Within weeks Chelsea have gone from the brink of a shocking season to the brink of a Champions league semi-final tie with either Barcelona or AC milan, and also a semi-final tie against Tottenham in the FA Cup.
While many claim only stability will secure Roman Abramovich the European title he craves, history suggests the Russian’s revolving door policy has some benefits for the Blues, with their two best Champions League campaigns coming after sacking managers during the season.
Avram Grant – Champions League Final 2008
Jose Mourinho have been the ‘Special One’, but he didn’t succeed in leading the Blues to a Champions League final, as Avram Grant did. Mourinho had three shots at reaching Europe’s showpiece occasion, but failed where the Israeli – who relegated both Portsmouth and West Ham – succeeded. Grant replaced Chelsea’s most successful manager just a mere month into the new season and few Chelsea fans would have been expecting to book their tickets to Moscow for the final next May. Grant beat Liverpool in Europe, which was a task Mourinho failed to do in two semi-finals and two group stage matches. A 4-3 win on aggregate over the Reds in the last four, set up a memorable final against Manchester United, where they were a mere spot-kick away from winning the trophy.
Guus Hiddink – Champions League Semi-Final 2009
Just nine months after Chelsea’s agonising night in Moscow, the Blues had already got rid of Grant’s services and his successor – World Cup-winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari – was given the boot just after the turn of 2009. Dutch boss Guus Hiddink took up the reigns with the season threatening to unravel and not only restored confidence at Stamford Bridge, but took Chelsea to within seconds of a second consecutive Champions League final. After defeating Juventus in the last 16, Hiddink knocked out old foes Liverpool in thrilling circumstances in the quarter-finals. A high scoring affair saw Chelsea go through 7-5 on aggregate after a thrilling 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge. The semi-final against Barcelona saw the Blues draw 0-0 at the Nou Camp, then take a 1-0 lead in the second leg at home, but Hiddink’s team were denied several clear cut penalty shouts by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo. Andres Iniesta popped up deep into injury time to knock the stuffing out of the Blues, but not before Overbo denied Chelsea one last penalty. It was the most commanding performance any team has given against Pep Guardiola’s Barca in Europe and should have been rewarded with a place in the final.
Roberto Di Matteo – Champions League Semi-Final 2012?
After disappointing exits in the last 16 to Inter and last eight to Man United under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010 and 2011, Chelsea brought in Europa League-winning manager Andre Villas-Boas to shake things up. The Portuguese boss was given the boot after the Blues crashed 3-1 in Naples in the first leg of the last 16 this season, however, but interim manager Roberto Di Matteo guided the Blues to one of the epic comebacks in the club’s history by winning the second leg 4-1 in extra time and winning the tie 5-4 on aggregate. The Blues are in fantastic position to progress to the last four once again, after having beaten Benfica 1-0 in Lisbon.
So, Keep firing Roman!!