The date was May 29, 2021, and Chelsea Football Club had one of the biggest triumphs in their history. The Blues faced Premier League rivals Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League Final in Porto, Portugal. Man City were the favourites to lift the trophy but Chelsea proved their doubters wrong.
It was a masterclass of a defensive performance. Man City only managed one shot on target despite 67% possession. Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen (who came on for an injured Thiago Silva in the first half) were immense in their centre-back roles making excellent tackles and blocks. Wingbacks Ben Chilwell and Reece James controlled the flanks and of course, N’Golo Kante delivered the best of his many masterclasses in the midfield.
Pep Guardiola’s side couldn’t figure out how to breach Chelsea’s defence and midfield. The legendary Spanish manager was outclassed for a third time that season by Thomas Tuchel. The German took over from Frank Lampard just five months earlier.
Mason Mount’s through ball found Kai Havertz in a huge amount of space in the 42nd minute. Man City goalkeeper Ederson decided to charge for the ball but that was a fatal decision. The young German got around the Brazilian keeper and slotted the ball into the wide-open cage causing euphoria from Chelsea fans in Porto, London and all over the world. Havertz’s goal ended up being the only goal of the game and he cemented his place in Chelsea history.
The players and coaching staff were all lined up with their medals and many kissed the trophy on their way to the podium as Everlasting from Two Steps from Hell played on the speakers of the Estádio do Dragão. The last three in line were Havertz, (the goal scorer) Mount (the one who got the assist) and Azpilicueta, the captain. The skipper took the trophy, kissed it, grinned and leaped as he lifted it in the air.
Chelsea were the Champions Of Europe. They cemented their place as the kings of Europe, the best club in the world and immortalized themselves in UEFA’s history with their second Champions League title. That was the first one since the miracle in Munich in 2012.
Peter Drury, known for being a poet of the game, called the game on CBS put it best:
“In the face of obstacles, never before encountered, a moment of triumphant arrival. A moment of blue utopian fulfillment, for the second time in their stylish storied history, 2021 the champions of Europe are Chelsea.”
The players, staff and the fans partied into the night. They basked in the glory as Chelsea were the best club in the world.
As I write this, the date is February 5, 2023. Chelsea played the day before and lost 4-2 to Wolverhampton Wanderers at home. They currently sit 11th in the Premier League table and did not qualify for the Champions League or any other European competition since they finished 12th the season before. Only three members of the 2021 Champions League winning team remain: Chilwell, James and Silva. Instead of cheers, it was boos and chants of “We’re f**king s**t” by the Stamford Bridge faithful.
Imagine going into a coma and waking up now. How in the world did Chelsea go from Champions League winners to a mid-table club in under three years?
Do you want the short answer or the long one? Obviously, the latter since you clicked on this article. Buckle up folks, it’s going to be a very bumpy ride.
But first, let’s look back at the Chelsea you and I and many others have come to know.
The Roman Empire
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea for £140m in 2003 from Ken Bates. It was fair to say that under him, Chelsea achieved instant success.
Under “the Roman Empire” as many fans called it, Chelsea won 21 trophies. That is five Premier Leagues, five FA Cups, three English League Cups, two UEFA Champions Leagues, two Europa Leagues, one UEFA Super Cup, one Club World Cup and two FA Community Shields. They won more trophies than any other during Abramovich’s reign.
Abramovich was often criticized for his big spending and many rivals fans were jealous of Chelsea’s instant success since he took over. The standards were high at Chelsea and Abramovich set them. He was ruthless not because of revenue but because he wanted wins. He was obsessed with Chelsea winning and was not afraid to fire managers when they weren’t winning.
In a 2021 interview (Abramovich rarely did interviews and this was his first in over a decade) with Forbes, Abramovich talked about his ambitious nature.
“First of all, when you say something, you have to always follow through,” he said. “I guess, that is especially if you’re a person who doesn’t say much. So, what you say is very important. Second, football is society. Football is part of society and society is part of football. So, it’s the natural state of things for football to be involved, to support the community, and to be present in the community.”
“The ambitions are as true now as they were when I first became owner and I hope that can be seen through the work we have been doing on and off the pitch over the last 17 years.”
Chelsea became a big name in the world of sports. They had world-class players such as Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, John Terry, Petr Cech, Eden Hazard and Kante. They also had many high-profile managers such as Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte and Tuchel.
Chelsea gained fans all over the world including the US, Canada, (They captured the heart of a certain 11-year-old boy from Vancouver in 2011) India, China and many parts of Africa such as the Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
Abramovich also oversaw the building of the state-of-the-art training centre at Cobham and the establishment of strong women’s teams and youth teams. In short, Chelsea were the club many other clubs wanted to be. They were the standard.
But unfortunately, it couldn’t last forever
War in Ukraine and a Yank takes over
On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In the coming days and weeks, even the soccer world was affected which included Russia being banned from international competitions.
On March 2, Abramovich announced he would sell Chelsea due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But on March 10, the British government froze the assets of Abramovich and other Russian oligarchs. That included Chelsea.
Chelsea were sanctioned. While they could still play competitive soccer, Chelsea could not sell (single-match) tickets, accept event bookings and sign contracts with players. The official Chelsea store at Stamford Bridge was also closed.
Well, that was until Abramovich sold the club. There were many interested including the Ricketts Family,(Chicago Cubs owners) British billionaires Nick Candy and Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the Korean company C&T Sports.
Eventually, the club was bought by American billionaire Todd Boehly who led a consortium with Mark Walter, Hansjörg Wyss and Clearlake Capital. Clearlake Capital is a private equity firm based in Santa Monica.
Boehly is the founder and CEO of Eldridge Industries, a holding company based out of Greenwich, Connecticut. The American businessman also had experience in owning pro sports teams. He is also a minor owner of the MLB’s Los Angeles Sparks (20% stake) and WNBA’s LA Sparks. He also has a 27% stake in the NBA’s LA Lakers.
Boehly originally wanted to buy Chelsea from Abramovich for three billion pounds in 2019 but his bid was rejected. The sale was confirmed on May 6, 2022. It is important to note that, Abramovich gained nothing from the sale as the funds were frozen in a UK bank account in which Abramovich intended to donate to Ukranian war victims. (which still hasn’t happened at the time of this writing.)
At the time, it was the biggest sale of a sports team in history at roughly 5.2 billion US Dollars. It has since been passed by Dan Snyder’s sale of the NFL’s Washington Commanders to Josh Harris for 6.5 billion US dollars in April of 2023.
Some Chelsea fans were skeptical of their club being owned by an American. That was understandable. The Glazer family has made Manchester United shells of their former selves and Stan Kroenke seemingly forgot he owned Arsenal. (Well, until now.)
But many were excited. Boehly bought his stake in the Dodgers in 2012 and they have since become one of the MLB’s elites. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 2012 and won the World Series in 2020. They have also been known for bringing in high-profile players such as Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and now Shohei Ohtani. Chelsea fans were excited at the fact that Boehly had a hunger for winning and that could mean more trophies would be on the horizon.
“We are honoured to become the new custodians of Chelsea Football Club,” said Boehly in a statement after the takeover was complete. “We’re all in – 100 percent – every minute of every match. Our vision as owners is clear: we want to make the fans proud. Along with our commitment to developing the youth squad and acquiring the best talent, our plan of action is to invest in the club for the long term and build on Chelsea’s remarkable history of success.”
As you read this article, keep that last sentence in mind. Boehly was all in. It turns out, he was all in and he was going all in his way. Boehly named himself chairman and interim sporting director after he got the keys from Abramovich,
“Along with our commitment to developing the youth squad and acquiring the best talent, our plan of action is to invest in the club for the long term and build on Chelsea’s remarkable history of success
The firing of Thomas Tuchel and the rocky managerial carousel
Tuchel was loved by Chelsea fans, especially during the sanctions. He answered every question the best he could and he made sure he would do anything for the club and the fans during the sanctions. The sanctions even limited the club’s travel budget and Tuchel was willing to drive the team bus to to Lille for their Champions League round of 16 match.
However, Tuchel has been known for being very demanding. That is not just of his team but the board and ownership. He has butted heads with executives at his two previous clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Paris St-Germain which eventually lead to his dismissal.
Tuchel did not speak to Abramovich much and first met him after the 2021 Champions League Final. However, he did have a good relationship with the board which included Chairman Bruce Buck, Sporting Director Marina Granovskaia and Cech, the former Chelsea goalkeeper turned technical and performance advisor. All three of them left the club after Boehly and Clearlake Capital’s takeover.
Tuchel made it clear that he wanted certain players (he got some of them and more on them later) and wanted certain players to leave. He and Boehly clashed over transfers, especially since it was reported that Boehly wanted to sign superstar Cristiano Ronaldo but Tuchel refused. Tuchel wanted to build his own team but so did Boehly.
It didn’t help that Chelsea struggled out of the gate of the 2022-23 season. They had three wins, a draw and two losses. One of those was a 3-0 away defeat to historical rivals Leeds United. But the 1-0 away loss to Dynamo Zagreb in the first group stage game of the Champions League was the final straw. (Which was also Tuchel’s 100th match in charge of Chelsea)
A day after the loss in Zagreb, Tuchel was sacked after just seven games in all competitions. The news shocked and saddened Chelsea fans and was a huge shock across the soccer world. While Tuchel was under pressure, no one thought he would be sacked in early September.
It was revealed in a report by ESPN that Boehly and co-owner (one of the founders of Eldritch) Behdad Eghbali set themselves a 100-day review of Chelsea’s operations. After it was up, they gave Tuchel the pink slip. ESPN also revealed that Tuchel was not happy with the transfer policy. Boehly and Eghbali wanted to sign players for the long-term future (They signed 18-year-old midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa and 18-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina from Chicago Fire of MLS) while Tuchel wanted immediate help. (Hence the deadline day signing of 33-year-old striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona.)
Tuchel got freedom and less oversight from Abramovich but under Boehly and Eghbali, he was always under the microscope and was often forced to comply with their decisions. The new ownership liked to use data to influence decisions
It also didn’t help that Tuchel’s relationship with certain players such as Timo Werner (who left to go back to RB Leipzig that summer) and Hakim Ziyech deteriorated. Boehly was often in the dressing room and the linked ESPN article above reports he saw players feeling alienated.
Tuchel was sacked in a meeting that was very quick as he revealed last March.
“I felt it, strangely enough, in the morning when I drove to the training centre that the meeting we would have would be an unusual meeting, and it was a short meeting,” he said before his first game with Bayern Munich in March. ” It was three to five minutes. I was also not in the mood to talk longer to the decision-makers, I have to say.”
So who did Boehly bring in to replace Tuchel? Graham Potter.
Potter was one of soccer’s up-and-coming managers. He was seen as a future world-class manager and a future England national team manager.
Potter was known for being “progressive,” and “unconventional” when it came to tactics. He often tinkered with different formations and had his players move around a lot on the pitch in a free-flowing attacking style of soccer.
The former left-back first made a name for himself managing Östersund in Sweden. When he took over in January 2011, they were in the fourth tier of the Swedish soccer pyramid. During his seven years there, he guided Östersund from the fourth tier to the Allsvenskan. (He got them to the top tier in 2015) Potter also won the Svenska Cupen in 2017 and guided Östersund to a place in the 2017-18 Europa League. They were eliminated in the group stage on goal differential but they put the soccer world on notice with wins over Galatasaray and Arsenal.
Potter went back to England and was named manager of Championship side Swansea City in 2018. After one season and a 10th-place finish, Potter left to become the manager of Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League.
In his first two seasons at Brighton, the Seagulls finished 15th and 16th. But in his third, Potter guided them to a ninth-place finish which was the highest in their club’s history. Potter had Brighton playing attractive soccer and saw them beat Manchester United 4-0, (at home) Arsenal 2-1, Tottenham 1-0 (both on the road) and getting draws against Liverpool and Chelsea.
Boehly saw Chelsea as a long-term project and Potter was a project manager, so he was perfect. What made things better was that Potter wasn’t as demanding as Tuchel so he would have full control over transfers. So Boehly snatched Potter from Brighton and Potter took many of his coaching staff with him.
“I want a tactically flexible, attacking, possession-based team,” said Potter after being named Chelsea manager. “Players that are brave, that aren’t afraid to make mistakes. (Players) That can get on the ball and show courage and really try to enjoy their football. If the players are enjoying their football, there’s a chance that the supporters will enjoy it as well. That’s how you grow and develop as a club. Styles of play don’t make you win games. The challenge is having players believe in it and how it works.”
Potter started well with Chelsea as they got three straight wins and two draws in Premier League play and topped their Champions League group. But a 4-1 loss to Potter’s former team Brighton in late October was the beginning of Potter’s end. Chelsea lost a lot of games in the Premier League and were bounced out of the League Cup and FA Cup by Manchester City.
There were some ugly losses including a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton who were in last place. Potter kept tinkering with formations and lineups. He would make questionable substitutions and the soccer had no identity. There was no attack-minded, free-flowing system under Potter. Instead, Chelsea were a disjointed mess.
On April 2, a few days after a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa at home, Potter was sacked. He was in charge for just eight months. Chelsea paid Brighton 22 million pounds for Potter which was the biggest fee ever for a manager. When Chelsea sacked Potter, he was given a 50 million pound severance fee. Potter went 12-8-11 in his time as Chelsea’s manager with a 39% win percentage. It is the second lowest by a Chelsea manager since Glenn Hoddle. So unlike Harry Potter, Graham wasn’t magical. In fact, Graham probably would’ve failed as a Quidditch coach too.
Bruno Saltor was named interim manager. He was one of the assistant coaches that joined Potter from Brighton. Bruno, as he is known, managed Chelsea’s 0-0 home draw against Liverpool but was reluctant to take on the role.
So Boehly brought back a name Chelsea fans adored. That was Frank Lampard. He returned to Stamford Bridge as interim manager. “Super Frank” is Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer and their greatest player ever. He managed the club permanently from July 2019 to January 2021. He also managed Everton from January 2022 to January 2023. Everton were in the relegation zone when they sacked Lampard.
What could go wrong? After all, Lampard knew the club and many of the players. He failed at Everton but the expectations were low at Chelsea. It couldn’t get worse, right?
It did. Lampard just won one out of 11 games as interim manager. Chelsea looked terrible. They were lacking in attack, midfield and defence and were outplayed pretty much every game. Like Potter, Lampard’s tactics were confusing and had zero identity. His lineups and substitutions were just as questionable. (That included playing winger Raheem Sterling as a false nine and midfielders Conor Gallagher and Kante on the wings against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals second leg.)
Lampard provides more proof that great players don’t always become great managers.
After a search that took almost two months, Chelsea hired Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager. The Argentinian brought experience having coached Espanyol, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and PSG. Pochettino was also known for mentoring and coaching young players, especially during his time at Tottenham. Chelsea had a lot of youth so Pochettino was perfect for the project.
There was skepticism from the fans. While Pochettino is a good man manager and develops youth, his teams have been known for losing big games and his style at PSG was very dull. Nonetheless, the fans welcomed Pochettino, especially after his first interview.
“I think it’s important and it’s a culture of winning,” said Pochettino on Chelsea’s culture. ” In the last 10, 12, 15 years, Chelsea is the greatest team in England. I know very well the Premier League and what the culture of Chelsea means. I think our fans are excited to again be on the road to trying to win. Of course, we are excited. We are excited to work with a very young team, with a different approach than in the past. But I think we all need to understand that we have to work really hard and create a very good atmosphere at the training ground to build success for the team in the next few years.”
Pochettino and Chelsea impressed in preseason and on opening day which was a 1-1 draw against Liverpool. Surely, things were looking up for Chelsea and Pochettino would be the one to get them back to prominence. Right?
Unfortunately, things have gotten worse. There were ugly losses against West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool and most recently, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Pochettino’s Chelsea looks worse than Potter and Lampard’s Chelsea. The team has no cohesion, identity or structure. Players are being played out of position, (like Chilwell at left wing or Levi Colwill at left-back) being misused and Pochettino would contradict himself in press conferences.
Chelsea fans are fed up. Instead of improvement under Pochettino, Chelsea have sunk like the Titanic. Every loss feels worse than the last one. #PochOut has been trending on Twitter as the fans have been calling for his firing for months.
There have been four managers under Boehly in two years. (Bruno doesn’t count) The three after Tuchel have been huge disappointments.
Bruno Saltor, one of Chelsea’s assistant managers (who joined Potter from Brighton)
Spending like there is no tomorrow
As much as there is a lot to blame on the managers, Boehly and the ownership group are not getting off scot-free.
As mentioned above, Boehly and his consortium saw Chelsea as a project and wanted to build the club his way. That was signing players with potential.
But Tuchel, being demanding, wanted proven players. The first signing of the Boehly era was Raheem Sterling. The English winger signed from Manchester City for 47.5 million pounds. Sterling was a signing that made sense. He was a proven player who scored 154 goals with Man City and Liverpool and won the Premier League four times. Sterling was also a regular for the England national team and was 27 at the time of his signing for Chelsea. This was a proven winner in his prime.
But Sterling has been a disappointment, scoring only 11 goals in all competitions for Chelsea. He has had his moments but he does not look like the same player he was at Man City. Sterling has been known for running like a T-rex, changing hairstyles and running into defenders instead of scoring and assisting at Chelsea.
Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly was Boehly’s second signing. He was bought from Napoli for 33.8 million pounds. The 31-year-old had been one the best defenders in Europe. He brought crisp passing, high soccer IQ and physicality. Unfortunately, Koulibaly was on a rapid decline and looked like a shadow of his former self. He was sold to Al Hilal of the Saudi Pro League last summer.
Chelsea signed Marc Cucurella from Brighton for 62 million pounds that summer. The Spaniard became the world’s most expensive left-back having impressed under Potter in his one season at Brighton. But Cucurella looked very poor defensively in his first season at Chelsea and has missed most of this season due to an ankle injury.
Wesley Fofana was signed for 72 million pounds from Leicester City. Fofana grew up a Chelsea fan and was excited to sign for his “dream club.” But the 22-year-old French centre-back has been plagued by knee and ACL injuries and has only played 20 games for Chelsea.
Chukwuemeka, Slonina and Aubameyang also made up Chelsea’s summer 2022 window. After Tuchel was sacked, Boehly took action.
He hired Paul Winstanley in November 2022 and Laurence Stewart in February 2023 as co-sporting directors. Winstanley was previously head of scouting at Brighton and Stewart was previously sporting director and later technical director at AS Monaco. Both clubs were known for signing youth players and Winstanley and Stewart were big parts of that.
It was January of 2023, that Boehly went all in. Chelsea ended up signing eight players and all but one were under 23.
That included 21-year-old Benoit Badiashile from AS Monaco for 35 million pounds. He started well but has struggled in the last month. Former Tottenham academy product Noni Madueke was signed for 29 million pounds from PSV and he has had ups and downs since joining. There was also 20-year-old right-back Malo Gusto who signed from Lyon for 26.3 million dollar pounds. He has been a decent backup for Reece James but is still a work in progress.
João Félix was signed on a six-month loan for a 9.7 million pound fee from Atletico Madrid. He was disappointing and was not brought back. Chelsea hijacked Arsenal and signed Ukrainian wonderkid Mykhaylo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk for 62 million pounds which could be as high as 100 million due to add-ons.
Mudryk looked like he could be a world-class winger one day. He had a lot of speed and skill but his decision-making and shooting have been concerning. Mudyrk has not lived up to expectations so far despite showing flashes
On deadline day, Boehly signed his crown jewel. That was Enzo Fernandez. The Argentinian midfielder won Best Young Player at the 2022 World Cup and helped his country win the tournament. Fernandez was only at Benfica for six months but reportedly forced a move to Chelsea. He ended up signing for 105 million pounds, a British transfer record. Fernandez has not justified his transfer fee yet but has shown he can be Chelsea’s player of the future.
With all these signings, the squad was bloated. There were so many players training at Cobham and some of them reportedly had no seats in the dressing room and had to change on the floor.
But Boehly was like an LA girl with her rich father’s credit card on Rodeo Drive. He wanted to spend more money. However, there was the danger of Financial Fair Play rules and the club would’ve faced severe consequences.
In the summer of 2023. Chelsea had a massive squad clear out. Kante left on a free and joined Al Ittihad of the Saudi Pro League. Azpilicueta joined Atletico Madrid on a free and gave an emotional goodbye message. He left Chelsea are 11 years. Aubameyang’s contract was terminated and he signed for Olympique Marseille.
The club sold Koulbaly to Al Hilal, Mount to Manchester United for 50 million pounds, Havertz to Arsenal for 60 million pounds, midfielder Mateo Kovacic to Man City for 25 million pounds, winger Christian Pulisic to AC Milan for about 18 million pounds and many others.
Boehly got the books balanced and he, Winstanley and Stewart continued to build their squad.
Bundesliga Golden Boot winner Christopher Nkunku was technically a done deal in October of 2022. But a 52 million pound transfer was confirmed in July. The Blues signed young Senegalese striker Nicolas Jackson for 32 million pounds, Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez for 25 million, AS Monaco defender Axel Disasi for 39 million pounds, 20-year-old Manchester City winger Cole Palmer for 40 million pounds and 19-year-old midfielder Romeo Lavia for 39 million pounds. There were a few others but these were the highlights.
The biggest was Moises Caicedo. The 21-year-old established himself as one of the Premier League’s best young midfielders and was only going to get better. Chelsea wanted him. They needed a successor for Kante. After taking almost the whole summer and a hijacking attempt by Liverpool, Chelsea signed Caicedo for 100 million pounds plus an extra 15 million in add-ons and bonuses. So technically, Chelsea broke the British transfer record again.
It’s safe to say Palmer has been the best out of the signings from the last window and out of all of Boehly’s signings. The rest have been underwhelming, injured or still a work in progress.
Chelsea has spent over a billion pounds under Boehly. That is more than most soccer clubs around the world and the GDP of some countries.
There is an old saying: Money does not buy happiness. It can but not always. Money also does not always buy wins.
Chelsea Football Club: An expensive and chaotic dumpster fire
So nearly two years into Boehly’s reign, the club is much worse than when he bought it from Abramovich.
Chelsea has fallen from a winning organization to the laughing stock of the soccer world. The players have been problematic and so have the managers. The ownership group has been as well and it starts with them. However, the problems at Chelsea lie not just from one area but from top to bottom.
The club is in disarray. If they were to sack Pochettino, they would be in danger with FFP. This time, it would be harder to sell players. Boehly and his crew have given many of them long-term contracts. For example, Mudryk and Fernandez were signed to eight-year contracts. Also, would many players underperforming, (e.g. Conor Gallagher) their values would be lower.
Alex Goldberg host of The Byline Podcast has reported that Pochettino knows his time at Chelsea is nearing the end and has been described as a “dead man walking.” Goldberg also reported that Pochettino has not enjoyed his time at Chelsea and has not liked working with specific people and the relationship has been “not good.”
Goldberg also reports that training has been described as a s**t show and many of the players don’t like the feedback given by performance analysts and they have reduced their analysis packages.
The culture of the club has changed. In the past, Chelsea was a team of proven players except a few youngsters. Now they are a team mainly made up of kids.
In EA Sports FC (formerly FIFA) and Football Manager, having a team of youth players is a fine strategy. Your team can be good one day. But real life isn’t a video game and Chelsea has always been a team that focused on the short term rather than the long term. A youth movement works at smaller clubs but not a club like Chelsea. They have become the prime example of how not to recruit. Buying mostly youth players has been a disaster. The team lacks experience and chemistry. Yes, the manager hasn’t helped them gel but the club has way too many kids.
“Trust the process” has been the rallying cry. But it is hard to trust a process when there isn’t one. Boehly’s long-term project has failed like the Dark Universe from Universal Studios. If the team keeps losing games and is mid-table, where is the process? Spending millions on kids and seeing which ones hit their potential? It’s a fatal transfer policy.
I do think Boehly and Clearlake Capital’s hearts are in the right place but their mind isn’t. The owners of sports teams rarely go into dressing rooms but Boehly has reportedly gone into the dressing room to chew out players.
American sports franchises rebuild by drafting and developing young players and play poorly (AKA tanking) in the short term so the long term will be great. But soccer is different. Rebuilds should take a year or two at most, not more than that. With no draft and tanking possible, there needs to be wins even during a rebuild. Mikel Arteta won an FA Cup with Arsenal during their transition period and despite eighth and fifth-place finishes, they showed promise and looked competitive. The same goes with Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp’s first couple of seasons. They were in a transition period and they finished eighth and fourth but they were competitive. In soccer, during a transition period or rebuild, being competitive is key.
Boehly is trying to run Chelsea like an American franchise but it is not working. The standards have fallen. The bar is at the earth’s crust. It seems like being mid-table is acceptable now when it shouldn’t be.
“Blue is the colour, football is the game, we’re all together and winning is our aim because Chelsea, Chelsea is our name” is how the first line of Chelsea’s anthem goes. The last part strongly emphasizes what Chelsea should be about, not mediocrity.
It is shocking to see what has happened to Chelsea less than three years after winning the Champions League. Though it is great if you are a rival fan.
The club’s identity has been stripped away. Instead of a well-oiled machine, Chelsea has become an expensive wreck and it will be hard to fix.
Sacking Pochettino would help but it wouldn’t fix everything. But it would be the start of steering the ship. Chelsea will play Liverpool in the English League Cup Final on February 25 and that would save Pochettino’s job and give fans a bit of hope. But Chelsea are huge underdog for the final.
There was no reason for Chelsea to become a long-term project when Boehly took over. The club won the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup and went to the League Cup and FA Cup final losing to Liverpool on penalties both times. They needed a few pieces and a few outgoings to reach the level of Manchester City and Liverpool, not a ton.
But Boehly and his crew decided to blow it up and do their things way with their youth project. Cue Mike Ehrmantraut’s “We had a good thing” speech from Breaking Bad. It sums it all up.
One billion pounds spent and the club has become worse. Clubs such as Brighton, Aston Villa and Newcastle have surpassed them. The Roman Empire seems like a distant memory.
The era of Boehly and Clearlake Capital has been nothing short of chaotic and full of turmoil. Chelsea’s banter era is in full swing and shows no signs of ending. The decision-making from Boehly, Winstanley, Stewart and also Pochettino have been horrific. The project isn’t working and ownership cannot accept this new reality and must do whatever they can to make Chelsea great again.
Drogba put it best when asked about Chelsea in an interview with Canal Plus last April: “I no longer recognize my club.” Honestly, neither do I and Chelsea fans everywhere.