Yesterday was a rough one for Chelsea fans. Even for the more practical supporters, the ones who had resigned themselves to believing it’s just a tough season, would have struggled to watch.
An entire fanbase looked on, as what was left of Champions League hopes for this season and next crumbled magnificently in front of us. What was left was not pretty.
Perhaps the video of Ivanovic yelling at Courtois after Zlatan Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead was symbolic of the entire season. He was seemingly frustrated with the Belgian keeper, though no one in their right mind could have expected Courtois to make the save.
I’m sure if you asked Ivanovic about the moment today, he would apologize and say that he was frustrated in the heat of the moment. But it sums up Chelsea since May. Frustrated, angry and disappointed, with seemingly no answers to solve their problems.
The Blues haven’t had one position that has been solid all season, with frailties throughout the squad.
In goal, Courtois and Begovic have both spent extended periods of time, with the former a risk to leave for Champions League football.
The defense has been a complete and utter disaster, minus Kurt Zouma who is now rehabbing from a torn ACL and Cesar Azpilicueta who hasn’t been without error, but overall consistent.
The midfield lacks stability, consistent form, and creativity all together. Fabregas looks back to his best, but he hadn’t been there for some time and who knows what the future holds for his form. Oscar is frustratingly inconsistent.
Mikel has looked better this season, but surely can’t be considered a long term solution. Matic is nowhere to be found. Pedro doesn’t seem to have the ability to transition into English Football. And Eden Hazard is way off pace this campaign, which has predictably linked him with moves to greener pastures.
Up top, Diego Costa has regained form but is still a risk to fall off or pick up an injury. Looking past the Spaniard, Traore looks a strong prospect, but can’t be relied on as the only backup for Costa, as we saw on Tuesday. The Burkina Faso International was completely out of his depth against two experienced center backs in David Luiz and Thiago Silva.
Furthermore, Chelsea’s attempts to offer second chances to Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato look all but over, as the former hasn’t featured since October and the latter has yet to play at all. And finally, Loic Remy doesn’t belong on the team at all.
So where do Chelsea begin to sort through the wreckage of this campaign? What pieces can they hold onto and where can they look to find reinforcements, especially given their lack of ability to offer Champions League football next campaign?
First and foremost, Chelsea need to cut the excess parts of their squad. I wrote about this a few days ago, how the Blues must “cut the fat” this summer. After a large squad clearout, we can evaluate what we have and what type of reinforcements they must bring in.
It’s time to call on their loan army for inspiration. Perhaps one of the largest positives from this season has been Nathan Ake flourishing for Watford. He has looked one of the most consistent left-backs in the league.
It’s time to stop selling or loaning every decent left-back in Chelsea’s ranks and deploy the Dutch defender at left-back.
It may finally allow Cesar Azpilicueta to play in his natural right-back position for an extended period of time. It’ll also provide another option to Chelsea’s current choices, which include the Spaniard, Kenedy (an attacking midfielder by trade) and Baba Rahman who does not look ready to defend for Chelsea.
Furthermore, Ruben Loftus-Cheek needs to get an extended run in the side. He’s simply too good, too strong and too consistent when he plays to continue to be overlooked. He should play in the holding midfield role alongside a creative playmaker.
It’s time to try it, as Chelsea certainly have nothing left to lose. Plus, we may find the young Englishman can handle the position, similar to how Francis Coquelin was a revelation in the position at Arsenal.
It’s also time to pull Patrick Bamford home and either sell him or include him in the squad. His loan deals haven’t worked out in the Premier League and he either needs to train at home or be moved along.
Either way, Chelsea need to bring in a consistent back up striker this summer, or allow the strike force to made up of Costa, Traore, Bamford, and Solanke, but that is risky to say the least.
Furthermore, the Blues have several other players to turn to in their loan squad that deserve the chance to make an impact in the squad.
Charly Musonda has been a revelation in La Liga. He’s already attracting interest from Europe’s top clubs. It’s time to put him in the squad, let him play in the attacking midfield or use him off the bench. It’s time to utilize the Belgian, as this lad oozes talent.
Furthermore, Andreas Christensen has been brilliant on loan to Borussia Monchengladbach, so much so that the German club are interested in keeping him permanently. Even Barcelona seem to be interested in the Danish International. He is ready to play for Chelsea. Line him up next to Zouma and see what happens. I think we’ll see him flourish.
After utilizing several loan players that were mentioned above, then Chelsea can weigh into the transfer market. They have to sign at least two center backs, that’s for sure. They also need creative midfielders, especially if Hazard, Pedro, or Oscar move on.
Perhaps the most promising news could be the interest in Pjanic. The Bosnian International would lineup well in the holding midfield role and allow Cesc Fabregas to play in his favored centre attacking midfield position. This is beneficial to all involved in the equation.
Another striker would also be valuable, given how dangerous it’s proven to singularly rely on Diego Costa for an entire season.
Overall, there has to be a major shakeup in West London. From the manger, to the entire squad, to the loan army, and the academy, major changes have to be done. This shouldn’t be seen as an impossible situation, but an opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to redesign Chelsea’s entire system.
There needs to be wholesale changes in the infrastructure of how the Blues implement players, who makes the squad, and which players we sign over the summer. This’ll largely be up to the new manager, but the board has to be helpful with finances this summer.
Chelsea must look internally to solve their problems. After addressing some issues with internal solutions, then they can look elsewhere to solve the rest. Either way, it’s clear to see that the next manager of Chelsea will have their work cut out for them this summer.