On the back of a disasterous 2015/2016 campaign which saw them forfeit their Premier League crown in the most feeble of fashions, Chelsea have undertaken a rebuilding project which has bred new optimism around Stamford Bridge this summer.
Getting down to brass tacks, the project has also incurred its fair share of heavy costs financially. Off the pitch, highly-regarded Italian boss Antonio Conte finished up his successful stint with the Azzurri at Euro 2016 to come and manage in West London whilst on the pitch N’Golo Kante has swapped his Leicester City shirt for a lighter shade of Chelsea Blue and we as a club, have incurred a not-too-paltry transfer fee of £30 million for the privalege.
With the acquisition of a manager of Conte’s pedigree not coming cheap neither, all the cash being thrown around in the lead-up this year’s Premier League campaign has only ramped up the pressure. The Blues are currently 11/2 to win the Premiership according to the football betting and considering the fact supporters have had their heads and indeed their expectations firmly in the sky since Abramovich took over last decade, anything less than Champions League football next year will be seen as an unmitigated disaster. Even then some Chelsea fans will argue we’re still setting the bar too low and they have every reason to think that.
Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), the protaganist for the hit 2011 film Moneyball – a movie about a prudent baseball scout who uses disregarded stats as opposed to face-value judgements to sign players who have been massively undervalued in the market, once proclaimed to his down-on-their-luck Baseball team:
“You may not look like a winning team but you are one.”
Whilst we can see the irony in the fact Chelsea’s transfer policy has been anything but moneyball in these past few years, the sentiment uttered by this Oakland A’s coach can be firmly applied to the Blues’ lost bunch of footballing misfits.
A winning team on paper but not by nature (or is it the other way round?), the first task at hand for Conte when he opens that dressing room door this summer will be reminding his ailing stars that they are indeed winners. The way in which Jose Mourinho master-minded this same group of players (mostly) to their 2014/2015 Premier League championship should be evidence enough that they’re a team built to win football matches.
With other high profile acquisitions reportedly on their way – Leicester City’s other sought-after midfielder Riyad Mahrez has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge this week, reinvigorating the old guard whilst bedding in the fresh new talent is the key to building a Chelsea side who can challenge for trophies this season.
With old foes Manchester United and indeed their neighbours Manchester City also building title-challenging sides worth envying over, Conte as well as many of Chelsea’s expectant fans should be made aware of the task at hand they face this season.
As the old adage goes, ‘the road to sucess isn’t paved in gold’, even if you’re spending said gold like it’s going out of fashion.