Thursday 24 May 2012

Chelsea FC - Season Review

-Viva Didier-

As yet another insane football season is over Abchurch reflects on what was an extremely exciting season for Roman Abramovich’s side. Abchaps were out in force come rain or shine (mostly rain) entertaining some of our lucky clients, journalists and intermediaries with our four season tickets at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s season began with so much promise, with Jose Mourinho incarnate, Andre Villas Boas (“AVB”) occupying the Blue’s dugout. AVB’s success at former club Porto meant much was promised upon his appointment, and the Abchurch team was looking forward to seeing a ‘new look’ youthful Chelsea take on the best football league in the world. The season began well with Chelsea quietly going about their business; which was illustrated by their 2-1 victory very early on in the campaign against West Brom which Jamie and Quincy attended. Chelsea were in good form and if it was not for the form of the Manchester clubs and Tottenham Hotspur’s breathtaking performances at the start of the campaign the media would have certainly made more of Chelsea’s calm but consistent start.

As with any club with high expectations and ambition, Chelsea’s campaign was not solely focussed on the English Premier League (“EPL”) but also the European Champions League (“CL”) - the only major club honour which eluded Roman Abramovich; yet the one he yearned for the most. This campaign, like the EPL, started off extremely well for Chelsea. The competition saw many debutants, such as the young Daniel Sturridge who was seemingly carrying AVB’s team at the time, but the most notable was Julian Bosdet (“Bozzy”), Abchurch CEO who would experience his fair share of nail biting evenings.

October saw the first change in AVB and The Blue’s fortunes. A three match losing run including defeats to bitter local rivals, QPR and a 5-3 home defeat to Arsenal, attended by Mark, Jamie, a personal finance reporter for the Daily Telegraph and an Abchurch client provided the press ammunition to question AVB’s credentials as Chelsea manager. Club captain John Terry being accused of racism capped off a miserable month for AVB. November and December were equally unkind to Chelsea who lost back to back home games to rivals Liverpool including a 2-1 home defeat; attended by Abchurch’s resident Scouser, Mark who was entertaining guests from houses SVS Securities and Westhouse Securities.

By the turn of the year it was safe to say that AVB was on borrowed time, as the ambitious but na├»ve manager had alienated the more senior players of his squad who can always come in handy for a team fighting in all fronts. A public outburst from Frank Lampard in January confirmed what everyone already ‘knew’ – that AVB was losing his grip on Chelsea football club. Whilst it was all doom and gloom at Stamford Bridge, the Abchaps continued to entertain guests. A stand out match fell right at the beginning of February where AVB’s men squandered a 3-0 lead at home to defending champions Manchester United. Abchurch’s Olly B was in attendance for this memorable United comeback with guests from Liberum Capital, Cobbetts and Grant Thornton.

AVB’s Chelsea tenure did not last for much longer and after a 3-1 humiliation at the hands of Napoli in the Champions League. He was duly sacked. Chelsea legend Roberto di Matteo (“RDM”) was swiftly appointed interim manager. RDM’s tenure began fantastically and he (with the help of John Terry on the touchline) masterminded a dramatic comeback against Napoli in the second leg of the Champions League knock out; witnessed by Bozzy and guests from finnCap.
RDM quickly installed faith back into The Old Guard of Stamford Bridge, and messrs Lampard, Cole and Drogba were back doing what they did so well for previous managers Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. Bozzy, with a new penchant for Champions League evenings at the Bridge, entertained old friends from Cenkos, Dorsey & Whitney and Baker Tilly for the 2-1 home leg victory against Benfica.

In the knowledge that Chelsea simply faced too much competition from a resurgent Arsenal, a stuttering Tottenham and a rampant Newcastle to finish in the coveted top four, RDM focused Chelsea’s attentions on the remaining cup competitions. This change in policy would prove to be the best decision ever made in Chelsea’s history.

Playing Chelsea’s Old Guard means installing their traditional philosophy of playing cautious counter attacking football and relying on the ever dominant presence of Didier Drogba in attack. This tactic was demonstrated by their 1-0 home defeat of Barcelona, also attended by Bozzy with a Sunday Times journalist and an Abchurch client, and again Didier Drogba the Chelsea scorer in big games. Subsequently, aided by the utterly unthinkable, the world’s greatest player Lionel Messi missed a penalty, leading Chelsea to defeat Barcelona on aggregate at the Nou Camp – the Blues were in the Champions League and FA Cup finals.

Abchurch’s attendance continued to the bitter end, with Quincy returning to Wembley where only a couple of weeks before saw his beloved Tottenham Hotspur comprehensively beaten 5-1 in the semi final owing to a horrific referring decision and yet another Didier Drogba master-class. Quincy and Ashleigh saw the 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Wembley with guests from Canaccord Genuity. Chelsea were FA Cup winners, RDM had delivered silverware, and Abchurch was there to see it.
Oli, accompanied by an Independent journalist and an Abchurch client, saw one of the goals of the season scored by Papis Cisse for Newcastle during Chelsea’s penultimate game. A game which finished as 2-0 defeat, and showed the world that RDM had one thing and one thing only on his mind, and that was the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Munich!

What would happen to the team who finished sixth in the Premier League and had always come so close yet so far to winning Europe’s elite club competition? Would the old guard finally win the one trophy that had so far so brutally eluded them? Would RDM play the same tactics that had proved so fruitful in the other knock-out rounds? Would Ashley Cole make goal line clearance after goal line clearance? Would Didier Drogba bully yet another European defence on the largest stage of them all? Would Chelsea qualify for next year’s competition?

The answers to the above questions are all yes, as Didier Drogba slotted the winning penalty to make Chelsea European Champions with a 4-3 victory on penalties.

In a season which started out so haphazardly, Chelsea who until mid way through did not have a prayer from anywhere, anyone or anything, boasted arguably their finest campaign yet.

As we enter another close season, with RDM not even sure if he has a job with Chelsea at the end of the summer, Abchurch must thank the Chelsea team for providing one of the most dramatic and exciting campaigns in football history. For our and our guest’s sake, please keep the drama and excitement up.

Jamie Hooper

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