In coming back from 3-1 down against Napoli, beating Barcelona with 10 men and from behind in the Nou Camp, to the final penalty miracle on Saturday, this has been a season of unbelievable highs, dotted around an unrelenting low.
In the Premier League, the team creaked and cracked their way to a hugely underwhelming 6th, saw their manager sacked after a mere seven months and their captain embroiled in an alleged race row. Somehow, they have come through all that. Chelsea are now experts in making dysfunction function.
It would be possible to write a book on the season Chelsea have had. The majority would assume it was a work of fiction. Saturday evening wouldn’t even be the final chapter.
Still to be resolved are the futures of at least three high profile figures. One of those is the man who led the Blues out of turmoil and into the promised land of European glory, Roberto Di Matteo. Appointed on an interim basis, the Italian has surpassed all expectations, in cup competitions at least, and it would be absurd if he were not given a full season in charge. He has achieved what Roman Abramovich has most desired since his arrival, succeeding where the likes of Mourinho and Ancelotti could not. If he is terminated, then no manager would ever want the job.
Ironically, this victory and the prospect of a full term for Di Matteo could be the worse thing for Chelsea’s long-term future. Based on league performance, Chelsea need to appoint an experienced coach capable of rebuilding a squad. A man with West Brom and MK Dons claiming the majority of space on his CV ought to be low on any potential shortlist.
Didier Drogba, the hero of Tuesday night, is another whose future is yet to be decided. The Ivorian is out of contract this summer, and it is widely suspected that he will be heading to China to wind down his career. However, following some inspirational performances at the back end of the season, including scoring the equaliser and winning penalty on Saturday, many feel that the 34 year should be offered the two year deal he wants.
How wise this would be, it is hard to say. Could there be a better way to say goodbye to the Chelsea fans that so idolise him than to win the Champions League. Given that no team has retained the European Cup in its current guise, repeating this high next year is hugely unlikely. It is time to end what has been a beautiful relationship before it ends on a sour note
Drogba’s future will directly impact upon Fernando Torres. The Spaniard has voiced his displeasure at how his first full season at the club has gone, and talked of his disappointment of being on the bench and not being asked to take a penalty on Saturday. If Torres is to finally fulfill his potential at the club, it must be in a post-Drogba era. Until then he will always play second fiddle. Were a European power come in with a bid of near to the £50milllion that Chelsea spent on the player, however, and Abramovich might be prepared to cut his losses.
It has been the craziest of seasons at Stamford Bridge, and Saturday was a fitting finale. This is by no means the end of the story, and it wouldn’t be Chelsea without a few more twists. Chelsea, Champions of Europe, Kings of Chaos.