Your team can’t experience glory every year. It will not happen. It is hard to believe once you taste success, but every time the season wraps up, a trophy or winner’s medal does not materialize.
This is meant to serve as a reminder to many top clubs, but this season it is aimed toward Chelsea fans. The return of Jose Mourinho gave fans a high level of confidence entering the season and a hope of bringing the Barclays Premier League trophy back to London. However, Mourinho’s first season back in charge will end without a trophy. Great wins were a major theme, but there were just enough painful losses scattered throughout the season to derail sky-high ambitions.
Rather than continuing to look back and say “what if” it is time to take the season for what it was and look ahead.
It will end without a trophy, but there were plenty of great moments along the way that made it worthwhile to be a Chelsea. The wins were great, but some tasted even sweeter. Beating Manchester City at home was fun. Watching Torres pounce on a mistake to win the match was priceless! Watching the team respond to going a goal down to Liverpool at home was breathtaking. Hazard’s goal was a stroke of genius. Ten-man Arsenal did not know what hit them when they conceded six at Stamford Bridge. The win at the Etihad was enthralling. If you watched the buildup you knew that Chelsea “had no chance.” The win at Anfield was nothing short of brilliant. Tomas Kalas marked Suarez out of the game in his full debut. Most impressive. Torres passing to Willian for the second goal may have been my favorite moment of the season.
Oh, and let’s not forget the second leg against PSG. The cries of “We’ve Done It Before” echoing from the crowd gave me chills. Every near miss and “almost” moment made me cringe. When Ba scrambled the ball over the line, I cried out in joy! It was a sense of relief from stress I had not felt from watching a sporting event since Drogba scored the decisive penalty in Munich.
The losses were painful, but it’s time to take them on the chin. Losing to Bayern in the Super Cup hurt, but the team went toe to toe with the reigning champion of Europe with only 10 men. The leagues bottom sides proved to be the most difficult roadblocks. Finding positives here is much harder; Losses to Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Aston Villa in just over a month were not the mark of a title winning side. The loss to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League was a combination of a very well drilled Atletico side seizing the moment, bad luck and bad defending. A draw with Norwich to start the month of May in the Premier League killed off what little title hopes remained, and it too makes it hard to find positives.
Looking back, the images I will associate with this season are not grounded in winning or losing. Seeing John Terry curled up on the floor after heading past Petr Cech against Palace springs to mind. The sight of Terry crying after the loss to Atletico is also etched in my brain. Seeing Ashley Cole completely distraught after the Norwich match is another mental snapshot I took. I can’t think about this season without thinking about Dave running all over the pitch. Closing someone down. Out of position. These images tell me that we have a group of players that will run through a brick wall for their manager and for their fans. They give it all for the club they love. They leave nothing in the tank. They will play on either flank, in the center or in goal if it leads to three points.
I see Mourinho running all the way down to the corner flag against PSG to give defensive instructions to his team in order to see the game out. I see Mourinho beating his chest after the second goal at Anfield. These two images tell me that Chelsea’s manager is committed to success. Style of play and reputation fall behind winning in his mind. Free flowing football is fun to watch as a neutral, but winning is the most fun. Mourinho loves the club so much that he will do whatever it takes to win.
It didn’t quite work out this season, but with a manager committed to winning above all else, the future is bright. If that doesn’t work out, a team of players that love the club like Chelsea’s players do will have me beside them no matter where they go. Whether it is a title challenge, fighting for fourth place, shooting for mid table or trying to avoid the drop, this season reminds me that I am Chelsea through and through. “Boring, Boring Chelsea” may be the chant but supporting the club is far from it. For this, I am thankful.