Abramovich’s Chelsea: The journey from Mourinho to Benitez

Abramovich’s Chelsea: The journey from Mourinho to Benitez


Fernando Torres, Luiz, Ivanovic, Frank Lampard, Ramires, Oscar, Hazard, Ramires.

This is a team that has gone through a notable transformation in the past few years after the end of the Special One’s reign within the walls of Stamford Bridge, and the club is beginning to reap its returns.

As controversial as it is how Roman Abramovich is quick to judge and even quicker to react when it comes to demanding results from his managers, it seems to be producing results many clubs would relish.

After Mourinho’s spell, his successor’s respective tenures at Stamford Bridge were only short-lived. From Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Ray Wilkins to veterans Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti, and of course, Portuguese tactician Andre Villas-Boas whose expensive release clause was activated only to be sacked midway in the season.

The Portuguese was succeeded by his assistant Roberto Di Matteo, who masterminded the impossible and landed the Russian billionaire and Chelsea their first Champions League trophy after a more than stuttering campaign. However, the Italian was then, ironically, also dismissed after a poor run in the Champions League in the ongoing season.

Now the baton is passed on to Rafael Benitez to see what Spanish magic he would be able to conjure up to keep his seat. Many speculated that he was brought in to “recoup” the massive initial investment Abramovich has paid for Chelsea FC’s £50 million Spanish striker Fernando Torres – and it does seem to be working.

Nevertheless, after seeing how Chelsea demolished the woe-ridden Aston Villa with a brilliant display of football, there seems to be something deeper in motion.

David Luiz – Brazil international brought in from Benfica

The turning point seems to be during the Carlo Ancelotti’s second season when he brought in the first few seeds that would eventually become the keystones of the current squad. From the infamous arrival of Torres, despite it was not his personal intentions to sign him, to Brazilian duo David Luiz and Ramires.

The start of a new era has probably just begun and unfortunately Ancelotti was not allowed to stick around to see his seeds blossom. 

Juan Mata – Spain international brought in from Valencia

His heir of sorts, Andre Villas-Boas, was tasked to pick up where the Italian had left off. The signings he brought in to establish a different playing philosophy included the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Gary Cahill, Piazon and Oriol Romeu.

And yet unfortunately, despite the disappointing run in the Premier League, he has helped added to the blueprint that eventually led to the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League triumphs, in which he wasn’t accredited to, but rather noted as an immense accomplishment for Di Matteo.

Even that did not save Di Matteo from getting ejected from the Blues hot seat when his team experienced a hiccup in their Champions League title defense this season. Rafa Benitez was therefore announced as a caretaker manager while the club is keen to lure Pep Guardiola from his sabbatical leave in the near future.

Jose Mourinho lifts the Premier League trophy with Frank Lampard and John Terry

It has always been duly noted that Chelsea’s winning team during Mourinho’s reign had to be eventually rejuvenated if Chelsea wanted to maintain their dominance in a league that is constantly growing in strength and quality. Time is needed and yet Roman refused to let this hinder him from getting what he wants at the intermediate future. Despite the massive turnover in management, Chelsea has still been winning notable silverware.

Furthermore, one could have never foresaw they would go as far as changing their tactics and football philosophy. Mourinho is famous for brewing a strategy that constricts the ability of his opponents to play football. From stopping play to committing tackles, it seeks to disrupt plays as much as possible while capitalizing on any chances they can find to front an attack.

His attention to details has allowed the team to know precisely what they need to do in order to win games, the unattractive nature of his sides game-play is the byproduct of said set-up. 

2006/07 Squad Lineup


Carvalho             Terry
Ferreira                                        Cole

Essien               Ballack              Lampard

Drogba          Schevchenko

Current Lineup


Ivanovic        Cahill
Cesar                                    Cole

Luiz         Lampard

Moses          Mata           Hazard


Fernando Torres – the Spaniard was shipped in from Liverpool

This is very different to the aesthetic of current Chelsea team under Rafa Benitez. Built on a solid back four who will not hesitate to launch an onslaught whenever they see a chance, this team is hungry for goals. This combining with a dynamic lineup of midfielders who are able to confront, defend and build a play forward, it is a recipe for victories.

For a few seasons, Torres has been at the center of criticism for not producing the results of what he is “worth” but many fail to notice, despite his lack of goals, he has been involved in the attacks and his technical ability is astute despite it is non-comparable to his glory days at Liverpool.

Bringing in Rafa Benitez appears to be Roman Abramovich’s last attempt at recouping his massive outlay for the enigmatic striker. If there is any manager out there who understands Fernando Torres inside out, it would be his former mentor and current Chelsea FC manager Rafa Benitez. And it seems like Rafa has been able to apply the finishing touches to this side and secured Torres’s importance in the team. 

Oscar & Lucas Paizon – Brazilian youngsters brought in from Internacional & Sao Paulo respectively

Watching the Aston Villa game provides much needed proof on how different this team is to Mourinho’s. The current squad plays free-flowing football where all players are involved in defense as well as offence. At times you see Torres lending a foot when Aston Villa tried to conjure up a chance while you see the likes of Ivanovic and Cahill charging for the opponents’ six-yard box at any given opportunity.

It is always exciting and refreshing to see a team built on young, budding stars with the bench lined with even more promising talents like Marin, Oscar and Piazon. It started out like a recipe for disaster as a string of managers attempted to dismantle the old team and instilling new life to the squad. No two managers preach the same philosophy and it has been surprising to see how it eventually played out in a matter of years.

Comparing Chelsea’s success to Arsene Wenger’s attempt to refurbish his Invincible team, it is apparent that the former has done a better job and in a shorter amount of time despite the controversies and disapproval involved. I, for one, am excited to see more of what this team can achieve. Hopefully, this may bring some stability to the club.

Furthermore, the fans should give Benitez the chance, patience and time to prove his worth as afforded to his Spanish compatriot.

Written by Serena, BCom (Hons.) Accounting undergraduate who enjoys watching and analysing the beautiful game from different perspectives. Say hello @SerenaJHT.

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    • Danke :) But I must say, this piece was not written as a thorough analysis but an observation of a series of events that have occurred. Appreciate your time!

  1. Thanks rafa for having the foresight to play luiz in mid field. With his outrageous ball skills that is where he belongs. Plus he is a better passer, defender and goal scorer than Mikel. Now the money the team saves from this move instead of pursuing felaini can be added to the sturridge sale to help get Falcao. Need another center back for cover with versatility to play mutiple positions in the back line.

    • Yes, the centreback position definitely needs strengthening. Especially with Terry getting old, who would you want to see come in? Hummels and Subotic are both great but many other clubs are also keen on getting them.

    • Rammy,pls dnt say dat benitez is nt a good coach.he’s just trying 2 get de best out of de team,ok?

  2. Good article! I’m not a Chelsea fan but I admire Mourinho and I believe your analysis about his so called disrupting tactics is not entirely correct. Mourinho’s Chelsea played brilliant direct football, just not tiki taka Barcelona’s style. As for Benitez I also believe that Chelsea fans should give him a chance to prove himself. He’s also a good coach and can take the club to another level, even winning the league this season.

    • Hi George,

      Thank and probably I phrased it to overly negative. I am an admirer of Mourinho so please do not get me wrong. At times when it is necessary for him to win games, things can get a bit messy and that’s something I am not fond of. That said, I have also seen some games where his team played entertainingly (especially with Real Madrid).

  3. I think chelsea were just incredibly lucky to get domestic cup and european success last season. I can’t still believe the fact that chelsea won the CL! I guess it’s just fate, and it showed this season with their disgraceful exit at the group stage! To me i really don’t see anything to admire in the chelsea game.

  4. Benitez is not a gud coach.he’s more of a gambler than a coach.can’t wait 4 him 2 leave @ d end of d

  5. time will tell how good this chelsea is,i like the work benitez is doing,if asked he should be given time.

    • I agree. Let the manager have the time to prove his worth. Many Chelsea fans are too quick to judge and clouded by past circumstances.

  6. The waiter has lost a big trophy in Japan,should be sacked already.
    Benitez the grave digger of Liverpool and Inter.
    Chelsea will end up the same way.
    Waiter and see

  7. Your points are clear and well written. Chelsea may not look like a title contender now, but let’s d end of dz season. And for you who didnt believe Chelsea won CL, go back to your stinking bed!

  8. Rafa pattern is not okay, you wn’t understand this until chelsea face big team like city or man u. So chelsea need better coach, see world club cup, all d selectn and subtition were whofuly wrong.

  9. Well I’m a huge chelsea fan and from a personal perspective there’s been some outstanding positive results from the squad and its clearly shown in there last few performances so my hat of to rafa who got the best out of liverpool and is working magic at chelsea so I reckon give him a break and he’ll bring in silverware.

  10. Well I’m a huge chelsea fan and from a personal perspective there’s been some outstanding positive results from the squad and its clearly shown in there last few performances so my hat of to rafa.

  11. This was an interesting article. Chelsea have definitely changed a lot over the years, yet they continue to be title contenders in nearly every competition they enter. I wasn’t sure if Chelsea were going to be able to cope with the loss of Didier Drogba…but Chelsea definitely have been able to (although not necessarily from Fernando Torres) but rather from partly him as well as Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Ivanovich, Cahill…pretty much everyone minus John Obi Mikel!

    • Ha! Yes, it is rather interesting to see how Chelsea had coped rather well after the departure of their main goal-machine. I was surprised for one because I am aware how influential Drogba is in securing necessary wins for his former club. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the following seasons unfold themselves! Thanks for reading :) Cheers mate.

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