Chelsea Column: How the Blues Became Champions of Europe
As you can probably imagine, I am writing this with a slight hangover, because Saturday night will live on in my memory and the memories of Chelsea fans for the rest of their lives.
It’s been a season of highs and lows, but now that it is all over, it’s time to reflect on the final month of this incredible season.
We’re still the only team in London to win a European Cup!
There can be no shadow of a doubt that Chelsea are the unrivalled biggest team in London now. Chelsea now have two Champions Leagues trophies and have won four European trophies in the last 10 years.
Arsenal may have the history and have gone a Premier League season unbeaten, but that was 17 years ago now, and no amount of FA Cups can keep them at that top position.
We need to remember that this Chelsea team is still so young, and they are at the start of their footballing careers. There is still so much to see from these players and winning a champions League so early is great signs of things to come.
Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have the potential to dominate English football, and there is no doubt that Chelsea have to be seen as title contenders for next season.
While I do have my own reservations about Chelsea’s ability to win the league, we have seen a shift under Tuchel that could see Chelsea have a much easier time in the league compared to the last couple of seasons.
But for now, it’s time to let this feeling sink in that we are European Champions. I was only 11 when Chelsea won the Champions League against Bayern Munich and while it was an amazing, I was a bit too young to fully understand the significance.
If Chelsea can beat City, why not Leicester?
Two weeks before European glory, Chelsea put in a woeful performance against Leicester City in the FA Cup final.
You could tell from minute one that Leicester wanted it more, and for Chelsea it looked like an inconvenience.
It wasn’t until Leicester went a goal ahead that Chelsea finally decide to go for it. Kasper Schmeichel made some glorious saves, before Chelsea were cruelly denied an equaliser as Ben Chilwell was only inches offside.
It was Leicester’s day and I imagine Tuchel took a lot away from that game which did help Chelsea’s preparations for the Champions League final. It was disappointing that Chelsea didn’t win the FA Cup as well, as shown a few days later, Chelsea had the ability to beat Leicester fair and square.
I had hoped that this season would be the repeat of the 2011/12 season with Chelsea getting a new manager during the season and then going on to win the FA Cup and Champions League double, but it just wasn’t to be.
However, I have to say fair play to Leicester in that game. Youri Tielemans’ goal was sensational and one that was deserving to be the match winning goal.
Chelsea have to thanks Spurs for top four
While Spurs may have not been able to finish in the top 4 this season, Chelsea fans owe them a debt of gratitude.
While it may not have mattered in the end, it did look like Chelsea would not get into the top four on the final day when Leicester went 2-1 up against Spurs.
Chelsea were playing Aston Villa and were losing 2-1, meaning that Chelsea would miss out by a single point and Leicester would get Champions League football.
After a Schmeichel own-goal and then two goals by Gareth Bale, Chelsea would retain their spot in the top 4 and Leicester drop down into 5th.
This season felt like a long fight to get 4th place. When Tuchel took charge, Chelsea were in 10th place. It would have been made clear to Tuchel that getting top 4 would be the highest priority.
After Lampard managed to get top four with a transfer ban, it would seem like getting top four would be easy given Chelsea spent over £200 million in the summer transfer window.
Tuchel started on the back foot and needed to turn things quickly and that’s exactly what he did. Straight away, Chelsea started to climb the table and were able to take full advantage when West Ham and Leicester started to drop off at the end of the season.
In football, you need a bit of luck and Chelsea got that in the league, but you can’t say that Chelsea didn’t deserve it.
Is Tuchel already one of the Chelsea’s best managers?
Despite the fact Di Matteo was sacked months after winning the Champions League with Chelsea, his achievements will live on in Chelsea history forever.
Tuchel has been in charge for only four months and yet his record as Chelsea manager is better than most that we have seen come through the revolving door at Stamford Bridge.
The impact that Tuchel has had since coming to Chelsea is up there with Jose Mourinho, yet Tuchel has managed to actually win a European trophy.
Tuchel does have a poor record with falling out with clubs and Chelsea have a poor record of falling out with managers, so it doesn’t look like a match made in heaven.
But after the game Tuchel looked so happy and it was great to see when Tuchel and Abramovich met for the very first time. Hopefully Tuchel will sign a long-term contract at Chelsea and keep building on this success.
It really is about time that Chelsea got a long-term manager and Tuchel is one of the best managers in the world. If the club can make this work then this could be the start of something great at Chelsea.
Let’s not forget about Frank Lampard
While Lampard was sacked by Chelsea four months ago, the club and the fans still need to thank him for the success that Chelsea have seen this season.
I think it goes without saying that if we had carried on with Frank this season then we would not have got top four, or got to the FA Cup final, or have won the Champions League.
But at the end of the day, Frank guided Chelsea through the Group stages in great fashion and put us in a good spot for the knock-outs.
Frank was also responsible for Chelsea’s amazing summer transfer window. The new additions to the Chelsea’s squad this season have made it easier for Tuchel to hit the ground running.
The likes of Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva have shone under Thomas Tuchel. Werner has been getting better, but his failing are his own and nothing Tuchel can really do anything about it.
It was Frank who was able to bring in those players and also we must not forget the young talent that Frank brought in the fold which have also been a huge part of Tuchel’s success.
I was annoyed when Lampard was sacked, and I did think that he should have been given more time and it’s easy for me to say now that I am thankful that I was wrong.
I was forced to eat my words and hopefully Tuchel will continue to make those comments look foolish. This night was Tuchel’s night, and I was happy to witness his brilliance beat one of the greatest managers of all time on the biggest stage in world football.