Simon Phillips analyses Chelsea’s frustrating 2017/18 season.
I’ve decided to write my thoughts on Chelsea’s season before it officially ends on Saturday – my feelings will not change whether we win the FA Cup or not.
It’s been a depressing season for Chelsea fans across the globe, match day followers continuing to spend their hard earned cash going to the games travelling across the country, still in full voice. Global supporters are setting their alarms at stupid o’ clock in the morning to get up and watch another tired display.
We ALL deserved a lot more. There have been times where I am adamant that if you put my Sunday league team on that pitch instead of the millionaires on display, we’d at the very least put in more effort.
The blame game continues and it will for some time, but the bottom line is that they ALL need to shoulder some of the blame here. The board have made some questionable decisions and clearly, haven’t given the head coach some of his primary targets. The head coach has been negative, defeatist and failed to do his number one job, which is to coach and motivate his players. But then some of the players all bar perhaps N’Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta, have on more than a few occasions produced embarrassing performances and have often given up by halftime.
Antonio Conte has spent the majority of the season feeling sorry for himself and moping around. The board signed his secondary targets. Many attributes to a lack of trust between the two of them and of course some classic penny pinching by the board. Conte and the board have had problems since last summer when he mishandled the Diego Costa situation. Since then it has been an uphill struggle, and as a reaction, Conte has sulked and moaned, instead of getting on with his job. Costa wanted to leave Chelsea for some time, that wasn’t Conte’s fault. But the fact we ended up having one of our most influential players not playing for us for massive part of the season, while still paying his wages, is quite frankly ludicrous whoever was to blame.
Another significant issue is that some of the players in the squad at current, are not Chelsea standard. There are some deadwood and mediocre players that we must move on sooner rather than later. Then there are the players who simply have just been abysmal this season, and have looked nothing like the large fee’s we paid for them in the summer. Again, not Conte’s fault.
As I briefly touched on earlier, the board need to take responsibility here too. They’ve left it entirely up to Conte to bear the brunt of our negativity and answer all the questions. They have become even more out of touch with the supporters and what they want to happen at the club. It always amazes me why not one single person from a higher up position at the club either comes out in support of the manager in an attempt to build morale or even says anything publicly to end any speculation or give the fans an idea of plans at the club.
The structure they use is not stable; they have many business executives in the club, but not enough footballing people. They’ve gone half the season without a Director of Football, failing to replace Michael Emenalo, and allowing Marina Granovskaia to shoulder more responsibilities. That is not the way to go about running a football club. They need football minded advisers in there who can perhaps see that it would make far more sense to keep and play Ruben Loftus-Cheek for example, rather than spend £40 million on another young player who apart from a tad more experience, does not possess anything more than the homegrown talent of Loftus-Cheek.
There have been many bizarre decisions this year and previous years at the club, and I feel that now we need a long-term stable plan, and the board need to change their emphasis a little. With the focus being on financing a stadium rebuild, we need to implement a bold and brave young manager with an attacking philosophy and a plan to integrate some of the quality young talents we have at our disposal in one of the best youth academies in the world. Give them a bit of time, add some talent where its needed in terms of more experienced players, replace the deadwood, and watch that new model shine.
My biggest frustration though remains with Conte. I genuinely believe that he had the fire in his belly to have gotten more out of those players this season. But instead of turning his anger generated from not getting all he wanted from the board, he turned that into negative energy, and that then built up toxicity that seeped around the whole club and its fan base.
As head coach, his priority is to get the very best out of what he has at his disposal and motivate the players to win. Instead, he showed his immensely stubborn side and stuck with the same cynical tactics that had been found out a long time ago. He then continued to publicly moan to the media that his players are not good enough. Well, I’m sorry, but if as a manager you are publicly telling your employees that they are not good enough, that will only result in a negative way. Whether its the reality or not, that is not how you motivate people.
I look at it like this. In my job, my employers don’t always give me the resources that I know would make my job easier and help me perform better. But if I decided to sulk about that and continue to do my job even more poorly, I would end up getting a warning and eventually sacked. So instead I find other resources myself and different ways to get stuff done, and as a result, my employers adore me. It’s THAT simple. The only difference being, I’m not being paid millions of pounds to do my job!
My hope for the future? I’ve always been a positive fan, so I’ll keep it that way while I round off this review. I want a pragmatic and attacking style manager to come and replace Conte this summer. Give them a long-term plan, back them with whatever funds we can raise by selling deadwood players and some of the loan army, then integrate some of the best young players into the first team squad to fill any gaps left over. But the Board must be entirely clear when setting out expectations with the manager, and why not let us fans hear what some of those expectations will be… I don’t want to see another manager being interviewed mid-season claiming that he hasn’t been given what the board promised.
Up the Chels, now win that FA Cup, as frustrated as I am, I’m still in love with that competition as I have been since I was a kid! What are your thoughts? Let us know!