The two most trusted voices in mainstream Chelsea reporting, Matt Law and Dom Fifield, both came out with similar dire prognostications in their quota-filling pieces for the Telegraph and Guardian, respectively last night, after Chelsea more or less confirmed participation in next year’s Europa League with Sunday’s historic loss to Spurs at Stamford Bridge. To the doom bunker (to where Chelsea have already retreated apparently)!
Just because you haven't been linked doesn't mean you're not looking. Chelsea virtually in shut down right now re information— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 2, 2018
Most said prognostications however are par for the course for any off-season, and while they will be affected by the prospect of not having Champions League football to offer, it’s not like we’re completely unfamiliar with that scenario. But yes, there will be player contracts to negotiate, loan army decisions to make, and perhaps a new head coach to hire. Just another summer in the SW6.
Both reports mention that Chelsea are possibly looking at younger options for the next head coach (sorry, Sarri) — then again, Conte at 48 isn’t exactly ancient — but according to Fifield, those options do not include the heavily rumored Thomas Tuchel (while, as we’ve heard before, Luis Enrique’s wage demands may be too high and Mauricio Pochettino would surely laugh us out of the room at this point). Any former Mourinho scouts about to win the Europa League this season?
But uncertainty at the head coaching position isn’t a new situation either. We’ve been here many, many times before, heard the gloomy predictions of no good candidates available many, many times before, and have generally made pretty good permanent appointments anyway. Scolari and the boyscout AVB aside, Mourinho, Conte, and Ancelotti have been three of the greatest managers in club history, for example.
What however is fairly new and immensely more concerning is the continuing state of confusion and disarray surrounding the role of a Director of Football, a role that has officially stood vacant since Michael Emenalo packed his bags for the Cote d’Azur at the start of the winter.
Fifield reports that four months later, Chelsea still “do not appear certain quite what the role will entail”, while Law adds that the Blues are “unlikely to make an appointment before the summer”. Law does claim that a like-for-like replacement is less likely than a more administrative type, which ... well, if WAGNH were to be hired as consultants, we’d strongly advise the Board to go with more tracksuits than business suits. We have plenty of the latter already.
Chelsea face one of their biggest summers of the Abramovich era with manager and technical roles to sort out and doubts over nine players' futures - inc Courtois and Hazard #cfc https://t.co/HdXBUpcdel— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 2, 2018
Add all that up, and Chelsea could indeed be facing a most critical summer. The current prognosis is probably not as bad as in 2016, but in a way, that’s almost worse. Two years ago we knew we had probably hit rock bottom and were on the up. Right now, it could go either way. It’s a bit like 2012 in that sense, but without the crucial Big Ears trophy to lean on.
Considering the stakes at hand, without a director of football, probably without a head coach, and quite possibly without a solid sense of direction ... well, fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.