With football on hiatus and We Ain’t Got No History slowing approaching our tenth (10th!) birthday, I figured it might be as good a time as any to start looking back on some of our recent Chelsea memories.
Here are a few that stood out from March 17 (timezones may change that a bit, but I’m trying to keep it within the European & North American frame; sorry, rest of the world).
Juventus (tried to) take the moral high ground after Chelsea beat them to Lucas Piazon’s signature by offering the teenager a salary of ... (Dr. Evil voice) ... one ... millllllion ...
dollars Euros. This were still the Juve recovering from the Calciopoli scandal, mind you, though they would go on to appoint a certain Antonio Conte later that year to begin their still-continuing period of dominance.
As far as Piazon goes ... yeah, we did not strike gold, despite all the moneys and his Kaká-esque looks. Piazon, now 26, is still technically on Chelsea’s books while playing for his seventh (7th!) different team on loan since joining Chelsea. He’s doing okay for Rio Ave in the Portuguese top division and has (had) been regularly involved since January.
I’m happy to say I was there to witness this day that began with snow on the ground in person, though at the time, I was more impressed by Eden Hazard’s wondergoal (always loved the triangles that Hazard, Mata, and Oscar played) as Chelsea beat West Ham 2-0 at the Bridge — in part because that goal happened right in front of my face in the Matthew Harding while Super Frank’s strike was day down at the Shed End.
But the lasting legacy of that match was definitely Lampard scoring his 200th, which is immortalized in a song that really needs to have some of its racist lyrics changed.
The two-year Pogba-mania that culminated in a world record transfer to not-Chelsea was just beginning, as Juventus were digging their heels in at €70-80m. They would get over €100m from Manchester United the next summer (2016) as a welcome present for José Mourinho.
And they lived happily ever after!
Spanish media were certain that Eden Hazard had an “agreement in principle” to join Real Madrid later that summer. We may recall that Chelsea were mired in a most-terrible season at the time, but Hazard wanted to go out on a high note. And that principle would lead him to stay for three more seasons, and win three more trophies (Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League).
Perhaps Hazard can look forward to a better future post-coronavirus, when he won’t be beset by the injuries that have basically ruined his long-awaited debut season at Real Madrid.
Antonio Conte was closing in on a most fantastic Premier League title, but the dark clouds were already gathering on the horizon as he, once again and certainly not for the last time, had to play down suggestions of palpable discord with the Chelsea Board. “Always together,” he said. Not quite!
Things kept slowly sliding downhill from there, especially after Michael “buffer-zone” Emenalo’s departure — and the aftereffects would continue well into next season, too, with Conte’s lawyers eventually winning in the courts after Chelsea stiffed him and his staff on their severance. Not great, Bob.
Chelsea’s mini-resurgence came to a screeching halt at Goodison just ahead of the March international break, as Sarri’s men succumbed to a 2-0 loss thanks to a familiar script: all the possession, none of the goals.
We remained sixth with the result, with eight games to go, but thanks to everyone else finishing out the season worse, we still managed to make up the four-point gap to Spurs and finish in third place (and the Europa League to boot!).