It’s all change at Stamford Bridge with both their star player, Eden Hazard, and their manager, Maurizio Sarri exiting the London club in the past few days. Whilst both of these moves were a long time coming, it means that Chelsea will undoubtedly look like a very different team in the upcoming 2019/20 season.
The Blues have already added Christian Pulisic to their ranks earlier this year. But with a transfer ban stopping Chelsea signing any more players until the end of January 2020, there are big questions about how the London team can stay competitive.
Why did Sarri leave Chelsea?
For most clubs, a top three Premier League finish would be satisfactory. But with a billionaire owner like Roman Abramovich, it’s clear that Chelsea aren’t like most football teams. Despite Maurizio Sarri helping Chelsea to win the Europa League trophy, the Italian manager never really gelled with the Stamford Bridge faithful and boardroom.
Sarri came to Chelsea in July 2018 after helping Napoli climbs up the ranks in Serie A, and he made a strong start at Stamford Bridge by remaining undefeated after 12 Premier League games. However, things quickly unravelled during the EFL Cup final clash with Manchester City where the Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted.
This instantly showed a wide gulf between Sarri and the players, and although Chelsea managed to end the 2018/19 season relatively strongly, they couldn’t overcome this divide. Plus with a reluctance to field talented youngsters like Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi, it wasn’t long before Sarri earned the wrath of the Chelsea fans.
Sarri had stated that he wished to return to his native country of Italy in order to be nearer to his elderly parents. With the Juventus managerial position being vacant after the exit of Massimiliano Allegri, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity for Sarri and he signed a three year contract as head coach of Juventus on 16 June.
Who will be the next Chelsea manager?
Whilst the news of Sarri’s exit was no real surprise, it’s still up in the air as to who his replacement will be at Stamford Bridge. For a while it looked like Juventus and Chelsea would be swapping managers, but Massimiliano Allegri has stated that he wishes to take a year out after guiding Juventus to their eighth successive Serie A title.
Plus with Ajax showing incredible form in last season’s Champions League, there were rumours that their boss, Erik ten Hag, could be lured to Stamford Bridge. Whilst there have also been news reports linking the likes of Rafa Benitez, Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera and even Jose Mourinho with Chelsea, it looks like Frank Lampard could be the preferred option.
Lampard managed to get Derby Country into the Championship play-off finals during his first year of managing the club. Whilst he has stated that he hopes to stay at Derby, the fact that Lampard is still one of Chelsea’s most-cherished players could significantly boost his chances of being the next Chelsea manager.
Given Lampard’s strong record for working well with academy players, it seems that his appointment could help Chelsea overcome their current transfer ban. Although his relative lack of experience might limit his chances of being the next Chelsea boss, it’s clear that if this club want to have a popular manager who is able to make the most of young players, then Frank Lampard is going to be hard to beat.
How can the next Chelsea manager keep his job?
Ever since Roman Abramovich became the owner of Chelsea in 2003, he has proven to have very little patience with the team’s managers. There have been no less than 12 different managers in the Abramovich-era including massive names like Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. But such is Abramovich’s thirst for success that the Chelsea managerial position is one of the toughest in football.
We have seen popular managers like Antonio Conte survive the occasional season with a fifth-placed finish, and Jose Mourinho even managed to keep his job despite one trophy-less year. But ultimately, it looks like if you want to keep the owner happy at Stamford Bridge, you will have to both be a favourite with the fans and also pick up plenty of silverware.
How can Chelsea cope without Eden Hazard?
Much of Chelsea’s success in the 2018/19 season can be placed squarely at the feet of Eden Hazard. The Belgian star wasn’t just Chelsea’s top scorer with 16 Premier League goals, but his endless creativity and dynamism gave rise to no less than 15 assists and meant that he was an integral part of the team’s success.
However, Hazard’s desire to leave Stamford Bridge was one of football’s worst kept secrets for much of last season, and it was little surprise to see the Belgian ace signing for Real Madrid for £88.5 million on 7 June. As a result, it has meant that there’s now a massive hole in Chelsea’s attacking midfield area, and with no way of signing more players until next summer, it seems that Chelsea’s next boss could have a big problem.
Thankfully, Christian Pulisic will be able to start work with Chelsea after his £58 million move from Borussia Dortmund. The American star was pivotal in Borussia Dortmund’s strong Bundesliga challenge last season, and he has already spoken of his desire to emulate Hazard’s form.
Whilst there were rumours that Sarri could try and lure Jorginho to Juventus, it’s hoped that the Brazilian star could play a greater role in the Chelsea midfield and make up for what was a fairly disappointing season. But it’s the young stars of Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi who could benefit most in the post-Hazard era. As such, the 2019/20 season could give us chance to see a new-look Chelsea.
What can be done to boost Chelsea’s morale?
For a side of Chelsea’s stature, they seemed to spend much of last season looking remarkably out of sorts. With the ongoing war between Sarri and the club’s supporters adding to a growing sense of dissatisfaction, it’s incredible that Chelsea managed to pick up a Europa League trophy and squeeze into the top three of the Premier League.
Ultimately, it has shown that Chelsea can keep winning trophies regardless of who their current manager is. Much of this is down to the immense amounts of money that Abramovich floods the Chelsea coffers with, but even the Russian billionaire has scaled down his funding recently.
At the moment, it looks like Abramovich’s plans to redevelop Chelsea’s ground are on hold, and with the transfer ban in effect, we might be seeing a new way of thinking in the Stamford Bridge boardroom. Tottenham managed to go a good amount of time without making any signings, and it actually helped build a side with plenty of confidence that could become greater than the sum of its parts.
As a result, the transfer ban could help Chelsea look towards more of a long-term future with their next manager. So will Chelsea aim for stability with Lampard, or go for short-term success with a more experienced manager? Once again, only Abramovich will have an idea of what will happen in what’s going to be a pivotal season for this legendary football club.