Peter Osgood: 20 defining matches

PETER OSGOOD remains the king of Stamford Bridge. No matter how many big names come and go at Chelsea, “Ossie” is still considered to be the club’s greatest icon. He epitomised an era and was the talisman for a period in which the club’s first FA Cup was won, followed by the European Cup-Winners’ Cup.

When Osgood left in 1974, the heart of Chelsea was ripped out and a wonderful, ultimately underachieving team continued to fall apart. Osgood’s premature death in 2006 shocked many Blues fans who remembered the skill, the elegance and the chutzpah of one of their greatest heroes.

Today, his statue looks over the thousands of supporters who flock to each game and those that remember Osgood touch the feet of their hero. Osgood played 380 times for Chelsea and scored 150 goals. Selecting 20 games that reflect the contribution he made is a very difficult task.

1: December 16 1964 – Football League Cup – Chelsea 2 (Osgood 2) Workington Town 0
Less than 8,000 people saw 17 year-old Osgood make his first team debut for Chelsea against Workington in the last eight of the League Cup. His netted both goals in this replay, the first coming in the 82nd minute. Ossie had already netted around 30 goals in 1964-65 in youth and reserve team football.

2: January 22 1966 – FA Cup – Liverpool 1 (Hunt) Chelsea 2 (Osgood, Tambling)
Chelsea stunned the FA Cup holders at Anfield, coming from a goal down to win 2-1 in the third round. Hunt gave Liverpool a first minute lead, but six minutes later, Osgood headed home after Barry Bridges and George Graham had combined to send the ball into the area. Osgood played in a deep-lying centre forward role which caused Liverpool countless problems and was compared to the great David Jack by BBC TV’s commentator.

3: January 29 1966 – League – Burnley 1 (Angus) Chelsea 2 (Osgood 2)
Ahead of this game, AS Roma had suggested in the media that they would make a bid for Osgood and Blackpool’s Alan Ball. It came to nothing, but highlighted the impact Ossie was having. At Turf Moor, he scored twice, but it was the winner after 54 minutes that made headlines, a run from the halfway line that saw him beat three defenders before shooting past goalkeeper Adam Blacklaw.

4: October 5 1966 – Football League Cup – Blackpool 1 (Robson) Chelsea 1 (Houseman)
Until this game, Osgood looked destined to be capped by England before the end of the 1966-67 season. He had started the season in great form but then on a chilly night at Bloomfield Road, Emlyn Hughes tackled the 19 year-old and his right leg was broken. Ossie signalled for a stretcher, knowing that something bad had happened. “It was no-one’s fault. We were both going for the ball. He got it first and his boot was blocking the ball as I connected,” said Osgood the next day.

5: November 1 1967 – England under-23 – Wales 1 (Thomas) Chelsea 2 (Osgood, Rogers)
Osgood took time to regain his confidence after his broken leg but he finally got his first under-23 cap against Wales at Swansea. He scored, too, latching onto a John Hollins free kick and shooting left-footed into the top corner of the net, giving goalkeeper Mike Walker no chance. Don Rogers got the other goal.

6: December 21 1968 – League – Leicester City 1 (Stringfellow) Chelsea 4 (Osgood 2, Birchenall, Tambling)
In 1968-69, Dave Sexton shifted Osgood into midfield. There were some that believed the broken leg had robbed him of something, but there was no denying his skill. Wearing the unfamiliar number 4 shirt, he showed he had not lost any of his underlying talent, although this was not the Osgood everyone clamoured. His two goals at Leicester suggested he was on the way back to being at his best.

7: November 18 1969 – League – Ipswich Town 1 (Viljoen)  Chelsea 4 (Hutchinson, Osgood 2, Hollins)
Sir Alf Ramsey watched this game at his local club with Osgood one of the players he was checking out. Ossie had confessed in the press that he was desperate to play for England. He netted twice as Chelsea, who were moving into fine form after a slow start to 1969-70, tore Ipswich apart. Meanwhile, the crowd continued to chant “Ossie for England”, a movement that was gathering momentum by the week. Furthermore, Dave Sexton had stumbled across an ideal partner for Osgood in Ian Hutchinson, a short-lived but quite spectacular front-line pairing.

8: December 27 1969 – League – Crystal Palace 1 (Queen) Chelsea 5 (Osgood 4, Hutchinson)
Chelsea and Osgood were in a rich vein of form with Ossie having his most prolific spell as a goalscorer and the team now being considered title contenders. “Chelsea are now a real threat,” said Leeds United’s assistant manager. At Selhurst Park, Osgood ran riot against the Palace defence in the second half after the home team had taken a 17th minute lead. Ossie felt sorry for the Palace team: “By the time the fourth goal went in, I was feeling a bit embarrassed,” he admitted.

9: January 31 1970 – League – Chelsea 3 (Osgood 3) Sunderland 1 (Baker)
Chelsea had been put in their place three weeks earlier when Leeds won 5-2 at Stamford Bridge, although as a team they hadn’t played too badly. They had bounced back well, winning through to the fifth round of the FA Cup and they comfortably disposed of relegation-bound Sunderland. Osgood’s hat-trick helped cement his place in the England squad for the forthcoming game with Belgium. One report said Osgood has been as “swift as a cobra” as he snapped-up a chance.

10: February 25 1970 – International – Belgium 1 (Dockx) England 3 (Ball, Peters 2)
Osgood made his England debut in Brussels against a decent Belgium side that had qualified for the World Cup in Mexico. He was involved in England’s first goal, scored by Alan Ball, and Sir Alf Ramsey was delighted with his overall performance: “Osgood had a great first match for England,” he said. The media noted that Osgood showed an “impressive calm” throughout the 90 minutes.

11: April 29 1970 – FA Cup final replay – Chelsea 2 (Osgood, Webb) Leeds United 1 (Jones)
Although Peter Osgood’s 78th minute diving header from Charlie Cooke’s ball into the area is now part of Chelsea folklore, it shouldn’t be overlooked the part he paid in a very combative contest. Osgood had scored in every round up to the final but wasn’t on the scoresheet at Wembley in the 2-2 classic. At Old Trafford, a bruising battle if ever there was one, he became one of the few players to have found the back of the net in every round. In total, he scored eight goals in the competition, including a hat-trick at Loftus Road as Chelsea beat QPR 4-2 in round six.

12: March 24 1971 – ECWC – Chelsea 4 (Osgood 2, Baldwin, Houseman) Bruges 0
Osgood had a habit of getting booked in the late 60s and early 70s, often for dissent. By modern standards, this wasn’t excessive, but the FA disciplinary committee made an example of him and banned him for what amounted to 10 games. By the time he returned, Chelsea’s season had run out of steam and they were on the brink of elimination in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup after losing 2-0 in the first leg of the quarter-final to Bruges. Osgood was thrown into the second leg and scored twice in an incredible night at Stamford Bridge. It is a game that those who were present have never forgotten. The tie went to extra time and Chelsea added two goals to win 4-0 and go through to meet Manchester City in the semi-finals.

13: May 21 1971 – ECWC Final – Chelsea 2 (Dempsey, Osgood) Real Madrid 1
Osgood was nothing if not a man for the big occasion and in the two games in the Cup-Winners’ Cup final in Athens, he was the man Real Madrid feared. But Ossie had only played four games in four months and was far from full fit. The first game saw Chelsea denied in the final seconds after Osgood has given them the lead after 56 minutes, but in the replay, they went into a 2-0 lead, with Osgood adding to John Dempsey’s opener. Real pulled one back but Chelsea hung on to win the cup.

14: September 29 1971 – ECWC – Chelsea 13 (Osgood 5, Baldwin 3, Hollins, Webb, Houseman, Harris, Hudson) Jeunesse Hautcharage  0
Chelsea won the first leg of this first round tie 5-0 with Ossie scoring a hat-trick against the Luxembourg cup winners. He claimed he would break the individual scoring record over two legs, which stood at the eight netted by Jose Altafini of AC Milan. Against a team of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, Chelsea won 13-0 to beat all aggregate records in European football. Ossie  scored five times, equalling Altafini’s haul.

15: March 4 1972 – Football League Cup final – Chelsea 1 (Osgood) Stoke City 2 (Conroy, Eastham)
Chelsea had been in excellent form leading up to the League Cup final at Wembley. But a week before, they had thrown away a 2-0 lead in the FA Cup at Orient and found themselves victims of a giant-killing. In the final, they fell behind to an early goal, dominated thereafter and equalised through Osgood, who scored his only Wembley goal laying on the lush turf. Stoke won 2-1 but Chelsea were left kicking themselves that they did not win their third trophy in a row. It was arguably the beginning of the end of the club’s most charismatic team.

16: October 9 1972 – Football League Cup – Chelsea 3 (Kember, Webb, Osgood) Derby County 2 (Hinton, McGovern)
In front of Sir Alf Ramsey again, Osgood scored a brilliant volleyed goal to clinch victory in what was a riveting cup tie. There had been calls for Ossie to be included in the England squad once more but when he scored, he ran to the stand and blew kisses in the direction of Ramsey. It is doubtful whether this impressed the reserved England manager. In 1972-73, Osgood played some of his best football for Chelsea, but it would be his last full season for the club.

17: November 10 1973 – League – Chelsea 3 (Baldwin, Osgood 2) Everton 1 (Kenyon)
Again, in 1973-74, the media pressured Sir Alf Ramsey to call on Osgood for the England squad. On November 10, he scored twice to secure his 100th and 101st goals for Chelsea and his performance in the autumn of 1973 certainly suggested that the mature Ossie was worth another stab at an England cap. At the end of the game, he received a personal ovation from the Stamford Bridge crowd.

18: November 14 1973 – International – England 0 Italy 1 (Capello)
Just a month after England were knockout of the World Cup by Poland, England recalled Peter Osgood to lead the line against Italy. It proved to be his last appearance for his country. It was also Bobby Moore’s last cap for England. Italy’s coach, Franco Valcareggi, was quite critical of England, claiming that the only player with any flair was Peter Osgood.

19: May 1 1976 – FA Cup final – Southampton 1 (Stokes) Manchester United 0
In 1974, after a dispute with Chelsea manager Dave Sexton, Ossie was transferred to Southampton for £ 275,000. It was a surprise destination as a number of bigger clubs had shown an interest in him. He always claimed that he was sold on the move because of Lawrie McMenemy and he also linked up well with Mick Channon. However, they were relegated that season and spent four years in the second division. In 1976, the Saints were surprise FA Cup winners and Ossie picked up his second cup winners’ medal.

20: December 18 1978 – Middlesbrough 7 (Burns 4, Proctor, Armstong, Cochrane) Chelsea 2 (Osgood, Bumstead)
With Chelsea struggling for their first division lives, they re-signed Osgood after he had endured an injury-stricken period in the US. While the crowd were overjoyed at their hero’s return, he was not the same player and he was unable to perform a miracle. In his first game, he headed Chelsea in front at Middlesbrough, but by the final whistle, the extent of the club’s problems was made very clear to Osgood as the Blues crashed 7-2 He left the club in September 1979 as they acclimatised to the first of five second division campaigns.

Football Media Watch: The desolation of Thomas Tuchel

IN normal circumstances, Chelsea’s dismissal of Thomas Tuchel wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow, the club has made a career out of sacking managers, after all. This was supposed to be a little different, however, Tuchel is an elite-level, much-coveted coach, had taken Chelsea to UEFA Champions League triumph and had strong principles. Moreover, he seemed to refuse to take part in the bullshit world of cliché and jargon that football has become. He seemed a smart operator.

In recent weeks, something had changed. Tuchel looked a little dishevelled, had become more prickly than normal and allowed himself to get caught up in a 90-minute vendetta with Antonio Conte, dashing around like a comic character. His team had also started the campaign badly, hardly surprising given the number of new signings and the constant state of flux at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel’s job description, seemingly, had changed as the new ownership stripped the club’s football management structure, disposing of the recruitment team. Todd Boehly made himself the de facto sporting director and went about signing players for inflated fees. Tuchel couldn’t have been very comfortable, especially as his acolytes, Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia had both left.

Generally, there is sympathy for Tuchel. His record at Chelsea was good – European champions, four cup finals, FIFA Club World Cup winners, a win rate of 60% and third place in 2021-22. So he started 2022-23 off colour, but that’s half a dozen games in a Chelsea career of 100 games. Surely he deserved better?

Barney Ronay of The Guardian summed it up well: “Tuchel was hired by an entirely different group of people, and there have been whispers of tension. He is an angular, awkward kind of figure with a history of falling out with far less likely candidates than a board of American investors.”

Tuchel simply was the wrong man for the new regime. New management often comes with a caveat, “we want our own people”, a mantra that transcends many industries, notably finance where many American owners learned their trade. Tuchel was always going to be vulnerable. “Three months in, Boehly and his board have shown something familiar. React to results, jump ship midstream, buy £ 250 million of pleyers with one manager, then hire another. Welcome back, Chelsea. You haven’t changed a bit,” said Ronay. It’s also bizarre that three weeks ago, Tuchel was in talks to extend his contract, said Sky Sports. “You know how glad I am to be here and how much I like it,” claimed Tuchel. In just 21 days, the world collapsed.

Certainly, the Chelsea job should come with a health warning – it is almost vampirical. It’s a short-term role in a short-termist profession that drains the incumbent after a couple of years – some victims take years to recover. It pays well and the exit must surely be lucrative – The Sun reported that Tuchel’s pay off was £ 13 million. But Chelsea have lost a coach that gave them an edge, said The Athletic. “Chelsea’s owners discovered that when the relationship between owners and coach breaks down, there is no recovery.”

The Independent claimed that Tuchel had lost authority over the players – how often has that been heard at Chelsea? And talking of players, the assumption was that Boehly had selected some of the new signings, but apparently, Tuchel was involved in almost all of them, something that never happened with Abramovich’s structure. The New York Times’ Rory Smith noted that the club’s bid for Mexican midfielder Edson Alvarez came towards the end of the window. “The approach was so late that Ajax was able to use it as proof that Chelsea was not spending to any plan, but rather for the sake of it.” It is well known that Tuchel was against the prospect of signing Cristiano Ronaldo – understandably so.

Rumours prevailed in and around Stamford Bridge that Tuchel would be “gone by Christmas” and his appearance seemed to suggest he knew it. Certainly some of his comments hint that all was not well between the coach and his players. He accused them of lacking commitment, both physically and mentality, and then claimed they were not tough enough. Once the dressing room goes, there is usually only one result at Stamford Bridge and it is not the players who suffer. Some people believe his relationship with his squad changed after his marriage broke down, but that could just be tabloid gossip.

Rory Smith suggested the new ownership may not know the first thing about English football but their behaviour will help them to acclimatise: “If they carry on like this, Chelsea’s new owners will fit into the Premier League’s hyberbolic soap opera just fine.”

Chelsea may come to regret the decision to dispense with a coach that had led them to the Champions League title. They’ve almost come to the end of the list of elite coaches and it is logical that they look beyond the usual suspects. If that means Graham Potter will leave Brighton, he will arrive with all the usual platitudes and throwaway comments about dynasties, alignment and vision. But if what unfolds is not to the owners’ liking, he too will realise that Chelsea are every bit as ruthless as they have been over the past 19 years. Ask Mr Tuchel.

Sources: The Guardian, The Indepdendent, The Mirror, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Sky Sports, New York Times.