Chelsea 2015-16: An uninspiring, dismal, despairing disaster
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on May 15, 2016
When it comes to the hazy days of May, the season reviews of all clubs around the country are being written en masse.
Some will be of great joy and sheer euphoria; take Leicester City for example whom had shocked the footballing world- and footballing history- with their fairytale season to claim the Barclays Premier League crown, originally being 5000/1 shots for the title.
Mine? Chelsea’s? Oh the review isn’t of great joy nor sheer euphoria, it’s an indictment of the worst defence of the English top flight title since Manchester City in the 1930s (relegated the season after winning their title) and subsequently the worst ever defence of the Premier League title so far.
I would go as far to say this review of Chelsea’s 2015-2016 campaign is of an uninspiring, dismal, despairing disaster.
Summer: Desperate, Disorganised, Dreadful
The age old equation of having a good pre season forebodes a good proper season rings its eerie bell around the Kings Road; Chelsea had decided to travel the lengths and breadths of the world in just weeks- including post-season jaunts to Sydney and Hong Kong as well as contesting the International Champions Cup in the US.
Also, there’s another age old equation: for one to succeed at the very top, even the best have to strengthen; you cannot stand still in a league where you are in direct competition with financial muscle such as the Manchester clubs, Arsenal (etc.).
Sadly, Mourinho and Chelsea decided to try and disprove the aforementioned hypotheses; there were no ‘marquee’ signings for the newly coronated champions of England. This had proved somewhat disappointing considering the Blues were lacking in depth for positions such as right-back and the centre forward roles.
The summer and pre-season proved to be something of a bitter pill to swallow; Chelsea had accumulated NO victories as well as losing the annual curtain-raiser at Wembley in the form of the Community Shield- won by fierce rivals Arsenal.
Deflected as nothing more than a ‘training’ period by Mourinho, it was clear to the eye that preparations were desperate, disorganised and dreadful. For this would only foreshadow the season ahead…
The Kings’ Castle Crumbles
Chelsea opened up their defence of the Barclays Premier League title on the first Saturday evening of the season that was full of fireworks and controversy; the champions were held 2-2 by Swansea in the midst of Thibaut Courtois being sent off and a shock sexism row dragging the football club into disrepute. Mourinho had lamblasted physio Eva Carniero and had dispensed of her on pitch services, allegedly causing dismay amongst the dressing room.
The dismay would reverberate long through the early days of the season; Chelsea were mauled 3-0 away in Manchester to Pellegrini’s City as well as succumbing to home defeats (something Mourinho rarely experienced before this in both spells in charge) to Crystal Palace and Southampton.
There were minor glimpses of the champions that once were; a very tactical battle at Stamford Bridge saw Arsenal conquered 2-0 coupled with Diego Costa being at his controversial finest.
What was building and emanating around the dressing room was one of alarm- Chelsea were closer to the dreaded drop zone rather than their accustomed position of being in the thick of a title mix. But with home defeats aplenty as well as lingering in the bottom half- the kings of England’s castle was crumbling, fast.
December had proved to be one of the worst months in Roman Abramovich’s 13 years (thus far) of ownership at Chelsea.
The Blues’ league form had still been in depreciative downfall and they had just scraped out of their group in the Champions League (they beat Porto 2-0 in a do or die match for all).
However, this month was dominated by the dramatic denouement of Jose Mourinho as it took its full impact within a week of hell.
Chelsea had lost 0-1 to Bournemouth at home in a dire display at the Bridge and the climax of his time at Chelsea ended with a whimpering bang at Leicester; Chelsea were condemned to their ninth defeat of the season 2-1 where the red eyed boss had claimed he was ‘betrayed’ by his team in a poignant post-match plea to keep his job.
One point off relegation in 16th, the bell tolled death for Mourinho- and he was dispatched accordingly.
The sacking had caused a toxic overspill between fans and board; with pockets of fans greeting their players with boos and pejorative jeers in the wake of Mourinho’s departure- a 3-1 victory against also relegation threatened Sunderland at the sombre Stamford Bridge.
Guus Hiddink was then appointed as caretaker manager while the beleaguered Blues scoured Europe to find their next main man. The Russians once had their October Revolution and in 2015, Chelsea (owned by a Russian)- and had their own December Revolution.
Guus Hiddink’s second temporary tenure was like a tonic to Chelsea’s deterioration in 2015-16.
Take for example Chelsea and Hiddink’s 15 match unbeaten run in the league which saw them shoot up the table and away from the relegation zone- a much better run than what Mourinho had enjoyed months earlier. Within that run saw Chelsea show flashes of sheer brilliance; a 0-1 away win at Arsenal which heralded a better spell for troubled striker Diego Costa (whom has a getter goals per game record under Guus than Jose in 15/16).
You can also say that the 5-1 victory against Manchester City in the FA Cup was rather great (albeit against a severely weakened City) and it saw the easing of Eden Hazard back into the side with spells of injury throughout the season.
However, there was a dark side to Hiddink’s spell in charge- a very dark spell indeed. In a week of disaster and depravity, Chelsea surrendered to PSG in the last 16 of the Champions League and found themselves dumped out of the FA Cup 2-0 away to Everton (in an equally pitiful display). It confirmed the nightmare: Chelsea were going trophyless and were windmilling out all forms of European football.
To add to the failure of Guus Hiddink and the players was the aftermath of the 15 match unbeaten league run; a 1-0 loss to Swansea, a heavy 0-3 defeat against Manchester City and a horrendous 3-2 horror show at Sunderland confined Chelsea to European exile and petered them out to mid table mediocrity.
That being said, I shouldn’t just blame Guus nor Jose for the remarkable failure. The leitmotif in this season of disastrous proportions is one not of “oh this form is down to the manager- blame him every week”, maybe the real recurrence is the players. The players must accept responsibility for their truly dire, abysmal performances- the only way we were consistent this season you could argue.
An uninspiring, dismal, despairing disaster
As the curtain falls on the 2015-2016 season of football across Europe, the season reviews are being written.
Some will be of great joy and sheer euphoria at their glories and some will be of torrid tales of tragedy, despairing on what could have been.
In a season where the outgoing champions of England embroiled themselves in sexism rows, transfer disarray, long summers, managerial upheaval and player power rearing its ugliest of heads culminated in the worst ever defence of the Premier League title, what can be said of Chelsea?
10 place. Trophyless. Gutless. Exiled from Europe. It’s quite damning, an indictment even. Therefore, Chelsea in 2015-2016 has been indeed nothing short of an uninspiring, dismal, despairing disaster.