Stamford Chidge & Jonathan Kydd are joined by Mark Meehan to look back at Chelsea’s 2000-2001 season.
In part two we pick up the story in the New Year with a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at home on New Years’ Day. Behind the scenes there was still unrest with Captain Dennis Wise and ‘keeper Ed de Goey dropped. Wise, unhappy about being frequently played out of position put in a transfer request while de Goey was consigned to the bench and replaced by Carlo Cudicini for the rest of the season.
New signing Jesper Gronkjaer made a big impression with goals and assists against Gillingham in the FA Cup and Newcastle and running Gary Neville ragged in the 1:1 draw against Man Utd at home. Of Ranieri’s first signing, Slovisa Jokanovic, the less said the better,
Pitted against bogey side Arsenal at Highbury in the FA Cup 5th round, two Wiltord goals in 11 minutes meant that Chelsea would not be at a cup semi-final or better for the first time since 1993.
Chelsea’s home form was good, but their away form terrible, evidenced by their first away win for a year coming against West Ham in March. Ultimately it was to damage their chances of a top 3 finish, although defeat to Sunderland and Charlton at home and an away defeat to Leeds Utd, their rivals for a top 3 finish, put the final nail in the coffin.
Victories over Everton and Man City and a creditable draw away to Liverpool was enough to secure 6th place and qualification for next season’s UEFA Cup, however, the season remained a massive disappointment with the sacking of well-loved Vialli whose name was chanted throughout the season and especially at bizarre decisions from Ranieri. To this should be added the early exit from the cup competitions; the injuries to Di Matteo and Stanic and the general feeling that many of the players wanted away.
In fact, the greatest disappointment was the realisation that the team of the 90’s was breaking up with the departures of Vialli, Petrescu, Di Matteo and Flo gone and Poyet, Leboeuf and Wise soon to depart, along with Zola apparently wanting to return to Italy. Chelsea was a team in transition and that meant the dream of winning the league title was perhaps further away than ever.