Chelsea Season Guide

August 9, 2003
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

Chelsea

Nickname: The Blues
Founded: 1905
Ground: Stamford Bridge, London, SW6 1HS
Capacity: 42,449
Ticket Office: (020) 7386 7799
Switch Board: (020) 7385 5545
Club Colours:
Home - All royal blue with white trim
Away - White shirts with a black/blue stripe down the centre, white shorts, blue socks


Top Links

Soccernet's Chelsea page | Full squad | Fixture list

Soccernet's Chelsea Correspondent

Official Chelsea Website

Fan site - Chelsea-Mad

Fan site - CFC Net

Fan site - Chelsea-FC.com

Fan site - My Chelsea

Last Season - Back with the elite Position: Fourth

Picture: ShaunBotterill/Allsport

Chelsea began last season in a certain amount of disarray. Doubts hung over the futures of both Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen as stories circulated about the club's need to sell and reduce their debt. In the end both players stayed at the club, although neither managed to find the form of previous campaigns. Yet again the Blues suffered an emabarrassing early exit in the UEFA Cup, this time to Norwegian minnows Viking FK. Cheslea were one of the sides in the hunt for the title over the festive period but, as usual, failed to push on in the second half of the campaign. But Claudio Ranieri's men achieved what surely must have been their goal for the season, qualification for the Champions League, when a last day victory over rivals Liverpool booked fourth place. Chelsea also made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before losing to Arsenal, but the season will be remembered as the last for legend Gianfranco Zola - who netted 16 goals despite his advancing years.

Transfers - In and Out
Coming In:
Damien Duff (Blackburn) - £17m
Hernan Crespo (Inter) - £16.8m
Adrian Mutu (Parma) - £15.8m
Juan Veron (Man United) - £15m
Geremi (Real Madrid) - £6.9m
Wayne Bridge (Southampton) - £7m
Joe Cole (West Ham) - £6.6m
Glen Johnson (West Ham) - £6m
Alexei Smertin (Bordeaux) - £3.45m
Claude Makelele (R Madrid) - Undisc.
Marco Ambrosio (Chievo) - Free
Jurgen Macho (Sunderland) - Free
Yves Makalamby (PSV) - Free
Neil Sullivan (Tottenham) - Free



  • On The Move - All the transfers
  • Getting Out:
    Leon Knight (Brighton) - Undsic.
    Graeme Le Saux (Southampton) - Deal
    Ed de Goey (Stoke) - Free
    Rhys Evans (Swindon) - Free
    Jody Morris (Leeds) - Free
    Andy Ross (Partick) - Free
    Robert Wolleaston (Bradford) - Free
    Gianfranco Zola (Cagliari) - Free
    Carlton Cole (Charlton) - Loan
    Mikael Forssell (Birmingham) - Loan
    Joel Kitamirike (Brentford) - Loan
    Lenny Pidgeley (Watford) - Loan
    Alexei Smertin (Portsmouth) - Loan
    B Zenden (Middlesbrough) - Loan
    Gabrielle Ambrosetti - Released
    Albert Ferrer - Retired

    First Choice XI

    23-Carlo Cudicini; 15-Mario Melchiot, 13-William Gallas, 26-John Terry,
    18-Wayne Bridge; 4-Claude Makelele, 20-Juan Veron, 8-Frank Lampard, 11-Damien Duff; 7-Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo.

    The Gaffer - Claudio Ranieri

    Picture: ShaunBotterill/Allsport

    It was with more than a hint of controversy that Claudio Ranieri came to take the helm at Chelsea in September 2000. He replaced Gianluca Vialli, a manager who had presided over the most successful period in the club's history and was a firm crowd favourite. The fact that Ranieri could not speak English when he arrived certainly didn't help matters. The Italian stuck to his guns, learned the lingo and earned an improved, extended contract last year. He made his name with Cagliari, taking them from Serie C to Serie A before moving to Napoli, Fiorentina, Valencia and lastly Atletico Madrid. The Spanish Cup is among his list of honours. A tinkering tactician changes during the match, Ranieri rarely hesitiates to alter the shape of his side. Ranieri has overcome initial doubts about his appointment to become a popular figure on the terraces, and one of the real characters of the game with his entertaining post-match interviews. Despite guiding Chelsea in the Champions League, he finds himself under renewed pressure from the millions of Roman Abramovich. Although Ranieri can now sign vitually any player he wants, he will be expected to get results quickly after spending almost £60m of the oil tycoon's cash.

    Player to Watch - Damien Duff

    Picture: CliveBrunskill/Allsport

    In Damien Duff, Chelsea have signed one of the hottest properties in the English game. Prior to Roman Abramovich's takeover at Stamford Bridge, only Manchester United and Liverpool were thought to be in the hunt, but the Blues can now boast a fantastic talent on their left flank. Duff already had his fair share of fans before lighting up last year's World Cup with a series of pulsating, energetic performances for the Republic of Ireland. But he can not have been happy with his form for the majority of last season, when he was also hampered by a series of injuries. Duff loves to run at defenders and specialises in cracking goals. At £17million, Chelsea's record buy (so far!), he will have to find his feet sooner rather than later. But the quiet, homely Irishman looked good in pre-season and it all bodes well for the new campaign. If Chelsea are to mount a serious title challenge a lot will rest on this man's shoulders.

    Young Gun - Glen Johnson

    Picture: ChrisLobina/Allsport

    Six months ago very few people would have even heard of Glen Johnson, but now he has earned a £6million move to the Premiership's most ambitious club and stands on the brink of full international recognition. For years England have waited for a true successor to Gary Neville on the right side of defence, but finally that wait could be over. Johnson spent two months with First Division side Millwall last season before returning to Upton Park to star in their failed battle against relegation. Those performances earned him rave reviews and a chance with the England Under-21 side. The Londonder may have to battle with Mario Melchiot for a place in the Chelsea first team, but once he does wrestle his way into the side it will be hard to displace him. Johnson, who doesn't celebrate his 19th birthday until the second Saturday of the season, played just 15 Premiership games before earning his big money move. A real tough tackler, Johnson is not afraid to bring the ball out of defence and pick out the pass.

    From the Terraces

    When all the talk of the money began there were some real fears that we were going to return to the days of buying up old and slightly shop soiled stars. Batistuta, for example. We've been there and it is neither effective or terribly good for the club. But we didn't. Most Chelsea fans are in rapture because we have bought young, solid and exciting players.

    Joe Cole has been called everything from a show pony to circus footballer and the people doing the talking are idiots. This lad is the most talented Englishman since Gazza. He could be anything and under Claudio he will be a better player then even he imagined.

    With Veron, I reckon its about fitting, if CR can blend the team and Veron we might do something big, if not neither Seba nor CR will be at the bridge next season. Can we win the title? Well, yes we can actually. Neither Man Utd nor Arsenal look better then last season, but the final question for Chelsea is where the goals will come from.

    By Mark Radcliffe, Our Chelsea Correspondent.


    New owner Roman Abramovich will be expecting some sort of return for his big spending- how big a return could just decide Claudio Ranieri's future at the club. So, with all this optimism going into the new season, how will Chelsea fare?

    Well, I certainly think that we should be at least competing for the title, although it remains to be seen whether our young side are quite ready for that. The loss of Gianfranco Zola's creativity left me wondering if we have what it takes to break down the best defences in Europe - well, no longer must I worry, as Joe Cole and Seba Veron should provide plenty of creativity.

    And let's not forget that it was only a season ago that Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink were banging in goals for fun. Both men have a point to prove, now's the time to prove it.

    By Rich Godden, from Chelsea-Mad.


    Obviously, I am going to predict we will be celebrating the league championship at Stamford Bridge in May - well, with all the millions spent by Roman Abramovich this summer, it would be rude to think otherwise wouldn't it?

    These are indeed exciting times for the Blues, with some of the finest players in Europe arriving at the Bridge over the past few weeks. What impresses most, though, is the type of players Claudio Ranieri has been buying - young, quality home grown players, together with experienced Premiership performers.

    A lot will depend on how well they all settle of course, and whilst we appreciate it may take time for the new arrivals to bed in, we are certainly going to have some fun this season.

    By Dean Allen, from Fans FC.

  • Have your say on the Chelsea Message Board

    Best - Champions Worst - Top four

    It's eight years since Blackburn Rovers 'bought' the Premiership title, and Roman Abramovich is eager to get his hands on the trophy. However, it will be a stiff task for Chelsea to realise their new owner's ambitions at the first time of asking. Although the Blues certainly had many of the necessary components in place last season in finishing fourth, they will now have to deal will a new level of media attention and expectation. They have bought extremely well over the course of the summer and each player looks to be a fine addition. Ranieri must now mould his team into an effective outfit - or no doubt face the consequences.

  • Any thoughts? Email Dale Johnson.