Team Focus – Chelsea: What On Earth Is Going On At Chelsea Football Club?

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What an amazingly strange and sudden fall of grace Chelsea have endured over the past 6 months. From more than comfortably winning the Premier League and absolutely waltzing their way to glory, to Aston Villa at home being a ‘relegation 6 pointer’. This is the worst start to a title defence in the Premier League era since David Moyes’ Manchester United in the 2013/14 season when they plummeted from 1st to a woeful 7th. Even then, there was a somewhat expectancy for Manchester United to drop off from the heights of the season before, they had just lost the heart and soul of the club in the past quarter of a century, Sir Alex Ferguson. But none of the misfortunes that David Moyes had were bestowed onto Mourinho over the summer, so it beggars the questions, What on earth is going on at Chelsea football club?

So what has exactly happened this season? At this point last year, Chelsea were top of the league with 32 points, having not lost a league game and now they are currently 16th on 11 points, having lost 7 games and 3 points from the relegation zone. Calling it an underwhelming season so far is an understatement. They have seemed to just implode and it is not easy to spot why. They haven’t lost any key players over the summer as they kept all of last year’s top performers such as Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and even got John Terry to sign a 1 year contract extension. The only notable players to have left Stamford Bridge was Didier Drogba and Petr Cech, and even they played a bit-part role to last year’s successes. They have in essence the same squad as last year minus the deadwood such as Juan Cuadrado and Filipe Luis, so they should technically be even better than last year, Although they did lose Thibaut Courtois to a long-term injury on the first day of the season. It’s true that the Chelsea players have majorly under performed by their standards, but because of the high standard of the players, they are more than capable to bounce back and compete at the top-level, like last year.

An infopgrahic comparing Hazard and Costa's 14/15 and 15/16 statistics.

An infographic comparing Hazard and Costa’s 14/15 and 15/16 statistics.

They also haven’t lost their manager Jose Mourinho, and he even signed a lucrative 4 year deal with the club. Mourinho is world-renowned and is etched into footballing history for his achievements in the game, although this season he’s gone from The Special One to The Special Needs One. Jose seems like a completely different person this season, no longer are we seeing the charismatic and funny Mourinho of old, we are now seeing a slightly senile and edgy Mourinho; seemingly completely consumed by his own mind games. But even then, he wouldn’t lose all tactical awareness and all the experience he has built over in decades of being in the game at the world’s biggest club in the space of a single summer, so this spluttering Chelsea cannot fully be pin pointed to the Portuguese. There has been media talk that there is something wrong deep within the Chelsea infrastructure, stemming from the very top, at Abramovich. This is would also make sense of the utterly ridiculous and quite frankly embarrassing, Eva Carneiro situation, which ended with her leaving the club.

An infographic comparing Fabregas and Matic’s 14/15 and 15/16 statistics.

The main consensus in the media is that there is a deep and troubling political issues happening within Chelsea which I can see some sense into, although it still seems all very sudden for one of the biggest clubs in England and the champions of England to have a spectacular breakdown, regardless of what is happening within the club, and something that the players would be probably be oblivious to. Personally, I think the problem is the mentality of the players. It was once said that it is 100 times harder to motivate a squad to retain a title than to win it, and I think this is what is going on at Chelsea. Even with a seasoned manager like Mourinho at the helm. Chelsea do posses a young squad and it is hard to instill the correct mentality into these players and the departure of Petr Cech has not helped this problem as they have lost someone who knows what it takes to retain a title, although they still have John Terry. The season statistics are not flattering to Chelsea and are somewhat alarming. One that stands out is the last time Chelsea lost 7 of their first 12 league games in the 1978/1979 season, they were relegated. Now, it’s preposterous to think that the champions of the top flight can be relegated to the 2nd tier, but Blackburn Rovers are a team that won the Premier League in 1995 and slowly regressed before being relegated to the Championship in 2012. Is that the tread that Chelsea will follow?

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An infographic showing Mourinho’s discipline issues and the players who are severely under-performing.

Personally, I think the season is already written off for Chelsea in terms of a strong finish and certainly for a title challenge. What Jose Mourinho needs to do is round-up his players and just try to make the best he can from the dire situation he is in. As a huge Premier League fan, it hurts me to see such an influential figure in Premier League history seemingly destroy his legacy and his charismatic aura has been replaced with a distinctive coldness. Earlier in the season I put Chelsea to win a 2nd successive league title, now they’d be lucky to finish in the top of the table.

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