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Johnsen, Erland (1989-1997)

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Erland Johnsen (1989-1997)

Written by Loz in May 2007

erland%20johnsen%201990%203.jpg As far as I am concerned if you didn’t like Erland you weren’t even fit to be a Scouser!

In terms of technical ability he was never going to challenge for the title of finest centre half we have ever had however he doesn’t fall too far short of the title of centre half most desperate to see Chelsea succeed.

Born in Moss, Norway on April 5th 1967, Erland started his career with local team Moss and stayed with them from 1983-1988. In 1988 he got his big move to Bayern Munich and won back to back Championships with them (although he only actually featured 21 times for the first team) before Bobby Campbell brought him to Chelsea in 1989 for £300,000.

His debut came was in an away league game against QPR in December 1989. Some debuts are memorable for all the right reasons, this wasn’t one of them! Erland had a mare with Chelsea losing 4-2 and Erland given a torrid time by the likes of Mark Falco and Les Ferdinand, he was replaced in the second half by Kevin McCallister. It didn’t look good!!

All of a sudden the first team seemed a long long way away for Erland as he kicked his heels until a home cup game against Crewe gave Campbell the perfect opportunity to give Erland another run out. Although this game was not to go exactly to plan (a 1-1 draw courtesy of a Stevie Clarke goal right at the death – we won the replay) it was a turning point for Erland as he was named in the first team for every game for the rest of the season. We finished fifth that season (against the odds) and Erland formed a good understanding with central defensive partner Ken Monkou.

erland%20johnsen%201994%204.jpg Then things went off the boil for Erland. Injury at the start of the 1990-91 season cost him his place in the first team with Jason Cundy seizing the chance to make an impression. He barely featured in the team that season, and things got worse the next when Paul Elliott was signed by new manager Ian Porterfield (watch the blood pressure Bluebeard).

It is probably fair to say that Erland’s Chelsea career would have been over if it wasn’t for the sacking of Porterfield and the appointment of David Webb as caretaker manager. Webb brought him back into the first team and he stayed there for the rest of that season and into the following season under the management of Glen Hoddle.

That was 1994, a season which ended with a match that we can forever abuse David ‘I like caning young boys’ Elleray for.

The 1994-95 season was Johnsen’s finest for the club in terms of personal performance. He played in 46 games, was a intrinsic part of the team that got to the semi finals of the European Cup Winners Cup and was voted player of the year.

That was to be his defining season in a Chelsea shirt, his form dropped in the 1995-96 season and by Christmas he was out of the first team. Glen Hoddle went off to manage England and worship healing hands in the summer of 1996 with Ruud Gullit appointed as his replacement. Once again Erland benefited from the appointment of a new manager as he found himself straight back into the first team. This reprieve wasn’t to last though, Erland dropped back out of the team in October and didn’t start a game again until March 1997. In that period he did make some appearances off the bench including a certain FA Cup 5th round game against Leicester where, in the dying moments, Erland mysteriously fell over in the penalty box after a long run from the half way line, Lebouef scored the penalty and we looked a little sheepish (something Gerrard was to master in future years).

erland%20johnsen%201996%204.jpg Erland’s last highlight for the Blues was being selected for the FA Cup semi final at Highbury against Wimbledon in 1997, a game we strolled 3-0 with a brace from Hughes sandwiching Franco’s memorable goal (you know, the backheel one) – sadly Erland was not to be selected for the final against Middlesbrough.

Erland joined Rosenborg at the end of that season.

The last time I saw Erland he was sitting about six rows behind me at Wembley at the 1998 League Cup final against Middlesbrough. The reception he was receiving from all the Chelsea fans around him just goes to show that you don’t need to be the best player in the world for the fans to adore you, you just need to take the club to your heart. Erland did that in spades.

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