Adam Bate looks back on a season in which the club's focus on the short-term was fully justified.
Sunday 20 May 2012 15:06, UK
Adam Bate examines Chelsea's decision to forget the future and embrace glory in the present.Chelsea's UEFA Champions League triumph was an astonishing end to a remarkable season at Stamford Bridge. There have been so many twists and turns it's easy to forget that Andre Villas-Boas was appointed Blues boss less than a year ago, charged with revamping the club following a barren season under Carlo Ancelotti. That the campaign should finish with 34-year-old Didier Drogba scoring the winning penalty before Frank Lampard and John Terry lifted Europe's most prestigious trophy is surely an eye-opening reminder for everybody of the dangers of valuing the future over the present. Events at Chelsea have defied belief and made a mockery of predictions. In the apparent power struggle between the club's senior players and the rookie manager, it was far from inevitable that the ageing stars would survive. As recently as February, the Telegraph quoted a source claiming Roman Abramovich would launch a summer clear-out. "The old boys are on their way out," announced the source. Others had written off the veteran heroes as early as December. "Didier Drogba is determined to quit Chelsea next month," revealed The Sun. "And Frank Lampard could follow him." But what might be forgotten in the aftermath of a magical night in Munich is that even some Chelsea fans were prepared to back their young boss in the belief that change was essential. The style of play was not conducive to success in Europe, it was argued. The radio phone-ins indicated a cautious willingness to embrace the rebuilding period that was deemed necessary in order to drive the team forward. As a result, the immediate reaction to Villas-Boas' sacking in early March was one of anger and confusion. Abramovich had abandoned the project and surely consigned Chelsea to a limp demise through a desperate attempt to cling to his fading stars. Gary Neville told Sky Sports: "Long term - forget short term for Chelsea - but in the long term where they are going to go? Are they going to allow players every single time to get rid of the manager because that's now three managers that these players have seen off. And there is no doubt that there is going to have to be a transition at that football club."