Chelsea is a professional soccer team that competes in the English Premier League. The London based club is nicknamed The Blues.
Chelsea was founded in 1905 by Gus Mears. They are a regular title contender and one of Europe top sides. Their hunger for trophies can be justified by their frequent contention for the English Premier League title and their presence in Europe top competitions. Chelsea is one of the most decorated teams in England. They have 6 English league titles, 8 FA Cups, and 5 Football League Cup/EFL Cup trophies.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea, has changed the course of the team’s history since his arrival. The club’s past has not always been that flourishing. To learn more about the club’s old days, let us dive right into the foundation of Chelsea.
|March 10, 1905
The Foundation Of Chelsea
In 1896, Henry Augustus Mears acquired the Stamford Bridge Athletics Complex based in West London, Fulham. After failing to find a soccer team for occupying the ground, Mears and other business people decided to form their own soccer club. Hence, on 10 March 1905, Chelsea Football Club was founded.
The Stamford Bridge stadium is Chelsea’s home ground since its formation. During the year 1910, The Blues were already renowned, recording crowds of over 40,000 people. This immense support and popularity enabled the club to attract and sign star players.
However, despite that massive support and big-name signings, Chelsea FC’s success was not to come for a long time.
The Blues Early Years And Silverwares
Indeed, the early years of Chelsea FC were rather forgettable ones, as the club swung between the First and the Second Division. The closest the club came to winning silverware was in the FA Cup during 1915 and 1939. Sheffield United and Newcastle United came out as winners on both occasions.
Chelsea’s first significant success arrived under the management of Ted Drake. The latter was appointed as manager in 1952 and delivered within three years. Despite a poor start to the league campaign, the team managed a remarkable run of 25 games, losing only three times, to win their first-ever league title.
Drake was not able to repeat the same level of performance in the years that followed. In 1961, he was eventually sacked. In 1965, under the leadership of Tommy Docherty, the club clinched the League Cup.
The next success for Chelsea came in the FA Cup in 1970. Dave Sexton guided the team to a victory over Leeds United. The FA Cup win guaranteed the club’s first participation in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. Chelsea FC did not disappoint as they defeated Real Madrid by 3-2 on aggregate in the two-legged final to land their first-ever European trophy.
The Decline And Battle For Stamford Bridge
Chelsea suffered relegation in 1975 following a period of decline. The Blues appointed and sacked four different managers in 6 years, as the club struggled in the second tier of the football league. Off-field problems further marred the club’s on-field crisis.
Firstly, the plan to renovate its stadium was struck by the world economic crisis. With strikes and inflation, the club’s debts rose at their highest in 1977, leading to an inability to buy any player from August 1974 to June 1978.
Secondly, the club saw a massive decline in attendances, resulting in an enormous drop in its income. This club’s crisis was further escalated in the mid-1970s when many Chelsea fans were banned from attending away matches following several acts of violence and vandalism during soccer games.
In 1981, with the club’s debts growing out of hands, the Mears family finally sold their interest to Ken Bates for £1. However, Bates only acquired the club and not the Stamford Bridge freehold, which still belonged to SB Properties. Following negotiations with David Mears, the majority shareholder of SB Properties, Bates managed to secure a seven-year lease to keep Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge.
Unfortunately, Marler Estates later purchased SB Properties, which resulted in a decade of legal battle between Marler and Bates. Luckily, Cabra Estates, who bought Marler in 1989, became insolvent following the property market crash in 1992. It allowed Ken Bates to deal with Cabra Estates’ creditors and acquired the stadium’s freehold and the naming rights to ensure that no one could purchase Stamford Bridge again.
The Revival Of The Blues
While the change of ownership and the legal battle to acquire Stamford Bridge was in the limelight, The Blues started to revive their performances on the field. With several key players’ acquisition, the club, managed by John Neal, was promoted to the First Division in 1984.
Chelsea appointed Glen Hoddle as their new manager in 1993. Hoddle signed several players that became instrumental in the future success of the club. Ruud Gullit, Mark Hughes, and Dan Petrescu were all recruited during Hoddle’s regime; before the latter stepped down to join the England national team as manager.
Following his resignation, club star Ruud Gullit became the player-manager of the club. Gullit followed his predecessor’s steps by signing several big names, including Gianluca Vialli, Frank Leboeuf, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Di Matteo, Gus Poyet, and Tore Andre Flo. As history has shown, these gifted players transformed Chelsea into one of England’s top clubs.
In Gullit’s first season, The Blues ended a 26-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup against Middlesbrough FC. The club played one of the most attractive soccer in the country during Gullit’s tenure.
Unfortunately, due to a contract dispute, Gullit was sacked in February 1988, and the club finished second in the Premier League. Gianluca Vialli, another star player, took over the managerial seat. He immediately conquered the fans by winning both the League Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup within two months of his appointment.
Vialli’s success continued as the team won the Super Cup final by 1-0 against European champions Real Madrid. During Vialli’s tenure, Chelsea FC became the first English side to field a starting 11 composed entirely of international players.
Despite a disappointing 1999-2000 Premier League campaign, the club managed to win the FA Cup against Aston Villa. They also won the Charity Shield by defeating Manchester United by 2-0. With several trophies on his account, Vialli became the most successful manager of Chelsea during that period.
The New Millennium And Roman Abramovich
In September 2000, the club parted ways with Vialli and appointed Claudio Ranieri as the new manager. Though the club’s league progress was stagnant, Ranieri’s team, which included John Terry, Frank Lampard, and William Gallas, was more convincing in cup competitions.
In his second campaign, Ranieri came close to winning the FA Cup, only to lose to London rival Arsenal FC. On the other hand, the club faced a financial crisis, which meant that Ranieri could not sign any new players in the 2002-03 campaign. Ken Bates, the owner, was unable to ease Chelsea FC’s debt burden and eventually sold the club to Roman Abramovich in 2003.
The Russian billionaire bought the club and took the responsibility of paying back all Chelsea FC debts. Upon his arrival, Abramovich promised he would turn Chelsea’s fortune and make them one of the world’s best teams.
His ambitious journey began instantly as he invested over £100 million to bring players like Claude Makelele, Hernan Crespo, Glen Johnson, Joe Cole, and Damien Duff. The spending had an immediate impact as the club finished as runners-up in the league, which was the team’s best position in 49 years. In the same season, The Blues reached the UEFA Champions League’s semi-final, unfortunately, lost to AS Monaco FC.
Abramovich, known as a shrewd and successful businessman, was not pleased to end the season empty-handed. The Russian had his eyes set on the highest price and eventually brought many changes to the management team and backroom staff. As a consequence, despite his heroics with the club, Claudio Ranieri was sacked.
The Appointment Of Jose Mourinho – The Special One
Claudio Ranieri, who received a well-deserved farewell by Chelsea FC, was replaced by Jose Mourinho. The Special One, as Mourinho proclaimed himself, delivered on his very first season with the club.
The 2004-05 campaign was one of Chelsea FC’s most successful seasons, as the Blues won both the Premier League and the League Cup. Backed by Abramovich’s spending prowess, Mourinho signed several important figures, like Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Arjen Robben, Paulo Ferreira, and Ricardo Carvalho, to support a somehow already impressive squad.
In his second season, Mourinho retained the league title. However, the club could not manage any cup success as they were knocked out by Barcelona in the Champions League and lost to Liverpool FC in the FA Cup semi-final.
In the following season (2006-07), the team finished second in the league behind winners Manchester United. Despite not retaining the Premier League title, Mourinho guided The Blues to a League Cup win over Arsenal FC (2-1) and FA Cup win over Manchester United (1-0).
Though the club was a dominant force in English soccer, they could not impose their supremacy in Europe as Liverpool FC knocked them out in the Champions League’s semi-finals.
Post Jose Mourinho Era
In September 2007, after several months of disagreement between Mourinho and Abramovich, The Special One left the club by mutual consent. Chelsea’s director of soccer, Avram Grant, was announced as his replacement.
The campaign under Grant was hectic and exciting as The Blues were well on track to win three major competitions. However, the club finished runners-up in all three. Defeat against London rival Tottenham by 2-1 in the League Cup was followed by Manchester United claiming the league title that year.
Chelsea faced local-rival Liverpool FC in the Champions League semi-final. Having lost the semi-finals to the English club twice before, Chelsea FC managed to go through the final for the first time in their history. Unfortunately, the club lost the final on a penalty shootout (1-1 a.e.t) in an all English contest against Manchester United.
Following the 2007-08 campaign, Luiz Felipe Scolari replaced Avram Grant. The latter, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, was touted to bring back success to the club. After a promising start to his career, the club’s performances deteriorated, leading to his sacking in February 2009.
Subsequently, Guus Hiddink was appointed as caretaker manager and guided the club to a third-place finish. Hiddink helped The Blues win the FA Cup final with a 2-1 victory over Everton FC.
Unfortunately, the Champions League was still out of reach of the club. This time Chelsea FC was knocked out in the semi-finals by Barcelona. Despite being the most consistent club in the Champions League over the last five years, Chelsea FC could not lift the most prestigious trophy in Europe.
In June 2009, Carlo Ancelotti replaced Guus Hiddink. Ancelotti, who had won the UEFA Champions League twice with AC Milan, was highly regarded as the man to deliver the missing European trophy to the club. He won his first competitive game in charge by winning the Community Shield against Manchester United in a penalty shootout after the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
He reiterated the feat of Mourinho by winning the Premier League title in his first season at the club. The Premier League crown was followed with the FA Cup win over Portsmouth, thus completing a first-ever league title and FA Cup double for The Blues.
In the 2010-11 campaign, Ancelloti’s side started the campaign with a loss in the Community Shield against Manchester United. Despite a brilliant start to their Premier League defence, Chelsea could not retain their crown, resulting in the sacking of Ancelotti.
Chelsea FC Are Double European Champions
In June 2011, Chelsea appointed Andre Villas-Boas as their new manager. The club’s performance under Villa-Boas was inconsistent in the league, and the team was knocked out early in the League Cup by Liverpool FC. With the team lingering fifth in the Premier League table, the FA Cup and Champions League were the only achievable targets. The club sacked Andre Villa-Boas after only nine months at the club.
Roberto Di Matteo, a former star player, was appointed as caretaker manager for the rest of the season. The Italian quickly became a fan favorite by helping the team qualify for the FA Cup and Champions League finals.
In the FA Cup final, The Blues won a hard-fought game by 2-1 against Liverpool FC.
Next up was the UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich. It was a much-contested game, and it took over 80 minutes to witness the first goal. Thomas Muller of Bayern scored in the 83rd minute. However, five minutes later, prolific striker Didier Drogba scored a fantastic header to push the game into extra-time.
The extra-time ended with no goal. With the penalty shootouts remaining, both teams had equal chances to claim the big ear trophy. Cech made two crucial penalty saves, leaving the team with one spot-kick away from history. Drogba took the decisive penalty to clinch the missing trophy for Chelsea FC.
After his heroic with the club, Roberto Di Matteo’s appointment was made permanent. During that period, the club made several vital signings like Eden Hazard, Oscar, Gary Cahill, and Cesar Azpilicueta. However, Chelsea sacked Di Matteo in November 2012 due to poor performances. The interim manager, Rafael Benitez, replaced him.
Despite losing the Club World Cup Final to Corinthians and knocked out at the Champions League’s group stage, Benitez led the team to a third position finish in the league, ensuring qualification for the next season’s Champions League. The Spaniard most significant contribution came in the UEFA Europa League, in which The Blues defeated Benfica by 2-1.
The Return Of Jose Mourinho At Stamford Bridge
The club announced the re-appointment of Jose Mourinho as the manager following the departure of Rafael Benitez. In his first year with the club (2013-14), Chelsea FC finished the campaign empty-handed. By the culmination of the season, Mourinho brought in Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa to further improve the squad.
Eventually, in the next campaign, The Blues won the Premier League title after topping the table from the beginning of the campaign. Mourinho also won the club’s fifth League Cup with a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur. However, the following season saw a completely different image of the team.
A poor run of form saw the club win only 5 out of 19 games, which resulted in the sacking of Mourinho in December 2015.
Subsequently, Guus Hiddink became the caretaker manager for a second time. By the end of the season, Antonio Conte, former Juventus FC and Italy national team head coach, was appointed to lead the club’s revival.
In his first season, Conte signed N’Golo Kante, who played a pivotal role in winning back the Premier League title. Unfortunately, the club’s performance worsened again in the next season. The Blues finished fifth in the league. Exit from the League Cup and the Champions League arrived too soon. The season’s only satisfaction came in the FA Cup win over Manchester United, with Eden Hazard’s goal enough to settle the contest.
The failure to qualify for the next season’s Champions League and the ongoing feud between Conte and Diego Costa resulted in the manager’s sacking. Maurizio Sarri subsequently replaced Antonio Conte in July 2018.
Sarri made an impressive start to his career. However, the club’s form dipped again, and by February, the club was out of the Premier League contest. Despite being knocked out by Manchester United at home in the FA Cup and calls for the club to sack Sarri, the Italian managed a third-place finish in the league to guarantee participation in the next season’s Champions League.
The same season, the club booked their place in the EFL Cup finals and the Europa League. Despite losing in a penalty shootout to Manchester City in the EFL Cup, The Blues won the Europa League over London rivals Arsenal FC by 4-1.
Chelsea FC Transfer Ban By FIFA
In February 2019, Chelsea FC was banned and fined by FIFA to breach regulations relating to international players’ signing and registration under 18. One case that came to the limelight was Bertrand Traore’s move from his homeland, Burkina Faso, to Chelsea FC.
Before his official registration with Chelsea FC, Traore played several years for the club. According to FIFA, 69 academy players were involved in these breaches over several years. Chelsea FC was banned from signing and registering any national and international players for two consecutive years and fined 600,000 Swiss francs.
Consequently, the club contested FIFA’s decision and brought their case before the FIFA Appeal Committee. FIFA subsequently rejected the appeal, which was heard in April 2019.
However, Chelsea further appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). In December 2019, the CAS concluded that although The Blues violated FIFA rules, the players concerned in the breach were significantly smaller than the number initially claimed. Besides, the CAS found some violations to be less severe than those initially attributed by FIFA.
As a result, the ban was reduced to only one year, and the fine was halved to 300,000 Swiss francs.
Frank Lampard As The Blues Manager
While the club and the people associated with Chelsea FC were shocked by FIFA’s initial transfer ban, Maurizio Sarri left The Blues for Juventus FC. In June 2019, following the Italian departure, Chelsea FC appointed Frank Lampard, former star player and club legend, as the new head coach on a 3-year contract.
Backed by Roman Abramovich, Lampard signed big players like Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell, and Édouard Mendy. Despite an influx of talents into the team, Lampard started the season slowly. After a series of poor results, he was eventually sacked after 18 months in charge of The Blues.
Thomas Tuchel And Chelsea F.C.
Thomas Tuchel, who previously coached Paris St-Germain, was appointed as Chelsea new manager on January 26, 2021. His appointment has been quite fruitful as he managed to qualify The Blues for the Champions League semi-finals. In the English Premier League, Chelsea is performing well and looking for a top-four finish.