For all Sven Goran Eriksson's faults, real and imagined, his teams, like Jose Mourinho's, rarely suffer a drubbing. Denmark's 4-1 success in a friendly was England's worst result statistically, a margin passed by Chelsea yesterday with less than an hour played, and the final score constituted Eriksson's heaviest defeat in management, outdoing a 5-1 loss at Arsenal with IFK Gothenburg almost 30 years ago.
The performance, as much as the scoreline, confirmed that Manchester City's third place in the table was a false one, built on the back of a string of narrow home victories. On their travels, the defence has been much less reliable and yesterday proved a liability, five of the goals stemming from passes into the same area between left-back and the centre of defence that left the goalkeeper, Joe Hart, with a blue shirt bearing down on him.
A lot of water has flowed under Stamford Bridge since Eriksson took tea with owner Roman Abramovich in the summer of 2003 to discuss becoming manager of Chelsea. JoseMourinho was given the job and the rest is history; or was until Avram Grant took over eight matches ago. Six of them have been won, the last five in a row, and for the home team's supporters it was all glorious fun yesterday as the little-regarded Israeli lived up to his promise to produce a brighter style of football.
Mourinho's inclination was always to shut up shop after achieving a two-goal lead; his side only once scored as many as five in the Premier League. New Chelsea simply kept on going as City collapsed in a heap.
Outnumbered in midfield, they were overrun by Grant's central triumvirate of John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard, the latter pair regularly taking out Micah Richards and Javier Garrido with diagonal passes that better covering might have smothered.
"We were awful," Eriksson admitted. "We failed completely to defend, not just the back-four but all 11. We have played some good football but there was maybe too much talk about it. It's a wake-up call for sure."
Although latecomers handicapped by the engineering works on the District Line may not have missed much yesterday, there was no stopping Chelsea once the midfield trio combined in the 16th minute to make and score the opening goal.
Mikel fed Lampard for a fine, incisive pass that found Essien in the inside-right channel, able to shoot across Hart low into the far corner of the net. Richards, a right-back for England but a centre-half in City colours, might have been closer to the scorer on that occasion and certainly should have been for the second goal.
This time Lampard collected possession close to the halfway line and ran on before playing another immaculate pass into the same area as before, where Richards failed to prevent Didier Drogba putting his shot away.
City threatened only twice to score their first goal at Stamford Bridge for many moons: a fierce free-kick by Martin Petrov and a bad miss by Stephen Ireland, who shot wide from 15 yards.
Two more goals early in the second half then put the game even further beyond them. Salomon Kalou, preferred to Florent Malouda or Shaun Wright-Phillips, set up Lampard, and although Hart's foot saved, Drogba was on hand to score.
There was another Hart save from the inspired Lampard, Drogba skewing the rebound across goal, before Garrido simply stopped and allowed Joe Cole to run on to Drogba's headed flick for four-nil. Garrido was hopelessly caught out again in the 75th minute as Essien played another pass into the inviting gap between Richards and the left-back, Kalou running on to it to drive in a fifth goal.
Astonishingly, the sixth came from precisely the same place, Andriy Shevchenko, on as a substitute, taking Essien's pass to provide the goal the crowd had chanted for from him.Reuse content