SASoccermag.co.za looks back at the legends of the Premier League, and today features Claude Makelele and his exploits in the 2005-2006 season.
Chelsea capped their centenary celebrations by defending their Premier League crown after a remarkable platform laid down in the first half of the season. Fifteen wins out of their first 16 fixtures gave the reigning champions an almost insurmountable lead as Jose Mourinho’s Blues were ready to be crowned kings of England by the end of 2005.
Arguably, the player who most encapsulated The Special One’s game plan was French midfielder Claude Makelele. Such was the success of his role as a deep-lying holding midfielder that most teams in the world’s elite leagues now employ a specialist to play ‘The Makelele’ role.
Despite a wobble towards the end of the season, Chelsea beat eventual runners-up Manchester United to confirm their status as Premier League champions, while Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland were dealt the blow of relegation. Mourinho’s side ended the season with a staggering 91 points, eight clear of United. Most telling was Chelsea’s goal difference of 50.
The 2005-06 season also defined how teams played under Mourinho as Golden Boot winner Thierry Henry’s 27 league goals outshone Chelsea’s leading scorer Frank Lampard (16) and main striker Didier Drogba (12). Teamwork and commitment to Mourinho’s ideology was the cornerstone of success as evidenced by John Terry, William Gallas, Lampard and Joe Cole being named in the PFA Team of the Year.
Named in FIFPro’s World XI in 2005, Makelele may never have hogged the headlines, but many pundits suggest that without his endeavours, Chelsea may not have cantered to the title the way they did.
Makelele ended his career at Stamford Bridge a legend. His two league titles were matched by a pair of League Cup crowns and one FA Cup winner’s medal to go with a Community Shield win.
He returned to France for a spell at Paris Saint-Germain before retiring and immediately moved to management, serving as an assistant to managers Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc. He now works as the technical director of Ligue 1 side Monaco.
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