A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s opening fixture away to Manchester United.
And so a new adventure begins for all Chelsea fans. The next chapter, entitled the 2019/20 Premier League season, is upon us and what a way to start. With one of the club’s most loved players now installed as the manager, The Blues kick off away to an old adversary in Manchester United.
Surely every Chelsea fan is excited to have such a cherished hero in Frank Lampard at the helm. And especially with his plethora of not only ex Chelsea players installed in coaching roles, but familiar faces to an exciting army of young players vying for the opportunity to shine for the first team.
After a season where not only the manager, but also the club itself, didn’t connect with the supporters, there feels as though there has been a revolution at Chelsea Football Club. The less said about Maurizio Sarri’s spell in charge and the discontent and vitriol that spread amongst the fans the better.
With the Italian happily back in his homeland (although all the Napoli fans aren’t happy with his choice of destination), we can now look forward to a very different feel to following our favourite team.
On the playing front, it has been a very quiet summer. The club have had to endure the first of 2 consecutive transfer windows in which they cannot register a new player. With no new signings over the last 2 months, the first team could only be strengthened by utilising the best of the club’s loan army and youth players.
And surely a recently retired club legend who has won every trophy going with the club, supported by former youth team coaches steering the club through this scenario, is the most logical solution.
Most pundits and fans of other clubs will point to Frank’s lack of managerial experience and the loss of potentially the most gifted player to ever play for the club as indicators that this is a weakened Chelsea team. Their expectation will be that The Blues will be a softer target and will struggle more without Eden Hazard. Add to that the club’s inability to spend the huge transfer fee received for the Belgian to further restrengthen the playing squad and surely The Blues will slip further behind the country’s top 2.
However, the introduction of the club’s astute January signing of the hugely exciting Christian Pulisic and the continued improvement of the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi may make this transition period less bumpy.
After all, most of this squad have won the Premier League, The FA Cup and The Europa League over the last 3 seasons. Yes, we will miss the ability and match winning displays of the mercurial Hazard, but now there is the opportunity for others to shine. Instead of being overly reliant on one star player, the spotlight can now be shared out a lot more. After all, most of Willian’s best performances have been when he played instead of his former teammate as opposed to alongside him.
But now the new adventure under Frank begins in earnest. And a trip to Old Trafford is not for the faint hearted. The match up has all the ingredients of a new season about it. It will be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first season opener at the helm of The Red Devils. They will include the now most expensive defender in football in their line up. Paul Pogba surely is on his last chance to prove his worth to the club, while former Blue Romelu Lukaku has left the club and moved on to Inernationale in Milan.
A Hazard-less Chelsea team are now also without the distinctive presence David Luiz in defence. Add to that the absence of Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi all due to injuries, while N’Golo Kante is unlikely to start after only appearing for the last 18 minutes in The Blues’s final preseason match.
Any team missing those 7 first choices will need to dig deep, especially in front of such a huge partisan crowd and under the spotlight of the tv cameras and the world’s media. But with Frank Lampard behind them, a man who thrived in such circumstances, The Blues could still come away with a result.
Whatever the outcome is though, this will be an opening match to an intriguing and hopefully absorbing season for all who follow The Chelsea. Let the next rollercoaster ride begin.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue