To Baku and Beyond

A Contribution Post via Tom Overend.

Top scorers. Unbeaten. Derby victory against our London rivals. Few can doubt that Chelsea’s second Europa League crown is deserved.

 Strangely, despite the musings of pundits and the media, this feels like the beginning of an era for our club. Yes, our best player [and club legend] has set his sights on Madrid. Yes, there is doubt about the future of our manager, with continental giants circling. I maintain, this victory feels different to any other in the Abramovich era.

Watching the victory celebrations, it felt like a united team in tune with their manager. This season has been tough and I, like many, struggled to envisage this successful conclusion after being humbled against Bournemouth and Man City in February. Adaption has been a consistent theme of this term, and this has been on the part of both Sarri and his charges.

 Unlike the past, there was no ‘palpable discord’ between players and staff when the results got tough. This, perhaps, can be put down to effective communication between management and modern-day players – something that even recently successful managers have struggled to do. Maurizio Sarri adapted his style to the more-physical English game, but individuals also accommodated him. The debate about N’golo Kante and his role can be discussed at length, but what is beyond doubt is his ability to operate in a more balanced role on the right of midfield.

This has been the key to our relaunch after the humbling at Eastlands; which has placed us in the top bracket of Europe’s elite come the group-stage draw in August.

 Yet, I believe there is so much more to come. In Naples, Sarri has shown he has innovative solutions to replacing seemingly irreplaceable talent. The sale of Gonzalo Higuain brought about the rise of Dries Mertens as False 9. With Europe’s finest young attacking talent at Stamford Bridge, I remain convinced he is the man find the solution to the gaping hole left behind by Hazard. And, all things considered, I firmly believe the squad will mould itself to facilitate their manager.

 Things will be tough, of that there can be no doubt. We will be majorly handicapped by the lack of transfer dealings. However, our arch-rivals have shown that – with stability and a structure – this need not be a barrier to further success.

 Now is the time for planning to start. The club should publicly reaffirm the immediate future of our manager, dismissing his suitors as soon as possible. Little delay should be afforded to the analysis of our playing staff, and who makes our squad of twenty-five.

 Watching the Europa League celebrations, it dawned on me that this was a new era for Chelsea. Gone are the old guard and the tight defensive squeeze, and in is a blend of raw young talent across the field. Particularly, this European campaign has highlighted the potential of Kepa, Andreas Christensen, Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi to become a spine for years to come. Instead of lamenting the departure of those greats from the past, we must embrace this new dawn. This win feels like a beginning rather than an ending – and the club must ensure this potential becomes a dynasty.

Written by @tovers98

 

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