At the time of writing, with just a few games of the 2022/23 Premier League season remaining, Chelsea are having a tough time of things, to say the least. As things stand, they look almost certain to miss out on qualification for the Europa League, let alone the Champions League. Given that they won Europe’s premier tournament just two years ago, it is an astounding fall from grace for the Blues. Of course, they could still qualify for next season’s Champions League by going all the way this time around… but given their poor form, it seems improbable.
As bad as things have gone domestically for Chelsea during the 2022/23 campaign, it probably won’t end up as their worst ever in the Premier League era (at least if we base that purely on their league position at the end of the campaign). Below we will take a look back at Chelsea’s worst Premier League performances since the league began in the 1992/93 season.
14th Place, 1993/94 – Lowest Premier League Finish Ever
In the second season of the Premier League, Chelsea ended the campaign in 14th position – their lowest finish in the Premier League era. Unless things go from bad to worse in the current season (and with Frank Lampard at the helm who knows?!), the current side should finish higher than that, and even though there were 22 sides in the division at the time, 14th place was a major disappointment.
Glenn Hoddle was the player-manager at the time and the Blues fans had high hopes. Alas, Chelsea ended up worrying more about the prospect of relegation than aiming for league glory. The campaign included an appalling run of eight defeats and a draw in nine games from early October to early December 1993 which saw the Blues drop into the relegation zone. They did eventually finish above the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City and Everton, however. And they even made the final of the FA Cup… but that was to prove the final disappointment of the campaign as they were hammered 4-0 by Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.
11th Place, 1994/95 – Hoddles Stars Fail to Shine
Despite the poor league performance the previous season, Hoddle remained in charge at Chelsea – luckily for him, the era of trigger-happy chairmen was not yet upon us. But perhaps it wasn’t lucky for Chelsea fans who had to endure another poor season on the domestic front.
Things picked up a bit in the second half of the season and Chelsea made it to the semis of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, but all in all, it was another campaign to forget for a side that looked better on paper than on the pitch.
11th Place, 1995/96 – Hoddle’s Third Mediocre Season
Glenn Hoddle was given another bite of the cherry the following season and invested in big-name stars Mark Hughes and Ruud Gullit to bolster the Chelsea attack. Unfortunately for the Blues, things didn’t really gel and the team suffered far too many home defeats. Once something of a fortress, Stamford Bridge proved far too welcoming for the opposition as teams including Man United, Aston Villa, West Ham, Blackburn and Wimbledon earned three points there.
Interestingly, despite proving rather ineffective as Chelsea manager (he only won 34% of his games), Hoddle was appointed as the England manager at the end of this campaign. He replaced Terry Venables in the Three Lions dugout and, despite having some very talented players at his disposal, he was rather ineffective in that job too. At club level Hoddle was replaced by Ruud Gullit, who at least won something at the club when he led the Blues to their first FA Cup triumph since 1970.
10th Place, 2015/16 – Champions Slump Is Anything But Special
Chelsea didn’t finish outside the top 10 in the Premier League for the next 20 seasons and they won the title four times ahead of the 2015/16 campaign (including the season before). But things went badly awry as Jose Mourinho’s second stint at Chelsea turned sour.
The self-styled Special One had certainly delivered the goods when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge, leading the Blues to the Premier League title in 2004/05 and 2005/06. So when he came back for another go, many Chelsea fans were enthused. It seemed they were right to be too when Mourinho led his side to the title once again in 2014/15. But then the very next season, things started to fall apart for the great Portuguese manager and his team.
It’s fair to say that Mourinho has sometimes had a habit of getting under the skin of his own players and in the early part of this campaign, some of his stars appeared to stop playing for their boss. An early-season home defeat to Crystal Palace set alarm bells ringing, with further home defeats to Southampton, Liverpool and Bournemouth piling on the pressure. In mid-December 2015, Mourinho was shown the door for the second time, to be replaced by Guus Hiddink for his second stint as interim manager of the Blues. In the summer, Hiddink moved on and Antonio Conte arrived. The Italian restored the glory to Stamford Bridge, leading Chelsea to the 2016/17 Premier League crown and then adding more silverware with the FA Cup the following season.
Could Chelsea Get Worse Before They Get Better?
As mentioned, it’s unlikely Chelsea will have their worst-ever Premier League finish in the 2022/23 campaign – but in football one can never be too sure about anything. However, there is certainly a feeling amongst fans that the current season is something of a write-off, at least from a domestic perspective. Of course, if club legend Lampard finishes the season on a high and is handed the reins for next term, perhaps he could cement his position as the new Special One at the club. Although based on Lampard’s initial spell at the club and his time at Everton, that seems rather unlikely.