Todd Boehly and Graham Potter

2021 Club World Cup winners Chelsea have endured a torrid past 12 months. Since lifting that unique trophy to complete the set of possible club honours won, all hasn’t gone well at Stamford Bridge

A year on from losing out by the slimmest of margins to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup Final, Chelsea find themselves in the completely unfamiliar position of being underdogs in their next game against Tottenham.

But how did they get here? The FootballCastle outlines the unprecedented significant changes that have derailed Chelsea’s on-pitch progress. 

Édouard Mendy blues

The form of Chelsea’s Senegalese goalkeeper must be put into context when considering what has happened at the club in the last year as their fortunes have somewhat dovetailed.

Betway Nigeria

Mendy’s career had belatedly peaked when he joined Chelsea and equalled the record for the most UEFA Champions League clean sheets (nine) on the way to winning the competition in his first season. He was awarded the UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year and The Best FIFA Goalkeeper of 2021 as the first African goalkeeper in history to win both awards.

More history would be made on 6 February 2022, as Senegal won their first Africa Cup of Nations ever with Mendy also being named the tournament’s best goalkeeper. The former Rennes man returned from international duty to take part in the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup final against Palmeiras on 12 February, as he won his second trophy in a week and Chelsea became the first London club to win the international honour. 

Mendy attempted to make it three trophies in a month for club and country when he started ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on February 27. He had made some fine saves before going off for the Spaniard ahead of the penalty shootout but that move backfired as Kepa failed to save a single spot-kick and missed the decisive one.

Indeed, worse had transpired thousands of miles away that would forever change the course of a club recently crowned world champions.

Making a swift transition 

Chelsea club world cup champions
Chelsea won every major club honour available in 19 years under Roman Abramovich. (Reuters)

Only a day before the domestic cup final, Russian owner Roman Abramovich had handed over “stewardship and care” of Chelsea FC to the Chelsea Charitable Foundation due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The chaotic and fast-developing story out of Eastern Europe prompted Abramovich to confirm that he was selling the club, as his assets were frozen by the UK government due to his close ties with his country’s government.

Although Chelsea were allowed to keep football operations running, the adverse uncertainties had an inevitable effect as an inconsistent spell of results soon followed.

Despite Thomas Tuchel somehow engineering a sensational 3-2 victory over Real Madrid away in the second leg of their UCL Quarterfinal exit, reaching the FA Cup final against Liverpool and securing a top-three league finish; the on-pitch turmoil had cut deep and a squad rebuild was badly needed. 

Meanwhile, the £4.25bn sale of the club to the Todd Boehly-led consortium proved another significant hurdle in May. The American-led ownership brought a whole host of new ideas and out went all of the top decision-makers as well as several other backroom staff members.

A record-breaking spend was overseen in the summer transfer window as a massive overhaul on and off the pitch was taking place. Nevertheless, the form and confidence of stalwarts such as Édouard Mendy pummelled alongside that of his teammates during the uncertainty of the club’s sanctions, he struggled to regain his previous form as defensive lapses against Arsenal and Real Madrid spilt over into the 2022-23 season with another forgettable outing in the 3-0 drubbing at Leeds. 

Tuchel has since been replaced by Graham Potter and Mendy lost his starting place before a broken finger ruled him out long-term. 

Bumpy new era

Mykhailo Mudryk

Indeed, Boehly and co have overseen a spend of over £600m on acquiring 17 total players in two transfer windows while they stayed within the financial fair play guidelines through some cheeky accounting tactics.

Potter finds himself with a squad of up to 33 players, with injuries and adaptation time keeping them from turning their fortunes around. Notwithstanding, a shambolic run of just one win in their last 10 matches in all competitions has dampened the mood to toxic levels amongst the fanbase.

Beyond the unacceptable results, the blues faithful are yet to find a process to believe in, performances have been dispirited while the long-term goalscoring issue persists.

So far, they remain far off a serious run in the league whilst needing to overturn a 1-0 Champions League deficit against Borussia Dortmund. Yet, failure to qualify for the Champions League next season will greatly restrict their spending in the transfer window.

The next challenge at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium where Chelsea are yet to lose – or concede a goal, in fact – since it was opened in 2019 is one that could make or mar the rest of Potter’s first season. 

Form and confidence is at its lowest in West London and the 47-year-old could do worse than securing a big win over their hated rivals.

Three points against Spurs is regarded as a must within the Chelsea faithful and at this specific period is sure to turn around the mood around Stamford Bridge. Given their current run, a positive result could provide the spark of positivity Chelsea desperately need.

Such optimism has been scarce in the last 12 months, a further lack of it might just be the final nail in Potter’s coffin for an infamously demanding fanbase. 

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
February 25, 2023
Tags: , , ,

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog Meets Brand