It’s going to be a very interesting summer down at SW6. After a campaign that can only be described as turbulent, there are bound to be major changes at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea attempt to reassert themselves in the Premier League.
Guus Hiddink might have steadied the ship over the second half of the season, and has done a fantastic job at that, but changes in playing and coaching personnel are imminent. The door at the west London club is liable to come off it’s hinges, such will be the volume of comings and goings down the Kings Road.
The identity of said arrivals, both players and manager, can still only be speculated upon for now, but it seems more and more likely that Italian coach Antonio Conte will be the man tasked with leading the club back to their formidable best. The former Juventus boss has a fine track record, and is the first of FIVE reasons on this list as to why Chelsea will win the Premier League again next season…
If reports are to be believed, current Italy boss Conte will join the Blues this summer, becoming the club’s fifth Italian manager after Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo.
His domestic record at club level is near faultless – three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus achieved in record-breaking style. Tactically astute and with a progressive mind, his ‘football brain’ will bring a new lease of life to both Chelsea, and the Premier League.
His meticulous obsession with the game will draw obvious comparisons with former boss Jose Mourinho, and he can bring many of the Portuguese’s better qualities to Chelsea. But, at a much younger age (just 46) and with a playing career even more decorated than his managerial one, he will be able to relate to the players more and bring a rejuvenating and galvanising quality to the squad.
Alan Hansen’s ‘you won’t win anything with kids’ quote has long been proved to be incorrect, and the rise of some extremely promising youngsters at Chelsea gives further reason for optimism. Hiddink has already brought through the likes of Kenedy, Bertrand Traore and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in his short spell, and expect their progression to continue under Conte.
The Italian manager is widely credited as being a major factor in Paul Pogba’s rise while at Juventus having plucked him from Man United on a free transfer, and the incoming manager may have already been charged with turning Loftus-Cheek into his next success story.
The quality of the younger players at Stamford Bridge, paired with a young progressive manager who likes to blend youth and experience, gives much cause for optimism.
This point is a little speculative as the Blues could still find a way to qualify for Europe next season, either by winning the Champions League (unlikely) or the FA Cup (more likely), putting them in the Europa League.
But should they fail to win either competition, or indeed make a miraculous surge up the Premier League table, a season to concentrate fully on domestic matters may actually work out to be a positive one.
Sure, some of the stellar names that the club would normally be linked with will be put off by the lack of Champions League football. But, looking at what Liverpool did a couple of seasons ago when they had only domestic matters to concentrate on, and with the aforementioned addition of Conte and youth players, Chelsea have the inherent quality to storm the Premier League next season, and reclaim their crown at the pinnacle of English football.
There’s no denying that this season will have hurt the Chelsea players. The highs of winning the title last season were quickly eradicated by the disastrous first-half of this season, and those that stick around will be hungry to right the wrongs of this campaign.
Sure, some players may go, but those that do stay will be more determined than ever to win trophies again with the Blues, and the arrival of a new manager to impress will only heighten that desire.
The characteristics of the incoming boss melded with a group of players who want to be at the club for the right reasons, along with an emergence of exciting youth players, will provide a perfect storm at a club that will react to a season of such disappointment with a bounce-back campaign of epic proportions.
And finally, the remarkable season that we are witnessing in the Premier League is actually all a product of Chelsea’s generosity. The ease of which they won the league last time led to them ‘letting others have a go’ this time around.
In fact it’s arguable that it is only Chelsea who have actually ‘won’ the league in recent seasons, the other times being more a case of others losing it than than a side actually winning it. The latter days of Fergie’s reign at Old Trafford saw them win in 2011 and 2013, but the sides were hardly what you would call outstanding, the inability of those around them, including Chelsea on occasion, more a factor than their own ability.
Manchester City won their first title on goal difference, their second mostly thanks to Liverpool’s collapse late on in the season.
But when Chelsea have the right manager in place there is little to stop them. Under Ancelotti in 2010, the club scored a record amount of goals in the league, adding the FA Cup for good measure. And we saw what Mourinho could do, when given the players he wanted, just last season (and before)
The fact that Chelsea host potential champions Leicester on the final day of the season is just further proof that they are merely leasing out the Premier League while they regroup, letting the others have a chance and giving the fans a roller-coaster ride.