The 2013-14 season is officially over for anyone that follows Chelsea FC, and the blue side of London is (now) very aware that the transfer window is open. With David Luiz already Paris-bound, the biggest stars from Chelsea will now be gearing up for the World Cup as the “special” manager and somewhat less-“special” boardroom gear up for Chelsea to improve upon a, by their lofty standards, mediocre season. Despite a manager claiming an inability to claim the title for the entirety of the season, finishing 13/14 without serious silverware is a disappointment for such a large club. So, without further ado, let us dive into what will get Chelsea back into trophy contention this summer.
First, an easy goal for the third-place team from 13/14: 1st place. While Mourinho constantly reminded us of his team not having any shot at the title this year, his second year back at the helm can have the Portuguese manager saying whatever he wants…but the title needs to happen. More money will go into this squad (especially considering the exorbitant amount PSG spent on Luiz) and a large chunk of Chelsea’s nucleus seems likely to return for one more go-round. For the London blues, it feels like either a Champions League or EPL trophy would be the only worthy finish to the upcoming season.
Where other teams will be entering into this off-season with a major coaching issue, Chelsea seem 99.9% certain of having Mourinho at the helm for the next season. The “Special One” somehow avoided major criticism for not being able to bring home silverware in the last campaign, but it seems unlikely that Mourinho can watch another season go by without some major figures starting to speak up. It is interesting to start to speculate whether Mourinho will outlive his typical 3-year stay at any job…but we still have a bit of time before that becomes an issue.
Players that NEED to go – With the press now becoming a battleground for Mourinho and Eto’o, the aging striker needs to be sent packing. Although Ramires has proven himself a favorite for every Chelsea manager for the last several seasons, it feels like it is time for an upgrade for the Brazilian as his conduct on the field seems to degrade with each passing season. Lastly, Fernando Torres (and maybe even Ba) needs to be shipped off while he still has some semblance of a transfer value. While hope still lingers somewhere for the Spaniard to recapture his Liverpool form, hope does not bring home trophies…world-class strikers do.
Positions that NEED to be filled – If Courtois really does stay away from Chelsea, the club will need to start thinking about a Cech replacement. An aging Terry and departing Luiz means that another central defender would not be a bad purchase. While another top-tier midfielder would be useful for Mourinho’s assault on multiple trophy-fronts, the biggest NEED is certainly at the tip of the attack. While rumors have circulated for months regarding Falcao or Costa, the only thing that prevented Chelsea from being on top of the league in May was the lack of a quality striker…fix that, and Chelsea immediately looks like an easy pre-season favorite.
The KEY to next season – It is far too easy to echo what was said in the earlier section by placing full emphasis on a goal-bagging striker, so we will look elsewhere. For Chelsea, health will certainly be a huge key to the success of this squad. Hazard and some of the aging defensive pieces hurt Chelsea late in the season, but some added depth through the summer might help avoid the sting of any repeat situations.
Surprise boost – Mourinho’s broken “home-winning streak.” Although it is very easy to put faith into a streak that has gone on for so long, it is just as simple for a team to start to buckle under the weight on an expectation. With the erasing of the monumental run that Chelsea had by Sunderland, the blues will be looking to build the base for a new streak…an even longer one.
Chelsea and Manchester City are the easiest picks ever to be slugging it out for first place next season…and it seems unlikely that those picks will change. For Chelsea, the club can count on several players experiencing performance improvements that are typical of players in their second season with a club. While a semi-final CL appearance and third place are the type of accomplishments that some clubs would be happy with, Chelsea are no longer allowed the luxury of labeling anything a “success” without silverware…
Chelsea goal finish: 1st
Players purchased for more than $7.5 million: 4
Players sold: 4
New coach? No way.
How long until Mourinho starts mind games for the new season? Believe me, he’s already begun.