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Crossing the Bridge of woes

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6 mins read

For many Chelsea fans, the transition from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to US tycoon has resembled a train crash rather than a passing of the torch.

The reigning World Club Champions (yes, we still are) are languishing tenth in the Premier League, knocked out of both domestic cup competitions and playing without confidence.

In short, it has been a season of humiliation, embarrassment and horror show defending apart from the imperious Thiago Silva, the oldest and best player at the club.

There is an entire generation of Chelsea fans who have never known such depths of despair and incompetence on and off the pitch.

Older Blues fans among us will remember almost slipping out of the old second division, so this is irritation at best.

But that’s not to say that watching Chelsea right now is a pleasurable experience; anybody visiting Stamford Bridge should be advised of the health risks involved.

It’s an experience where uncertainty, nail-biting and uncontrolled anger may be some of the symptoms triggered by the ‘don’t look now’ displays on the field.

Chelsea has stumbled across a recipe for failure where they can’t defend or score goals.

It’s why they have won two of their last ten competitive matches, only scoring six goals and conceding 14.

New manager Graham Potter was supposed to be the tactically astute English coach who would lead the club into a new era of nurturing young talent and planning long-term.

Out went the trophy-winning Thomas Tuchel, who the American owners didn’t take a fancy to, but the club’s running has been chaotic.

Sherlock Holmes needs to be hired to uncover the logic behind the club’s transfer policy: ‘buy any defender as long as they’re overpriced’.

Agreed, there are mitigating factors, such as Chelsea’s huge injury list with a first XI on the treatment table and more players picking up knocks and niggles.

But then the question has to be asked why Chelsea are picking up so many injuries; some point to the new owners sacking key medical staff who players trusted.

It seems that everything that can go wrong at Chelsea is going pear-shaped, and if the team didn’t have bad luck, they would have no luck.

Joao Felix

A case in point is the arrival on loan of Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid during the game against Fulham; he was the star performer before being sent off for a high tackle.

It summed up our season; Chelsea had got back in the game before going down to 10 men, then lost to Fulham for the first time since 2006.

Felix is on a six-month loan for a pricey £9.7 mln and will miss the next three games.

Fans are becoming disgruntled while also wanting to support the team, although some of the performances have been abject and passion-free affairs.

Some blame the manager and argue he is out of his depth at a huge club where winning trophies is a given, not a bonus.

Ex-Brighton manager Potter admitted that being in charge of Chelsea was the hardest job in football because of the expectation and benchmarks set.

Other argue that the squad is unbalanced with too many of the same type of players when the midfield needs improving, and Chelsea need a world-class goal scorer.

Todd Boehly has spent huge amounts on players, but the investment has produced negative outcomes.

Spending over £350 mln, the American will expect results and patience with the manager will be sorely tested.

I hear people talk about ‘the project’; what does that mean – Chelsea’s DNA is built on success and winning.

It doesn’t need to be rebuilt into something else, just guided through the current storm where it’s raining mistakes.

European football is already looking fanciful.

Chelsea has just 25 points from their opening 18 Premier League games, their fewest at this stage since 2015-16, the only season since 1996-97 when they have failed to qualify for Europe.

Spending their way out of trouble hasn’t worked, as recruitment has missed the target, and how much say does Potter have in the signings?

When Potter took over, Chelsea was sixth; they have dropped to tenth with no sign of improving – something must give.

And at the moment, Chelsea is a long way off from being world beaters, nevermind the Pride of London.

True Blues are hurting, but the Chelsea family will come again.

Speaking of the Chelsea family, nobody epitomised that more than Gianluca Vialli – RIP, legend.