Blue under Boehly: who is responsible for Chelsea’s crisis?


When Todd Boehly and his consortium bought Chelsea in May last year, many of us Blues fans jumped with joy. After the golden Roman Abramovich era suddenly ended overnight, the club was left desperately seeking its new identity.

Reading about Boehly’s remarkable turnaround of the LA Dodgers meant I expected a natural continuation of the decades of success Chelsea fans have been treated to since the turn of the century.

As the club now battle to remain in the top ten and seemingly have less to play for by the week, it is clear that Chelsea is an institution in great chaos. They lack identity and it is not clear what kind of football they are trying to play.

With the club, at the time of writing, lying 13th in terms of goals scored and consistently being outplayed by rivals, the whole squad are seemingly misfiring. Performances have been erratic, if not sub-par since September and they are yet to play a match where they have truly dominated an opponent.

Chelsea’s woes began in the summer when the new board abandoned a talented technical team responsible for putting together the successful squads during the Abramovich days.

Players are responsible for getting results on the pitch, but it is the technical staff who are needed to bring them together. Every club needs a good backroom who can identify the right players to fit the club’s DNA, gel with the current squad and be part of a team that can compete. Football, after all, is a team sport – not an individual one.

Establishing a clear club DNA is exactly where Boehly and the board failed. It shows on the pitch when it’s not clear why three players such as Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic and Reuben Loftus-Cheek are trying to fill the No10 role. The problem is exacerbated when it is also ambiguous as to whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Kai Havertz is meant to be the target man.

Players are responsible for getting results on the pitch, but it is the technical staff who are needed to bring them together

Despite lacking any football experience, not even as fans themselves, the new owners got rid of Marina Granovskaia – Chelsea’s feted technical director who arguably was the savviest negotiator in the transfer market.

They parted ways with Petr Cech, a club legend, who as Granovskaia’s deputy was single-handedly responsible for bringing in smart signings such as Eduaord Mendy into the 2020-21 side, part of a team that eventually went on to win the Champions League.

Naïve and perhaps overconfident they could do it all themselves, Boehly and Eghbali never replaced Granvoskaia and Cech’s experience and instead opted to take the job on themselves.

As chairman, Boehly has been responsible for spending nearly half a billion on new signings, and yet not one has delivered in helping the team turn its fortunes around. More worryingly, they are yet to show any cohesion together as a group and appear like a unit on the pitch

There is no embarrassment in losing in football, especially to a superior side. However, not being able to field a side that looks like a team rather than a set of individuals is the greatest failure for any club.

Spending £70 Million on an injured young defender in Wesley Fofana, who is yet to play at international level, always seemed ridiculous and devoid of strategy.

Whilst Fofana was primed for a breakthrough season, £56 Million on an unknown Marc Cucurrella, best known for his hairstyle rather than performance, was always puzzling. Followed by an aged Aubameyang who is twelve years senior to both, and you really are left wondering what stitches this Chelsea side together?

Sympathies must be extended to Graham Potter – a young ambitious manager who gambled on his reputation by moving to Chelsea. Despite this season’s limitations, he still seems to be trying to develop youngsters, with Carney Chukwuemaka and Lewis Hall showing promise under his tutelage.

As he politely justifies the slump by blaming it on losing ten senior players to injury, Potter knows that the real reason is the club has lost its way. Having lost its direction before it had time to rebuild, its struggle in the post-Abramovich world has now spilt out onto the pitch.

If the owners had even remotely followed last season, the case of big spenders Everton floundering due to a lack of cohesion would have served as a stark warning

The fact is that Boehly and company did not do their homework and assumed Chelsea would run itself on autopilot. They abandoned a winning formula and took charge without any real experience.

They dispensed with a fan favourite and proven winner, Thomas Tuchel, because of disagreements in strategy, and replaced him with a manager who thrives when backed by a strong technical and recruitment team – something he now distinctly lacks.

Yes, the Abramovich years were known for their spending, but those great teams of Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Dider Drogba were astutely curated and assembled together like a fine wine collection. If the owners had even remotely followed last season, the case of big spenders Everton floundering due to a lack of cohesion would have served as a stark warning.

Boehly has turned it around before, bringing club and community together in the case of Los Angeles. He built a new stadium and rebuilt bonds between the club and its supporters. He even pioneered a data-driven approach prompting comparisons with ‘Moneyball’ and a shrewd scouting of players that led to a historic 2020 World Series triumph.

He is undoubtedly an intelligent man and one us supporters will hopefully come to respect. If anyone can pull a club back from the brink, its Boehly. Let’s hope he can do it at SW6.

Image: Brent Flanders

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