Chelsea have had a decent 2013, marked by one particular decision made by Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea’s status and position at the end of 2013 is fairly similar to how it was at the start of the year; the Blues are an immensely strong football club with a good chance of silverware on multiple fronts.
Plenty of Chelsea fans, players and officials will head into 2014 with big expectations over what the year could bring.
Chelsea are changing during the second reign of Jose Mourinho, who seems dead set on a long stint as the club’s boss, as he looks to transform the club all over again and create one of the best team’s in the club’s history.
There have been some very important moments for the club this year and we’ve taken a look at five of the best.
For all the flack and criticism that Rafa Benitez took as interim coach of Chelsea, he guided the side to a Europa League victory with a 2-1 win over Portuguese side Benfica.
Chelsea have been very consistent with their success in the Roman Abramovich era and that win maintained that recent history of picking up silverware despite a high turnover of managers.
It was also significant because Chelsea followed their Champions League win the season before with the victory.
In May Frank Lampard signed a one-year contract extension with Chelsea when it looked as though he was going to leave England and move to the MLS.
Perhaps he knew that a Jose Mourinho return was on the horizon?
Whether he knew or not isn’t particularly relevant, the reason it was one of the best moments for the club this year is because Chelsea retained one of the best midfielders the Premier League has ever seen.
So far Lampard hasn’t disappointed, bagging five goals this season, a tally that he will be determined to improve on.
Some owners would be mystified as to why Roman Abramovich didn’t offer Rafa Benitez a permanent job following that Europa League win.
However, the decision to let him go has to be viewed as a good moment for the club because it drew back a lot of disillusioned fans who were at odds with their owner.
Plenty of Chelsea fans never wanted Benitez in place to begin with and the decision not to keep him was another sign that Abramovich isn’t an owner who ignores the pressure being placed on him by fans.
It was also a good decision because it paved the way for the return of Jose Mourinho, who may well have gone to a side that could hurt Chelsea had he not returned for a second spell at Stamford Bridge.
The obvious one to mention is the ‘great one’ returning to Stamford Bridge.
There were rumblings at the start of the year that Mourinho was being lined up for a return and the news was made official in the summer despite heavy speculation that the Portuguese coach was keen on a move to Manchester United.
So far his return hasn’t lived up to a lot of the hype but Chelsea are still looking at potential success on more than one front this season.
Make no mistake about it, it was a huge moment in 2013 as Mourinho and Abramovich work together to try and make Chelsea stronger and more consistent than ever before over the next few years.
Mourinho’s ’12-year’ Desire
The most recent of the best moments came this month when Mourinho announced that he wanted to be the Chelsea manager for the next 12 years.
Love him or loathe him, the comments dispelled the myth that Mourinho is not a coach willing or capable to think long term.
“But I would like, say, 12 years. I'm 51 next month. I'd say 12 years, and then two to go to a World Cup with a national team. I would prefer the Portuguese national team. England second (choice),” said Mourinho.
What that statement guarantees is longevity and commitment. It will also allow Mourinho to build the same sort of team model that Sir Alex Ferguson had at Manchester United, something Mourinho has talked about several times.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald