Chelsea’s continued desire to find a long-term replacement for club legend Didier Drogba seems like a thankless and never-ending task. Costa’s leaving under a cloud, there are mixed feelings over Lukaku and now Morata shoulders the task of leading the club to glory, albeit with some very capable help from Hazard, Kante and co.
I thought it a perfect moment to take a glance back at the strike force that was a precursor to over a decade of success; an unlikely pairing between a powerful pacey smiling Dutchman and a ruthless technically impeccable Icelandic. They set the stall out towards a new era, leaving an attacking shadow that few of the world’s best have been able to live up to. Stamford Bridge is the graveyard for some of the highest profile goalscorer failures in the Premier League, from Shevchenko to Torres. I’ll throw Crespo in the mix while we are here as well. Some have perished where others have risen.
Welcome back to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen. Chelsea seem to have developed a somewhat fraught transfer policy with Atletico Madrid; think Torres and Costa, but you can also think Jimmy. The Premier League was already well aware of the Dutchman’s brute-force goal scoring after a successful spell at Leeds United, which paved the way for a move to Atletico. £15 million, which now will look like a bargain, brought Hasselbaink to Stamford Bridge. Jimmy was a guaranteed goalscorer with a Premier League pedigree; something that, these days, would have clubs opening their overfilled bank vaults.
Eidur Gudjohnsen could be viewed as one of Chelsea’s most astute signings ever; a big shout for a club with an abundance of business acumen since. The Iceland veteran came south from Bolton for just £5 million and few must have predicted his rise to Chelsea mainstay and later a spell at the Nou Camp. He was never considered a prolific goal scorer – that is, until he met Jimmy.
Enter Claudio Ranieri… remember him? The 2001-2002 season may be remembered for the introduction of Frank Lampard, but it was Eidur who came to the fore. The strike duo had to wait until mid-September before Ranieri considered playing them together, where they struck a chord immediately. Just three minutes into a cup tie with Middlesbrough, Gudjohnsen split the defence for Hasselbaink to slot home.
The pair went on to net 37 goals between them that season, the Dutchman finishing second-top goalscorer with 23 league goals. That was just one behind Thierry Henry who, in fairness, was about to lead Arsenal to their greatest days.
The duo continued to inspire Stamford Bridge in the following couple of years, slowly unseating the wizard Gianfranco Zola while ushering in a new era at Chelsea Football Club.
The pair were dubbed ‘Fire and Ice’ as their goals fired Chelsea toward Champions League qualification and maybe catching the eye of a certain Roman Abramovich. The rest is history, thankfully, for a club that apparently has none!
Since leaving Chelsea, perhaps surprisingly, it was Eidur that hit the highest heights as Barcelona acquired his talents that had once haunted Catalonia. He is not only a Chelsea favourite but an icon that refused to give up on his national team, which he helped to inspire during the 2016 European Championships.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is a man on a mission, using his experience in the managerial world with particular success at the helm of Burton Albion, before being sucked into the QPR vortex.
There can’t be any Chelsea fans that don’t look back on the years before Jose Mourinho with rose-tinted glasses when the story of success begins to hike its steep path. Even with the Abramovich era since, few can avoid a smile when remembering Jimmy and Eidur.