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After stiffing Mourinho, Chelsea ready to break the bank for Guardiola

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At the time, Chelsea's summer of (transfer market) inaction was looked upon with a mixture of idle fascination, dire prognostications, repressed anxiety, and complete confidence that the squad who lifted the Premier League trophy, leading from the front basically from wire-to-wire, will be good enough to at least challenge for it again the following season.  While rivals all around strengthened — even Arsenal addressed a major weakness with Petr Čech — we did nothing, downgrading like-for-like at backup goalkeeper, backup left back, and third-string striker.  In hindsight, this was all one huge mistake.

It's not entirely clear to me whom we should blame for the summer's decision.  Mourinho had repeatedly maintained that we would not be making big waves in the market, that, for example, there were no upgrades available to the likes of Costa or Fabregas or Terry.  In hindsight, that's a laughable stance, but at the time, those three were, in order, the third-leading goalscorer (and top box office draw), the leading assist-getter, and the best defender in England.  But while he maintained that narrative in public, Mourinho did eventually reveal that he had submitted a list of potential targets to the board, a list that presumably included the likes of John Stones, Christian Benteke, and perhaps even Paul Pogba.  It most certainly did not include Papy Djilobodji or Michael Hector.  Or Baba Rahman — though I'm pretty sure we were not expecting Filipe Luis to desert us, so the Baba transfer gets a pass in my book.

Mourinho also often talked about Financial Fair Play (FFP) compliance, holding it up as a badge of honor for Chelsea while other clubs skirted or simply ignored them.  One would assume this was a directive from the people holding the purse strings, or, more accurately, the people advising the person holding the purse strings.  Because in the end, if we are to blame at least some part of the problems of this season on our lack of impactful summer transfer market activity, then we have to point the fingers at the people making final decisions in such activities, the Chelsea board.  Sure, Mourinho may have brought in Falcao as some sort of pet project, or helped convince Pedro to jump ship to Chelsea instead of Manchester United at the final hour, but the big money negotiations like John Stones and (possibly, hopingly) Paul Pogba did not bear fruit.

We certainly have paid a massive price for our lack of investment.  Without fresh blood, the whole operation quickly turned stagnant.  Poor results, flagging morale, individual conflicts followed, not necessarily in that order, snowballing into one giant mess.  When players trusted with winning the league failed to turn up, there was no one to fall back on.  Mourinho's of course not faultless in this regard, but it would appear that he did in fact identify players to help him in exactly such a scenario, but he was not provided with them.

Another reading of the situation is that he was provided with players the club deemed adequate, but Mourinho couldn't or wouldn't trust them to do the job.  And that's on him of course.  Trotting out supremely underperforming players over and over and over, in various combinations but almost never beyond a core group of 13-14, at least not for more than just a one-off here and there, is his failing.  Somewhere, someone, or a group of someones, made the call to rely on the likes of Loftus-Cheek or Kenedy as backups.  That Mourinho couldn't bring himself to freely utilize these players as he would've, say, a Paul Pogba or an Antoine Griezmann, is on him.  Some of it is on the players we do have, if they didn't convince in training, but most likely, most of the fault lies Mourinho.

He trusted certain players to perform, they didn't.  He trusted the board to reinforce where he wanted them to, they didn't.  All of which has led us to our current predicament, but it's understandable if this is the road we've set out for ourselves.  To build from within, to build smartly, to have the manager use and trust our available resources.  To weather any storm and stay the course.

What's not understandable is ripping all that up once we used it to get rid of Mourinho, and then going back to what he was asking for all along, and what we had been doing before.

Chelsea are hoping the lure of a London lifestyle could be their trump card as they prepare a massive financial package to beat Manchester City to Pep Guardiola. [...]  City are favourites to land the 44-year-old Spaniard, but Chelsea's billionaire owner is not only willing to make him the world's highest paid manager but also to fund a massive overhaul of the playing staff.

-source: Mail

Basically, the story from Neil Ashton (and a couple others going live at around the same time, indicating some sort of centralized source to all this) is that Guardiola's supposed assessment of Chelsea needing "10 new players" is exactly what we're willing to give him, alongside astronomical and record-setting wages, to get him to come to Chelsea this summer.

Which is fantastic if you prefer Guardiola.  But a bit of a slap in the face, if you prefer Mourinho.  It's also a slap in the face if you believed that we're going to build from within, to utilize already available resources, and build some sort of a dynasty, as quaint and unrealistic a notion that may be (especially in the upper echelons of modern football).

But hey, breaking the bank for Guardiola and rebooting the entire squad and getting back into the Champions League is certainly a much more promising future than mediocrity stretching as far into the horizon as the eyes can see.

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