Though they finished the season with both the Champions League and FA Cup trophies, Chelsea fans will still have been disheartened by the club’s sixth place finish in the Premier League. With their worst league finish since Roman Abramovich purchased the club in 2003, it is clear that some work is needed in order to make the team competitive for the league title once more and ensure they can maintain their position as challengers for the league title in the long term.
The most urgent factor for Chelsea this summer should be the appointment of a new manager. Despite Roberto Di Matteo’s success in the latter half of the season, the transition to a permanent role is by no means secure. Pep Guardiola and Fabio Capello are among the names to have been linked to the position though nothing is yet concrete. The job needs to be offered to someone soon in order to provide stability in pre-season and with the former Barcelona coach taking a sabbatical and Capello out of experience in club management, the decision does not seem a hard one. If the saga is allowed to drag on for too long it would only serve to create uncertainty and disconcertment in the dressing room.
However, despite not having a coach to lead the team next season the club have already started their overhaul of the squad. The departure of Didier Drogba leaves a hole up front but since his 29-goal haul in the 2009/10 season the Blues have not been in possession of a prolific goal scorer. Frank Lampard continues to find the back of the net on a regular basis but a striker is needed that can match the prowess of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Sergio Aguero at their Premier League rivals.
A few years back Fernando Torres would have been considered as one of the most esteemed strikers in the league but his continual battle for form has seen him find the net just 12 times in 67 appearances. If he cannot rediscover his best goal scoring form then Chelsea could be left dangerously short of firepower once more. But instead of purchasing yet another forward, there are options already open to the club. Daniel Sturridge ended the season with 11 league goals from a wide position, yet his spell at Bolton Wanderers last year suggested that he can handle the rigours of operating as a lone striker in the Premier League. Romelu Lukaku could also provide some promising back up if he is not sent out on loan. Trusting in these players could prove vital to propel Chelsea up the league standings and back into contention for the league title.
The other problem area with the playing squad remains in attacking midfield. Capturing Marko Marin could prove to be a shrewd piece of business as his pace in the wide areas is something that the Blues have been severely lacking since Arjen Robben and Damien Duff terrorised full-backs under Jose Mourinho. The club decided to release one such player in Salamon Kalou but are reportedly close to snatching the signing of another impressive wide player from the hands of Manchester United and Manchester City in Eden Hazard. This could also see Juan Mata move back into his favoured position in behind the striker and offer the starting line-up much more balance.
However, with UEFA’s Fiancial Fair Play regulations gradually becoming stricter the need to graduate youth players from the academy has never been more prevalent. Josh McEachran and Gael Kakuta will both be returning from their respective spells away from Stamford Bridge during the off season and need to be integrated into the first team. Allowing young players an increased level of responsibility in the senior squad is essential to create a tighter unit for the coming years.
Looking further to the future, for Chelsea to be considered as one of the most reputable clubs in world football they will need a new stadium. The Blues have clearly outgrown their current home and regular crowds of 60,000 upwards would not only help create increased revenue but also provide an ever more intimidating atmosphere when playing at home.
This summer will be pivotal as to the direction in which Chelsea head in the coming years. With the right moves, focusing on both the short term and long term needs of matters both on and off the field, the Blues could once again become a competitive force in the upper echelons of the Premier League.