Season in Review

Mixed in with the brilliance of winning a second Premiership title in two years was a fair bit of disappointment for the Blues. Personal achievements were abound. Frank Lampard set a record for goals by a midfielder, scoring 16 in the Premiership and 20 in all competitions. Frank was nominated along with fellow Englishmen John Terry and Joe Cole, who finished with 11 goals, for 2006 Player of the Year. It was not to be, as Liverpool's Steven Gerrard won the honor, but the nominations of three Chelsea footballers out of 6 total nominees is perhaps more impressive than the individual award. 

The Champions League continues to evade Chelsea FC, but at least they lost to the eventual champion, and only by one net goal. The red card on Asier Del Horno on Barca's Leo Messi will haunt the boys in the summer, as they'll ponder whether an 11-man squad could've held on to the 1-0 lead at Stamford Bridge. Their ranking of 14th for next years Champions League draw means Chelsea will be grouped with a world club power like AC Milan, Juventus, Lyon, or the like. Another tough road lies ahead, and hopefully the aquiring of German midfielder Michael Ballack will up their chances. Mourinho is not short on Champions League success, and Champions of Europe with Chelsea is a title he'll most likely want to earn before he leaves London.

As for the two domestic cups, Chelsea left empty handed in both areas. Sadly, their main rivals in England – Manchester United and Liverpool – took the League Cup and FA Cup trophies respectively. Chelsea made a strong showing in the FA Cup, but it was obvious from their loss to lowly Charlton that their priorities were elsewhere in the League Cup competition. Their loss to Liverpool in the FA Cup ranks at the top of disappointing losses for me this season. Chelsea was equipped to win the double, yet Liverpool has a knack for bouncing Chelsea from major competitions. Chelsea took it to Liverpool in both matchups in the Premiership this year, and their tournament record against the Pool doesn't indicate how well they've actually been able to tame last years Champions of Europe. Unlike last season's Champions League fixture against the Reds, there's no referee to blame for the FA Cup loss, and tournament competitions continue to allude the Premiership Champs.

The bad also lay in Didier Drogba's will to cheat. His diving and writhing in faux-pain was simply unacceptable to a respectable football fan. Luckily the striker changed his ways towards the end of the season, but it seems from his apparent decision to leave Stamford Bridge that he would rather go elsewhere and continue his cheating ways. Anybody that won't face the music for the wrong that they've done doesn't belong in a Chelsea uniform. Unless Drogba comes back stronger and eliminates the dirty aspect of his game, all the good he's done for the club will be tarnished and his departure may be welcome.

That's about it. After all, the Blues are Champions again, and I've seen nothing but improvement from most of the club's roster. Joe Cole has established himself as a true talent, and John Terry continues to emerge as the premier defender in the world. What can be said of Lampard's season besides pure brilliance for most of it, interrupted only by a drop in form that would hardly have been noticed if he wasn't such a great player. Peter Cech was his usual self in net, tenacious and fearless in the face of Premiership competition that has never been better. Another bright point in the lineup was William Gallas, who seamlessly shifted back and forth from left back to center, outperforming his expectations on a daily basis. His goal to beat West Brom was a classic and his athleticism provided Chelsea with a weapon in both attack and defense. Favorites Eidur Gudjonnsen and Damien Duff both had disappointing seasons, if only because of their lack of consistant playing time. I still like both of these guys, and it would be tough to see them go if they decide to do so. Arjen Robben is a different story. I respect him as a player, but I wouldn't be found crying if he was sold to Real Madrid.

On the topic of transfers, there's not much I'd like to see change. Like Mourinho has said, I'd like to see two or three top players brought in, and to hold on to our key members. Gallas must stay. Rumors of his departure are simply painful, and he's emerged as one of my favorite players. He's integral to Chelsea's success, especially where Del Horno has not lived up to expectations. Michael Ballack is signed, and his arrival will unquestinably mark the departure of Shaun Wright Phillips, who played himself both out of the Chelsea and England sides. Wright Phillips was an enormous disappointment, and Chelsea will likely lose about 20 million pounds on his transfer away from Stamford Bridge. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he ended up back on Stuart Pearce's Man City squad next season. Hernan Crespo will go, probably back to AC Milan where he flourished. An Andriy Shevchenko signing would be a dream, but I'd certainly take Adriano or Zlatan Ibrahimovic over either striker we've got. I hope against hope that Wayne Bridge will return, but his days are most likely to be spent at the dreaded White Hart Lane on Tottenham. Ashley Cole, rumored to be a Blues target for over a year, seems poised to re-sign with Arsenal after their Champions League run. Thierry Henry is also re-signing with the Gunners. In the end, it's anybody's guess who the three players are that Mourinho is referring. I have to say I'd love to see Jermain Defoe in blue. He's the quick striker we've been missing, and I hope he makes the World Cup squad for England after an Owen Hargreaves broken tibia.    

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