Repeating yourself much, history? Twelve years ago, an ex-Valencia manager took charge at Stamford Bridge, replacing a popular Italian ex-Chelsea-player-turned-manager who had brought tremendous European success and had made a bright initial start to the new season. Dozen years ago, the principals in this tragicomedy were called Claudio Ranieri and Gianluca Vialli. To be fair, Vialli fell out with the players (including Zola and Deschamps) rather than the upper echelon but such details are small enough to be glossed over.
Ranieri struggled and was not an instant success. Just four wins from the first twelve, half of which were lost. The six losses included 2-0 shutouts away to Charlton Athletic and - wait, have to look up the spelling - FC St. Gallen 1879, a mid-table Swiss club, which eliminated Chelsea (who had held a 1-0 home leg lead from Vialli's time) from the UEFA Cup. Then again, in those days, expectations at Stamford Bridge were somewhat, shall we say, lower.
Four years on from St. Gallen, Jose Mourinho waltzed into town and created an unprecedented culture of quality, strength, and winning. He won nine of his first twelve, losing just once to Manchester City. This record would be repeated or bettered by four of the next six managers - only Avram Grant and Andre Villas-Boas fell short of the mark with eight wins from the first twelve. Yet both of them lost just once as well, to Manchester United, coincidentally enough.
Of course, all good things and all good trends must come to an end. And the latest ex-Valencia man has done just that. Read 'em and weep:
The accomplishments are numerous and impressive. Least number of wins (7)? Check. Least number of home wins (2)? Check. Most losses (3)? Check. Most home losses (1)? Check. (Tied for) least number of "super important" clean sheets (4)? Check.
Ladies & gentlemen, Rafalution!
NB: This article originally stated that Mr. Interim only had three clean sheets. But it's actually four clean sheets! Apparently my counting skills are on par with his managerial skills.