So far this summer, Chelsea have sold Michael Mancienne, Gokhan Tore, Jacopo Sala and Jack Cork. There've been a couple of loan deals as well, the most significant being Jeffrey Bruma to Hamburg, where he'll join up with the first three players on the 'sold' list. Coming in are Thibaut Courtois and Oriol Romeu, with Courtois immediately being sent to Atletico Madrid and Romeu presumably providing squad depth in midfield.
I don't mind any of the moves in isolation, and some of them have been fantastic (Romeu is the standout here). But I am pretty concerned that the expected changes to the squad haven't been made, especially in light of the hideous under-performance that was the 2010/11 season. Being fiscally prudent and making the most of available resources is all well and good, but at some point we're going to have to win games as well.
If the squad stays as it is, Chelsea will essentially be relying on Andre Villas-Boas and luck to lead them to being competitive in both the Premier League and Europe this season. Regression's a reasonable thing to put one's trust in, but it's a little hard to stomach when Manchester United are going on 75M spending sprees (if Wesley Sneijder is landed) and Manchester City splashing out a lot of money for Sergio Aguero.
I accept that Chelsea might think they don't have to change anything in order to keep up. After all, it's difficult to see how United will have actually improved anything but squad depth with their signing, and adding Aguero to a stable of star strikers probably won't make City better in any meaningful way. But the Blues still performed poorly last season, and there's very little to suggest the squad will have been meaningfully improved come September.
This isn't a 'aaaah we must buy a big name you fools' post. I know that Chelsea know better than I who they should be targetting and what their weaknesses are. Perhaps there are ways of using their current players in a more effective way that Ancelotti didn't see. Perhaps they're willing to finish third for a season in order to cycle through the older, high-wage players and get ready to bring in some fresh new faces. Perhaps there's simply no more money to spend.
All I'm saying is that we don't appear to be in contention to seriously challenge for the title this year, just like we weren't in contention to seriously challenge last season (t took a miraculous run for Chelsea to make it close, and they still were out of the race by the penultimate week of the season). Although they were perhaps not as good as their record, United were thoroughly deserving of their position as champions last season, and as it stands I don't see Chelsea having closed that gap.
This isn't a prediction or a warning - I know football too well to think I can actually predict anything. I'm simply concerned that this summer (with the exception of our brilliant new manager) appears to be going rather badly right now, and I hope that changes. Or Chelsea proves me wrong. That'd be fine too.