In what began as a season in which Chelsea would consolidate its return as ‘thee big club’ in England as they did during Mourinho’s first regime as Chelsea boss, the blues now sit in ten place and any hope of playing in Europe next season is lost after a calamitous week which has seen the blues dumped out of the champions league by psg and then the F.A Cup two days later by Everton.
The Gist answers what went wrong for the blues……..
The Eva Caneiro incident
The first signs of Chelsea’s demise surfaced after an unconvincing 2 all draw against Swansea city on the first day the season, the match was also famous for former boss Jose Mourinho’s touchline row with the then medic, Eva Caneiro. The matter was heavily mismanaged and led to the resignation of Ms. Caneiro, the incident sent shockwaves through the squad as to why Mourinho had faulted the medic for doing her job and for caring for one of his players. The next high profile incidents included public criticism of members of his squad after a string of poor performances which saw Chelsea sit only three points above the relegation zone and Mourinho substituting long serving captain John Terry for the first time at half time against Manchester City and in the second half in their loss to Leicester City which proved to be the curtain call on the ‘special one’s’ second stint as Chelsea manager.
Failure to strengthen the squad
A summer of failed transfer bids for high profile targets was the starting point of Chelsea demise. As previously seen by clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City who failed to strengthen their squads after successful campaigns, Chelsea followed suite and missed out on a number of targets which included Paul Pogba and a failed triple bid for Everton starlet John Stones. It was clear that the Chelsea board did not show confidence in Mourinho by failing to release money to acquire Mourinho’s first choice targets who would have surely strengthened the squad to compete in Europe and to put up a strong title defence against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester united who broke the bank in order to change their clubs fortunes. As a way to make up for this the club decided to buy a relatively unknown Papy Djilobodji from Nantes as a way to make up for missing out on Stones. Despite the addition of Pedro from Barcelona, Radamel Falcao, who the club also brought in from Monaco on a season long loan came to many fans surprise seeing that the Colombian had an unsuccessful sell at Manchester United the previous season. This set up Chelsea for a poor start to the season which saw Mourinho defeated by Arsene Wenger for the first time in his career.
Some might say the failure to improve the squad also sent an air of dreariness amongst players in the Chelsea squad who might have assumed that they had become permanent fixtures in the Chelsea squad after their showing the previous season when they were the runaway Champions. An attitude that has become synonymous in many a performance this season when the layers have seemed just not to work hard enough this season excluding their best player this season, Willian.
This might be the most apparent reason for Chelsea’s demise this season, the players, not because they aren’t good enough but because they lack heart, character, discipline and leaders amongst themselves.
Despite what seemed as many attempts by Mourinho and current interim boss Guss Hiddink, to change the tactics and restore confidence amongst the players, things have continued to fall apart at the bridge. While Mourinho was still at the helm of the blues, the squads form dipped in a more than strange manner leaving the reigning champions languishing near the relegation places. The three flag holders of Chelsea’s successful campaign the previous season, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and player of the year Eden Hazard were shadows of their former selves and were at the centre of rumours that they were leading a dressing room revolution to have Mourinho sacked. Fabregas and Costa have since found their form under Hiddink but Eden Hazard is yet to score a Barclays premier league goal this season and seems to continue to attract wrong attention after twice asking to be subbed of for a recurring thigh problem firstly against Leicester, a match were Mourinho had revealed he had asked Hazard to continue and the Belgian refused his coach’s plea and recently in their loss to PSG were Hazard commitment to the club was questioned when he appeared to swap shirts with PSG’s Angel Di Maria at halftime.
The Chelsea squad has shamed the image the club has strived to build since their rise to the top of English football. The club has had the worst title defense in premier league history, the clubs worst start to a premier league season, they have lost their image as a champions league fixture as they sit in tenth and all hope of them reaching sixth, which guarantees a place in the Europa league as well as the name of a Stamford Bridge as a fortress, one which saw them once go 86 home games in the premier league without loss. The capitulation has shown a lack of appetite, character and discipline amongst the squad who have failed to live up to their superstar status and a failure to shift the clubs fortunes, one which has seen the best manager the club has ever had and soon, the best captain in the clubs history being lost.
Onlookers have been left in laughter and wonder as to whether this signals Chelsea’s end at the top of English football. The squad have been left with their tails between their legs and with their faces down in many performances were they have just failed to pick themselves up.
The only conclusion that remains is that the squad lacks leaders. It is now apparent that many in the squad are either glory hunters or ‘ plastic players’ who use the club as a stepping stone to one day be bought by their ‘dream clubs’, Real Madrid and Barcelona being the usual suspects. The squad lacks players who understand what it means to be a Chelsea player, what it means to give your heart for the club you play for. In past seasons even in the most difficult one in recent history, the 2011/12 season were the blues finished sixth in the league, they still went on to win the Champions League and the F.A Cup.
Why is that? Because the clubs breathed charisma from the leaders in it, Didier Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Peter Cech, Branislav Ivanovic even David Luiz showed heart for the club till he left for PSG in 2014. All these players showed amazing resolve for the cause to make sure the season ended with some pride, a never say die attitude club that picked up even the least ranked of players in the squad like Ryan Bertrand.
Fast forward four years in the future to 2016, not even one leader can be pointed out from the current squad apart from departing captain, John Terry. This is what has seen the squad fail to pick itself up on many occasions this season.
Another example of a tough stint for the club would be the 2008/2009 season, one which began under Luiz Felipe Scolari’s reign and ended under Guss Hiddink who steered the clubs fortunes to an F.A Cup crown in the end. Even when things appeared to be bad under Scolari, the squad could still call upon its best and leaders to lift the squad.
Frank Lampard late strike against Stoke City could be an exact opposite of Chelsea’s showing against the same club the other week when Stoke managed to steal their first ever point from Stamford Bridge in premier league history, another woeful statistic for the blues. Back then, even when the squad appeared to be down and out they could still conger up a win, why? Because they didn’t give up no matter the circumstances. If one were to compare the players back then to those of now, they’d understand.
- The following table highlights significant contribution and leadership status
|Season 2008/2009||Season 2015/16|
|Frank Lampard (former vice captain, 211 goals)||Oscar|
|Michael Ballack (former Germany captain, Bayern captain, Bayer Leverkusen captain)||Cesc Fabregas ( Former arsenal captain)|
|Didier Drogba ( former ivory Coast captain, 154 goals)||Diego Costa|
|Micheal Essien ( former Ghana captain)||Nemanja Matic|
|Petr Cech ( Cech Republic captain)||Thiabaut Courtois|
The table shows a complete contrast, the squad of seven years ago that Guss Hiddink took over was full of leaders, players who despite not being captain at the club were able to take up responsibility in matches and show fighting spirit to change the clubs fortunes.
After conceding the second goal to PSG, all the players looked distraught and downhearted, unable to kick on to try to salvage some dignity and draw, or even more to try to knock one in and see how the flow of the match would turn. Who says they couldn’t have turned the match on its head in the remaining 20 minutes of the game, after all it had done before a few years earlier when a Ronaldinho led Barcelona squad came knocking to the bridge and the blues races to a 3 nil lead within 20 minutes. Turn the clock back to 2009 at the semi final stage of the champions league after conceding a late goal to Andreas Iniesta’s Barca, the players, backed by heart pushed forward and if not for poor officiating by the referee on the night, would have had a late penalty which many would have bet on Lampard to put into the back of the net.
The current squad shows no heart, apart from a selected few of Willian, Diego Costa maybe, Kenedy, and John Terry. The rest seem mostly to be plastic players in search of short term glory and will probably lead the summer exodus that they themselves have gotten the club into. Cesc Fabregas said he joined to win the Barclays premier league, Eden Hazard himself revealed that he joined the club mainly because they were European champions in the season that followed their victory. Now when things have gone bad, he is leading speculation of him leaving the club and exchanging shirts with the opponent at just the wrong time in the game.
Many might see the gesture in the PSG clash as harmless and Guss Hiddink himself came to the player’s aid by supporting his act. But it raises questions as to where his head was at in such a big game, was he focused on over turning Chelsea’s fortunes after the break in their do or die match, or was he across the sea already, focusing on wearing the colours of the opponent of the night?
Only time will tell what will happen next at Stamford Bridge as they begin their next chapter next season, most likely under the tutorage of Antonio Conte.