Roman Abramovich must copy Liverpool example and give Thomas Tuchel what he needs at Chelsea
Just over two weeks have passed since Chelsea’s magnificent Champions League final victory and, I admit, I still bask in that glory. I’m sure most Chelsea supporters are too. Who can blame them?
But for many others, the focus has shifted to the international stage, with the postponed Euro 2020 tournament now underway.
Interestingly, there are more Chelsea players in the tournament than any other club; Seventeen to be exact will represent their countries over the next month. For some there will be glory, others disappointment.
We hope that Timo Werner will regain his scoring touch with Germany; as Billy Gilmour gets precious playing time for Scotland and a chance to impress; and perhaps most important of all, that N’Golo Kante finishes the tournament injury-free.
Add to that list Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Antonio Rudiger, all of whom have proven to be indispensable in the last two months of Chelsea’s arduous campaign.
While the players are in international service, there will be a lot of work to do at Cobham heading into the new season; one in which Chelsea must seek to capitalize on their renewed status as European champions and look to add a seventh league title – or a sixth Premier League title if you prefer – to the ever-expanding trophy cabinet.
But next season doesn’t have to be limited to the Premier League. Great teams in history have always built on their success and have done so from a position of strength.
Liverpool in the 1970s and 1980s was a prime example. If they had won the championship and the European Cup, they would not have stood idly by. They would do it again with renewed vigor and hunger. They seemed to know that to stand still was to step back and that the name of the game was to stay ahead of the opposition, eager to hunt them down and usurp them.
This mentality led to eleven league titles, three FA Cups, four League Cups, four European Cups, two UEFA Cups and one UEFA Super Cup over a 20-year period from 1970 to 1990. Chelsea has been the dominant English team to win trophies over the past 20 years, but even they lag behind Liverpool during that time.
Given the resources at Chelsea’s disposal and the excellent foundation that has been laid since Roman Abramovich took over in 2003, there is an argument to be made that Chelsea could or should have matched Liverpool’s achievements.
The Blues’ 2012 Champions League win felt like the end of an era as players like Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech and Frank Lampard tried their last chance for European glory.
This time the feeling is very different. The Champions League winning squad included many players early in their careers at Chelsea, such as Mount, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Werner, Havertz and arguably Christian Pulisic and Andreas Christensen.
One would hope and expect that they would only improve and propel Chelsea into an era of even greater success.
Although the circumstances are totally different from those of 2012, which precipitated a rebuilding of a squad and it must be said some rest on laurels perhaps, this time Chelsea have to be aggressive in their approach.
Like Liverpool in the past, the Blues need to build on a position of strength, which means being aggressive in the transfer market.
Despite the apparent strength in depth that has allowed Chelsea to compete on multiple fronts during a particularly difficult season, there are undoubtedly improvements that can be made. The first on the list in the eyes of most fans is said to be a striker with over 20 goals. If the club wants to dominate, they must do everything possible for the best available.
However, there are good reasons to grow stronger on the pitch as well with a creative scoring midfielder, a robust defensive midfielder and an assertive center-back also likely to feature high on the shopping list.
The imperative must be to improve the quality of the starting XI. What must not happen is a repeat of transfers like Danny Drinkwater who, it seems, was bought out to be just a team player. Chelsea have proven over the past couple of years that advancing through the youth ranks can provide a number of high-quality players who can be counted on to complete first-team automatic picks and deliver when called up.
Conversely, if Chelsea want to dominate both in England and in Europe, the feeling must come out the window. If they think that some players are not good enough or will never reach the rating at Stamford Bridge, then they should be replaced by quality players, preferably world class.
One area where José Mourinho excelled in his first tenure as manager was building a squad of 24 players who were all good enough for the first team. That has always been his goal with the mix of young players with potential, with players with experience.
Chelsea already have the nucleus of a great team which, having won the Champions League, must be bursting with confidence and self-confidence allied with one of the best managers in the game in Thomas Tuchel. If they pass the transfer window this summer and add world-class players to the mix of local youngsters and the experience they already have, then expectations should rightly be very high for a challenge for the title of Premier League.
From a personal point of view, I hope they also take the UEFA Super Cup and, more importantly, the FIFA Club World Cup very seriously. The Club World Cup is the only trophy missing from the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet and it still bothers me that what I thought was the only chance Chelsea had to finish the set in 2012 was sabotaged by the manager at the time, Rafa Benitez.
With the Corinthians to take, Benitez’s negative tactics meant Chelsea lost the final 1-0 in a game they were more than capable of winning. Chelsea under Tuchel now have a chance to right this wrong in Japan where the finals are expected to take place again.
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If Chelsea lifts the trophy, they will only be the third English club behind Manchester United, who won the competition in 1999 and 2008, and Liverpool, who only unbelievably won their first Club World Cup in 2019, at do it.
It might seem like an insignificant distraction to some supporters, but for me it’s the only prize I covet. After all, who knows when Chelsea might have the chance to compete again and more specifically if they do win it, fans can genuinely chant ‘We’ve won it all’ with authority.
David Chidgey is a member of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust Board of Directors and presents the award-winning Chelsea FanCast every Monday and Friday, available on Acast, iTunes, Spotify or chelseafancast.com .