at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
AS Champions of Europe, Chelsea began the season with the chance of winning a trophy at every turn. Community Shield, European Super Cup, Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, Capital One Cup and Fifa Club World Cup were all within Chelsea’s grasp.
One by one, the silverware is slipping away. Even the Capital One Cup appears to be beyond them after last night.
Michu, the man Arsene Wenger infamously referred to as the striker ‘bombed out by clubs in Spain’, is meddling in Chelsea’s affairs. His goal and Danny Graham’s late effort have put Swansea in sight of next month’s final.
Roman Abramovich can make life intolerable for managers when his plans go awry and this performance will exert pressure on Chelsea’s interim manager, Rafa Benitez.
This is not going according to plan for a club that could have won three trophies already this season. Even the European Cup will be taken out of the cabinet at Stamford Bridge soon as it tours England before it settles at Wembley on May 25.
Abramovich wanted it all, recruiting £80million worth of talent for Roberto Di Matteo in the summer. The owner turned to Benitez when it went wonky in November, but they are running out of competitions under their interim boss.
Abramovich expects his £1bn investment to win every trophy Chelsea take part in but they had already blown the defence of the Champions League by the time Benitez arrived.
The warning signs are glowing. They can forget about winning the Barclays Premier League for a fourth time under Abramovich this season, they were beaten in the Community Shield, won by former managers Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, in August and that was followed by the 4-1 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup. Benitez’s big chance was the FIFA Club World Cup in Yokohama, a competition he had previously won with Inter when he replaced Mourinho in 2010. Last night Chelsea fans in the Matthew Harding Stand sang Mourinho’s name for the first time in years.
As those supporters prepare to acknowledge a decade under Abramovich’s ownership, they appreciate his obsession with silverware. That is the way things are when the owner is signing some of the biggest players in world football.
Pep Guardiola, a managerial target when his sabbatical in New York ends, won 14 trophies of the 18 he competed in at Barcelona.
They won three La Liga titles and two European Cups under Guardiola, but they snaffled up Super Cups, Supercopa Espanas and FIFA Club World Cups as a matter of course. Benitez can expect a sharp reminder that winning silverware is all that counts at this club. – Daily Mail