However, many associated with the club may have been left a slightly bitter taste in their mouths after their early Champions League exit at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan side. What can Carlo Ancelotti do to take the Blues onto the next level and finally win the trophy they have been so close to winning on several occasions?
Over the past few seasons the Stamford Bridge faithful have been left cursing their luck after their appearances in UEFA’s most prestigious club cup tournament and have lost to the eventual champions on five of the last seven occasions, with Monaco and Liverpool being the runners-up who knocked out Chelsea on route to the final in 2003/04 and 2006/07 respectively.
The west London club have also been rather unlucky on a few times. Amongst the Blues’ worst Champions League memories there is the ghost (phantom) goal which saw Liverpool knock Chelsea out in 2005, penalty shootout heartbreak against Manchester United in 2008 and of course the disgraceful refereeing by Tom Henning Ovrebo, who turned down several penalty appeals in the Blues’ favour during the 2nd leg semi-final tie between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge…Ovrebo’s performance was summed up by Didier Drogba’s not too eloquent post-match rant, which was unwise but some argued that he had a point.
Hopefully Chelsea’s luck in the Champions League will improve as the situation at the club has improved over the past few seasons. Since the departure of Mourinho the Blues have suffered times of uncertainty over managers who never seemed to last too long, but now that Ancelotti has come onto the scene they have acquired a manager who the owner likes, has Champions League pedigree and has brought major titles back to Stamford Bridge.
They have the manager and the squad, but I feel that a big summer signing or two may be needed to take the club onto the next level. It’s all well and good being able to beat the likes of Wigan 8-0 in the league with a squad that remains good enough to win the league again, but if they want to beat Europe’s elite to the big cup prize then they may need some extra star quality.
Last season Chelsea went out to the hands of Inter Milan and many have highlighted the importance of players like Wesley Sneijder, who can produce that something different to unlock a tight defence or change a game.
Who should the Premier League Champions go for? Perhaps one of Fernando Torres, Kaka, Mesut Ozil, Mario Balotelli, or Sergio Aguero would be a great deal for the club. But I feel they definitely need that something extra and many fans will hope that Ancelotti and Roman Abramovich have something special up their sleeves.
Of course one star man that the club will be welcoming back from injury is Michael Essien, which brings me onto my next point.
I believe Essien is currently the best player on the books at the west London club and to win the Champions League they will have to keep the midfielder, who has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons fit and firing. He is one of the players who can create something special, as was seen in his performance against Barcelona in 2009 by scoring a blistering volley which should have taken Chelsea through to their second Champions League final.
Ancelotti may have to be adaptable with his tactics also as he has shown previously by using a 442 diamond and a more familiar 433 formation with different degrees of success. Sometimes Chelsea’s physical style gets them into hot water with the more whistle happy referees of the Champions League, but they must avoid confrontation with officials at all costs as they haven’t exactly endeared themselves to them and to UEFA as a governing body. It may not be just or fair, but they should not be giving anyone any excuses to punish them.
The next Champions League final will be staged at Wembley Football Stadium in London, which has so far been a fairly happy hunting ground for the Blues who have won three out of four of the FA Cups finals that have been staged there. Could this be a good omen?
What measures do the fans think Chelsea should take to break their Champions League duck?