In 2004, Chelsea welcomed a new manager to Stamford Bridge as a young, suave Portuguese walked through the door and branded himself the “special one”. Having just arrived from Porto, Jose Mourinho took the reigns of Chelsea in what would go down as one of the clubs greatest ever seasons.
Story of the season
In the summer, Jose Mourinho arrived from Porto having just been crowned European champions against all the odds. He brought with him a whole host of Portuguese stars, including two of his Porto squad – Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho for a combined £32m.
In total, Chelsea would spend £94m on transfers across the season, bringing in the likes of Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben, Petr Cech and Tiago. That figure, although fairly common these days, was an incredible amount of money back in 2004. This was the moment Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich made his intentions clear.
Those players largely settled into the team quite quickly but it was one of the players already at the club who got the season up and running. On the opening day of the season, Eiður Guðjohnsen scored the only goal of the game as Mourinho’s men got off to the perfect start, beating Manchester United 1-0.
That start continued on too as the Blues dropped just four points from their opening eight games, drawing with Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur. After that, Mourinho tasted defeat for the first time as Chelsea boss as his team fell 1-0 to a Nicolas Anelka goal away at Manchester City. That would be their first and ONLY loss of the season.
In fact, Chelsea dropped just 12 more points all season long as they went from city to city, beating just about everybody. There were only two teams in the whole league Chelsea didn’t manage to beat at least once – they were Arsenal and Manchester City.
On top of their success in the Premier League, Chelsea managed to pick up some silverware in the cups too as they went all the way in what was then the Carling Cup. They faced Liverpool in the final of the tournament, prevailing as 3-2 victors after extra time in Cardiff.
Chelsea finished the season on 95 points, 12 points ahead of their nearest rivals Arsenal. Their points haul was a Premier League record and would stand for 12 years until Manchester City’s Centurion team finally surpassed it.
The Chelsea squad
That season, Chelsea had a squad full to the brim of absolute superstars. From Petr Cech between the sticks to the legendary Didier Drogba leading the line, they simply didn’t have a weak spot.
Here’s how they lined up most commonly.
As you can see, there isn’t a single player on that teamsheet who wouldn’t walk into the majority of Premier League teams. Arjen Robben on the left wing, Joe Cole or Damien Duff on the right with Didier Drogba through the middle.
Frank Lampard was one of, if not THE, standout player of the season as he nabbed the golden boot at the club with 19 goals from his 58 appearances in all competitions. That was three more than second best Drogba who ended with 16 in 41 appearances.
Then, moving back through the team you come to Claude Makelele. This man was so good that he literally made his position his own – even now, we still refer to the sole holding midfielder role as the “Makelele” role. Then, at the back, Mr Chelsea himself John Terry flanked by Portuguese import Ricardo Carvalho.
With William Gallas and Paulo Ferreira in the full-back positions and Petr Cech in goal, the defensive line was a force to be reckoned with. It was so good that Chelsea conceded just 15 goals all season long – a Premier League record that still stands today.
Chelsea in 2004/05 were, without a doubt, one of the greatest Premier League teams to have ever existed. They set records left and right, most of which stood until Manchester City rocked up in 2017/18 – hence why tomorrow’s article will concentrate on that team.
This particular team represent one of my earliest memories in football. During this season, I turned seven years old and had, in the previous two year, fallen in love with the sport. As a Newcastle fan, it was a tough year personally, but I distinctly remember watching and loving this Chelsea side.
Arjen Robben was my favourite player on the team by a country mile. I used to love watching him dribble down the wing, causing havoc for defences all across the league. As well as him, Lampard was one you just had to love – I even had a Lampard shirt at one point.
This team was incredible not just because of the players on the pitch, but the manager on the sideline. I’ll always have a massive fondness for Mourinho for the simple fact that he was Sir Bobby Robson’s assistant for so long. Sir Bobby is my personal hero, as he is Jose’s, and that fact alone will always endear him to me.
Watching him rush down the touchline to celebrate goals, gesticulate with flailing arms and generally abuse the fourth official gives me great joy even now. Jose was the heart and soul of that team and to this day, I will always regard this particular team as one of my favourite ever… closely behind the Arsenal invincibles.