To say that Antonio Conte has a job on his hands when he attempts to rebuild Chelsea FC next season is the understatement of the century.
After a resurgence in form under Guus Hiddink, the Blues have lost their way once more in a run of back to back premier league defeats, culminating in an embarrassing 3-0 loss at home to city last Saturday.
I was there for that game, and the word lacklustre doesn’t even come close to describing the Chelsea performance. The match had a real end of season, nothing to play for feel to it. Regardless of that, City cut through us like a knife through butter, and had it not been for some fine stops from Thibaut Courtois, we could have been staring at a 6-0 or 7-0 loss. Perhaps the most entertaining moment from a Chelsea fan’s perspective was when an amusing chant about Samir Nasri, sporting a skunk-like new hairdo, broke out across the Matthew Harding stand. Let’s just say it is more of a ‘hair don’t’ according to some sections of the Chelsea crowd.
Back on a serious note, it has become blissfully evident that London’s most successful club in recent years needs a massive overhaul. That does not mean owner Roman Abramovich has to dip into his pocket once again and splurge another ridiculous sum of money on foreign players. The exhibits of Andriy Shevchenko, Juan Cuadrado and of course Fernando Torres should be enough to illustrate that. Three panic buys mounting to a combined total of over £100 million who each had about as much impact as one of FIFA’s transfer embargos.
Release the young guns
We simply need to have some faith in our youth. Our Under 19’s have just been crowned European Champions for the second year in a row and our Under 18’s have recently won the FA Youth Cup for a record-breaking third successive year. Despite all this success, only 10 players from the last 5 Youth Cup finals have gone on to play for the first team. Even four of those only made one appearance. A simply shocking statistic that raises some serious questions as to the ethos of this club.
Ruben Loftus cheek bears some frightening similarities with Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, Bertrand Traore has found the net on several occasions since making his first team debut and Kasey Palmer scores goals like they are going out of fashion in the youth ranks. The talent is there, now give these boys a chance.
Nonetheless, Chelsea’s recent collapse in form has certainly aroused some Speculation. Are we trying to avoid Europa league qualification, or are we just not good enough anymore? I can’t say whether qualifying for the Europa League will be beneficial or not, but what I do know is that it is far more difficult to attract top class players without the lure of European football. Yet without it, we can channel 100% of our energies into succeeding domestically, in a year that is all about transition.
Whatever the outcome, we fans simply have to be patient.