Well, the 2017-18 season has been rather up and down for Chelsea, they did win the F.A. Cup making up for last year’s awful showing against Arsenal. But, they put up another disappointing title defence, although no-one has retained the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2009, and didn’t even finish in the top four, meaning no Champions League next season. So it is likely that we will see some changes at Stamford Bridge while the football world’s attention is focused on Russia.
The number one question to be answered at the moment is whether Antonio Conte will stay in charge for the 2018-19 season. He has another year on his contract and has repeatedly stated in press conferences that he would like to honour it. But ultimately, that’s not up to him. And Chelsea has a history of taking a dim view of what they consider to be failure. If he does end up leaving, he will leave with two trophies in two seasons and having brought a new way of playing with three at the back to prominence in the English game. Most sides now play and/or train for scenarios where they would play three centre backs. Conte also took a side in desperate need of rejuvenating and lead them to a record-breaking title winning season. So, if he goes, I say thank you Antonio. You got us pointing in the right direction again.
But that then begs the question of who they might bring in. Carlo Ancelotti was popular with the Stamford Bridge crowd but was treated abominably by the board. The Double in his first season, the team scoring 7 or more goals in one game on four occasions, and second place in his second and you decide to fire him?! Are you mad?! So he may be rather reluctant to return. Luis Enrique had great success at Barcelona, but hasn’t managed anywhere else since. And the Premier League can be rather brutal to the uninitiated. Maurizio Sarri looks like he’s on his way to Zenit St. Petersburg. Slavisa Jokanovic. Really? Don’t get me wrong, he’s done brilliant work at Fulham on a tight budget and nurtured a true talent in Ryan Sessengon. But here is another who has never managed in the Premier League at all,and never such a high profile club. Sorry Slavisa, but I don’t think your time is now.
Players wise, I don’t think a lot needs changing. It’s a case of keeping players rather than bringing in players. Whatever happens, we must keep Eden Hazard at the club. We will be so much weaker if he is allowed to leave. the same can be said for Thibaut Courtois, Marcos Alonso, N’Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta. The only two positions that need strengthening in my mind are right wing-back and striker. Victor Moses looks shakier and shakier every time I see him play. Someone who is far more defensively sound needs to be brought in, because his mistakes will start costing us. And up top, Alvaro Morata has struggled in his first season in England as many do. Morata scored 15 times in his maiden campaign. Didier Drogba scored 16 times in his first two campaigns. He went on to score 164 goals and is hailed as one of the club’s greatest players, so I still hold hope that Alvaro will find his feet and start banging them in regularly. But reports are suggesting that the club is making serious moves for Robert Lewandowski. You won’t hear me argue against that, the man is a goal machine!
But please Chelsea, whatever else happens…
KEEP EDEN HAZARD!!!!!