Stamford Chidge, Jonathan Kydd and Mark Meehan look back at the 2001-2002 season in our ’50 Years of Chelsea’ series.
Claudio Ranieri’s first summer transfer window brought four key signings with Bolo Zenden and Emanuel Petit arriving from Barcelona, William Gallas from Marseille and Frank Lampard, the talented young midfielder, from West Ham for £11 million.
The new signings took time to settle in and with the departures of Denis Wise, Gus Poyet and Frank Leboeuf, there was an air of transition about the club. Although Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen were forming a deadly partnership up front, Chelsea were drawing too many games, evidenced by their position outside the top four in the Premier League.
Off the pitch, controversy reigned with John Terry, Frank Lampard, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jody Morris getting caught by the News of the World drunkenly abusing American tourists in shock at the awful events of 9/11. The media also had a field day when Desailly, Le Saux, Petit, Gudjohnsen, Gallas and Ferrer elected not to play in the UEFA Cup natch against Hapeol Tel Aviv due to security concerns. Chelsea were knocked out by the Israeli side but supporters were bouyed by performances in the Worthington Cup where Coventry, Leeds and Newcastle were despatched to set up a semi-final against Spurs in the New Year.
December saw some of the best performances of the season with a 3-0 away win at Man Utd, a 4-0 demolition of Liverpool at home and a 2-1 win away to top of the table Newcastle. It looked like it would be all to play for in the New Year…