How will Todd Boehly’s consortium be viewed in two decades? That is the question that feels equally impossible to answer but interesting as we reflect on the conclusion of the Roman Abramovich era at Stamford Bridge.
Twenty-four trophies, 14 different coaches, a transfer ban, sanctions and a quickfire sale, part of Abramovich’s legacy of almost 20 years in charge will be the chaos that engulfed Stamford Bridge, however, that was not always a bad thing and arguably led to the club’s two greatest nights in the Champions League.
Chelsea will look very different heading into the future but the eye-watering £ 4.2bn sale of the Blues showcases the level of elite club the west Londoners are.
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As we start to get through the cloud of uncertainty and gauge how the Bohely era will unfold, we have assembled our team of Chelsea writers to answer four defining questions from the Abramovich era. Asking for their best and worst moment, best signing and overall best player.
Best Moment: Not an easy question to answer given the various successes of the past 19 years. That first Premier League title win under Jose Mourinho – and the dominance of it – was special. As was the double achieved under Carlo Ancelotti. But it has to be the 2012 Champions League final in Munich. It was the last hurrah for a clutch of club legends and to come away with victory after defying expectations felt very Chelsea, especially under Abramovich.
Worst Moment: The European Super League debacle is up there for sure, but I’m going to go with the moment Chelsea were forced to operate under the sanctions placed upon Abramovich. Not only did a huge number of club staff immediately lose work and their income, but the very existence appeared in genuine doubt for a few days.
Best Signing: There is a long, long list of potential options. Petr Cech. Ricardo Carvalho. Ashley Cole. Claude Makelele. Michael Essien. Branislav Ivanovic. Cesar Azpilicueta. Eden Hazard. Diego Costa. And many more. For me, though, it is Didier Drogba. He did not have the easiest of starts as a Chelsea player but overcome them to become a talismanic figure, the man for the big occasion. His record in finals was astonishing and obviously, that goal and that penalty in Munich are etched in the club’s history.
Best Player: This one is quite easy for me: Frank Lampard. He was already at Chelsea when Abramovich arrived but went up three or four levels in the years that followed the Russian’s purchase of the club. That was down to hard work. Pure and simple. Lampard wasn’t blessed with every gift a player would want, but he maximized those he did and developed himself into a truly world-class midfielder. His output, both in goals and assists, was incredible and he drove Chelsea on to title wins and cup triumphs. Without him in the first great Abramovich side, there is a lot less silverware on display in the club museum.
Best Moment: The Champions League win in 2012 was certainly a watershed moment and for many the culmination of the Abramovich era, but the 2021 win will always stand out. The Cobham influence in the team combined with upsetting Manchester City and the scenes in Porto and around Stamford Bridge will live long in the memory.
Worst Moment: You can not really look past the immediate impact of the sanctions that came into place earlier this year. The uncertainty surrounding the club’s future and the difficult position Chelsea’s employees were put in with regard to their futures and income are situations everyone can hope are not repeated.
Best Signing: It still remains difficult to understand how Chelsea managed to grab Ashley Cole for £ 5 million and William Gallas, but signing Cesar Azpilicueta for £ 6.5 million in 2012 was another steal. The Spaniard’s versatility and ability to firefight for the Blues make it easy to forget the quality he has shown over the last 10 years. Never shirks his responsibility and has won everything at the club. If he keeps performing, Thiago Silva might soon take this title, however.
Best Player: There’s no doubting the quality of player that has plied their trade at Stamford Bridge over the last two decades. From homegrown talent like John Terry to players that dominated the Champions League like N’Golo Kante. There are plenty of contenders for the title. However, one may stand above the rest. Frank Lampard was relentless. A midfielder that produced more goals than anyone else for the Blues and could do everything in the middle of the park.
Best Moment: Munich 2012. It still is the pinnacle for Chelsea and a conclusion for an era of club icons who got to lift the holy grail after the most dramatic of runs. Porto was equally emotional but the drama and tension of Munich are unlikely to be topped. Collapsing to the floor in tears of happiness after Didier’s penalty and being on Fulham Road that night was an unforgettable experience.
Worst Moment: The sanctions. Yes, a very recent one but a truly dark day in the club’s history, one that even if for a brief moment put the club’s future in jeopardy. Seeing employees sent home without certainty over their jobs in the future, supporters castigated from sections of the media and the dread of what could happen, a horrible day I do not want to live again.
Best Signing: Diego Costa. Probably the only person who would argue this but Diego Costa. Few other players made a mark in such a short space of time as he did. His influence was the biggest contributor to the 2014/15 title, and equally vital to 2016/17. I would say since his exit in 2017, the gap left by his quality and goals has been most felt. One of a kind Diego.
Best Player: Frank Lampard – Although Frank was bought before Abramovich took over, his ascent to becoming the club’s greatest ever player helped define the first decade of his ownership. His legendary influence, his freakish goal tally for a midfielder, and a player who encapsulated the best of Chelsea: Hard work, winning, humility.
What are some of your best and worst moments from the Roman Abramovich era? Let us know in the comments below