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Chelsea Returns to the Days of Claudio Ranieri

sfnche130803 Chelsea Returns to the Days of Claudio Ranieri

Chelsea’s defeat last night in the Champions League semi-final may feel like deja vu for many Blues supporters. But not for the reasons that many of you may imagine.

Incredibly, Chelsea’s fortunes have gone full circle. At the tail end of the 2004 season, Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea side lost in the semi-final of the Champions League and finished the season in second place. Sound familiar?

Between 2004 and now, Chelsea has of course flourished under Mourinho by winning the Premiership title two seasons in a row. What must be most frustrating, though, is that Man United opened the door two weekends ago for Chelsea to win the title. But Chelsea was terrible against Newcastle succumbing to a passionless nil-nil draw. Even this past Saturday against Bolton, Chelsea was unable to outwit Sam Allardyce’s side.

Instead, Mourinho made six changes to his side against Bolton and sat Lampard and Cole. They used to call Ranieri The Tinkerman, but Mourinho did the same thing this past Saturday. A win against Bolton would have made the May 9th clash between Chelsea and Man United mean something. Now all that’s at stake is pride and the determination to ensure that United doesn’t lift the trophy on Chelsea’s patch.

Sure Mourinho has achieved so much more than Ranieri, but at the end of the season all that matters is the number of new trophies in your cabinet, and Mourinho has one and may end up with two by May 19. But there’s no guarantee that Chelsea will even win the FA Cup.

Sure, Chelsea has had a very difficult and trying season that was hampered by injuries. In a different scenario (one without those key injuries), things may have been different.

However, there’s no hiding from a passion to win. Even last night against Liverpool, it looked like Chelsea lacked the desire. The team was a ghost of its former past. The Blues looked dangerous on corner kicks and often booted the ball up field in hopes that Drogba could latch on to it for a fortunate strike.

For Chelsea not to score at Anfield was a travesty. One goal was all the club needed to put them into the Athens final, and they couldn’t even muster that.

Sure, Liverpool was formidable but the Reds blew their chances to make it 2-0. And Petr Cech definitely kept the Blues in the game several times with some aerobatic saves.

For the neutral fan, last night’s win by Liverpool over Chelsea wasn’t pretty. In fact, the game was dire at times. No surprise, really, after the previous encounters between the Reds and Blues. Liverpool fans won’t mind, though.

Liverpool’s win tonight was monumental for many reasons. One, it ends Chelsea’s chances of the Blues winning the biggest prize in European football this season. It’s the one piece of silverware that Chelsea (especially Abramovich) wanted more than anything. Two, an argument could be made now that money doesn’t guarantee success in football. Three, Chelsea are the new galacticos. Four, I believe we’ve seen Chelsea reach their peak last year and although they’ve won the Carling Cup and will refocus their energy on winning the FA Cup, I believe that last night’s defeat signals the pending departure of Jose Mourinho.

While Leeds United fans were a disgrace this past Saturday, the Liverpool spectators last night created an awesome atmosphere at Anfield. Tom Hicks and George Gillett were in the crowd. Incredibly, commentator Derek Rae mentioned that one of the Americans wanted to sit in the Kop but was told no due to security reasons.

The mass of people, red shirts, scarves and flags, and the fans in the entire stadium standing up made the Anfield crowd look like terraces last night to see another historic match in the club’s history. Now let’s see whether Liverpool will face Man United or AC Milan, and that the game is hopefully more entertaining than last night’s affair.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

2 Responses to Chelsea Returns to the Days of Claudio Ranieri

  1. Anonymous says:

    Mourinho said that Liverpool didn’t deserve to win over the two legs. Man, he is a sore loser. Within 4 days he lost two tropheys, and, deservedly so. With the exception of Terry, Drogba and Essien, every other Chelsea player was invisible yesterday.
    Liverpool was the better team on the night and should have put the game away in regulation. Great Mascherano, Kuyt, and Carra(as always).
    Hope Rafa can lead us to the Premiership title one of these days!

  2. Anonymous says:

    As good a job as Mourinho may’ve done with Chelsea, he is a poor poor loser. I couldn’t believe my ears when he said that he thought Chelsea was the better team on the night…

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