A Chelsea Problem
Chelsea are an odd club, don’t get me wrong they are a successful club but everything about them would indicate that they’re a poorly run side. The players overthrow the manager every other year, they don’t have any clear footballing philosophy or identity. The club may have had its issues but at least it had a plan now it seems it doesn’t.
When Roman Abramovich arrived in 2002 Chelsea had a plan – buy the biggest up and coming manager and bring in the players he wanted whatever the cost. The plan worked and brought them almost immediate success with Mourinho winning them their top-flight domestic title for 50 years. But this level of spending wasn’t sustainable without results, so when a manager failed to deliver they were given the sack.
That way of running a club has helped Abramovich and his club go through 13 managers since his arrival 17 ago and is part of the reason why Chelsea’s players are so difficult to motivate.
Last week after his sides 2-0 defeat to Arsenal Maurizio Sarri claimed his side are “extremely difficult to motivate” and signalled changes in squad selection maybe around the corner. Sarri’s decision to criticise his players in public is an odd choice given what happened to his predecessors when they did the same but it does signal a major issue with the club.
At Chelsea, the players have the majority of the control and know that if they don’t perform it will be the manager, not them that will be replaced. The attitude most likely stems from the constant hiring and firing of managers over the years like at many clubs but also because their players are essentially mercenaries.
When Abramovich first took over at Chelsea there wasn’t anything distinctive about Chelsea other than the money and the high wages they offered which worked at the time. But since 2008 when Machester City were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group Abramovich and Chelsea haven’t been able to compete financially and as player prices began to rise and look elsewhere for their paycheck Chelsea began to focus on their academy and developing what is now one of the best youth academies in England with the guidance of Michael Emenalo.
Emenalo who joined in 2007 as an opposition scout under Avram Grant rose up the ranks at Chelsea and saw 10 managers come and go while at the club and oversaw the technical programmes of the club’s academy and also helped set up the clubs lucrative loan policy.
The loan policy has seen many young talents such as Kevin De Bruyne, and Romelu Lukaku among others leave the club in search of play time elsewhere, but also for a profit which could be spent on more experienced players.
But these most experienced players if we’re being honest perhaps never envisioned the pinnacle of their career being Chelsea meaning they are at the club most likely to get the odd trophy under their belt and to pick up a paycheck and once that chance of a trophy is gone they down their tools knowing Abramovich will replace the manager and they will have another chance next season or the year after or they move on to their next club.
This is something that Sarri alluded to in his press conference last week when he said this group of players are highly difficult to motivate but luckily for Chelsea they already have the solution to their problem they just refuse to use it
Chelsea have one of the best academies in the country but they just don’t have a pathway for the players to make it into the first team, this is usually because of the type of manger they acquire so they usually end up selling the players for a high a price to fund older more experienced players. But now they don’t seem to want to do that either.
After turning down Bayern Munich’s £35m offer for Callum Hudson Odoi (that’s just over £15m more than what they let Kevin De Bruyne go for) they risk the player running down his contract and them receiving nothing.
But if Chelsea and Sarri were to give their youth academy prospects, like Odoi a chance in the 1st team perhaps they could find consistency and more importantly loyalty to the club. As Premier League great Sir Alex Ferguson said “they’ll always remember the person who gave them their start”
“The value is two-fold. One that they’ll always remember the person who gave them a start a start in life, always will and secondly, they create a loyalty base that’s there for life” – Sir Alex Ferguson.