Orlando Figes: Ranieri reign a mere dress rehearsal for our revolution

Same old Chelsea! There have been some heartbreaks - more than I care to remember in 37 years of following the ups and downs of Chelsea Football Club - but this one is the one I will tell my grandchildren. History, in a way, was made last night.

When Frank Lampard scored our second goal, I really thought it would be our night. This might be our year to storm Europe, and join the Premier League of world-class clubs. We've spent so many years as London's second team.

At that point we were playing wonderfully - battling like a team, winning every second ball, creating lots of chances. And even if we did not take them all, time and luck were surely on our side. We knew that Monaco were dangerous on the break, but when they broke they did not score. There were two let-offs, they hit the post, and then, when Fernando Morientes missed an easy chance I thought this was our lucky night. But then our fortune changed, anticipation turned to disbelief. To be rational, their goal was hardly a surprise (and Jesper Gronkjaer and Mario Melchiot were sloppy in defence).

But to be a Chelsea fan, I have to say that I felt cheated by the referee. It was a clear handball - or clear enough to disallow in a crucial game like this. I am a temperate man, and as I say, I've had to bear the knocks over many years of following Chelsea, but watching the replays, I joined my fellow fans in the upper East Stand and booed the referee as he walked off at half-time.

The tie was changed by that goal. If we had gone in 2-0 up at half-time we would have come out for the second half with a much easier task; to shut up shop and play the sort of 0-0 game we have seen all too many of at Stamford Bridge in recent months. Claudio Ranieri is superb as a tactician when asked to be conservative but as it was we had to chase the game. Or did we?

I thought Ranieri got the tactics wrong. At 2-1 up the crucial thing was not to let in a second goal, which would force us to score five. We should have been more cautious, kept things tight and waited for our chance to score that crucial third. Even if the game had gone to extra-time, I felt that it was winnable. But instead we piled forward in the second half leaving ourselves open at the back and their second goal killed the game. Monaco began to play as a team, as we fell apart, playing as individuals (not that well) and even losing our discipline at times. We were full of passion but tactically the game had been thrown away.

So how do I feel now? Like a Chelsea fan. I'm used to disappointment and in all honesty, I cannot really say that I believed the Russian revolution would conquer Europe in its first year. This is just the start. There was at the end an atmosphere of pride with lots of singing from the Chelsea fans. Was this stoicism or optimism?

I think next year will be our year. It is, after all, our centenary. And perhaps this season has just been a dress rehearsal for our revolution. We have some great players, not all of them were available last night. We also have a team. I was proud of them last night but also frustrated. How can it be that we play so well yet let in crucial goals at crucial times. Same old Chelsea.

The one thing we don't have is a world-class manager. Ranieri is a decent man, loveable indeed. But his tactics have frustrated Chelsea fans ever since he came (I still cannot work out why he withdraws strikers when we're two goals down). It's time for him to go. If this is our Russian revolution, then this has been the year of our Provisional Government. Ranieri is our Kerensky. But who will be our Lenin?

Orlando Figes is the author of 'Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia' (Faber)

News
news
Sport
Danny Cipriani of England breaks clear to score his second try
rugby
Life and Style
New research says leaving your desk can help you to avoid serious illness
health
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral