Video of the Day: Manchester City vs Chelsea, January 1979
This weekend at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea take on Manchester City in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup. Although Chelsea’s league position has been a little depressed this season, this is still one of the biggest ties of the last sixteen of this year’s competition. At the time of writing, Chelsea are still in this year’s Champions League, but the FA Cup would seem to be the club’s best chance of rescuing some silverware from what has been a dismal season by their own lofty standards. Manchester City, meanwhile, have a League Cup final to look forward to, are still in the FA Cup, are still in the Champions League and are still tussling for the Premier League title.
If this has been a disappointing season for Chelsea, though, the experiences of this season have been nothing on those seen during the 1978/79 season. Financially crippled by the cost of building their East Stand six years earlier, Chelsea had already been relegated and promoted back once that decade, but the 1978/79 season proved to be the beginning of a slump that would see the club relegated from the First Division of the Football League before sinking to the point of almost getting relegated again at the end of the 1982/83 season. Promotion back to the top flight came at the end of the following season.
The winter of 1978/79 was a notoriously terrible one, and although this match was played on the 20th January, it was Chelsea’s first league match of the new year. The team hadn’t won in the league since the middle of October, had already been knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United and had, in the couple of weeks between the middle of December and the end of the year, shipped seven goals at Middlesbrough and five at Ipswich Town in the league. Manchester City may only have been in thirteenth place in the table, but for Chelsea at that time every match must have felt somewhat daunting. These days, pitches like that at Maine Road that day wouldn’t be considered playable, but in 1979 all they did was find a luminous orange ball from somewhere and get on with it. Commentary comes from Granada Television’s Gerald Sinstadt.
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