With football on hiatus and We Ain’t Got No History slowing approaching our tenth (10th!) birthday, it’s 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 20 over the past 9-10 years (timezones may change that a bit, but I’m trying to keep it within the European & North American frame; sorry, rest of the world).
Chelsea 2, Manchester City 0. Part of the late-season 10-match unbeaten run in the league (8-2-0) that saw Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues almost recover from the “bad moment” over the winter. Alas, in both the Premier League and in the Champions League (quarterfinals), we’d come distinct second bests to Manchester United.
This match was against the other half of Manchester, who were just as rich but not quite yet the force they would be later in the decade. This was the first season for the likes of David Silva, Yaya Touré, Mario Balotelli, Aleksandr Kolarov, Edin Džeko, and James Milner. City had beaten Chelsea earlier in the season, 1-0 — our only loss in the first ten matches of the season — but now we had our sweet revenge.
Chelsea controlled proceedings to a large extent, but were unable to find the breakthrough until newly arrived cult hero David Luiz headed in from a corner twelve minutes from time. Ramires made sure of the points in stoppage time with an individual effort that would be voted our Goal of the Year for 2010-11. (Ramires would of course defend that title with next season’s effort against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Man scored some spectacular goals in his Chelsea career!)
Here’s another great angle of the goal, this time from the Matthew Harding, complete with the full celebrations.
WAGNH Blogfather Graham called future Chelsea goalkeeper coach and WAGNH off-topic idol Henrique Hilário a “Professional Paperweight” as the then 36-year-old backup of the backup goalkeeper — Čech, Turnbull, Hilário, Blackman the pecking order — signed a new one-year contract.
Sure enough, Hilário would not make another competitive appearance as a player — the last of his career would prove to be the start against Norwich in August 2011, a 3-1 win — though he officially retired only in 2014, transitioning into a coaching role. Last summer he was elevated from assistant to head goalkeeper coach, though Kepa’s relative struggles have raised a few questions about the quality of coaching as well (not that we have any actual insight on any of that).
Marco van Ginkel was the second signing of the second José Mourinho era, and still the only player to move from Vitesse to Chelsea, where he was tipped for greatness. And unlike with most young players, Mourinho actually seemed willing to give the 21-year-old Dutch Talent of the Year his chances. Alas, in just the fourth chance given, Van Ginkel tore his ACL in late September.
By mid-March, he was set for a rehab start for the U21s, which he would navigate without any major problems the following day. Unfortunately, he’s still looking for his fifth Chelsea appearance. (His contract expires this summer, after yet another season lost to a knee injury.)
The ongoing saga of Willian’s contract was still in its infancy this time last year, though already forming some recognizable themes and patterns.
“I have one year left, but of course I want to play for this club. I don’t know if they want me, but of course I want to continue here.
“This club is very special to me. I won titles here, I have the affection from the fans and from the people that work in the club. I feel comfortable to stay. I am happy when I play well and score goals. I can give a different light.”
-Willian; source: March, 2019
The two sides have been unable to agree on a new contract (length) since then, and it looks like Willian’s heading out the door after seven years at Stamford Bridge.