For many, 2012 will go down as the year that did not end. For Chelsea fans, we barely have time to sit down and reflect. A short piece like this does grave injustice to reflect on the Hollywood-esque plot that unfolded, but here’s a brief attempt:
A disastrous 1-3 first-leg reverse against Napoli in the last-16 of the Champions League, a league title-challenge already ended on Boxing Day and alienation of the old guard later, Andre Villas-Boa’s project was finally ended. Up stepped Roberto Di Matteo, who would go on to lead us on a magical continental journey.
A Didier Drogba goal gave us a narrow lead going into Camp Nou, with many pensive but hopeful. Cahill limped off, Busquets restored parity in the tie, and Terry was then sent off in a moment of madness. Without both starting centre-backs, Iniesta’s goal on 44 minutes was the nail in our coffin to many.
But the ride had more twists and turns. Ramires’ beautifully-chipped goal shocked the scriptwriters and for the rest of the game, a Motley Crew put up a wonderful bus-parking performance. The Torres equalizer and an orgasmic Gary Neville reaction on commentary topped it all off.
May 5 was the day we won our third FA Cup in four years, but May 19 was the day we wrote history.
Our dreams were almost crushed when Thomas Muller’s header crept past Cech; with less than ten minutes to go and a largely uninventive attacking display, hope was faint.
But up stepped the man destined to be the night’s lead character. Up jumped the Drog to power home the equalizer, and from there on, Cech took over the show. Saving Robben’s extra-time penalty, he then denied both Olic and Schweinsteiger to set up Didier’s winning penalty.
Euphoria, as we lifted our first Champions League trophy.
The second half of the year was no less topsy-turvy. We started the season with a Community Shield loss against City, and were hammered by Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. However, we were on a decent league run, until the dreaded winter season approached.
Results started to slump and RDM was unceremoniously sacked after the defeat in Turin. That meant two managers sacked within the calendar year, and many of us are still wondering when there will ever be the stability that is fundamental for sustained development and success.
The outcry was widespread around the fans, and Roman added more fuel to the fire by appointing Rafa Benitez, despite echoing disapproval. A couple of goalless draws and a terrible loss at West Ham later, he picked up a first win at Sunderland.
They then left for Japan, where an insipid performance in the FIFA Club World Cup Final meant we had lost all consequential cup-winning opportunities from last season’s FA Cup and Champions League wins.
That wave of disappointment took another turn, as we returned and scored 13 goals past Leeds and Aston Villa. That has since been followed by a gritty away win at Norwich, and read this: a first win in nine attempts at Everton to end their unbeaten home record. The win really raised eyebrows because it represented a rare points-laden winter period.
Loving Chelsea these days might mean having years chalked off our lives, but lives are not worth living for without THE PRIDE OF LONDON.