Lifting the title after a premier league match against Sunderland at home. Starting the season at Wembley against Arsenal in the Community Shield. It is the way the transformation from the 2016-17 to the 2017-18 season will be for Chelsea. The sequence of the fixture might seem familiar. It surely is as it was exactly the way the dreadful 2015-16 season had begun for Chelsea. Looking at it brings back some horrible memories for Chelsea fans and a fear for the upcoming campaign.
Having won the League two seasons back things looked bright at the time for Chelsea. It seemed like under Jose Mourinho, they were all set to build a dynasty. It was thought that the title win would be a catalyst for greater things to come.What followed was completely converse to expectations. Chelsea fell off in in absolutely unbelievable fashion. The title winners crumbled to levels one could not even have imagined in their wildest dreams. This led to fan favorite Jose Mourinho being sacked in December with Chelsea placed 16th on the league table and ultimately finishing 10th under interim manager Guus Hiddink.
Chelsea have responded to the terrifying season in grand fashion. Under the masterful Antonio Conte, they have regained the title. Now not only do they face a similar fixture list, there is a similar vibe of positivity and expectation at the club. The blue’s fans can once again feel something special being on the cards. They surely do have a great base to build on and its now upon the club hierarchy to seize the opportunity and not repeat past mistakes to ensure the club keeps progressing.
First of all, it’s vital that the no one around the club gets complacent on the title win.The club must remember that the win is an acknowledgment of the fact that Chelsea was the best team in the land in the particular season. It is no guarantee as Chelsea learned the hard way two seasons back of how things will pan in the following season. Some of the club’s direct rivals would invest heavily to bridge the gap. The Blues must ensure they show the same ambition and build a squad that is good enough to compete on all fronts.
It’s crucial that Chelsea does not stay satisfied with just domestic success. A key hallmark of Roman Abramovich’s legacy at Stamford Bridge has been how he strived without giving up to win the Champions League for the club. He must settle for no less once again. They must build a squad that has the reserves to survive going deep into all competitions. Ideally, Chelsea must look at likes of Real Madrid for inspiration and have a squad through a blend of youth and experience where it is covered by having at least two players for each position in the 11.
Also, there must be an emphasis on quality. Chelsea should go all out to ensure they get their primary targets, if not have good enough alternatives available.They must make sure that the deals are done well in time. Not only will this help the new players gel into Conte’s system and with their new teammates but will also prevent a late rush to get deals done and prevent the club from ending up with players like Papy Diljobodi.
Another crucial thing, especially for Conte is that he must not wait for players to fail. There are certain players who did a decent job last season but were visibly performing above their potential and protected by the system or being clearly past their prime. Conte must be ruthless and replace them well in time and the board must provide him with the resources to do so. The blues must have no players in their lineup who can be classified as liabilities. Chelsea surely cannot afford situations like that of Branislav Ivanovic in 2015.
Also, the manager must himself continue to improvise and be flexible. While these are traits one associates with Conte, it is something that is very important for the team for him to not relax. In his last season, one key mistake of Jose Mourinho was being stagnant tactically. In modern day football with the tremendous level of technology available, it isn’t that hard to figure out a playing style at least in the premier league where there are a lot of high-quality managers and even competition spread throughout the league.
In all this, a huge degree of responsibility falls on the players themselves. They must show the same amount of ambition, commitment, and dedication as they did last season. They must take care of their fitness and come back in top shape. They must ensure they do things right what that they did wrong a couple of seasons back. The sight of star players like Eden Hazard starting the season almost obese and then massively underperforming is something that continues to haunt Chelsea fans. This is an opportunity for most of those players to make everyone forget that season as an abbreviation.
At the moment the club is being linked to the kind of players it must be after and meet thir standard. There is no sign to suggest anything remotely close to what happened in 15-16 will happen again. But there was no indication of anything such happening back then too. The owner, The board, the manager and the players must always be on their toes and ensure past mistakes aren’t repeated so that Chelsea build on their latest success and not fall back like last time.