Chelsea went into last season as Champions of Europe, with an outstanding defense, a solid midfield, incredible young talent in attack, and with an incoming club-record striker signing to lead the line. And the resulting predictions of a Premier League title looked on point for the first few months of the campaign, before injuries, interviews, and invasions took their toll. Two domestic cup final defeats have added to the feelings of disappointment, and our summer transfer window has done little to soothe those vibes.
At the moment, we’re set to enter the new season with gaping holes in defense, an aging and injury-prone midfield, and an attack defined less by age and promise than by inconsistency and lack of killer instinct. Chelsea are one of only two teams in the league (Wolves the other) to have made zero first-team signings so far, and while Raheem Sterling is imminent, his arrival seems more of a “nice-to-have” rather than a ” must-have”.
It’s easy to get bogged down in such consternations and lose sight of a bigger picture. And while it’s true that those around us have improved their teams, at least on paper, this summer, we will have a strong core to build around already. Ben Chilwell, returning from the ACL tear that limited him to just 13 appearances last season, is a big part of that core and he’s certainly a good-vibes-only man, man.
“We can move on [from last season], we’ve got new ownership, which seems amazing, they want to get involved and invest a lot in the club, which is a positive thing. The club’s in a good place which is very positive going forward.”
The ultimate goal obviously remains to close the gap to the top two, not just in individual games, which we’ve already done, but throughout an entire season. And that we’ve not come very close to doing in the last five years.
“We’re aspiring to get on the same level as them. We showed in patches last season that we could compete with them, but it’s that consistency that they’ve shown — they’re not just one season wonders, they’ve done it season-in, season-out for the last five years.
“That’s where we’re trying to get to. We’ve had conversations in the dressing room, as players and with the staff, that consistency is the thing that we now need to [achieve].
“We’ve got the talent in the team. We showed that in the Champions League two years ago. We showed it in the first half of the season last year, when we were top. We beat Juventus 4-0 in the Champions League. So we’ve shown we’ve got the talent in the team. We just need to now have that consistency that Liverpool and City have got.”
-Ben Chilwell; source: Mirror
And of course we’ve got Thomas Tuchel, who’s (reportedly) being trusted by the new owners to a level of trust not seen at the club in generations. The head coach has got the full confidence of the dressing room as well, and as long as we can maintain those harmonious relationships, we just might have a chance.
“As players we have full confidence in the manager. We know we’re not going to get a better manager here. I’m not just saying it.
“Now there is that stability. Everything that could have potentially been tricky last season has been resolved so it is up to us to work and to try to get that consistency on the pitch.”
-Ben Chilwell; source: Goal
Whether we can actually close that gap, and achieve a consistency that involves something more than just consistently talking about it, will depend on things we do on the training ground and on matchdays, and also on how we build our squad through player development and transfers . The new owners may have a vision and a plan in that regard, but implementing that will take some time. The temptation will be there for quick fixes and short-term thinking — especially as that’s practically all we’ve known for the last two decades — and not just for the owners but for the fans as well.
We must resist such temptations, and be chill like Chilly B.
(But we probably should sign a defender or Declan Rice at some point…)