After the most successful period in Chelsea’s history, comes the start of a new era. The Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital consortium has a tough act to follow after Roman Abramovich’s tenure brought 19 trophies in as many years.
Chelsea’s change of ownership in 2022 is one of the biggest stories the Premier League has ever known and now the club must put it all behind them to achieve more success on the pitch. But how likely is that going to be? The Athletic examines some of the key questions and tries to forecast what the new campaign will bring.
What would be a good season?
Even if Chelsea have a strong end to the transfer window, it is hard to see them challenging for the title. If they can have a similar season to the last one, where they finished in the top four and challenged for all the cup competitions, that will still be a positive achievement given all the upheaval over the last six months.
What would be a bad season?
Failing to qualify for the Champions League. It was regarded as a bare minimum when previous owner Abramovich was in charge and it is believed that the new co-owners feel the same way. If Chelsea are to bridge the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool one day, they need the financial reward and prestige that Champions League football brings to attract the best players.
What could be the manager’s undoing?
A lack of goals. Coach Thomas Tuchel has made Chelsea hard to play against but he has yet to make them difficult to stop. The club does not have a traditional forward to get them 20 goals. They will be relying on new signing Raheem Sterling to improve things, but he can’t do it on his own.
Player who will impress the most?
Kalidou Koulibaly. Chelsea had to acquire another leader at the back following the departure of Antonio Rudiger and they have found one in the Senegal international. His understanding with compatriot Edouard Mendy might also help the goalkeeper be a bit more comfortable with the ball at his feet, something that has been a growing weakness.
Most exciting signing?
Only two to choose from at the time of writing but it has to be Sterling. He is the one Tuchel and the new co-owners are also the most thrilled about. At 27, the England international still has his best years to come and given the career he has already enjoyed in the Premier League, Chelsea should benefit from his arrival.
Player with most to prove?
Christian Pulisic. This is an important season for the attacking forward, especially with the pressure of leading the USA at the World Cup later this year. Chelsea are still waiting for Pulisic to repeat the high level of consistent form before he suffered a hamstring injury in the 2020 FA Cup Final. His contract runs out in 2024 and he needs to make more of an impact to get another one.
Song they should sing that they don’t?
The American national anthem. Now that Chelsea are reliant on the dollar to help make ends meet, fans might want to show their gratitude to the new men in charge. After all, when Abramovich took over, the Russian folk song “Kalinka” would be blasted out at Stamford Bridge before games in his honor. If that doesn’t take anyone’s fancy, how about “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus or “Living in America” by James Brown? You get the drift.
How affected will they be by World Cup absentees?
As always Chelsea will be well represented at a major tournament. Their numbers should reach into double figures and that will be an added strain on the squad for Tuchel to manage. For example, there could be up to five in the England camp with Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Conor Gallagher, Mason Mount and Sterling all in with a great chance of going to Qatar.
Who should be in the England squad but isn’t?
Ruben Loftus-Cheek. This is not based on current form, although he did enjoy a fairly positive 2021-22. But it is worth remembering that the midfielder was a member of Gareth Southgate’s group which reached the semi-finals at the last World Cup. He has the ability to dominate midfield but needs to show it more consistently to force his way back in.
The best XI?
Edouard Mendy — Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Kalidou Koulibaly — Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Ben Chilwell — Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling — Kai Havertz.
(Top image: Getty Images)