Chelsea can’t wait for this turgid season to end and the fans are desperate to see a long-term plan laid before them from co-owner Todd Boehly. The supporters have seen four managers (two interim) take the helm this year and they are edging closer to missing out on European football next term as they languish in 11th in the Premier League.
The summer that lies ahead is crucial for the club and one they have to get right if they are to reclaim their place amongst the top four with clubs like Newcastle United and Aston Villa on the ascendency.
The Blues need a coach in the dugout to guide the team through the storm that is lingering over this part of west London and, with Boehly close to appointing Mauricio Pochettino, they might just get that. The former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain boss is poised to sign a contract in the coming days to take over the reins from next season, and the upcoming transfer window will bring a lot of challenges.
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Firstly Pochettino will have to assess his squad - that’s a formality - but given how bloated Chelsea’s ranks are, trimming is most definitely needed in the transfer window. There are players still contracted at Stamford Bridge going back to 2012 under Roberto Di Matteo and the club has had nine permanent managers in this period.
Each player was signed for a specific coach and style, and Pochettino won’t want to keep around the players who cannot thrive in his system, but there is something more pressing that the Argentine has to deal with.
The inflated Chelsea squad is full of many egos, some of which, quite frankly, aren’t warranted. The reason why Chelsea have been getting through managers like hot cakes is because of the culture of player power that has gone on for far too long.
As soon as Chelsea’s last boss, Graham Potter, was relieved of his duties, reports emerged that the players had been calling him ‘Harry’ and ‘Hogwarts’ behind his back. This lack of respect and professionalism further highlights that the players are the continuous problem, and it is not a new phenomenon at Stamford Bridge.
As recently as 2019, then-Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri tried to take off Kepa Arrizabalaga off during the Carabao Cup final to introduce spot-kick specialist Willy Caballero. Kepa refused to come off, leaving the Italian boss furious and the player was later fined by the club but the decision to only drop the Spaniard for one game suggested even then that the footballers rather than the manager were calling the shots in the dressing room far too readily.
Given that Pochettino had to put up with some of the biggest egos in football at PSG, which led to him getting sacked by Les Parisiens after one season, you’d like to think that he will be better prepared to deal with the troublemakers at the west London club. Pochettino will need to act swiftly to have his influence over the players who have moved to Stamford Bridge in the past year, and those he will likely sign in the summer, so that they can’t be pulled in by the players who are holding the club back.
The sea of egos in Paris was new to Pochettino. He hadn’t had to put up with such drama with Tottenham or Southampton, so of course he was heading into that job unprepared trying to control a dressing room full of players who felt they had a free pass to do as they pleased - and that is why that club is still no closer to winning a Champions League title.
They were a team of individuals who were only playing for themselves and the same can be said for a host of Chelsea’s players. Pochettino’s esteemed reign at Spurs was built on bringing the team together which allowed a positive environment to bloom, something which has evaporated since he was let go in 2019.
The 51-year-old coach has to lay down the law straight away when he arrives in SW6. He needs to make it clear that if players don’t buy into his philosophy they will be moved. He will need the support of Boehly to eradicate this player-dominated culture and the American co-owner will need to move on any player Pochettino doesn’t wish to keep.
A summer overhaul has been a long time coming in this part of west London and Boehly needs to cooperate fully with his next head coach to shift the dead wood to give Chelsea the best possible chance to get back on track and challenge for the Premier League title.
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