Romelu Lukaku transfer, Tuchel reality and Ben Chilwell setback: Chelsea lessons for Todd Boehly – Daniel Childs

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After sixty-three games, 124 goals and six competitions, Chelsea’s 2021/22 season will go down as one of the most taxing and eventful in recent memory. The seismic change of ownership is likely to trump anything that will be greatly remembered on the pitch given its long-term repercussions for the club.

However, there are some wider lessons we can take from this past season before we are thrown back into the intensity of another nine months of chaos, this time with the added effect of a winter World Cup in Qatar.

Chelsea’s third-place finish meant Thomas Tuchel achieved the Blues’ highest league points total since the last title win, though the large gap to the top two has not lessened.

READ MORE: Todd Boehly era, dream signings, Liverpool and Man City challenge – Chelsea end of season survey

Plus the heartbreak of two domestic cup final defeats to Liverpool and the worst home league form since the disastrous 2015/16 campaign, there is still vast improvement to be made.

Here are three lessons we took from the 2021/22 season, and ones that the new ownership group led by Todd Boehly should be taking on board.

Lukaku only heightened attacking issues

I was one of many fans who thought the cinematic return of Romelu Lukaku would finally bring an end to Chelsea’s wastefulness in the final third after the Belgian led Inter Milan to a stunning Scudetto triumph.

Though the Belgian’s awkward adaptation, the souring of his support with the Sky Italia interview and a period on the bench all have signalled that the club’s record transfer has failed in his first season. Lukaku’s struggles prove transfers are not as simple as they once were for Chelsea.

Lukaku cannot be blamed for all of Chelsea’s attacking issues. Not only have fellow peers failed to deliver but the lack of creativity has become apparent, with Chelsea still overperforming their xG in the Premier League. The slow repetitive nature of Tuchel’s possession game has created a predictable threat that has become easily nullified by weaker opposition, particularly at home.

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Romelu Lukaku's return to the Premier League over the 2021/22 season for Chelsea
Romelu Lukaku’s return to the Premier League over the 2021/22 season for Chelsea

Tuchel cannot overcome bigger issues

For all supporters have fallen in love with the German, this season firmly proved he could not overcome longer-term squad issues at Chelsea without a sufficient rebuild. The mishmash of styles over the past eight years has created an unbalanced squad who were bought for specialist purposes.

This has greatly limited Tuchel’s ability to play his desired game when first-choice options were unavailable and the echoes of previous transfer window mistakes still loom.

Chelsea under Tuchel can still go toe-to-toe with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool over 90 minutes, as was proven in the four encounters against them this season. But over the course of a 38-game season, the gap is much more apparent.

Is in one that Tuchel cannot close unless investment and attention is paid to signing players who align with first-choice options and the demands of a counter-pressing, possession-heavy style of play.

Chilwell injury caps Tuchel’s power pairing

The ACL injury to Ben Chilwell on the night of arguably Chelsea’s best performance of the season against Juventus shifted the mood greatly.

In the weeks leading up to that season-ending injury, the English wingback had been flying, along with Reece James, to help tear defences apart on a regular basis. Offering width, speed, influence, creativity and popping up in interesting positions.

That all changed once Chilwell went down and it would not be long until James would suffer injury issues too over the winter, further altering Chelsea’s growing rhythm under Tuchel. The fact Chilwell and James only started four league games together across the whole season is astonishing. Should they both remain fit for a majority of 2022/23 it is likely to make a major difference to Chelsea’s performances and hopefully, results.

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