At a time when cracks in the Chelsea empire are starting to appear, CaughtOffside reader James uses what we imagine is copious amounts of spare time to predict what life might be like at Chelsea in 2021. Here’s a hint – it’s not good.
Chelsea manager Les Reed looks deep in thought after his side concede a second goal. The rain is pouring down and the pitch resembles a freshly ploughed field. Defeat today would condemn them to their lowest table position since the club was formed â€“ 19th in League 3, 77 places below the top of the Premiership.
Chelsea last occupied that place in 2006; during the heady days of the club that still linger in the memory of older fans. Then, under the controversial Jose Mourinho, they won two successive Premiership titles until their downfall in 2007.
However, that time seems distant as the final whistle blows. Boos echo from the few hundred fans at New Stamford Bridge as the team trudge off the field. Mr Reed disappears into a nearby Portakabin to give the team their post-match talk.
It is difficult to believe that this club was once considered to be great, but their problems can be traced back to the Summer of 2006. The controversial Â£30m signing of Russian Andriy Shevchenko caused a rift to develop between Mourinho and the clubâ€™s directors. Following poor series of results over the Christmas period, 2nd placed Chelsea began to slip down the Premiership table, barely managing to qualify for UEFA cup football at the seasonâ€™s end.
During the summer break, Mourinho left Chelsea and retired to a life of painting self-portraits, returning only to the public eye in 2011 to appear on Celebrity Big Brother. Owner Roman Abramovich took managerial control and proceeded to spend Â£450m between July and September, bringing the likes of Djimi Traore and Peter Crouch out of the footballing wilderness and in to Chelsea on Â£210,000-a-week contracts. Â£120m was spent in 2008 to buy David Beckham from American club LA Galaxy and most controversially, Â£140m to make Victoria Beckham the club mascot.
By 2010, Â£1.7bn had been spent by Abramovich for the return of one Carling Cup. Even worse, he had begun playing himself in central midfield, running around aimlessly with his trademark lopsided grin. Three, four and five goal defeats were becoming the norm until the infamous â€œThatchergateâ€ incident left the Russian fully paralysed. He pursued a successful career as a Sky Sports pundit until his death in 2014.
With no owner and no cash, the club fell into disarray. Relegation to the Championship followed in 2012 and the club have continued to slide ever since. The cash crisis forced them to move to their current home at New Stamford Bridge on the Isle of Jersey.
An elderly Chelsea supporter of 40 years sighs as he thinks back to the good times. â€œFor me, the turning point was that day in January â€“ the 20th January 2007 to be precise. We lost 2-0 to Liverpool and played terribly. Itâ€™s never been the same since then.â€