Chelsea’s frequent managerial changes are often criticized, but the club’s methods have proven largely successful over the last couple decades, with plenty of wins and titles to show for it. In fact, last season was only the 6th in the 17-year Abramovich Era without a trophy of any kind, and only the 2nd that did not result in at least one sacking because of that (2013-14 the other).
There were several mitigating circumstances of course, and Lampard did come very close by reaching the FA Cup final (but losing to Arsenal). With the club making up for the previous transfer ban over the summer, improvements were expected. And they did come, at first, with Chelsea challenging for the early lead in the league, but Lampard got his marching orders after a month and a half of bad results. Thomas Tuchel was his immediate replacement, and looking at our current seven-match unbeaten run, including five victories, it’s hard to claim that it was a mistake.
One notable feature of Tuchel’s first month in charge has been stated intention to give every player a fair shake and a new start, including not just those ostracized by the previous regime, but those who had their starting spots nailed on. And that included Édouard Mendy as well, who’s been the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper since his arrival at the end of the summer transfer window.
“As the manager said, he started from a blank slate, he’s trying to give game time to everyone, to give a chance to prove you can be part of the starting XI. To perform regardless of the time given, and I think that he wants to instill in the group, that everyone is concerned and it’s not just words.”
Kepa Arrizabalaga got a surprise start against Newcastle United in the Premier League, though normal service was resumed this past weekend with Mendy back in goal against Southampton. Given Tuchel’s strong defense, it could be argued that any goalkeeper could do a serviceable job, but Mendy remains the clear preference.
And that may have something to do with his ability to step up as a leader as well, not just his skills in stopping shots and playing it around at the back.
“Yes, the fact that I was a leader at Reims and at Rennes, when you arrive in a star dressing room with players who have won it all, it’s hard, but you know as well as I do, you do your talking on the pitch and you gain credibility through performances. I think I’m not someone who forces stuff. I have natural leadership, I think. It’s something that comes with time.”
-Edouard Mendy; source: RMC Sport via Sport Witness
Mendy hasn’t been too busy lately, but will probably need to be at his very best today against Atlético, and going forward as we enter a season-defining stretch of tough games.