When Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea you had to at least wonder, but more likely, presume, that United’s period of dominance was over.
After just one season Chelsea climbed above us in the table and the following year they won the league. Weeks before the end of that season United became the club with the biggest debt in world football when the Glazers bought us. Doom and gloom.
Things started to look up for us slightly the following season, even if we were still no match for Chelsea, but then, incredibly, we managed to win our title back in 2006-2007. Whilst it is probably too difficult to single out Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest achievement as manager of our club, overcoming Chelsea’s wealth to win the league that year has to rank up there with the best things he did at United. Having won the title in 2006 they then added one of the best players in Europe for each position to their title winning team. Ashley Cole came in defence, Michael Ballack in midfield and Andrey Shevchenko up front. In contrast, we bought Michael Carrick, a player far down on the list fans had of ideal replacements for Roy Keane, if he managed to make the list at all.
Still, United went on to win the league for three years in a row, something Chelsea have never achieved, as well as beating them in the European Cup final in 2008.
In the last seven seasons United have been crowned champions five times. In 2010 we lost out on the title by one point and in 2012 we lost out on goal difference. It’s staggering how close United have been to winning the league for seven years on the trot.
Whilst these past ten years have been the best years in Chelsea’s history, it’s apparent they are nowhere near as successful as they should have been. The West London club should have dominated English football for a decade but as it is United have been the better team over the course of these 10 years.
When you take in to consideration the fact that Abramovich had built a better team than United after just one season, with us finishing 4 points behind them in 03-04, and Chelsea have still gone on to massively outspend us, our success is all the more impressive.
Today marks Abramovich’s 10th anniversary as Chelsea owner as well as Manchester United’s first day without Sir Alex Ferguson as manager. I wonder what the comparison between our clubs will look like ten years from now…