It’s been one of the most divisive seasons at Chelsea in recent memory, with plenty of criticism leveled at the team (not all of it unjustified), and plenty of criticism leveled at the criticism of the team (also not all unjustified). And yet, after all the shouting and all the insults and all the hot takes, Chelsea won a European trophy, reached a second cup final, and finished ahead of all but the two of the best teams in Premier League history.
Not bad, not bad at all.
That’s not to say that the inconsistencies weren’t glaring or a massive problem. All involved have acknowledged that there is room for improvement. There’s always room for improvement. But the Europa League trophy does prove a certain validation of the team’s efforts and of the coach’s methods. It’s the perfect response to many of the criticisms, valid or less so. And for those unduly maligned throughout the season, it’s the ultimate validation.
“It’s wonderful to win such an important trophy after a long, tough, difficult season, but I think we deserved it.”
“Aside from all the criticism, I think we had a great season. We finished third in the Premier League, reached the Final of the Carabao Cup even if we didn’t win it in the end and won this trophy.”
“Criticism is part of the game, but I want to thank everyone who made this long journey to come here and cheer us on. I salute my wife and kids, who unfortunately couldn’t come because of the absolute chaos it took to get here.”
-Jorginho; Source: Sky Italia via Football Italia
Jorginho, thanks to his role as the fulcrum of “Sarri-ball”, was a lightning rod for criticism. But one didn’t have to be personally targeted to be cognizant of the situation.
Here’s left back Emerson, for example, standing up for the team’s accomplishments.
“You saw the results, right? You saw what we achieved this season? It wasn’t easy, but we finished third, we reached the Carabao Cup Final and won the Europa League. What more can you want?”
Emerson started the Europa League final ahead of Marcos Alonso, completing a long 18-month climb from injured backup to first-choice starter since arriving at Stamford Bridge. As much as Wednesday’s win was a validation for the team’s efforts, Emerson is mighty proud of his own personal accomplishment and journey so far. (And it’s only the beginning, presumably, at just 24 years of age!)
“I am very happy for the team. The game was until that stage really stuck, it was 0-0. I am very happy with the assist, but above all for the trophy.”
“It was not an easy season, the Coach was changed and many other things changed too. We had ups and downs. At the start of the season, we had these two targets, which were to qualify for the Champions League via the Premier League and win the Europa League. We achieved both.”
“I feel quite emotional about it, because four months ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to start in the Final. I played and helped my team with an assist, so I couldn’t be happier.”
-Emerson; source: Sky Italia via Football Italia
Celebrate good times!