The players who formed the backbone of Chelsea greatest side for the best part of a decade would manage one or two spectacular last hurrahs before departing. Chief among these were Didier Drogba, who signed off with the equalising goal and winning penalty on the greatest night in the club's history: the Champions League final in Munich, and not far behind, Frank Lampard, skipper in that 2012 final and again, a year later, in the Europa League final triumph over Benfica - a few months after he had eclipsed Bobby Tambling as the highest goalscorer for Chelsea.
The Londoners had now become only the fourth club to win every available UEFA competition, and the first from England. The fact these victories were achieved with different managers - Roberto Di Matteo, who also steered the Blues to FA Cup glory, and Rafael Benitez - revealed a different story, though, of underachievement in the Premier League. Eager to compete for top-flight honours again, the board arranged a stunning return for Jose Mourinho: 'I am one of you,' he told ecstatic Chelsea fans. Despite undertaking a radical overhaul of the team, his impact was immediate, with a near miss in the title race and a semi-final exit in the Champions League. There were farewells for Lampard, David Luiz, Juan Mata and other favourites, but with the Portuguese navigator back at the helm the course towards further honours looks assured.
Mourinho quickly identified the areas most in need of reinforcement and the club wasted little time in ensuring the players were signed.
Two from Spain – Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas – were the headline buys and Thibaut Courtois began his Chelsea career in earnest after a long loan in the same country. He quickly became first-choice goalkeeper.
— Manager: 2009-11
Andre Villas Boas
— Manager: 2011-12
Roberto Di Matteo
— Manager: 2012
— Manager: 2012-13
— Manager: 2013-15
— Manager: 2015-16
— Manager: 2016-2018
A swift, purposeful passing game kicked into gear in coming from behind to win at Burnley in the opening round of fixtures and the Blues barely looked back. By the third game we were clearly ahead of the pack and although reigning champions Manchester City drew level by the turn of the year, they could not live with the club from the capital when we kicked for home.
A fifth Chelsea league championship and a third for Mourinho in England was secured with three games to spare. The eventual points total was the third highest in top-flight history and a mere three league games were lost in 2014/15, all away from home. Fabregas was peerless in providing assists, Diego Costa netted 21 goals in all competitions; Eden Hazard scored 19 and collected a sackful of individual awards.
The season was made all the better by winning the Capital One Cup final against Tottenham, revenge for defeats against our London rivals in Wembley finals in 1967 and 2008.
However the defence of the league title in 2015/16 surprised everyone and with the team only one point above the relegation places just before Christmas, Jose Mourinho left the club for a second time.
Guus Hiddink returned to the helm for a second short spell and guided the side to safety and a mid-table finish, before Italy manager Antonio Conte was appointed to lead the Blues into 2016/17.
It proved to be an inspirational choice. Reacting to comprehensive defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal in September 2016, Conte built on pre-season hard work which had embedded his principles of play by adopting a 3-4-3 formation that immediately flourished.
— Player: 2006-14
— Player: 2001-14
— Player: 2004-12 and 2014/15
— Player: 2004-15
— Player: 1998-2017
It brought out the best in a number of important players and instantly produced a six-game, 600-minute spell without a single goal being conceded. The team climbed from eighth position to go top of the league in late November.
A club record 13 straight league victories was achieved up to the end of 2016, equalling the English top-flight record for consecutive league wins in a single season. It included landmark triumphs against both Manchester clubs and Everton. The lead at the top was maintained throughout the second half of the campaign with the title claimed with two games to spare, with an evening win at West Brom. In the remaining games at Stamford Bridge there were emotional scenes as John Terry brought the curtain down on his unsurpassed Chelsea career.
Our final points tally of 93 is only bettered by the 2005 champions – who were also Chelsea, although a second league and FA Cup double in the club’s history was denied by defeat against Arsenal at Wembley.
The 2017/18 season served up a better FA Cup conclusion but the league campaign failed to match up to the previous one with the Blues finishing fifth, outside the Champions League places. In Europe, we exited at the knockout stages to Barcelona but faced with Manchester United at Wembley in the FA Cup final, a penalty won and converted by Eden Hazard was enough to defeat Mourinho’s side. It was the eighth time we had lifted the trophy, the joint-third most by any club.
In the summer, Conte departed, to be replaced by another Italian, Maurizio Sarri.
Spirit Of The Age
In September 2011 social medium Twitter announces it has hit 100 million active users. Chelsea's dramatic Champions League success over Barcelona the following year sets a new record of 16,384 tps (tweets per second).
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