After being knocked out of Champions League by Barcelona and failing to defend their Premier League title, the 2017-18 season for the Blues was not as successful as initially expected. However, the Blues can still find some silver linings to close out the the term if they manage a top four finish as well as a FA Cup title.
Ahead of the quarter-finals clash against 2015-16 Premier League champions Leicester City, manager Antonio Conte spoke about the importance of winning the FA Cup and the club’s aim of rebuilding the squad as the final component of our old guard, John Terry, departed the club last summer.
“For sure, we have to try to win this competition, but I think you have to know what our level is now and to understand that we are working very hard like last season, when we did a fantastic job. But also in this season, we are doing a fantastic job.”
“For me, this is the most important thing. Then, if you are able to win something, it’s good, but you have to understand your moment and your position.”
“I think that last season we did a fantastic job. Every player performed at 120 per cent. Also, if you remember, we lost a lot of old players that created a basis for Chelsea for a long time.”
Those losses however did not take place in just one season. The transition started in 2012, when the club won the Champions League and the first members of the core that launched Chelsea into what they are today started to depart.
Those were thus replaced by younger counterparts, but most of them still experienced despite their young age such as Eden Hazard, César Azpilicueta, Thibaut Courtois and so forth. However many of the players brought to fill in those gaps have also departed the club, and now the club are still looking to build the foundation that can carry themselves forward.
“Now we are trying to build a fundamental basis for this club and for this reason you have a lot of young players. You lack experience when you play a game against a team like Barcelona, because many players are playing for the first time in this competition, and they need to have more time to improve their experience to play at this level.”
“The important thing is to work very hard to try to improve the players and the club. For sure, everyone wants to win something when you start the season. I’m very satisfied for my job, for the work me and my staff are doing and the players.”
“This season has confirmed one thing: that last season we did an incredible achievement. We have to work, we have to try to improve and we have to understand the way to improve eventually for next season, to be stronger, and then to continue to work.”
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
The transition period has been in place for almost six years now and even though Chelsea have still found success in the time frame by winning the Premier League twice along with a League Cup and a Europa League title, it feels as if we are losing a step to our rivals.
It is thus no wonder that Conte tried to find a shortcut to this transition by reportedly asking the board to bring in experienced players to join his cause. It was his modus operandi at Juventus, one that brought him three league titles during his three years at the Italian club. But it was all far from perfect.
Surely we do miss the brawn and leadership of those old players, and to replace them with players of the same silk will be a difficult task. In fact, it will be nigh impossible.
The way moving forward to Chelsea is to build a new road towards the future, working with a squad that have shown themselves able to play head to head with a perennial Champions League contender. Especially in an era where clubs such as Manchester City can become a continental force in a span of two years while we are still slipping in time and space in thrice that time.
Time to drop the defeatism, and start working on moving ourselves back to top places.