Fans may have noticed that a Frank Lampard goal drew Man City level on points with Chelsea recently. Again, all I can do is shake my head in wonderment – somehow, the man keeps on scoring! Whatever happens at the end of the season, we can say that at least one Chelsea player will win the League…
Yet Lampard isn’t the only Englishman to have left Chelsea for the blue side of Manchester. Let us turn our attention to Wayne Bridge.
Bridge joined Chelsea from Southampton for £7m. He made 142 appearances and scored four goals from 2003 to 2009. He joined as part of that first Abramovich spending spree, which saw an avalanche of high-profile signings join the club during the heavy summer of 2003. The Premier League had never seen such an outrageous level of care-free expenditure. We brought in 18 players over the course of that season for a combined total of £153,450,000.
The three stand out memories of Bridge at The Bridge:
- He was steady defensively
- He was appalling at dribbling – the amount of times he lost the ball while charging down the left flank caused me much angst
- He scored the winner against Arsenal in that Champions League Quarter-Final Second-Leg
However unremarkable Bridge was, I have to confess that that goal against Arsenal was a special moment. The goal itself was decent enough, a nice one-two on the edge of the box, which allowed the ex-England international to charge onto the ball in-behind the defence and finish decisively. The significance of that goal was far bigger than the act itself, or even the game.
During the 2003/04 Season, Chelsea and Ranieri’s expensively gathered team played second fiddle to an Arsenal team who went that league season undefeated. We faced them in the league and lost both games 2-1. We faced them in the FA Cup and lost 2-1. We faced them in the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League and I fully expected us to be beaten again. The First-Leg, at Stamford Bridge, finished a creditable 1-1 given recent results. The Second-Leg, at Highbury, was 1-1 until the 87th minute – then Wayne Bridge crashed into the penalty-area and swept home a winner that sent me through the roof. It was the best victory of the whole season and sent Chelsea into their first Champions League Semi-Final. Anyone remember Claudio’s ecstatic celebration? At that time Chelsea – despite their large expenditure – were still underdogs to the established might of Arsenal and Man United. That year, finally beating Arsenal was a great sensation. Since then we have grown accustomed to victory against Arsenal – yet that win, more than a decade old is still sweetest.
‘I am mad with joy at the result’ – Claudio Ranieri
Wayne Bridge joined Man City from Chelsea in 2009 for £12m and didn’t do much including not shaking John Terry’s hand. He retired from football in May 2014.
Shaun Wright-Phillips (SWP) joined Chelsea from Man City for an incredible £21m during the summer of 2005. He made 124 appearances and scored ten goals. He returned to Man City in 2008 for £9m. My memories of Wright-Phillips?
- He was fast…
- He was small…
- He scored against us for QPR…
It is strange that my recollections should be so sparse of SWP since he did make 27 League appearances during the three full seasons he played for Chelsea. However, ten goals in three years is quite unimpressive for a winger/attacking-midfielder and that’s probably why he’s so anonymous. Man City also made a tidy profit buying him back from us. This leads me to think that getting mugged off by City shouldn’t be all that new.
I have shed a brief light on these two relics of our past in order to bring some much needed perspective to the ‘Lampard Situation’. He isn’t the only Chelsea player to have changed shades of blue and he probably won’t be the last. Where we have comfortably forgotten and dismissed the likes of Wayne Bridge and SWP, the same cannot be done for Frank. They all won important trophies with Chelsea, yet Frank, is obviously different.
Therefore, I beseech all to remember what he did for Chelsea before remembering anything else. Besides, any team that needs a 36-year-old to win their games can’t be long for this world.