In a recent interview, Chelsea sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart explained that after overseeing the largest and swiftest (and most expensive) transition ever, going from a team full of veterans and winners to the Premier League’s youngest team, full of little more than potential and promise, they were now working with larger time horizons amid a longer-term plan.
“We will plan two transfer windows in advance. We can’t be reactionary. We’ve got to look at the whole squad, the players that are out on loan, and opportunities we can give to players in the Academy. That is the player puzzle we’ve got to pull together.”
-Paul Winstanley; source: Chelsea FC
But of course best laid plans rarely ever work out as we imagine in football. There’s no accounting for injuries, luck, cosmic alignments. And there’s little time to wait for the winning to start. So within that larger framework, there needs to be short-term flexibility.
“We’ll go through that review and reflection process now as we continue with the plan. Then, as we get closer to January, we look at things again. Is there anything urgent we need? Is anything pressing? Or is there an interesting opportunity?”
-Laurence Stewart; source: Chelsea FC
And that’s presumably where Mauricio Pochettino comes in. While he was already working closely with the club’s player recruitment department in the summer following his arrival, he now expects to be more involved in the decision-making for January, and beyond.
Over the summer, stories claimed that the head coach wanted to add a couple more experienced heads to the squad. He never really got that wish despite our massive spending — Axel Disasi aside. It’s perhaps no surprise that Disasi has been one of two non-goalkeepers to start every match so far (Levi Colwill the other).
“The good thing is the relationship and communication is very good with the sporting directors and owners. When the transfer window was closed I said I need to be more involved now in all the decisions. I have started to work to identify what we need for January.”
“Football is very dynamic and it is about the present always. Things can change until January. We need to work to recover Nkunku and Armando Broja to try to provide the team with more goals and become solid. But, of course, we have already started to work [on transfers].”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Guardian
It’s a tricky balance to achieve, short-term needs versus long-term plans. For much of the past twenty years, we favored the former, and to great effect, with a trophy cabinet to prove. Focusing on the latter is great in theory, but turning it into real-world success is likely to prove much more difficult. Hopefully we can enable it better with our decisions in the upcoming transfer windows.