Chelsea FC
Mediocrity Years, 1985-93
By Gary Watton
March 12 2014

John Hollins inherited a good Chelsea squad from John Neal. However, the Blues went into gradual decline, and in spite of a brief revival under Bobby Campbell in 1989 and 1990, the club remained a mid-table under-achiever during the tenure of Ian Porterfield [1991-3] and Dave Webb [1993]. There was still no FA Cup finals or League Cup finals. Chelsea were still in the shadow of Arsenal and Spurs.

1985-86: Chelsea finished sixth in Division One. They won only four of their last seventeen league matches after briefly challenging for the championship.

Best result: West Bromwich Albion 0 CHELSEA 3 (Only ten thousand watched this encounter. Chelsea's goalscoring heroes were Murphy, Nevin, and Speedie.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 1 Watford 5 (A Talbot double gave the visitors a 2-0 interval lead. A pair of goals from Bardsley doubled the lead in this final fixture.)


1986-87: Chelsea finished fourteenth. By Christmas this declining team had won only three of their first twenty league matches.

Best result: CHELSEA 4 Oxford United 0 (Less than ten thousand were in attendance as the Blues scored twice in each half of this Tueday fixture.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 2 Nottingham Forest 6 (Neil Webb and Gary Birtles both recorded hat tricks. Chelsea had led 2-1 after ten minutes!)


1987-88: Chelsea finished eighteenth and were relegated via play-offs. They lost more away matches and conceded more away goals than any other team.

Best result: Watford 0 CHELSEA 3 (A double from Gordon Durie and a goal from Kerry Dixon gave rise to false hopes that Chelsea would be a top six club.)

Horrible result: West Ham United 4 CHELSEA 1 (Rosenior scored twice and then was sent off. This result kept West Ham United in the First Division.)


1988-89: Chelsea finished first and were promoted as champions. They won more away matches and scored more away goals than any other team!

Best result: Walsall 0 CHELSEA 7 (Gordon Durie scored a hat trick inside twenty-two minutes and then added two second-half goals in this massacre.) 

Horrible result: CHELSEA 1 Manchester City 3 (Less than nine thousand watched as Pates gave Chelsea an early lead. However, City scored three in reply.)


1989-90: Chelsea finished fifth in Division One. The team lost only two of their last thirteen matches and lost only two of their first fifteen league matches.

Best result: Luton Town 0 CHELSEA 3 (Kevin Wilson scored either side of half time and Dixon added a third as Chelsea ended a poor December with a win.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 2 Wimbledon 5 (Dennis Wise scored twice against his future employers. Kerry Dixon had actually given Chelsea an early lead.


1990-91: Chelsea finished eleventh. The team only won three of their first thirteen league matches and only won three of their last fourteen league matches. 

Best result: Derby County 4 CHELSEA 6 (Chelsea led 1-0, Derby equalised. Chelsea scored the next two goals and Derby scored the next three to lead 4-3!)

Horrible result: Nottingham Forest 7 CHELSEA 0 (Craig Burley had an unhappy debut. Roy Keane and Stuart Pearce helped themselves to a pair of goals.)


1991-92: Chelsea finished fourteenth. By the end of September they had only lost two of their first eleven league matches but they had already drawn five.

Best result: CHELSEA 4 Luton Town 1 (The Blues led three-nil at the interval. Our goalscoring heroes were Le Saux, Townsend, Dixon, and Wise.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 0 Norwich City 3 (Just over fifteen thousand saw Robert Fleck score a goal in each half. Chelsea bought him the following summer.)


1992-93: Chelsea finished eleventh. In mid-winter this misfiring team failed to score in seven out of twelve league matches.

Best result: CHELSEA 4 Middlesbrough 0 (This match was scoreless at half time. Then the goals flowed from Donaghy, Spencer, Stuart, and Barnard.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 2 Manchester City 4 (The visitors led 3-0 before Stuart and Spencer sparked a late revival. However Sheron added a fourth for City.)