Disaster could follow Champions League triumph for Chelsea
We all say some silly things in the heat of the moment and euphoria can be held responsible for a thousand unfulfilled promises. Nonetheless, Frank Lampard’s message to the rest of the world on Saturday evening has to rank as one of the most absurd I can remember.
“This is just the beginning,” insisted the Chelsea midfielder, moments after lifting the prize that the club has coveted so badly since the arrival Roman Abramovich in 2003.
The fact that Lampard is now 33-years-old and this one mission had consumed the best nine years of his career was evidently lost on him, never mind the fact that the past 18 months have (relatively speaking) been among the most turbulent in the history of the club.
Let’s get one thing straight. Chelsea deserved their Champions League glory in Munich on Saturday, not necessarily for their efforts in this season’s competition – monumental though they were from March onwards – but for the cumulative weight of their performances over the past decade.
The Londoners have given the competition plenty and it was about time they got something back. But let’s be under no illusions: this was a triumph for experience and pedigree more than it was for collectivity and teamwork. And one long-overdue knockout success doesn’t change the fact that the club is going backwards in general terms.
Short-termism has festered ever since the departure of Jose Mourinho and, with every passing season, more and more cracks are beginning to appear in the collective identity of the squad, cracks that cannot simply be papered over by money.
The Blues might boast some of the greatest names in European football and they might still have the power to add players of the highest calibre in the summer and beyond, but persistent instability at managerial level means the sum will remain smaller than its collective parts in the years to come.
Indeed, the fractured nature of the dressing room was clearly evident even at the joyous moment when Lampard and John Terry finally got their chance to hoist the gorgeous pot into the Bavarian night sky, with Jose Bosingwa stubbornly hogging the space that should have been left empty for two of the club’s all-time greatest servants to perfect their position for an immortal picture.
Instead, that iconic image never occurred and Terry, in particular, will get no sympathy from the general public on that score. Nonetheless, I find it surprising that more is being made of Terry’s involvement in the post-match celebrations rather than the kerfuffle on the winners’ podium, a situation so bizarre that even a couple of Uefa delegates felt compelled to intervene.
Meanwhile, my suspicion that this triumph will only add to Chelsea’s woes going forward is supported by the uncertainty that now surrounds the future of interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, a bullet-proof guardian angel if ever there was one.
I presume I’m not alone in believing that the Italian is vastly under-qualified for such a high-profile position and his good fortune would soon begin to unravel in the heat of a taxing Premier League campaign that starts from a standing position, but the players want him and what does it say about the values of the club if they now appoint somebody else?
All of which considered, it seems inevitable that the Stamford Bridge walls will crumble further next term, yet experience tells me that the bookmakers will overplay this latest achievement when chalking up their ante-post markets for 2012/13. Therefore, opposing Chelsea could become a full-time fruitful business and it’s an avenue for potential profit that I fully intend to pursue.
The Blues might have secured their right to defend the Champions League at the expense of a superior Tottenham side by winning the grand prize in the season when they were least expected to, but next season might be the last time they participate for a few years to come. At which point, the question has to be asked: what will that mean for Roman Abramovich?
As I said when tipping Chelsea to lift the trophy: history doesn’t crawl, it jumps. Some might see Saturday’s success as the perfect remedy to all of their problems, but interim managers only bring interim solutions and the enormity of what they’ve just done might only serve to distract the club from the full extent of what’s coming.bayern munich, Champions League, chelsea, Frank Lampard
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