By Enis Koylu
And so another European adventure ends in ignominy. Galatasaray exited the Champions League last year with their heads held high following a rather inevitable aggregate defeat to Real Madrid, but restored some pride with a victory in the second leg of the quarter-final tie.
Indeed, had they not scuffed a plethora of chances at the Bernabeu, then things might have been different. Just under 12 months on and they have once again been eliminated by a team coached by Jose Mourinho, but in far less respectable circumstances.
After their exploits last term, you could be forgiven for expecting the Istanbul outfit to make something of a splash in Europe this season. They had romped to the Super Lig title, possessed experienced winners of the competition in Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba - as well as a shrewd, wily boss in Fatih Terim.
In the months since, their Turkish empire has all come crumbling down. Terim left after a boardroom dispute with chairman Unal Aysal and was replaced by Roberto Mancini, hardly the man you want to lead you to European glory.
Granted, they did brilliantly well to get through a horrible-looking group containing Real Madrid and Juventus, but that they only won two of their six games and lost three (one against lowly Copenhagen) is proof that they progressed thanks to the Bianconeri’s atrocious campaign, rather than on their own merit.
Match stats | Chelsea 2-0 Galatasaray
Even their domestic hegemony is coming to an end thanks to a Fenerbahce team no-one fancied back in August, as they sit five points off the pace in the Super Lig having played a game more than the leaders. Terim, meanwhile, took the Turkey job and looks to be breathing new life into a team who were on their knees at the start of the season.
Aysal has poured a huge amount of money into the club since taking over as president and it has paid dividends – it was just a few years ago that they were finishing in midtable anonymity in Turkey and a European run seemed a lifetime off.
But you have to question whether he has done it properly. Sure, the likes of Sneijder and Drogba have put in respectable performances on the pitch this year and have scored decisive goals in Europe. Both go a long way to making Gala the “global brand” Aysal promised years ago, but they are also well past their best and cannot be the spearhead of an ambitious club.
The team was desperately weak all over the pitch at Stamford Bridge. Whenever Chelsea had possession they looked infinitely comfortable - when Gala had the ball, they were bereft of ideas and gave it away.
Shocking defending let the English outfit score an early goal in each leg, and horrendous marking from something as basic as a set piece saw them put the tie to bed.
"The goals Galatasaray gifted were shocking - the way they defended was like a practice game," former Manchester United midfielder turned pundit Roy Keane blasted on ITV after the game.
Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola added: "We knew before the game Galatasaray were weak defensively but we expected more from them going forward - they did nothing."
At this point, it seems more advisable for Galatasaray to invest into the future, rather than hark back to the past. No progress has been made in the last year and Terim’s team looked far superior to that of Mancini.
A club with huge resources and a massive following deserves better than for the money they generate to be blown on glamour. Drogba picks up an annual salary of €6 million, Sneijder earns a healthy €3.2m a year and Mancini a stunning €4.5m, more than the likes of Antonio Conte and Laurent Blanc.
Attacking players can hardly be singled out when their team is outclassed all over the pitch, but that’s the point – Gala would be better served investing in the whole team and bringing in a degree of youth than spending money on a few, ageing big names.