How will Chelsea finish the season?
Diehard Chelsea optimists will still be clinging onto hope that this season could be special.
Last season’s Premier League champions have failed to put in a defence of their title this season.
But the Blues are still in the Champions League, they could knock out Barcelona, and then who knows.
Sitting fifth in the league, Chelsea’s domestic UCL hopes are also in the balance. Again, Chelsea could easily finish the season strongly and with a top four spot.
Alternatively their current two game losing streak could continue, things could get worse.
Chelsea’s players don’t feel accountable for failure
The New York Times’s Rory Smith has written an interesting op-ed into the current scene at Chelsea.
In a significant comment, it was reported that Chelsea’s players don’t seem to think that failure will hurt them individually.
The structure at Chelsea is such that failure pins to the manager, not the players:
This is a club where the players are inured to the idea that bust must always follow boom, and that, when it does, they will not be the ones held accountable.
There is an effect on managers, too, an awareness that whatever happens, they will not necessarily be the ones who have to deal with the fallout.
Of course, many people expect Antonio Conte to leave Chelsea at the end of the season.
Roman Abramovich’s money issues
The other main reason explaining Chelsea’s current position, argued Smith, was the standing of Roman Abramovich.
When he first arrived in west London the Russian seemed to see the Blues as a play-thing, but now it’s very much as business:
Abramovich is no longer the richest guy in the room: He has to compete with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the transfer market, teams backed by entire nations. He is no longer decisive in the way he was a decade ago.
Instead, Chelsea has — admirably — set out to become self-sustaining.
Too often in the transfer market, Chelsea seems determined to buy in bulk, rather than shell out the premium figures now required for premium talent.