Tag Archives: Jose Mourinho

Shock Results: Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland (April 2014)

Goalscorers: Samuel Eto’o 12, Connor Wickham 18, Fabio Borini 82 PEN

Teams:

Chelsea: Mark Schwarzer, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Nemanja Matic, Ramires, Oscar (Demba Ba 59), Mohamed Salah (Andre Schurrle 66), Willian, Samuel Eto’o (Fernando Torres 74)

Sunderland: Vito Mannone, Marcos Alonso, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Santiago Vergini, Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback, Adam Johnson (Emanuele Giaccherini 66), Sebastian Larsson (Ondrej Celustka 90), Fabio Borini, Connor Wickham (Jozy Altidore 66)

Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 41,210

Jose Mourinho was in his second spell as manager of Chelsea and his team were involved in a three-way scrap for the Premier League title with Liverpool FC and Manchester City. The Blues did look title favourites after a February victory at The Etihad Stadium but costly away defeats to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace had made them outsiders for the championship. They were facing a Sunderland side who were favourites for relegation despite a battling 2-2 draw at Eastlands three nights earlier. Gus Poyet’s side were also taking on Mourinho’s impregnable home record as a Premier League boss. He had never lost a home encounter and this was his 78th match.

The Blues top goalscorer, Eden Hazard was injured but Mourinho still had Samuel Eto’o available and the experienced Cameroonian gave his side the perfect start after only 12 minutes. Willian’s corner found Eto’o, who got infront of his marker, Lee Cattermole to guide in his 12th goal of the season. Considering there was so long to go and Sunderland’s recent 5-1 defeat on their last trip to the capital at Tottenham Hotspur, the omens didn’t look good for Poyet and his side.

However, they had found some energy and resolve during the midweek draw with Manchester City and Connor Wickham was finding a goalscoring touch that had deserted him for much of the campaign. After his two goals in Manchester, he added another here to bring the Black Cats level. On-loan full-back Marcos Alonso hit a shot which was too hot to handle for Mark Schwarzer. Wickham reacted quicker than Chelsea captain John Terry to score from close-range.

Chelsea had 31 attempts on-goal but without Hazard, lacked the decisive cutting edge. Vito Mannone was in terrific form, making smart saves to deny Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Willian whilst the introductions in the second half of Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba made little difference. The crucial moment occurred eight minutes from full-time. A slip from Cesar Azpilicueta allowed substitute Jozy Altidore to break down the right-hand side. Azpilicueta tracked him but brought him down.

Referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty and this prompted a furious reaction from the Chelsea dugout. Mourinho had to restrain his assistant coach Rui Faria, who was dismissed to the stands for his protests. On-loan from Liverpool FC, ex-Chelsea forward Fabio Borini calmly slotted away the spot-kick to set Sunderland up for their second victory in four seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho’s home record was gone and his fairly sarcastic media interviews afterwards suggested he didn’t take defeat well. Sunderland would win their next three matches and ultimately, remain in the Premier League off the back of shock results like this one in west London.

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Premier League Files: Michael Essien

Premier League Career: Chelsea (2005-2013)

Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien was a lynchpin in the Chelsea midfield during Jose Mourinho’s first stint as manager at Stamford Bridge. A box-to-box midfielder who had plenty of energy to support attack and defence in his prime, his style of play earned him the nickname “The Bison.”

He started his career playing in his homeland for Liberty Professionals but had things panned out differently, it might have been Sir Alex Ferguson, not Mourinho who benefited from Essien’s work-rate and abilities at the heart of a midfield spine. Essien had a trial with Manchester United in April 2000 and they were impressed, offering him a contract. However, his failure to win a work permit plus a preference of his mother to play in France saw him move there instead. He would return to England after five excellent seasons playing in the French league.

He went to Bastia to learn his trade, spending three seasons there and playing over 60 matches. French champions Lyon liked what they saw and acquired his services in 2003. His two seasons at the Stade de Gerland were richly successful, as Lyon retained their French title in both campaigns and made the quarter-finals in both the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 editions of the UEFA Champions League.

Mourinho identified Essien as his main transfer target in the summer of 2005, only a few months after Chelsea had ended their 50-year top-flight title wait. After months of protracted talks, Lyon agreed to sell their asset to the west Londoners for £24.4 million, making him the most expensive African footballer in history at the time of his arrival. He settled quickly, started 31 Premier League matches as Chelsea made it consecutive Premier League titles. He scored in home victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Everton in the run-in to their success. Essien’s form also meant he won the prestigious BBC African Footballer of the Year award for 2006.

His best season at Stamford Bridge came in 2006-2007. The supporters recognised this, voting Essien as Chelsea’s Player of the Year for his immense contributions to their double domestic cup success, even if the title was lost to Manchester United. He became the first African to receive this honour in Chelsea’s proud history. In the same season, he won Chelsea’s Goal of the Season award for his spectacular equaliser against Arsenal. That was a feat he repeated in 2009 for a European stunner in the semi-finals at home to Barcelona.

This would be the peak of his Chelsea career as injury started to take its toll afterwards. There were still some highs which included a 35-yard screamer at home to Blackburn Rovers in October 2009 and a brace in a 3-1 away win in September 2010 at West Ham United. Despite these injury frustrations, Essien did win a second title in 2009-2010. However, his best days with the club were sadly behind him.

After making 168 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, scoring 17 goals, Essien moved to Real Madrid on a season-long loan deal in August 2012. This meant he was reunited with Mourinho, who was now manager at The Bernabeu. Famously at his press conference unveiling, Essien referred to Mourinho as his “Daddy!”

After Real declined an option to make the loan move a permanent stay, Michael would go on to play for AC Milan and Panathinaikos. He is still playing in the game today, now representing Persib Bandung in Indonesia. He was one of Ghana’s key players during their rapid rise in the African international spectrum. Essien was capped more than 50 times and played in the 2006 and 2014 World Cup finals, although injury denied him the chance to play in their run to the 2010 quarter-finals.

On his day, Michael Essien was one of the best midfielders in the world. Unfortunately, injury meant whilst his stay at Chelsea was popular and long, he didn’t quite fulfil the maximum potential that was most certainly capable.

Seasonal Records: 2004-2005

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2004-2005 Premier League campaign. It was a season to remember for Chelsea as the Blues won their first Premier League title, 50 years on from their last top-flight success, losing just one match all season.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 38 29 8 1 72 15 +57 95
2 Arsenal 38 25 8 5 87 36 +51 83
3 Manchester United 38 22 11 5 58 26 +32 77
4 Everton 38 18 7 13 45 46 -1 61
5 Liverpool FC 38 17 7 14 52 41 +11 58
6 Bolton Wanderers 38 16 10 12 49 44 +5 58
7 Middlesbrough 38 14 13 11 53 46 +7 55
8 Manchester City 38 13 13 12 47 39 +8 52
9 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 10 14 47 41 +6 52
10 Aston Villa 38 12 11 15 45 52 -7 47
11 Charlton Athletic 38 12 10 16 42 58 -16 46
12 Birmingham City 38 11 12 15 40 46 -6 45
13 Fulham 38 12 8 18 52 60 -8 44
14 Newcastle United 38 10 14 14 47 57 -10 44
15 Blackburn Rovers 38 9 15 14 32 43 -11 42
16 Portsmouth 38 10 9 19 43 59 -16 39
17 West Bromwich Albion 38 6 16 16 36 61 -25 34
18 Crystal Palace 38 7 12 19 41 62 -21 33
19 Norwich City 38 7 12 19 42 77 -35 33
20 Southampton 38 6 14 18 45 66 -21 32

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 975
European qualifiers Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Champions League)

Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Everton (UEFA Champions League)

Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League)

Bolton Wanderers (UEFA Cup)

Middlesbrough (UEFA Cup)

Newcastle United (UEFA Intertoto Cup)

Longest winning run 8 games (Chelsea)
Longest unbeaten run 29 games (Chelsea)
Longest winless run 15 games (West Bromwich Albion)
Longest losing run 6 games (Bolton Wanderers & Tottenham Hotspur)
Highest attendance 67,989 (Manchester United vs. Portsmouth)
Lowest attendance 16,180 (Fulham vs. West Bromwich Albion)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year John Terry (Chelsea)
PFA Young Player of the Year Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Football Writers’ Award Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
PFA Team of the Year Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry, Andy Johnson
Manager of the Year Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)
Premier League Goal of the Season Wayne Rooney (MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Newcastle United)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Yakubu Portsmouth vs. Fulham 4-3 30th August 2004
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Blackburn Rovers vs. Middlesbrough 0-4 16th October 2004
Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea vs. Blackburn Rovers 4-0 23rd October 2004
Milan Baros Liverpool FC vs. Crystal Palace 3-2 13th November 2004
Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton 5-1 18th December 2004
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. Portsmouth 3-0 5th March 2005
Rob Earnshaw Charlton Athletic vs. West Bromwich Albion 1-4 19th March 2005
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. Norwich City 4-1 2nd April 2005

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Thierry Henry Arsenal 25
2 Andy Johnson Crystal Palace 21
3 Robert Pires Arsenal 14
4= Frank Lampard Chelsea 13
4= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Middlesbrough 13
4= Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur 13
4= Yakubu Portsmouth 13
8= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 12
8= Andy Cole Fulham 12
8= Peter Crouch Southampton 12
11= Wayne Rooney Manchester United 11
11= Tim Cahill Everton 11
11= Shaun Wright-Phillips Manchester City 11
11= Robbie Keane Tottenham Hotspur 11
11= Rob Earnshaw West Bromwich Albion 11
16= Didier Drogba Chelsea 10
16= Freddie Ljungberg Arsenal 10
16= Robbie Fowler Manchester City 10
16= Emile Heskey Birmingham City 10
16= Kevin Phillips Southampton 10
21= Jose Antonio Reyes Arsenal 9
21= Paul Scholes Manchester United 9
21= Milan Baros Liverpool FC 9
21= El-Hadji Diouf Bolton Wanderers 9
21= Paul Dickov Blackburn Rovers 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Arsenal 7-0 Everton 11th May 2005
Fulham 6-0 Norwich City 15th May 2005
West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Liverpool FC 26th December 2004
Arsenal 5-1 Crystal Palace 14th February 2005
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Aston Villa 1st May 2005
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Southampton 18th December 2004
Charlton Athletic 0-4 Chelsea 27th November 2004
Arsenal 4-0 Charlton Athletic 2nd October 2004
Charlton Athletic 0-4 Manchester United 1st May 2005
Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace 10th April 2005

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Tottenham Hotspur 4-5 Arsenal 13th November 2004
8 Arsenal 5-3 Middlesbrough 22nd August 2004
8 Norwich City 4-4 Middlesbrough 22nd January 2005
7 Arsenal 7-0 Everton 11th May 2005
7 Manchester United 5-2 Crystal Palace 18th December 2004
7 Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 Everton 1st January 2005
7 Newcastle United 4-3 Manchester City 24th October 2004
7 Portsmouth 4-3 Fulham 30th August 2004
7 Southampton 4-3 Norwich City 30th April 2005
6 Fulham 6-0 Norwich City 15th May 2005
6 Arsenal 5-1 Crystal Palace 14th February 2005
6 Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Aston Villa 1st May 2005
6 Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Southampton 18th December 2004
6 Arsenal 2-4 Manchester United 1st February 2005
6 Fulham 2-4 Liverpool FC 16th October 2004
6 Aston Villa 4-2 Newcastle United 28th August 2004
6 Portsmouth 4-2 Charlton Athletic 9th April 2005
6 Blackburn Rovers 3-3 Birmingham City 21st November 2004
6 Southampton 3-3 Fulham 5th January 2005
6 Crystal Palace 3-3 Norwich City 16th April 2005

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
James Vaughan Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace 16 years, 8 months, 27 days 10th April 2005
Cesc Fabregas Everton 1-4 Arsenal 17 years, 3 months, 11 days 15th August 2004
Philip Ifil Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Liverpool FC 17 years, 8 months, 27 days 14th August 2004
Anthony Grant Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea 17 years, 11 months, 6 days 10th May 2005
Nedum Onuoha Manchester City 1-1 Norwich City 17 years, 11 months, 20 days 1st November 2004
Matthew Bates Middlesbrough 3-2 Manchester City 17 years, 11 months, 26 days 6th December 2004
Leon Best Southampton 1-2 Newcastle United 18 years 19th September 2004
Ricardo Vaz Te Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Aston Villa 18 years, 1 month, 13 days 13th November 2004
Tom Soares Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace 18 years, 2 months, 15 days 25th September 2004
Martin Cranie Southampton 0-0 Charlton Athletic 18 years, 3 months 26th December 2004

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Kevin Poole Bolton Wanderers 1-1 West Bromwich Albion 41 years, 5 months, 11 days 1st January 2005
Nigel Martyn Everton 2-0 Newcastle United 38 years, 8 months, 26 days 7th May 2005
Colin Cooper Middlesbrough 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 38 years, 1 month, 26 days 23rd April 2005
Les Ferdinand Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Blackburn Rovers 38 years, 10 days 28th December 2004
Fernando Hierro Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Everton 37 years, 1 month, 22 days 15th May 2005
Craig Short Blackburn Rovers 1-3 Fulham 36 years, 10 months, 12 days 7th May 2005
Youri Djorkaeff Chelsea 4-0 Blackburn Rovers 36 years, 7 months, 14 days 23rd October 2004
Graeme Le Saux Southampton 1-2 Manchester United 36 years, 6 months, 28 days 15th May 2005
Dennis Bergkamp Birmingham City 2-1 Arsenal 36 years, 5 days 15th May 2005
Shaka Hislop Portsmouth 0-1 Blackburn Rovers 35 years, 10 months, 24 days 15th January 2005

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Petr Cech Chelsea 24
2= Roy Carroll Manchester United 15
2= Brad Friedel Blackburn Rovers 15
4 Nigel Martyn Everton 14
5= Paul Robinson Tottenham Hotspur 12
5= Dean Kiely Charlton Athletic 12
7= Jens Lehmann Arsenal 11
7= David James Manchester City 11
7= Thomas Sorensen Aston Villa 11
10 Gabor Kiraly Crystal Palace 10

Premier League Rewind: 25th-27th October 2014

Results: West Ham United 2-1 Manchester City, Liverpool FC 0-0 Hull City, Southampton 1-0 Stoke City, Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Crystal Palace, Swansea City 2-0 Leicester City, Burnley 1-3 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Newcastle United, Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Aston Villa

Nine games into the 2014-2015 season and Chelsea were in pole position to regain the Premier League title from Manchester City. The Blues were still undefeated in the campaign and looking tough to catch for the chasing pack.

On the 25th-27th October weekend, Jose Mourinho took his team to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. It was a first meeting between Mourinho and Louis van Gaal since the 2010 UEFA Champions League final. There was plenty of mutual respect between the managers in the build-up to this clash but it looked like Mourinho would have the final say. Didier Drogba headed the visitors infront and it looked like the league leaders would hold onto a 1-0 lead at full-time. However, with moments remaining, Manchester United won a free-kick which led to the late dismissal of Branislav Ivanovic. From the resultant set-piece, Robin van Persie thrashed home an equaliser to ensure Chelsea dropped points for only the second time this season.

Their lead over the Red Devils was still a healthy 10 points. Worse still for Van Gaal, his team had won just three from nine matches so far and were languishing in eighth spot in the table. Chelsea’s nearest pursuers were Southampton. They regained second position after Sadio Mane’s goal was enough to beat Stoke City 1-0.

They replaced Manchester City in the top two after the reigning champions fell to a 2-1 defeat away at West Ham United. It was their second league loss of the season. The decisive goal ultimately came from Diafra Sakho, who scored in his sixth successive Premier League match for the club. Despite a wonderful strike from David Silva, City left Upton Park empty-handed and West Ham climbed into the top four much to the delight of Russell Brand. The Hammers’ fan interrupted a post-match interview to congratulate manager Sam Allardyce.

After their 8-0 mauling a week earlier to Southampton, Sunderland’s woes continued. At home to Arsenal, Vito Mannone made two terrible mistakes, allowing Alexis Sanchez to score twice and allow the visitors to leave with all three points in a 2-0 victory. In fact, just six points covered West Ham in fourth position to Aston Villa in 15th. Villa’s fifth successive defeat came on Monday Night Football, losing 2-0 to Queens Park Rangers. Charlie Austin scored a double which was enough to lift QPR off the foot of the Premier League table. Aston Villa had now failed to score in over 500 minutes of Premier League football. Another team struggling were Leicester City. They were now without a win in four games after losing 2-0 to Swansea City.

QPR were replaced at the bottom of the table by Burnley, who lost 3-1 at home to Everton. Veteran forward Samuel Eto’o scored twice for Everton who moved into the top half with back-to-back victories. Sunderland dropped into the bottom three at the expense of their Tyne & Wear rivals, Newcastle United. Having not won any of their first seven games, the Magpies were about to embark on a five-match winning sequence. The second of these came at White Hart Lane, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1.

What else happened in October 2014?

  • UKIP receives its first MP when Douglas Carswell, who defected to the party from the Conservatives, wins the by-election in Clacton.
  • The SNP confirms Nicola Sturgeon will succeed Alex Salmond as leader of the party after she was the only candidate in a leadership ballot.
  • Johann Lamont resigns as leader of the Scottish Labour Party with immediate effect.
  • Nancy Birtwhistle wins the fifth series of “The Great British Bake Off.”
  • Racing driver Jules Bianchi is left with life-threatening injuries after spinning off and hitting a recovery truck during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. He will succumb to those injuries in July 2015.
  • EastEnders confirms omnibus editions of the soap from April 2015 will be stopped because of declining viewing figures.
  • IF Elfsborg manager and former Sheffield Wednesday player Klas Ingesson dies at the age of just 46 from the effects of multiple myeloma.

Shock Results: Chelsea 0-1 AFC Bournemouth (December 2015)

Goalscorers: Glenn Murray 82

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Abdul Baba Rahman (Bertrand Traore 83), Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Kurt Zouma, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas (Loic Remy 83), Oscar (Diego Costa 45), Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro

AFC Bournemouth: Artur Boruc, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Adam Smith, Harry Arter, Dan Gosling, Andrew Surman, Matt Ritchie, Junior Stanislas, Josh King (Glenn Murray 80)

Referee: Mike Jones, Attendance: 41,631

Having cruised to the title in 2014-2015, Chelsea were making a real mess of their title defence. They had already suffered seven defeats and went into this game sitting in a lowly 14th place in the table, having amassed just 15 points from their first 14 matches.

Jose Mourinho’s side had at least tightened up defensively ahead of the visit of newly-promoted AFC Bournemouth. They’d gone 306 minutes without conceding in all competitions. Bournemouth had shown great resilience in coming from behind twice to take a point off Everton in their last match. However, Eddie Howe’s side were in the drop zone and without a league win since September.

Mourinho had controversially left Diego Costa out of his starting line-up for the trip to Tottenham Hotspur a week earlier and he kept the Spaniard on the bench for this one too, electing to play the out-of-form Eden Hazard in a ‘false no.9’ position. However, the home side offered very little in the first half and Costa was therefore summoned from the bench at the interval.

Bournemouth could have been ahead before half-time, as Josh King was denied on no fewer than three occasions by the returning Thibaut Courtois, who was back in the team after three months out through injury. Costa’s impact was almost immediate on his arrival. First, he narrowly missed making contact on a vicious cross from Branislav Ivanovic. Next, the temperamental Spaniard had an effort blocked by visiting goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Then, he claimed for a penalty when his cross was blocked by the recovering Simon Francis with his arm. As it wasn’t a natural movement, his protests fell on deaf ears and Mike Jones waved play on.

Bournemouth looked comfortable throughout, driven on by Harry Arter, who was immense in central midfield. He managed to take control of the game, neutralising any dangerous threat that might have been posed by Cesc Fabregas. Sensing there might be an opportunity to take more than a point back to the south coast; Howe threw on his summer signing Glenn Murray with 10 minutes left to play. 99 seconds later, he had made the decisive impact.

Junior Stanislas produced a wonderful corner which Courtois flapped at, under pressure from Dan Gosling. Steve Cook stabbed the ball back across the face of the goal and Murray beat his teammate Charlie Daniels to the crucial contact, heading the ball into the back of the net and sending the away supporters into ecstasy. There were doubts about whether Murray was offside when he connected with Cook’s pass but the goal counted.

Bournemouth comfortably saw out the final 10 minutes to record one of the greatest results in the club’s history. They finished 16th whilst Chelsea recovered from this defeat to scrape into the top 10. However, it would be without Jose Mourinho. He was sacked less than a fortnight after this shock defeat – Chelsea’s first at home to a newly-promoted side since Charlton Athletic won in April 2001.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea (April 2005)

Goalscorer: Frank Lampard 60, 76

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Vincent Candela (Radhi Jaidi 77), Fernando Hierro, Bruno N’Gotty, Ricardo Gardner, Stelios Giannakopoulos (Henrik Pedersen 63), Gary Speed, Jay-Jay Okocha (Kevin Nolan 63), Kevin Davies, El-Hadji Diouf

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Geremi, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, William Gallas, Claude Makelele (Alexei Smertin 90), Jiri Jarosik, Tiago, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba (Robert Huth 65), Eidur Gudjohnsen (Joe Cole 85)

Referee: Steve Dunn, Attendance: 27,653

April 30th 2005 will be a date that Chelsea supporters will never forget. It was the day when their 50-year wait for being crowned champions of England would end. Only a defeat at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium would delay their crowning as the kings of English football.

Chelsea had been outstanding all season. Coming into this match, Jose Mourinho’s side had only lost once all campaign in the league and had sprinted clear from their nearest pursuers, reigning champions Arsenal and Manchester United. Bolton weren’t going to roll over though. They were looking good for a top-six finish and with it, the prize of European football next season. They’d also come back from 2-0 down to grab a point at Stamford Bridge in November.

The first half was a cagey affair with few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. It seemed like the nerves had hit the Chelsea players and it was the home side who missed the best chance of a goalless first 45 minutes. Kevin Davies headed straight into Petr Cech’s midriff when he was given a free header in the penalty area.

Fittingly, it was one of Chelsea’s stars of the season who produced the seminal moment. Frank Lampard broke into the penalty area and fired Chelsea into the lead just before the hour mark with another emphatic finish. Bolton thought Jiri Jarosik had fouled Fernando Hierro in the build-up to the goal but their protests fell on deaf ears. The title loomed large for the west Londoners.

There were still some scares though. Gary Speed’s long throw-in saw Geremi almost score a spectacular own goal. The Cameroonian, playing in an unfamiliar full-back role leapt to reach Speed’s throw-in but rather than clear the ball, he forced Cech into an impressive reflex save.

With 15 minutes remaining, the game was still in the balance. Chelsea needed another goal to be sure of their success and it was Lampard who sealed the coronation. A Bolton attack broke down from their corner and Claude Makelele played a delicious pass into the feet of Lampard. With Wanderers defenders stranded up pitch, Lampard bared down on-goal. He had Ricardo Carvalho alongside him but he was never going to pass to the Portuguese defender. Lampard rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen, sent the ball into the empty net and the celebrations could properly begin. Chelsea were champions and they were going to tell the world about it.

The Blues became only the fourth side in the Premier League era after Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal to win the title and this came in just Roman Abramovich’s second season of owning the club. In 2004-2005, Mourinho was definitely the “Special One.” Chelsea would win the League Cup too and finished with a record-high points tally in Premier League history. They collected the trophy a week later after a breathtaking campaign by the Londoners.

The Managers: Claudio Ranieri

Premier League Clubs Managed: Chelsea (2000-2004), Leicester City (2015-2017)

On Friday 14th November 2014, Claudio Ranieri’s management career looked all but over. After 28 years in football management, he had just experienced his most embarrassing evening in the game. The tiny Faroe Islands had just beaten his Greece side 1-0 through a Joan Edmundsson strike. At the time, the Faroes were ranked 187 in the world. With one point from four games, Greece’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were all but over. A day later, Ranieri was fired.

Eight months after the Greek nightmare, he was appointed Leicester City manager to the surprise of many, who even mocked the appointment. On Tuesday 3rd May 2016, Ranieri had completed the impossible dream, taking 5000-1 outsiders Leicester to the Premier League title in the greatest story ever told in English football.

The Leicester adventure was cruelly ended less than a year later but Ranieri has won many friends for life thanks to his achievements at the King Power Stadium.

Experience counts

Claudio Ranieri began his managerial career in his homeland during the late 1980s, making his name at Cagliari whom he achieved back-to-back promotions with on a shoestring budget.

Outside of English football, he has managed many of the top clubs in the European game, though his success in terms of honours was limited mainly to cup triumphs. He won the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina in 1996 and the Copa del Rey in 1998 as manager of Valencia. The only titles he achieved were in the second-tier with Fiorentina in 1994 and AS Monaco 19 years later.

Actually, his best win rate ratio came at AS Roma, winning 55.5% of matches during his reign there from September 2009 to February 2011. However, silverware eluded him at the Stadio Olimpico at a time where Inter Milan was the dominant club in Serie A and in the UEFA Champions League under the guidance of a certain Jose Mourinho.

Ranieri has also managed Atletico Madrid, Parma, Juventus and Inter Milan in his career.

‘The Tinkerman’

He was appointed manager of Chelsea in September 2000, succeeding Gianluca Vialli. His first match in charge saw the out-of-form Blues’ recover from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at Old Trafford with reigning champions Manchester United. He arrived with only limited English language capabilities so communication in the early months between him and the players wasn’t the most free-flowing.

In the summer of 2001, he started to reshape the squad, bringing in the likes of Frank Lampard, Emmanuel Petit and Bolo Zenden, spending over £30 million on new talent for the men from Stamford Bridge. There were some eye-catching results, including a 3-0 away win at Manchester United and 4-0 humbling of Liverpool FC at home but also, shock defeats at home to Southampton and away at Charlton Athletic. Chelsea also lost 5-1 at White Hart Lane in a League Cup semi-final to Tottenham Hotspur. A second successive sixth place finish wasn’t what the club were hoping for. He did take Chelsea to the FA Cup final but even that ended in disappointment, losing 2-0 to Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.

During his reign in west London, Ranieri was given the nickname ‘The Tinkerman.’ His team selections were at times baffling and inconsistent. Frank Lampard seemed to be the only definite selection on a weekly basis. He had to make the most of his options in 2002-2003. Only one signing was made all season and that was Enrique de Lucas on a free transfer from Espanyol. The club were in financial peril, yet Ranieri achieved UEFA Champions League qualification on the final day of the season. A 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC was enough to earn Chelsea a fourth place finish. It set the Blues up for the financial bounty they were about to receive that summer.

On borrowed time

In July 2003, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea Football Club and things were changing. Chelsea went on a summer spending spree not seen before in the history of football, shocking pundits, journalists and supporters alike.

Ranieri now had a wealth of options at his disposal. He also was on borrowed time. There was constant speculation that his job was now up for grabs and being touted to the likes of England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. He had to do well in 2003-2004 or face the consequences.

He guided Chelsea to a runners-up position with a Premier League highest points tally for the club and the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. However, that wasn’t deemed good enough by Abramovich and he made a tearful goodbye on the final day of the season to the Stamford Bridge faithful, who really had taken Claudio to their hearts. He was sacked two weeks later and replaced by the FC Porto boss Mourinho.

The impossible dream

Ranieri was quick to accept his mistake in taking the Greece post following the 2014 World Cup. Shortly after being confirmed as Nigel Pearson’s successor at the King Power Stadium, he gave an interview to the Leicester Mercury where he admitted he’d made a bad move.

“I made a mistake when I was manager of Greece. I wanted to look because it is a different job at a club to a national team. I had four matches and for each game I trained the players for just three days. That is 12 days of training. What can I do in just 12 days? I had to rebuild a national team in just 12 days. What could I do? I am not a magician.”

His aim was simple; for Leicester City to claim one more point than they’d managed the previous season. New arrivals included Gokhan Inler, Christian Fuchs and most importantly, N’Golo Kante. Leicester started the season with three wins and three draws in their opening six matches which included a thrilling comeback win over Aston Villa.

The fear was Ranieri would repeat his ‘Tinkerman’ approach from the Chelsea days at Leicester too, but in fact, their team selection was so consistent with the fewest starting XI changes in the league in 2015-2016. His decision to change the full-backs early season worked. Ritchie de Laet and Jeff Schlupp began the campaign but the 5-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the end of September exposed a brutal weakness. From October, into the team came Danny Simpson and Fuchs. Simpson had been discarded by Queens Park Rangers and Fuchs shown the door by FC Schalke 04. Their consistent performances made them two of the club’s unsung heroes.

Even when Ranieri was forced into changes, he came up smiling. When Jamie Vardy was banned following his dismissal against West Ham United in April 2016, Ranieri changed tactic by bringing Schlupp into the team to counteract the pace he would lose from Vardy against Swansea City. Leicester won the game 4-0 and Schlupp was one of the star players on the day.

Even Claudio’s substitutions often worked. Leonardo Ulloa, Andy King, Nathan Dyer and Demarai Gray were often used from the bench. None of them complained. They did the job asked of them and were a full part of this team spirit ethic. Ulloa scored most of his goals from the bench, whilst Dyer’s home debut goal against Aston Villa wasn’t overlooked.

Leicester topped the table on Christmas Day and continued to defy the critics who were expecting the bubble to burst. In February, they went to title favourites Manchester City and blew them away, winning 3-1 and becoming the new team to beat with the bookmakers. This was the day people started to believe that it was their destiny to win the championship.

They entered April on top of the table and secured UEFA Champions League qualification with an away win at Sunderland. Tottenham Hotspur did put the pressure on but their 2-2 draw away at outgoing champions Chelsea handed the title to Leicester City. It was the first time in their 132-year history that they’d won the top-flight title in what has to be considered as one of football’s most incredible stories in our lifetime. Ranieri proved that nice guys do win and that is a rare commodity.

A sorry sequel

The summer of 2016 was always going to be crucial for Leicester. They managed to hold onto the services of Vardy and Riyad Mahrez but Kante did leave for Chelsea. The challenge was great and whilst it was going to be almost impossible to repeat the title triumph, no-one could have forecasted the disastrous sequel after the fairytale moment.

By the end of November, Leicester had lost six times already, picked up just one point away from the King Power Stadium and were only sitting two points above the drop zone. It seemed like the players had stopped playing for the manager, especially after pitiful displays away at Southampton and Swansea City in the first two months of 2017.

Just 24 hours after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie, Ranieri was sacked by Leicester’s owners. The decision was brutal, seen as a savage call by the majority of people within the game. The players were accused of getting the manager sacked. A lot of love the club had gained in the title-winning season seemed to have been lost. Ironically, Leicester won their next five Premier League matches in a row and reached the Champions League quarter-finals after the Italian’s departure.

Ranieri is now in charge of French club Nantes and has guided them into a top six position at the halfway point of the current campaign in Ligue 1.

Claudio Ranieri won many hearts for his achievements first at Chelsea and then for the miracle at Leicester. He was hailed as ‘King Claudio’ after guiding the 5000-1 outsiders to the title in 2015-2016 and the Premier League success he enjoyed couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

Premier League Rewind: 19th-20th November 2005

Results: Wigan Athletic 2-3 Arsenal, Charlton Athletic 1-3 Manchester United, Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United, Liverpool FC 3-0 Portsmouth, Manchester City 0-0 Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland 1-3 Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Ham United, Middlesbrough 3-2 Fulham, Birmingham City P-P Bolton Wanderers

After an international break, the Premier League resumed on the 19th-20th November 2005 with Chelsea threatening to run away with the title. However, Jose Mourinho’s side had been beaten for the first time in 40 top-flight matches last time out by Manchester United, so that gave some flickering hopes to the challengers.

If there was going to be any let-up from the reigning champions, they didn’t show it at home to Newcastle United. Second half goals from Joe Cole, Hernan Crespo and Damien Duff set the Blues’ up for an easy 3-0 victory over the Magpies.

Going into the weekend, newly-promoted Wigan Athletic were Chelsea’s nearest challengers. Paul Jewell’s side had strung together a stunning nine-game unbeaten sequence which included eight victories. However, they were about to face some of the Premier League’s big-hitters. First up was Arsenal who were struggling to sparkle away from Highbury. However, they prevailed in an entertaining Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Thierry Henry scored twice as the Gunners won this match 3-2 and Wigan would go onto lose their next four matches.

That result pushed Arsenal into the top four and they were joined there by Manchester United, who won 3-1 at Charlton Athletic. Ruud van Nistelrooy continued his excellent season so far, scoring twice. The win at The Valley came 24 hours after United had confirmed they had parted company with skipper Roy Keane, releasing him from his contract by mutual consent. Keane would sign for Celtic a month later.

Bolton Wanderers started the weekend in the top three but would drop down to fifth spot through no fault of their own. Their Monday Night Football trip to Birmingham City was postponed by referee Phil Dowd just an hour before kick-off. Although the pitch was playable at St Andrews, heavy fog had set in and visibility was considered to be too dangerous for the game to be played.

After a slow start to the season, Liverpool FC were beginning to find their form. They recorded a third successive victory with a 3-0 win at home to struggling Portsmouth. Peter Crouch’s goalscoring drought continued as he had a penalty saved but Bolo Zenden scored the rebound effort in his final Premier League match of the campaign before a knee injury curtailed his debut season at Anfield. It was also the final match in charge for Alain Perrin. He was sacked a few days later and became the first managerial casualty of the 2005-2006 season.

If things were going better for Liverpool, they didn’t improve for David Moyes at Everton. After last season’s fine fourth-place finish, they were finding the going much more difficult this time around. Everton lost 4-0 in the Saturday teatime kick-off to West Bromwich Albion which kept them in the bottom three on goal difference, along with Birmingham and Sunderland who lost again – 3-1 at home to Aston Villa.

What else happened in November 2005?

  • The footballing world mourns the death of one of Britain’s finest players as George Best passes away in hospital, aged 59 after a long battle with illness.
  • Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.
  • Former British World Rally champion Richard Burns dies at the age of 34 from a brain tumour. Burns had won the championship with Subaru just four years earlier.
  • Digital channel ITV4 is launched.
  • The Safeway supermarket brand disappears after 43 years on the high street as Morrisons completes its conversion programme. The two companies had merged in March 2004.
  • New licensing laws come into effect which allows pubs and clubs in England and Wales to open 24 hours for the first time.

Iconic Moments: ‘The Return’ ends badly for Mourinho (October 2016)

It was a relationship that looked like the perfect marriage; Chelsea and Jose Mourinho together. During his two stints in charge, Mourinho would win three Premier League titles, three League Cup trophies and the FA Cup. When the Blues’ cantered to the title in 2014-2015, it looked like a new Mourinho dynasty at Stamford Bridge was set to sweep the Premier League.

Their collapse the following season was nothing short of remarkable. The players seemed to down tools on the manager and for everything Mourinho tried, including desperation tactics, form didn’t improve. After a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City in December 2015, Mourinho admitted afterwards he felt his work was “betrayed.” The hierarchy decided the manager was to blame and sacked him three days later. At the end of the season, he was confirmed as Louis van Gaal’s successor at Manchester United.

Mourinho had always wanted to manage the Mancunian club and now here was his chance to stamp his authority on another huge global side. In October 2016, the time had come for his first domestic return to Stamford Bridge. Sky Sports billed it as “The Return.”

It would be a painful afternoon for Mourinho as he watched his side ripped to shreds by Antonio Conte’s high-energy unit. Pedro put Chelsea infront inside 30 seconds after miscommunication between Chris Smalling and David de Gea. Slack marking allowed Gary Cahill to add a second from a corner shortly afterwards. Further efforts in the second half from Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kane added to Chelsea’s glee. Their fans could rejoice in a wonderful performance and a 4-0 final scoreline. All Mourinho could do was digest this disappointment as he was on the receiving end of a bad afternoon against the fans and club that used to idolise him.

 

Premier League Files: Juan Mata

Premier League Career: Chelsea (2011-2014), Manchester United (2014-PRESENT)

A graduate of Real Madrid’s youth academy, Juan Mata has become one of the Premier League’s most precise players. Full of skill and panache, Mata has been a fans’ favourite at both Chelsea and Manchester United. Whilst the ultimate prize of the Premier League title has eluded this super Spaniard, Mata has become an integral part of many Fantasy Premier League squads because many can count on a fair return of goals and assists from him.

Mata started to make a name for himself in his homeland with Valencia. In August 2011, Chelsea bought him from La Liga for £28 million. On his arrival in west London, he revealed that his international teammate Fernando Torres had played a significant role in bringing him to English football. He said: “Fernando got me excited about the thought of coming here. He said it would be good for me here and that he and I together could be good.”

Getting his favourite no.10 shirt on his arrival, Mata made an immediate impression at Stamford Bridge. He scored on his debut in a home victory over Norwich City and was a shining light in an inconsistent season for the team which led to the March sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas. When Roberto di Matteo took over, he played Mata as a no.10 attacking midfielder rather than out on the left-wing. This produced even better performances. Mata won the Man of the Match award as Chelsea beat Liverpool FC in the FA Cup final and ended the campaign with 14 assists in the league and six goals. He was part of the squad that stunned Bayern Munich on Bayern’s own turf to win the UEFA Champions League. That was despite having a penalty saved in the shootout by Manuel Neuer.

His performances won him the Club’s Player of the Year award in 2011-2012. He was even better in 2012-2013. Mata was shortlisted for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, won the club’s individual prize for the second successive campaign and scored a ton of important goals. This included a late winner at Old Trafford against champions Manchester United. He added another honour to his collection with the UEFA Europa League. Unfortunately for Mata, his time at Chelsea was coming to a swifter end than he could have predicted.

Jose Mourinho’s arrival for a second spell as Chelsea manager would mean a frustrating first six months of the 2013-2014 campaign for Mata. Mourinho preferred to play the likes of Oscar and Ramires in more attacking positions as he valued their better defensive contributions. In January 2014, he moved to Manchester United for a club record fee at the time of £37.1 million.

His debut for the Red Devils’ saw an assist created for the opening goal against Cardiff City, scored by Robin van Persie. It did take Mata slightly longer to settle than he would have anticipated and two months before scoring his first goal for the club; in a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa in March. He ended with six goals at the end of the campaign.

Louis van Gaal arrived as David Moyes’ successor and it took Mata time to really establish himself at Old Trafford. The arrivals of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria put his place in doubt but towards the end of the 2014-2015 season, he had emerged as United’s creative spark. In March 2015, the club travelled to Anfield for a crucial match with Liverpool FC. The two were fighting it out for a top-four finish in the Premier League and Liverpool had the momentum following a lengthy unbeaten run. On this day, Mata was unplayable.

He ghosted past Alberto Moreno for the opening goal inside 10 minutes. His second goal was voted as the Goal of the Month for March. He produced a spectacular and fantastic bicycle kick from the edge of the area to leave Simon Mignolet stranded. The goal even got a usually unemotional van Gaal out of his seat. Manchester United won the game 2-1 and Mata has said since this was his best performance for the club.

In May 2016, he won the FA Cup for the second time in his career, scoring the equaliser in the final against Crystal Palace. Further goals in 2016-2017 followed against the likes of Watford, Arsenal and AFC Bournemouth as Mata once again proved his critics wrong and showed he could play a crucial role at the club for Jose Mourinho – the man who had so easily discarded him at Chelsea.

Great vision, many assists and plenty of skilful moments, Juan Mata has been a serial consistent player for the past six seasons and I’m sure more is to come from him in the 2017-2018 season.