Football fans are a fickle bunch at the best of times. Football fans accustomed to success are even harder to placate when things go wrong. Chelsea fans in recent years have however been able to enjoy success while also witnessing great players getting it very wrong.
Strangely, more than any other big English side, it has been strikers who have been the biggest flops for them. A stack of big money and big name buys have failed to make the grade for the London side. Here are seven of the most talented but for various reasons least effective. Some will be remembered with fondness despite their lack of goals, others should send a shudder down the collective spines of Stamford Bridge’s season ticket holders.
28 League Games 1 Goal
English players have always been overpriced when sold between sides in the same league. Still, many baulked at Suttons £10 million price tag when he moved from Blackburn to Stamford Bridge. The strong target man had been pivotal in Blackburn’s success previously but he was sold after a fairly mediocre season which coincided with the northern club’s relegation.
Chelsea was a fresh start though and many fans hoped he could recapture the form which saw him capped by England in 1997. The move was a disaster. A cumbersome and combative player, he was ill suited to Chelsea’s slick style of play and took up the opportunity to join Celtic for just £6 million at the end of his first season in London.
40 League Games 3 Goals
Scottish striker Robert Fleck might not ever have been as skilful as any of the others on this list, but the tough ex-Rangers man was seriously hot property back in 1992. As a former World Cup player and prolific scorer with his club Norwich, it looked like Chelsea were getting a bargain when they lured the player south in a deal worth over £2 million.
London didn’t work out for Fleck though as he failed to find the form that made him one of Norwich’s all time top scorers. Still despite his lack of goals the Chelsea fans at least respected his endeavour if not his doomed attempts on goal.
10 League Games 1 Goal
When Italian Pierluigi Casiraghi joined Chelsea in 1998 the solid goalscorer had 44 caps for his country and had excelled in a stylish Lazio side. While technically he wasn’t a patch on Chelsea’s other famous Italian, Gianfranco Zola, there was plenty to suggest that he’d still provide the side with extra experience, and of course, goals.
Sadly he suffered a horrendous injury in a game against West Ham shortly after his £5.4 million move. Despite attempts to get back to first team action he called time on his career four years after the incident. Whether he would ever have made the impact he could have done we’ll never know.
48 League Games 9 Goals
Shevchenko was an absolutely clinical striker. Anyone who remembers his form for Dynamo Kyiv and A.C. Milan will have witnessed an athletic, intelligent player with a lethal range of shots and headers. When he signed for Chelsea for a whopping £30.8 million all the signs were that the London side were purchasing one of the planet’s best players.
Except he didn’t turn out to be that good. Lazy and frustrated the Ukrainian struggled to hit the form his fee and track record suggested he would. He was shipped out to Milan in 2008 but by then he’d seemingly lost all form and striker’s instinct.
26 League Games 6 Goals
Mutu was a highly rated young striker who had had a prolific season at Parma when he made the £15.8 million move from Serie A to the Premiership. Despite a prolific start to his career at Chelsea the Romanian was sacked for testing positive for cocaine use in 2004, receiving a seven month ban from playing football in the process. It took him till 2006, to rediscover his shooting boots at Fiorentina.
36 League Games 3 Goals
For Liverpool and Spain gangly striker Fernando Torres was deadly in the box. Averaging almost a goal every other game for Chelsea’s Premiership rivals, chairman Roman Abramovich sanctioned a transfer deadline day £50 million deal for the player.
While Liverpool fans mourned the departure of Torres Chelsea fans were delighted to have landed the World Cup and European Championship winner. 30+ games in and only 3 goals and it seems like the confidence and the clinical nature of this enigmatic player has vanished. Whether he can feature and flourish now Andre Villas-Boas has left only time will tell.
25 League Games 4 Goals
Even messianic managers get the odd decision wrong, but few thought that this relatively risk free José Mourinho purchase wouldn’t make the grade. Kežman came to Chelsea having whacked in a not unimpressive 105 goals in 122 games for PSV Eindhoven as well as a decent amount for the Serbian national side.
In and out of the starting eleven, played out of position and without na regular striking partner didn’t help the £5.3 million player settle in. That said, by the end of his first season it was obvious that while he had some talent, he just wasn’t good enough for a team that planned to challenge for the Champions League. A move to Athletico Madrid materialised, though even there he struggled to get the goals he was once famous for.