won a pulsating return leg 4-2 at Stamford Bridge, with John Terry heading in a controversial winner to send them through. In the quarter-finals, a 4-2 home win over German champions Bayern Munichand a 3-2 loss in Germany were enough to ensure passage through to the semi-finals, where they faced Liverpool. Following a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool went 1-0 up at Anfieldthanks to a disputed goal from Luis García and Chelsea were unable to break down a resilient defence, thus missing out on the chance of a treble.
A year later Chelsea retained their league title, setting more records in the process. Winning their first nine games, the side emphatically set the pace in the Premiership - including a 4-1 win over Liverpool at
Anfield- and at one stage were 18 points ahead of nearest rivals Manchester United. Following a late-season blip, and with United on a run of nine consecutive wins, the points gap was closed to seven points as Chelsea went into a key match with West Ham United. A goal down after ten minutes and a man down after 17 following Maniche's sending off, the side bounced back to win 4-1 and maintain the gap. The title was eventually secured with a 3-0 win over United at Stamford Bridge. They became the first Londonclub to win back-to-back league titles since the 1930s, and only the fifth side to do so since the Second World War. They also set the record for the most clean sheets (six) from the start of the season and equalled the best home record for a top division team since Newcastle United in 1906-07 (18 wins and 1 draw from 19 games). In the cups, however, there was less success as they were knocked out of the Champions League by FC Barcelonaand the FA Cupsemi-final by Liverpool.
The 2006-07 season saw Chelsea relinquish the Premier League trophy to Manchester United after remaining second in the league for the majority of the season. The club were still in the running to achieve an unprecedented
quadrupleat the end of April, and played all but one of the maximum 63 possible games at the start of the season. They won the League Cup by beating Arsenal 2-1 in the last ever English cup final at the Millennium Stadium, and beat United 1-0 in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley Stadium; Chelsea were also the last team to win it at the old Wembley. They reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, only to be knocked out again by Liverpool, this time in a penalty shoot-out.
Post Mourinho: Grant takes over, then Scolari (2007-08)
20 September 2007, it was announced that Mourinho had left Chelsea by "mutual consent" [cite news | date= 2007-09-20| title=Chelsea Statement
publisher=Official Chelsea FC website | accessdate=2007-09-21] following several months of well-documented friction between Mourinho and Abramovich. [cite news | date=
2007-09-20| title=Mourinho makes shock Chelsea exit
publisher=BBC | accessdate=2007-09-21] Shortly afterwards
Israeli Avram Grant, who had been appointed Chelsea's director of football on 8 July 2007, [cite news
title = Grant given position at Chelsea
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/chelsea/6246796.stm
publisher = BBC
accessdate = 2007-09-21] was announced as Mourinho's successor with
Steve Clarkestaying on as his assistant. [cite news | date= 2007-09-20| title=Chelsea name Grant as new manager
publisher=BBC | accessdate=2007-09-21]
On the pitch, Chelsea came close to winning three different competitions. They reached their third League Cup final in four years, losing 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley. The Blues took the lead through Didier Drogba before Dimitar Barbatov equalised from the penalty spot and Jonathan Woodgate headed the winner in extra time. Entering the final day of the Premier League season level on points with Manchester United, and needing to better their result due to United's superior goal difference, Chelsea were unable to defeat
Bolton Wanderersat home while United secured the title with a 2-0 away victory over Wigan Athletic.
April 30 2008, Chelsea won the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool 4-3 on aggregate, to reach the final of this competition for the first time in their history. The final went all the way to a penalty shoot-out, Chelsea had the chance to win it with John Terry taking Chelsea's fifth and decisive penalty, however, he slipped on the turf as he went to take the shot and United went on to defeat them in sudden death. After the conclusion of the 2007/2008 season, Chelsea became the highest ranked club under UEFA's five-year coefficient system used in the seeding of European club competitions in the following season, a sign of the consitency of the club's performance over the first five years of Roman Abramovich's ownership. [cite web | url=http://www.xs4all.nl/~kassiesa/bert/uefa/data/method3/trank2008.html
title=UEFA Team Ranking 2008
work=UEFA European Cup Football: Results and Qualification | author=Kassies, Bert
accessyear=2008 ] Grant was sacked as Chelsea manager on
24 May 2008. Apart from the managerial turmoil, the season was also marked by a high level of player absence. In all, members of the team were unavailable for selection 286 times in the 62 fixtures. [cite news | date= 2008-06-01| title=Post-season Briefing
publisher=Official Chelsea FC website | accessdate=2007-09-21]
The task of keeping Chelsea in contention for the top prizes falls to
Luiz Felipe Scolari, who will take over as manager on 1 July 2008. Scolari is the man who achieved World Cup glory with Brazil in 2002, as well as taking Portugal to runners-up spot in Euro 2004 and winning nine domestic trophies in Brazil. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/chelsea/7449627.stm]
*cite book | author=Batty, Clive | title=Kings of the King's Road: The Great Chelsea Team of the 60s and 70s| publisher=Vision Sports Publishing Ltd| year=2004| id=ISBN 0-9546428-1-3
*cite book | author=Batty, Clive | title=A Serious Case of the Blues: Chelsea in the 80s| publisher=Vision Sports Publishing Ltd| year=2005| id=ISBN 1-905326-02-5
*cite book | author=Cheshire, Scott | title=Chelsea: an Illustrated History| publisher=Breedon Books| year=1998| id=ISBN 1-85983-143-5
*cite book | author=Glanvill, Rick | title=Chelsea FC: The Official Biography - The Definitive Story of the First 100 Years| publisher=Headline Book Publishing Ltd| year=2005| id=ISBN 0-7553-1465-4
*cite book | author=Hadgraft, Rob | title=Chelsea: Champions of England 1954-55| publisher=Desert Island Books Limited| year=2004| id=ISBN 1-874287-77-5
*cite book | author=Harris, Harry | title=Chelsea's Century| publisher=Blake Publishing| year=2005| id=ISBN 1-84454-110-X
*cite book | author=Mears, Brian | title=Chelsea: A 100-year History | publisher=Mainstream Sport| year=2004| id=ISBN 1-84018-823-5
*cite book | author=Mears, Brian | title=Chelsea: Football Under the Blue Flag| publisher=Mainstream Sport| year=2002| id=ISBN 1-84018-658-5
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