Premier League: where is Chelsea going?

There are times when nothing goes. João Félix understood this well this week, on the occasion of his first appearance in the jersey of Chelsea. It had started rather well, but it ended with an expulsion shortly before the hour mark and then a defeat against Fulham. This is a perfect summary of the infernal season that the Blues, locked in an endless negative spiral. European champion two years ago, Chelsea has lost the thread of its history and its project in recent months. The consequence of an incomprehensible sports policy.

Big upheavals and small results

The first tremors date back to last spring, when in the context of the war between Ukraine and Russia, the Russian owner Roman Abramovich was pushed out and sold the English club to a group of investors led by the man of businessman Todd Boehly. The end of an era that began in 2003 during which Chelsea won two Champions Leagues, two Europa Leagues and five Premier League titles. A track record that did not prevent the new boss from cleaning up, notably showing the door to Marina Granovskaia, the general manager, or to Petr Čech, technical and performance advisor. Result: the London club prepared for the new season without a sports director… or sports director.

Where to start ? Perhaps by the dismissal of Thomas Tuchel at the beginning of September, after six days and a 6e position in the ranking. More than a question of results, the German technician no longer got along with his leaders, and the break was only a matter of time. The arrival of Graham Potter was to be an opportunity to relaunch a project by betting on a coach with established principles of play, but the former Brighton coach quickly lost his magic wand, leaving Chelsea to sink into the soft underbelly after a very short-lived improvement. The Blues have won just one of their last eleven games played in domestic competitions. A catastrophic record with a tenth place in the Premier League, ten units behind Big Four, and two eliminations by Manchester City in both cups. A single ray of sunshine: the Champions League, where Chelsea finished top of their group, beating Milan twice, and have an appointment in the round of 16 against Dortmund next month.

You have to understand that reviews are part of the job.

Everything has become blurry

It is true that the list of absentees against Fulham (Raheem Sterling, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Christian Pulisic, Reece James, Wesley Fofana, N’Golo Kanté and Édouard Mendy) may give Potter some excuses, but it does not explain everything. The sporting strategy of a club where we no longer understand much can be put on the table: recruits in spades, again this winter, hundreds of millions spent and choices that do not correspond to any clear guidelines in the game considered by the Blues. Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marc Cucurella, Carney Chukwuemeka and others arrived this summer; again in this month of January, the presence of Christopher Vivell as sports director having changed nothing. João Félix and Benoît Badiashile have already settled in London, and the transfer of Mykhaylo Mudryk from Shakhtar to Chelsea is imminent, according to the Ukrainian club. The simple desire to line up the millions to stack the names in a workforce far too large for a coach to work in peace has taken over any consistency.

Potter did not give up, as he explained at a press conference: “You have to understand that critics are part of the job. We have to recover from the disappointment of tonight’s (Thursday) game. We have to try to be positive and win the home game in another London derby (against Crystal Palace on Sunday). » But how long will he have? He will be the first fuse in the event of an extension of the bad series, he knows it. Above all, can he build something lasting within a hyperactive club on the transfer market? Todd Boehly will have a new choice to make in the coming days or weeks: confirm his coach by focusing on stability, for once, or dismiss him to get a technician accustomed to leading a club of this standing. A little patience, there are two weeks left at Chelsea to find new players to break the bank and, incidentally, win one or two matches.