In the summer of 2019, frustrated with the transfer ban and the way he was being treated by the British government, Roman Abramovich had had enough of his project at Chelsea.
In a monumental act of petulance, he sacked Maurizio Sarri and sold every player at the club who hadn’t been come through the youth academy, or spent significant time there as a youngster. To turn the club into an instant profit-making machine, he declared that managers would only be able to play or sign players brought through at Cobham.
The new manager certainly has a lot of talent to work with, although there are serious weaknesses in some positions. Goalkeeper is a major concern, especially while Jamal Blackman is out injured, and until Callum Hudson-Odoi, RLC and Reece James return from their injury issues there is little depth anywhere else in the team.
The only way to play with a team that’s essentially a mid-table side now, although one filled with huge potential, is pretty cautiously. Chelsea set up to defending play solidly through the middle, using their spine of “experienced” players in Andreas Christensen, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham (none of whom are even 24 yet).
There is a ton of talent in the team, but it’s going to be very difficult to allow it to develop without getting sacked. Roman is still expecting to finish in the Champions League places this season. He wants to win the Premier League in 5 years time.
Reece James, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori make up a solid back line. On the left Ian Maatsen is the only real option, very talented but very raw, the youngster could prove to be a weakness until he gets up to speed.
In midfield there’s plenty of attacking talent: Mason Mount, RLC, Billy Gilmour, Conor Gallagher etc.; but less on the defensive side. Ethan Ampadu is a good option but there’s nobody to replace him.
Up front things are even thinner – behind Tammy Abraham there’s no real striker option (this game doesn’t like Armando Broja it seems), and out wide Charly Musonda and Izzy Baker are barely Premier League standard. Tino Anjorin and maybe even Mason Mount will have to play out wide quite a lot until we can increase our options there.
Signing some old heads will be a priority in January when the ban expires. Former Blues are out there, and we will have no shortage of money to spend. Until then, it’s just a matter of surviving in the job long enough to allow this young side to improve.
That’s easier said than done, especially looking at our early fixtures. We’re rated as the 7th best team in the league, but way off Leicester in 6th in terms of quality. A tough Champions League group doesn’t help either. This could be a long six months.