TEAM HISTORY - 2000s

Third place meant the 1999/2000 season would bring Champions League football for the first time and it proved to be to Chelsea's taste as we became the first English club to reach the quarter-finals at the first attempt.

A famous Dennis Wise equaliser in Milan's San Siro stadium, Galatasaray's red-hot support silenced by a 5-0 win in Turkey and the giants of Barcelona beaten 3-1 at the Bridge were the highlights of the campaign.

The Spaniards eventually knocked us out in the mighty Camp Nou but there was plenty of consolation as we contested the last ever FA Cup Final at the old Wembley Stadium. It was Aston Villa's turn to suffer the Di Matteo Wembley goal habit - 1-0 the final score.

Just 20 years after the club had teetered on the brink of financial collapse, Chelsea equalled the British transfer record by paying £15 million for goalscorer Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. His first goal in his first game helped us raise the Charity Shield to make it six trophies in a little over three years.

Lifting the silverware was inspirational west London-born captain Dennis Wise, enjoying his reward for 11 years of outstanding service and his efforts in pulling together a multinational squad.

All was not well below the surface however. Problems were occurring between Vialli and an increasing number of his players and some of his transfer purchases had not worked out. The team was an ageing one and with the need for much rebuilding imminent, the club decided to look elsewhere for someone to oversee it.


Claudio Ranieri takes charge

Claudio Ranieri, an Italian who had built knockout cup-winning sides at Fiorentina in his homeland and Valencia in Spain was selected. His first season ended with Chelsea qualifying for Europe for a fifth season-in-a-row.

Hasselbaink won the Premiership Golden Boot with 23 league goals, earning him the right to be named in the same breath as Hilsdon, Bentley, Greaves, Osgood and Dixon when Chelsea centre-forwards are discussed.

Ranieri began his transfer work, shipping out Wise, Poyet and Leboeuf. He spent £42 million to bring in defender William Gallas, midfielders Frank Lampard, Emmanuel Petit, Slavisa Jokanovic plus wingers Jesper Gronkjaer and Boudewijn Zenden.

The rebuilding of a new compact Stamford Bridge was completed for the start of the 2001/2 season and for an FA Cup quarter-final that same campaign, Chelsea travelled to Tottenham.

This fixture had grown into no ordinary London derby. Over 12 years Chelsea had built an incredible unbeaten run over our local rivals, having not lost a single game to them during that time.

But in January 2002 in a League Cup semi-final, Spurs had recorded a rare and heavy success - beating us 5-1 on their patch. We returned six weeks later in the FA Cup, hungry for revenge and thumped them 4-0. Fulham were then beaten in the semi-final but a third consecutive London derby in the Final at Cardiff was lost to Arsenal 2-0.

Cup finals and top six finishes were becoming commonplace but debts accumulated in rebuilding the team, the stadium plus the construction of an adjoining hotel and leisure complex were causing concern.

There was relief when a win in the final game of the 2002/3 season over Liverpool saw us and not them qualify for the lucrative Champions League.

 

Roman Abramovich becomes the new owner

Despite qualification for the Champions League the debt burden still made the club ripe for new investment and on July 2nd 2003, Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea.

Just 36 years-old, Abramovich was a Russian billionaire almost unknown in England at the time.

News of the sale came out of the blue, and at first the picture was unclear. Would there be money for new players, would there be a change in manager and would Gianfranco Zola remain at the club?

Funds had been unavailable to offer the soon-to-be 37 year-old a suitable new contract. Now everything had changed but Zola had already given his word to a club back home in his native Sardinia. In this most incredible of weeks for Chelsea, possibly the most universally popular player ever to wear our shirt departed.

It soon became clear the direction the club would be taking when Abramovich sanctioned the biggest close-season spending spree world football had ever seen.

Young English talent was bought in the shape of Glen Johnson, Wayne Bridge and Joe Cole. Other Premiership clubs were raided for Gérémi and Juan Sebastián Veròn while Damien Duff was a new club record purchase at £17 million.

Italy's Serie A was the next port of call for two top level strikers, Adrian Mutu and Hernán Crespo, while the final piece in the jigsaw was Claude Makelele. The past Champions League winner from Real Madrid would anchor the midfield.

Over £100 million was spent on players for the new season and away from the pitch, Abramovich took the club back into private ownership.

The new-era Chelsea put down an impressive early marker with our first win at Anfield in 11 years in the opening Premiership game.

In November 2003 came two significant wins. Lazio were beaten 4-0 in Rome to set a new record margin of victory for a foreign team in Italy and then Premiership champions Manchester United were defeated to send Chelsea top of the table.

The championship challenge stuttered over Christmas but in the Champions League quarter-finals at Highbury, Arsenal were memorably beaten for the first time in 17 meetings.

Unfancied Monaco, managed by former Chelsea player Didier Deschamps stood between us and the Champions League Final. But in two games of wildly-fluctuating fortunes, the team from the Mediterranean principality won through. Back home, second place in the domestic league table was Chelsea's second best finish ever.

The squad had changed a lot under Ranieri's control and had a younger look but after four years without a trophy, the decision was taken to bring in a new coach capable of leading a concerted challenge for football's highest honours.

Jose Mourinho arrives

In just two seasons, Jose Mourinho had taken Porto to successive UEFA Cup and Champions League triumphs as well as back-to-back leagues plus domestic cups in his native Portugal.

Brimming with self-assurance, the 41 year-old set about instilling the same belief in a squad which had again been bolstered. Portuguese internationals Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho and Tiago followed Mourinho to London. Two of Europe's hottest young prospects, Petr Cech and Arjen Robben also arrived, as did Didier Drogba, raising the club record purchase fee to more than £20 million. Mateja Kezman was a second new striker.

One of Mourinho's first acts was to hand the captain's armband to John Terry, the best Chelsea youth product for over two decades.

A win over Manchester United on the opening day began the Premiership trail and once top spot had been gained in November, it was never likely to be relinquished.

The Championship was won with the best points total and best defensive record in English top-flight history. Terry was the first Chelsea player to be voted PFA Player of the Year while Lampard, who had scored 19 goals from midfield in all competitions, was the Footballer of the Year.

Chelsea may have fallen short in the Champions League again (losing to Liverpool in the semi-final) but a Carling Cup victory with the team from Anfield again the opponents, ensured 2004-5 was our most successful season ever.

It truly was the perfect way to celebrate Chelsea's first 100 years.

Never someone likely to sit on his laurels, Mourinho immediately went to work on adding more silverware to the first season title win and was backed financially as Chelsea spent big on Michael Essien from Lyon, making the Ghanaian a new club record purchase and the world's most expensive African.

England's Shaun Wright-Phillips was another £20 million-plus addition, important re-enforcement given the successful use of wingers the previous campaign, and Asier Del Horno from Spain was a new left-back. Hernan Crespo returned from loan for a second isolated season.

The wait for more trophies was a short one - Arsenal, our closest challengers the previous year, were defeated in the Community Shield and then again in the opening home game as the Blues raced away for a Premier League record nine straight wins at the start of a campaign.

The run included a 4-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield, the home side's worst defeat there in over 35 years. With title opposition nearly extinguished by November, Chelsea didn't let up despite defeat at Old Trafford. Victory in our last ever game at Highbury came midway through a club record 10 consecutive league wins.

Champions League progress was not so smooth - eventual winners Barcelona gaining revenge for the previous year in the first knockout stage - but although domestic form did falter a little in early spring, what had seemed likely from the off was confirmed as second-placed Man United were comprehensively beaten 3-0 as April closed to take the crown.

Chelsea became the first London club to win back-to-back championships since the 1930s. Frank Lampard, voted second best player in the world during the season, netted a remarkable 20 goals from midfield and broke the Premier League record for consecutive appearances.

In the summer of 2006, goodbyes were said to stars of the trophy wins, Eidur Gudjohnsen, William Gallas and Damien Duff especially. Prominent players on the world scene Andriy Shevchenko (for a club record fee), Michael Ballack and Ashley arrived to signal the intent to stay at the top.

However the third season under Mourinho was different from the out-in-front experience of the previous two. A steady start was severely jolted by a serious head injury to Petr Cech. Form was maintained until the Christmas period, a fortnight that was the backbone of the back-to-back title wins.

This time the Blues stumbled through the holiday season, further injuries to John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and Carlo Cudicini far from helping. Though Cech returned, the casualty list remained long through to May, forcing Mourinho to play what he described as survival football.

Surviving may have meant runners-up in the league but it also included Chelsea's first domestic cup double. The Champions League ended at the semi-finals at Anfield (again) but the Carling Cup was won against Arsenal in Cardiff and then the FA Cup against champions Man United at Wembley, making Chelsea the last lift the trophy at the famous old stadium and the first at the shiny new one.

The goalscoring hero on both occasions was Didier Drogba, who enjoyed an outstanding season packed full with 33 goals.

Mourinho had led the club to the full quota of the domestic trophies available but his stay at Chelsea had only a few months to run.

Mourinho era at an end

In September 2007, the most successful manager in the club's history left by mutual consent. Avram Grant, who had joined as director of football in the summer, moved into the manager's chair as a change in playing style was sought.

Despite guiding Chelsea through a potentially difficult period the season was to prove a nearly one. Losing finalists in the Carling Cup, a shock FA Cup exit to Barnsley with the competition seemingly there for the taking and despite a gritty pursuit in the title race ultimately falling just short.

The Champions League final could have provided the ultimate silver lining on a difficult season but bad luck was to be the final footnote as Chelsea lost on penalties in a dramatic match. Avram Grant left the club three days later and in June Luis Filipe Scolari was announced as the club's new manager.

Despite a promising start results started to falter and the board made another dramatic managerial change and replaced Scolari with Guus Hiddink after just 8 months in charge, this time however the change worked wonders.  A revitalised Chelsea rediscovered their old form in the remaining league games and although they had left themselves with too much to do to catch Manchester United they still finished a creditable third with 83 points. 

There was to be more heartache, and painfully unjust heartache at that, with a hugely controversial last minute defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final. Yet the Blues again showed their character by ending the season, and Hiddink's brief spell in charge, on a high by winning the FA Cup again after a 2-1 victory over Everton.

In a few short month's Hiddink's brief spell in charge had made him hugely popular with both fans and players but he was true to his word that he wouldn't walk out on his main job as Russia manager. So Chelsea were once again looking for another manager at the start of the 2009/10 season.


Carlo  Ancelotti arrives

Carlo Ancelotti had already established himself as one of the world's top coaches with AC Milan when he was asked to take up the challenge of returning stability and silverware to Stamford Bridge.  A winner of Serie A and the Champions League, both as a player and a manager guaranteed instant respect from his new players at Chelsea.

Charged with not only winning silverware but doing it playing attractive attacking football, it was a big challenge for a man who needed to settle in a foreign country and learn a new language as well.  However Ancelotti won the respect of many as he led Chelsea to their first title since 2006 and did so scoring a record 103 goals in a season, including three victories achieved scoring seven goals, and the final day victory over Wigan with an astonishing 8-0 win.

Chelsea were champions once again, and to cap it all came a successful defence of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win against Portsmouth.  It is the first Double in the club's history.