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What’s Happening at Chelsea?

March 14, 2023
byTJ992 views

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Chelsea has become a football club synonymous with success. They are one of the supernovas of European football after Roman Abramovich transformed the club into a juggernaut with players that let them win titles left, right and center.

However, a period of uncertainty overshadowed the club. Abramovich had to vacate his seat as Chelsea owner due to off-pitch issues and sold the club to American venture capitalists. The team’s new owners promised its legions of supporters the club would remain dominant in the Premier League.

However, they sit way outside of the Premier League’s top four. While they have one of the most talented squads in England, they’re struggling to put together consistent performances to keep them in contention for the league’s summit.

This OKBET Sports piece will detail the sale that changed Chelsea’s course, their current struggles, and what the future could look like for the Blues.

The Sale That Transformed Chelsea

It’s hard to say if Chelsea wouldn’t have been in the same situation if the Abramovich family still took charge of the club. However, It was clear from the outset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that he wouldn’t be able to hold onto the club he had nurtured for almost two decades.

The Premier League froze Abramovich’s control over the club due to his connections with Vladimir Putin. He decided to sell the club soon after the sanctions hit to protect the club from going under.

Investors started lining up the moment Abramovich announced the sale of his club. Sir Jim Ratcliffe was among the large number of people that were interested in acquiring the club. Other buyers included the Ricketts family, Woody Johnson, and the Saudi Media Corporation.

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However, a consortium led by Todd Boehly, Hansjorg Wyss, and Jonathan Goldstein won the bid for the storied club. The final price tag for the London club was a staggering £4.25 billion.

There was plenty of uncertainty following that sale. After all, taking over a club where the previous owner ushered one of the club’s most successful periods is challenging. Boehly and company promised that the club would stay on its winning ways.

Boehly’s First Transfers

The club’s new owners immediately got into acquiring new talents. Aside from bolstering the squad, this transfer window was their first opportunity to make a statement.

And made one they did. The club spent €611 million in the summer window alone to acquire new players.

One of the reasons for the hefty bill they shouldered is their chase for Premier League talents. Leicester’s Wesley Fofana was their biggest summer purchase, costing them €80.4 million. 

Brighton’s Marc Cucurella and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling also made the switch to Stamford Bridge. The right back was sold to them for €65.3 million, while the winger was shipped off for a cool €56.2 million. 

The Blues’ other signings included Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Tuchel’s Departure

The early days of the Boehly era were interesting for Thomas Tuchel. The manager was hired during the Abramovich era and has been a great presence in the Chelsea locker room. He helped the Blues win the Champions League during his stay with the club.

However, tensions quickly flared up as there was a noticeable discord between Tuchel and the Chelsea board. The German’s professional relationships in the club quickly disintegrated as they started the season on the wrong foot.

Tuchel’s reign as Chelsea manager ended when the club lost 1-0 to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League group stage. His one-and-a-half-year stint with the London club saw him win 60 of the 100 games he managed.

In Comes Potter

The board replaced Tuchel with Brighton boss Graham Potter. He may not be a household name for casual soccer fans, but he’s built an impressive resume that allowed him to land such a prestigious job.

Potter toiled his way to the top of the footballing pyramid. His first significant managerial position was at Ostersunds. He helped the Swedish club reach the top flight within five years of managing the side.

The English footballing public first became familiar with him after leading Ostersunds past Arsenal at the Emirates in the 2017-18 Champions League.

His feats in Sweden were noticed back home. Swansea, a club relegated from the Premier League in 2018, decided to give the former York City player a try. He immediately made his impact felt on the pitch as the Swans finished tenth in the Championship.

It didn’t take long for another club to want his talents. Brighton immediately swooped him up after firing Chris Hughton. True to his incredible rise, the Seagulls immediately felt positive changes in their play.

They played solid football under Potter and made great runs in the FA and League Cups. More impressively, they managed to maintain their status as a Premier League side despite the countless players that came and went through their doors.

Potter’s Rough Start at Stamford Bridge

The Potter Effect had an immediate boost on Chelsea’s style of play. While the Blues started the Potter era with a 1-1 Champions League draw to Salzburg, they immediately bounced back with five consecutive wins in domestic and international competitions. 

One of the biggest highlights of the stretch was a 3-0 drubbing they caused on defending Serie A champions AC Milan.

Their good form continued until the end of October, as cracks began showing in Potter’s tactics. They suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to Potter’s former club. 

After the Brighton game, the Blues would face a series of tough contests against Arsenal, Manchester City, and Newcastle. Fans expected Potter’s Blues to bounce back after such a defeat.

Unfortunately, Potter’s men stumbled in all three games. Their 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Gunners was excruciating as it happened in front of their home fans.

The rough patch stretched until after the World Cup. While they won their first post-World Cup Premier League game against Bournemouth, they’ve struggled for form. Their 4-0 humiliation against the Sky Blues was a particularly low point for Chelsea fans.

They’ve put together better performances recently, with their Champions League against Borussia Dortmund a spectacular high. They also made January signings, with Mykhaylo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez their most expensive purchases.

However, it doesn’t erase the bitterness of their current situation in the league. If this keeps up, Potter’s job security will be at risk.

Why Is Chelsea Struggling?

There are different reasons why the Blues struggle to put together a strong Premier League campaign. While some of the reasons lie with Potter, putting all the blame on his shoulders would be unfair.

The first part of the problem lies with their personnel. They lost Antonio Rudiger, Timo Werner, Marcos Alonso, and Andreas Christensen were enormous losses for the club. The club completed a lot of signings in the summer, but many of their acquisitions failed to work out.

The team’s size is also having an impact on Potter’s training regimen. The 31-man first-team squad became too large that the team’s head coach struggled to run his training sessions.

Potter also contributed to the issue. While the Blues don’t have the strongest squad in the league, they have enough quality on their bench. They should be able to at least compete at the summit. Potter’s failure to maximize his squad’s strengths is worth criticizing.

Finally, injuries affected how the team’s on-field prowess. Plenty of their first-team players had to spend time on the bench for various reasons. The inability to play full-strength sides affected both Tuchel and Potter.

Can Chelsea Bounce Back?

There have been calls to replace Potter once the current campaign is over. The Premier League is results-oriented, so an underperforming manager can quickly get the boot.

However, Mikel Arteta proved that any great head coach could thrive if given enough time to create their ideal squad. The squad Potter inherited isn’t exactly suited for his style of play, and it will probably take an entire summer before he can find what works for his tactics.

Chelsea should give Potter a full year in charge if it wants to be sustainable. His track record shows that he can win with enough preparation. Giving him a summer to find his ideal players will allow the Blues to return to their winning ways under Abramovich.

Of course, they can also try buying their way out of trouble.

Read more: Is the PBA Still Relevant?

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