A feature series by Terry Sazio
To say the start of 2019 has been a rollercoaster ride for Chelsea Football Club is nothing short of an understatement.
From the ups of sealing our place in the Carabao Cup Final at the expense of our bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur and signing one of the most prolific strikers in recent times in Gonzalo Higuain… to the downs of the inept performance against Arsenal and potentially (at the time of writing) losing one of our greatest ever academy products in Callum Hudson-Odoi.
As I said, the first 28 days of this year have been eventful, to say the very least. With this in mind, the success we’ve had over the last few days should not cloud the problems that have been pretty evident recently, and longer than that.
Some of the current problems that the club is suffering from at the moment were shown at their absolute worst during our disastrous 2-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates nine days ago. We were nothing but shambolic and easily one of the worst performances in recent memory. Outplayed on the pitch, outsmarted tactically off the pitch – it was an eyesore to say the very least. That lead to the now infamous post-match press conference speech from Head Coach Maurizio Sarri:
After the press conference – the comments of Sarri sent shockwaves throughout social media and the entire Chelsea fanbase. We knew there were problems within the team, but every single fan was shocked by the honesty and the blatant criticism of both players and himself to an extent.
Was it a mistake? Was it merited? Will it end up being a huge gamble that failed or a masterstroke decision?
This lead to many people – from the media to former professional players to the fans themselves – throwing blame at different parts of the club.
Some blamed the board for how the club is run, most notably for the poor investment in players that are not good enough to wear the shirt. Some blamed Sarri for his decision making in terms of formation, style of play and the players chosen to play. Some blamed the players themselves for their lack of passion, complacency and inability to perform. Some even put a portion of blame on the fans for having far too unrealistic expectations coming into this season and also refusing to change their short-term entitled mentality that has become evident over the last few years, which has become more and more obvious.
With all the backlash from the press conference and being unable to avoid seeing the blame game go into overdrive on all forms of media, this made me think of something.
What if… it wasn’t just one part of the club that was to blame. What if it was ALL parts? What if the board, Sarri, the players AND the fans were all to blame?
Now hear me out, this is not me having a typical fan rant, far from it. What is going to happen is that I’ll be breaking down – in extensive detail – what faults exist within all portions of our club and how they can be fixed so that Chelsea can have a bright future both on and off the pitch.
Over this 4-part feature series – treat this article as an extended intro if you will – every issue (the board, the coach, the players and the fans) will be questioned, possibly solved with potential solutions and whether it can be achieved with the current people involved. Here’s a teaser of what questions will be asked in each part over the next 4 days:
THE BOARD – COMING TOMORROW (29th January)
• Short-term mentality destroying our chances of future success?
• ‘Win at all costs’ philosophy outdated?
• Not investing in the right players and overpaying for the wrong ones?
• Rewarding the wrong players?
• Certain players being underappreciated?
• Are their hands tied even compared to how it once was?
• Will the academy ever be used than just being a cash cow for the club?
• Will the club ever appoint the obviously needed Director of Football (DOF)?
THE COACH – COMING WEDNESDAY (30th January)
• Stuck in his ways?
• Can he be more flexible?
• Will he pick players solely on merit and not on reputation?
• Is there too much pressure on him to be allowed to play young players/players coming through the academy due to the demands of ‘instant success’?
• Will he be given enough time to get things right?
THE PLAYERS – COMING THURSDAY (31st January)
• Are they good enough?
• Do we need a squad overhaul?
• Who stays?
• Who goes?
• Who comes in (or gets promoted)?
• Are we over-reliant on one player?
THE PLAYERS – COMING FRIDAY (1st February)
• Unrealistic expectations?
• Stuck in our old ways?
• ‘Entitled’ mentality creeping into the fanbase?
• Will Maurizio Sarri ever been given a fair chance by some?
Everyone and everything associated with Chelsea will be scrutinised and explained in a fair and balanced way. But at the same time… I won’t be holding back. Things need to be said if we are to move on and help towards making Chelsea have a better future. The time for continuously papering over the ever-largening cracks is over. Time to fix the cracks.
Some fans will agree, some fans will disagree – but every fan will appreciate what is being said because just like you, all I want is what’s best for our football club.
And that ‘best’ is for Chelsea Football Club being nothing but the best.