Chelsea is close to having a new manager to replace the soon to depart Antonio Conte after the Italian manager failed to pick up the required feats in the season objectives.
The Italian was particularly critical of the club’s board from the beginning of the season.
He questioned the club’s transfer policy and inability to land top targets while admitting the club may have to fight to avoid a ‘Mourinho season’.
That did not work. He was in the middle of it all as Chelsea failed to defend their Premier League title, falling 30 points off Manchester City and crashing out of the Champions League and Carabao Cup in the knockout round.
Many have pointed fingers at Antonio Conte for his failed tactics and poor decisions in the course of the season, but one former Chelsea boss has leapt to his defence.
Ruud Gullit believes it is not the manager’s fault that Chelsea finds themselves without Champions League football next season.
He is adamant the board should have answered the sack rumours from the beginning of the season to put players mind to rest.
“I’m not blaming it on Conte. I’m blaming it on the rumours from the beginning about whether he was going to have to leave or whatever.
Nobody upstairs did anything about it. No one said: ‘Hey, that’s what a rumour, that’s not true. He’s our coach.’ That didn’t happen.
The players who are playing, they don’t care, but the players who are not playing see an opportunity that if he leaves, maybe they can play.
So, you get a lot of trouble into the locker room. You don’t need that as a coach. It’s not been a success. It has been a plaster on the wound. It’s been a very hard season.
If they could exchange the Champions League place for the FA Cup, they’d do it.”
Chelsea loan system is ‘working better now’ claims long-time regular
Lucas Piazon is one of the most experienced players in the Chelsea loan system.
He took his first ride in January 2013, after making three Chelsea appearances, and has since spent time in Spain (Málaga), the Netherlands (Vitesse), Germany (Frankfurt), and the English second tier (Reading and Fulham).
A few years ago, he was already tired of the whole shebang, but has since refocused and recommitted himself to carving out a career either at Chelsea or, like many others before, using the experience to launch his career elsewhere.
In fact, having spent over five years in the Chelsea Loan Army, the 24-year-old has now become one of the greatest proponents of the system, especially thanks to recent improvements made by the club in our use and understanding of it.
“I think it is getting better now. Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] is a great example. He is going to the World Cup and he was on loan at Palace.
A lot of players did well on their loans and they got a move or are back in the Chelsea first-team. The boys are understanding better what a loan is and what you have to do well to develop for the Chelsea first-team or for another team.
”The system is improving and our understanding of the system is also improving. It is working better now.
The contact they have with us now is more consistent as well. A few years ago the contact was every once in a while, now it is much more. We feel a little closer to the club.”
Not only is Chelsea paying careful attention to as many details as possible, we’re seeing better and better returns on time and investment.
Thibaut Courtois, Andreas Christensen, and Victor Moses have become first-choice players after multiple years away in what basically amounts to finishing school.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek earned a spot on the England World Cup squad through his loan, and Mason Mount almost sort of did as well (he joined the training camp briefly).
Others, like Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Aké, have leveraged them into permanent moves and, especially in the latter’s case, starring roles for their new teams.
It’s still not foolproof and probably will never be, just like player development itself.
There is no formula; the best we can do is to make what we think are the best choices in each individual case.
For Piazon, that choice is unclear at the moment. Last summer, he ended up signing a new Chelsea contract and then heading back to Fulham for a second season. Will there be a third?
Is something more permanent going to materialize? We’ll find out in due course.
“We spoke briefly after the game [play-off final]. Everyone was so excited and the chats were not properly serious.
”We have got time. Last year it was the same, we didn’t speak much at the end of the season and I ended up coming back. Let’s just see what happens.”