The first of many: opening scorers under new managers

From the official Chelsea FC website:

Raheem Sterling got the Graham Potter era at Stamford Bridge up and running with the first goal under our new head coach. Here’s a reminder of the players who kicked off previous tenures in style…

When there is a new man in the dug-out at any football club, there is obviously a desire to start in the best possible manner. An early goal will do nicely, ideally as part of a victory, although that is not always to be.

For the players representing their new coach, the scenario is very much the same – what better way to impress than by being the first to hit the back of the net and giving him that dream start?

Sterling had that honour under Potter on Wednesday night, but can you remember who did under other Chelsea managers? Fear not – we have looked back through the Premier League era to find out the first goalscorer under each one.

Back in 1993, the Blues became the first side in the rebranded top flight to change our manager, as Ian Porterfield was sacked and replaced with club legend David Webb. Although the hero of our 1970 FA Cup win had to wait until deep into his second match to get off the mark, it was certainly worth it, as Academy graduate Graham Stuart scored a late winner against Arsenal.

A few months later there was another change in the dug-out, when Glenn Hoddle came in to kickstart the Chelsea revolution – albeit a rather slow process, despite Gavin Peacock scoring on his and the manager’s debut in a defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

By the time Ruud Gullit took the reins from Hoddle three years later, the Blues, and indeed the English football landscape, had changed dramatically. This was the era of Cool Britannia and sexy football, so what better way to mark this new period in the club’s history than by Roberto Di Matteo firing in a late winner against Middlesbrough and pulling out one of the most iconic celebrations ever seen at Stamford Bridge!

Mark Hughes had the honour of beginning Gianluca Vialli’s tenure in style, as he scored in a League Cup semi-final win over Arsenal on a famous night that began with the players sipping champagne in the dressing room prior to the game.

There cannot have been many better opening goals to a new manager’s start than the one Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink belted in at Old Trafford for Claudio Ranieri’s debut in the dug-out, which came in a thrilling 3-3 draw in September 2000. It is also the shortest time a new coach has had to wait for a first goal, timed at just eight minutes.

Any excuse to watch this unbelievable strike from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink again! What a hit from the Dutchman v Man United – surely one of our greatest Premier League goals?

The contrast with the scrappy effort scored by Jimmy’s old strike partner Eidur Gudjohnsen against Manchester United in Jose Mourinho’s first game in charge of the Blues was marked, although at least this came in a victory. And we all know how the 2004/05 campaign ended…

After Jose’s shock departure in the autumn of 2007, Avram Grant was the new man in charge, but he could not make it a hat-trick of Manchester United openers as his side fell to defeat in his first game at Old Trafford. Instead, it was left to Scott Sinclair to begin the Grant spell with a goal, as he fired us in front against Hull City in a League Cup tie.

Joe Cole ensured it was a first game to remember for Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2008 as he fired us ahead early on against Portsmouth in a 4-0 victory that, alas, was not a sign of things to come under the Brazilian. He was replaced mid-season by Guus Hiddink, who began with a win at Villa Park courtesy of Nicolas Anelka.

Not many managers have started their Chelsea career at Wembley Stadium, but that privilege awaited Carlo Ancelotti ahead of the 2009/10 season, which of course ended at the ground with the Blues claiming the FA Cup as part of our first-ever Double. His time also began with a win, with Ricardo Carvalho opening the scoring in the Community Shield against Manchester United.

Anelka became the first Blue to score the opener for two different managers when he broke our duck under Andre Villas-Boas against West Brom in 2011, although just over a year later another player had joined him in the two-goal club.

Juan Mata helped us to an FA Cup win at Birmingham City under Roberto Di Matteo, before netting Rafa Benitez’s first Chelsea goal in a defeat at West Ham later in the year. Benitez had to wait longer for his first goal than any other Blues manager in the Premier League era, as it came 13 minutes into his third game at the helm.

Mourinho’s memorable return to west London in 2013 was swiftly marked by a goal by Oscar in a win over Hull City; Hiddink’s not-so-memorable second spell with the club, two-and-a-bit years later, began with Diego Costa scoring in a draw with Watford on Boxing Day. Merry Christmas indeed…

Two Italians began trophy-winning tenures with victories. The first, for Antonio Conte, came against West Ham United, when Eden Hazard’s penalty early in the second half put us in front, while Maurizio Sarri’s first goal two years later was courtesy of the rather-less-likely source of N’Golo Kante at Huddersfield Town.

Frank Lampard returned to Chelsea in 2019, five years after playing his last game for the Blues, and while everyone remembers Mason Mount’s goal in his homecoming against Leicester City, our account under the legendary No.8 had been opened in midweek when Olivier Giroud netted against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup.

At the start of 2021 it was the turn of Thomas Tuchel to take the reins at the Bridge, and after overseeing a 0-0 draw against Wolves, the German witnessed his first goal a few days later when we beat Burnley. Cesar Azpilicueta was the man to score it, leading by example as always…





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