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Chelsea’s identity crisis once again on show

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It feels like a broken record is on show again, another defeat and another day where fingers are being pointed at anyone who is affiliated with Chelsea Football Club. Manager, players, sporting directors, owners. The lot.

The reality is, it’s a mix of everything with the factor being way bigger than any ownership group and any player being at the club for a matter of months. The problem at Stamford Bridge falls on the shoulders of not being able to build on a core and Chelsea’s short term mentality whether that is squad turnover or by sacking a manager unfairly.

The response to the above statement will be ‘why sack Pochettino’ the problem isn’t necessarily Pochettino he just isn’t the long term solution which can be proven with his managerial track record in the last four and a half years.

When you think of Chelsea you think of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and even Petr Cech. That core won us every major trophy in Europe, the problem lies with not being a collective transition to keep the winning cycle going.

The transition between Cech and Courtois was one that should be applauded but when you fall into a contract dispute 6 months after winning a Premier League title there has to be a problem somewhere. Reports also suggested that Courtois’ decision to leave was sanctioned months before the club eventually gave in and we ended up replacing a Premier League winning goalkeeper for Kepa, a world record fee for a goalkeeper.

When you think of losing Didier Drogba, you instantly think of identity crisis but at the same time the club had Fernando Torres who plugged a hole along with Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o until Diego Costa’s arrival in 2014. Chelsea had the Drogba replacement but unsettling between the manager and the player caused us once again to go back into the market. We are still in that position today.

Frank Lampard still hasn’t been replaced to this day or a player hasn’t exactly got close, Chelsea didn’t scout the market to build upon Lampard’s departure. Juan Mata wasn’t part of a core but he had potential to be in the middle of one but Chelsea ended up selling him.

Attempting to replace John Terry has also been a failure and it’s 2024, similar with Ashley Cole. The closest you could say is Marcos Alonso but he was more optimised as a left wing back and then the next name is Ben Chilwell but he has been riddled with injuries to prevent him from entering a ‘teams core’ type of conversation.

Chelsea fumbled to build a core in 2014 with De Bruyne and Salah within the clubs ranks, failed to transition the core after winning the Premier League in 2017, still remain on the hunt for a striker and currently have four left backs on the books.

When you look at Manchester City as the example, they build contingency plans for every position and have got it spot on. The prime example is transitioning from Aguero to Haaland, Fernandinho to Rodri. The club albeit don’t have a successor to De Bruyne or Ederson at this current time but they have time on their side.

You look at Liverpool and they have replaced Mane with Jota, they have revamped the midfield. One year ago people were whispering an identity crisis around Liverpool but when you allow time for an identity transition nobody is saying that now. Arsenal are the prime example of being in a dormant crisis for years but it took a focal point in Arteta to overhaul a dross squad, yes it cost them money but you don’t sign players for free.

The closest the club came to building a core was under Frank Lampard in the summer of 2019 but as always money and new toys disrupt plans and all of a sudden Lampard is gone by January 2021 sitting just 5 points outside the top 4 whilst having to replicate 2019/20 but with shiny new toys.

Tuchel took over the core and eventually won the Champions League but Rudiger, James, Mount and Christensen were allowed to continue with uncertain contracts, two were entering the final 12 months. With the club hitting sanctions, once again the club fumbled to build on from a core. Lampard being sacked was the best and worst thing to happen to the club. Best for the short term, disaster for the long term.

The club has been a ticking time bomb for a very long time that has been defused several times by Eden Hazard. If it wasn’t for him Chelsea would have suffered this current fate at least 3-4 years ago but football fans and directors it seems love to kick the can down the road. You can’t run forever and in 2024 it has been left on this current squad to pick up the pieces.

Despite the current failings, Pochettino is effectively shielding the core the club want to make. The problem remains translating it onto the pitch, a core of Đorđe Petrović, Levi Colwill, Malo Gusto, Reece James, Enzo Fernández, Moises Caicedo, Cole Palmer and Carney Chukwuemeka is exciting and should be reason for optimism but the noise especially around the manager isn’t helping.

If Chelsea can see out the storm then there is light at the end of the tunnel, the moment the club rip up the above names is the minute this ownership need to be held accountable. You can’t build the club around a 39 year old centre back, an injury prone full back and a midfielder who offers very little ability technically and it’s no surprise why the club want to move those on.

Chelsea haven’t won a domestic trophy since 2018 and have become the first team to lose 3 FA Cup finals in history, none of those were under the new ownership, the problem is way bigger and that is effectively being soulless.

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