Just a few weeks ago the Chelsea players, staff and their manager celebrated winning a European final versus a London rival that they had just trumped to a top four spot in the league. All in the first season of Maurizio Sarri’s reign at the club. However since then Sarri, perhaps tired of the heavy artillery aimed at him from West London based ranks, decided that the lure of returning home to the vacant Juventus job was too much to turn down. And before losing their manager, Chelsea had to deal with the much expected hammer blow of losing their long time attacking talisman Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. All by mid June.
After the torment of being hammered 4-0 away at Bournemouth and 6-0 away at City as well being in the midst of #Kepagate the club recovered to salvage what was in the end a very successful season. Now though, the ‘New Chelsea’ roller coaster has taken another sharp turn as they now face the prospect of having to find a manager who is willing to lead the club through an expected two season transfer ban, which temporarily disallows them to replace the likes of Hazard anytime soon. Never a quiet summer at Stamford Bridge!
Losing Sarri as head coach will likely not upset a decent portion of Chelsea supporters as he certainly wasn’t the most well liked of Chelsea bosses in recent times. His rigidity in regard to his ‘Sarri-ball’ philosophy infuriated many fans and made it hard for his backers to stick by him as the late autumn and winter months turned colder and far less fruitful. Though a European trophy and third place to the end what was a truly turbulent season was unarguably a great achievement. In many respects Sarri’s decision to push through his desire to go back to his native Italy came at time when it looked like he had just about rode out the storm that had come his way in the middle part of his first and now only campaign as Chelsea boss.
Now though as it stands, Chelsea are manager-less without the reliable services of their former star player. Though the effect of the incoming transfer ban is seen by a significant number of the those in blue to be a good thing as it will mean that the long wasted pool of youth talent that Chelsea possess will now have to be dipped into. Additionally, Christian Pulsic’s early arrival from Dortmund was a savvy move from the Chelsea board in the wake of the incoming transfer ban and they will hope he can begin to at least partly fill the void left by Hazard. The likes of Callum Hudson Odoi and Ruben Loftus Cheek, when they return from injury, and others (possibly the likes of Tammy Abraham) will likely be mainstays in the Chelsea first eleven for foreseeable future.
Whether the transfer ban will help the club to form a more long term foundation to build from remains to be seen, however in the short term Chelsea now face the uphill of task of trying to build on what in the end was a season worth building on. Fans will say that they will give their less experienced team (and manager if Frank Lampard returns to the club as boss) time to develop and ride out the inability to buy new players. However, just like at Old Trafford, good intentions of patience and calmness can be dashed in the wake in a run of bad results and/or performances. It remains to be seen how Chelsea as a franchise will manage their expectations over the next couple of years after being a club that has become of one Britain’s most successful clubs in recent times.
Either way, many at Stamford Bridge have cried out for young talent to be blooded and now all of a sudden it seems they will get their wish. The club will have to oversee the seemingly abrupt transition from expensive foreign players and hand picked experienced manager to essentially the exact opposite. The club will once again have to press the reset button and Chelsea fans can only hope that this new direction for the club actually sticks long enough for it to take hold.
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