Throughout the 2000s, seeing Chelsea lift trophy after trophy became a common theme and a key player throughout that period of success has revealed one of the main reasons behind our dominance.
Ashley Cole, so often our dependable left-back throughout our trophy-laden recent years, spoke to Gary Lineker this weekend for Match Of Their Day, where he reflected on his record number of FA Cup final victories as well as highlighting why he thinks the Blues were so successful once we lifted our first Premier League title under Jose Mourinho in 2005.
‘Jose Mourinho signed me but when I think back to the group that we had when I first joined, it was already a team of winners,’ explains Ashley.
‘We had some big personnel here already who understood the culture of the club and what it meant on a daily basis to play here, and that was a big reason why I joined Chelsea.
‘Players like John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech. These are all players that knew what the demands were to play for Chelsea and that would rub off onto you.
‘They knew what was required and they showed that every day. Hard work, dedication and a willingness to improve and get better.
‘What Jose did to Chelsea was unbelievable in terms of the confidence and belief he gave us. He gave us that stability. He would come in and say “right, you’ve done it you’ve won things, you’ve improved and now this is what I’m expecting from you on a daily basis” and we just took that on.’
The Blues have had several managers throughout that time, with Mourinho actually returning to Stamford Bridge in 2013 for a second spell in charge, while Frank Lampard, a former team-mate of Cole’s – and our all-time leading scorer – is currently our head coach.
The former England international, who joined us from Arsenal in a move that saw William Gallas head across London to join the Gunners as part of the deal, feels that the managers who tasted most success at Chelsea were the ones that didn’t tinker with the core spine of ‘winners’ already in the side, such as the players he mentioned earlier – the likes of Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Cech.
‘Of course, every manager wants to put their own spice or philosophy on the team,’ Ashley adds. ‘But any manager that tried to force that too much on the team, it didn’t really work. People would talk about player power and things like that but it wasn’t that, we just knew what our strengths were, what our weakness were and knew what players could and couldn’t do and we just got so used to being a tight group and understanding the way to play and the way to win.
‘It didn’t really matter which manager would could in come in, because if they put too much influence on the team it would affect what we already had in place.
‘You look at someone like Carlo Ancelotti, who came in and just quietly added his own philosophies to what we already had.
‘Of course, we all respected him as a manager and as a footballer anyway with regards to what he had won throughout his career, but also as a man for the way he kept things the way they were here already with that solid base. He just tweaked things a little bit with regards to his tactics and his beliefs to what we were doing before he arrived.
‘We had a great group and we probably did need a little bit of tweaking here and there at times, but certainly nothing ‘full-circle’ and I think any managers that came in ‘full blast’ saying “I’m the man here” and changing things, it didn’t really work because I don’t think we needed that.
‘That’s why I feel we continued winning with different managers who just tweaked things slightly, because we had a really good core of players.
‘I learnt a lot from Carlo Ancelotti. He made a very enjoyable and safe environment at training. He had his arm around you when you needed it and he made you want to go into training every single day, because you enjoyed it.
‘So, I’ve definitely taken bits from Carlo into the way I see myself as an aspiring coach.’