What Next for Chelsea?

Chelsea celebrating in the FA cup after a Conor Gallagher goal
Chelsea celebrating in the FA cup after a Conor Gallagher goal
Matt Biggin
Matt Biggin

published 07:28, 02 February 2024

Seven seasons ago Chelsea stormed to their sixth league title under the stewardship of mercurial Italian Antonio Conte. A season later, in 2017-18, they won their eighth (and most recent) FA Cup, whilst Europa League glory followed in 2018-19. Maurizio Sarri then departed the club, with former legend Frank Lampard taking the reins. After a strong first season, Lampard struggled in his second year at the club, and was replaced by Thomas Tuchel in January 2021.


The German would guide the club to a fourth placed finish in the league, and, more unexpectedly, would claim their 2nd Champions League title, with a 1-0 over Manchester City. In the following season (2021-22), things looked bright for the Blues, with a 3rd placed finish, victory in the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, and appearances in both domestic cup finals. The end of the season saw Roman Abramovich depart as the owner, replaced by BlueCo, a consortium led by American Todd Boehly. 


The 2022-23 season brought with it much expectation, which then reached fever-pitch levels following a combined summer and winter transfer spend of £574,800,000. Following a stuttering start to the season, Tuchel was replaced by Brighton manager Graham Potter, before being sacked in April, then Bruno Saltor and Frank Lampard respectively filled in as caretakers until the end of the season. 


Chelsea slumped to a disastrous 12th place finish, the club’s lowest finish since the 1993-94 season. The start of this season brought renewed optimism, with the appointment of former Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, and a further transfer spend of £407,200,000, but things have still not worked. 


The Blues currently sit 11th in the Premier League table, even without the distraction of European football. Many of their big money signings have failed to deliver, including Moises Caicedo, Romeo Lavia, Christopher Nkunku, and Robert Sanchez, a far cry from Petr Cech, one of the top 5 goalkeepers of all time. The only shining light has been the acquisition of young English talent Cole Palmer, brought in from Manchester City.


So, what does the future hold for Chelsea, formerly one of the giants of Premier League football? Well, the club is at something of a crossroads. Under the Boehly regime they have spent close to £1 billion, and FFP issues could be just around the corner. On top of this, they have a lot of young players on incredibly long and expensive contracts, so there is a lot at stake if these signings do not work out.


The near future could bring the possibility of a points deduction if the club is found guilty of FFP breaches. There is also the issue of missing out once again on European football, which would result in further financial losses.


Then there is the issue of Pochettino. Reports suggest that sacking him could result in a £15 million pay-off, which would take Boehly’s hiring and firing spend to around £60 million, something Chelsea can ill-afford if they are facing financial issues. There is also the question of who would replace the Argentine, with the spectre of former boss Jose Mourinho looming large. Whilst Mourinho’s star is certainly on the water, the Portuguese has a storied history in South London, but there are other interested parties.


The Newcastle takeover has seen the Magpies with lofty ambitions, and a difficult season could see Eddie Howe relieved of his duties, so Mourinho could be seen as a good fit there. Xabi Alonso, boss of high-flying Bayer Leverkusen, is also in the frame for the job.


What the future holds for Chelsea is anybody’s guess, and most fans will just be hoping the season can end sooner rather than later. With the domestic cups providing perhaps their only realistic gateway to Europe, those are likely to take priority.

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