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Chelsea finish season with stark reminder of how far we still need to go

Reality check

FC Bayern Muenchen v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

As in February, so in August, Chelsea were thoroughly outclassed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, especially on the scoreboard but on the pitch as well, despite Frank Lampard’s assertions that Chelsea put in a “resilient” performance with many players able to go “toe-to-toe” with their opposite numbers.

It was another three-goal defeat last night in the second leg, just as it was half a year ago in the first leg, and while that still gives us a “better” aggregate defeat against the German champions than either Spurs or Arsenal in recent years, that’s hardly any consolation. And it’s certainly not much progress.

What yesterday’s match underlined quite emphatically once again, is that Chelsea sure have a long way to go before we can truly compete at the level that we want to compete. And since this was the final game of the season, it’s a lesson that hopefully won’t be overlooked.

We shouldn’t dwell on it of course, and when evaluating the season, we have to take the entire campaign into consideration and acknowledge all the mitigating circumstances. When we do that, we can pleased with Lampard’s first year and we can certainly be pleased with the direction in which we appear headed with laser-focused determination.

“The result isn’t nice. Probably most expected us to lose anyway, but we went in with the right intentions and we competed. I will never be happy with a defeat, but when you match up the two teams, and think about where we want to get to, it will take time. It’s not overnight. Now we take a rest, which the players richly deserve, we look forward and we want to improve.”

Losing to Bayern in the Champions League knockout rounds isn’t a tragedy, even if it was by six goals on aggregate. Losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup final is much more disappointing, but we’ll just have to make up for it next time. Having met the baseline expectations for the season with a fourth place finish (after just about everyone at the start of the season predicted a bigger struggle), we can continue building the foundations for long-term sustained success. It’s something we’ve been trying to do for a while now, but it will take a bit more patience, a bit more investment, and a bit more development and learning from all involved.

“We know where we’re at. We want more than fourth next year. We have to be humble, work hard and understand it will take time, but what I’ve seen from within is a really good bunch of players that have worked really hard this year, and will continue to do so next.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC

The hard work starts now.

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