Sitting in mid-table mediocrity and out of the Champions League, a 2-0 loss to Everton in the Emirates FA Cup last night effectively ended Chelsea’s season. With this season an unparalleled disaster, what is next for Chelsea Football Club.
Much has happened since John Terry hoisted the Premier League trophy last May.
While a rare defeat to rivals Arsenal in the Community Shield was written off as pre-season rust, the Eva Canerio debacle a week later on opening day pretty much set the tone for their season. A subsequent string of defeats that had Chelsea languishing in the bottom reaches of the table left the football world wondering what had happened to the well-oiled Blue machine that had steamrollered all comers last season.
Few typified the malaise of Chelsea as much as Eden Hazard. The reigning Player of the Year got 14 goals and 10 assists in the league last season. This season, Hazard has been a shadow of the player he used to be. Once with the world at his feet, the closest he has come to scoring this season was a deflected goal against Arsenal that was subsequently chalked off as a Calum Chambers own goal.
With key players struggling for form and Jose Mourinho began going through his book of tricks. Forging a siege mentality, attacking decisions made by referees, signaling out particular players and even throwing the team under the bus. When nothing Mourinho did had any effect, the subsequent departure of the ‘Special One’ after he finally lost the dressing room raised no eyebrows.
In came owner Abramovich’s favourite go-to guy, the good old Guus Hiddink, to steady the ship and pacify frayed egos. While the league form steadily improved, Hiddink reign also saw Chelsea crash out of the League Cup and the Champions League. 11 points off the Champions League spots with just 9 games to go, any chance of qualifying for European has all but evaporated.
Watching a Romelu Lukaku’s brace knock Chelsea out of the FA Cup would have been particularly galling for Abramovich having let him go to Everton two seasons ago. With Diego Costa potentially facing a long ban after seemingly bitten Everton’s Gareth Barry, everyone related to Chelsea cannot wait for this season to end.
Rumours abound that Italian Antonio Conte looking set to take over next season with some reports even claiming that Chelsea have been paying for him to take English lessons since January. With club legend Terry’s contract looking set to expire and transfer rumours swirling around over a number of Chelsea’s key players, there is one heck of a rebuilding job ahead of Conte.
With nothing left to play for and no European football to look forward to next season, this truly has been a season to forget for Chelsea.