The Old Chelsea: dead and gone. The New Chelsea: still just getting started.
But 18 months after the swift and sudden (and unexpected and forced) change of ownership, and all that’s happened since in the way we approach the business of football and winning, Chelsea are back in a Cup final. This League Cup final will be almost exactly two years after we had won the FIFA Club World Cup, the last missing trophy in the cabinet thus completing the set.
Of course, we still have the task of actually winning the Cup in said Final, be that against Liverpool or Fulham, but there’s already plenty of symbolism in just reaching it. It feels like some of the normal order has been restored in the football universe. Ever since 2004-05, we always looked at the League Cup as the opportunity to kick-start a trophy-winning season. It may be the lowest-priority competition, but it gets progressively more meaningful the further along you get. And now we’re to the end, so now we can focus on winning it. It’s the history of the Chelsea, right, Mauricio?
(Last season was only the sixth season since 2003-04 that we did NOT win a trophy, and the very first without reaching a Cup final at all.)
Pochettino’s bold and confident mission statements from the summer may have taken a few hits along the way, but a something shiny can make things look a lot better — not to mention the possibility of qualifying for Europe, even if that’s just the Europa Conference League.
“To reach the final, I think it was our first objective from the beginning. We need to congratulate the players for the effort, amazing. In which ways we are improving, I think we are believing, we are not listening too much when we don’t win or we are not scoring too much.
“[We] accept the critics but I think it is the most important [thing is] to keep the focus, and to see the reality. We need to see the reality and of course split what is Chelsea and what is the team we are building – they are two different things [...] the challenge is so much; the history of Chelsea, the capacity to win titles, to win games, to score goals, to play and build a team to match the mentality of this club.”
“[...] But now it is about to win the final. [It may look like] it’s not important because Chelsea is about winning Champions Leagues, Premier League and it looks like it’s not so important. [But] I think it’s important for the club, important for us and this process to build a new team.”
“[As a club] Chelsea’s mentality is amazing, they want to win. But we are a new team. We need to build the confidence and trust. To go to Wembley and play a final with Liverpool or Fulham now.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Football.London
Clear eyes, full hearts.