That’s what it seems to be. In the last 8 years, Chelsea FC have won everything there’s to be won. The squad that was put together in the summer of 2004 and the subsequent additions thereon have delivered us everything. You could argue on the life span of any squad could be shorter than 8 years but this generation of Chelsea players have indeed outlived their age.
When Carlo took over, the need to overhaul the squad was evident. We won the double but still it was another case our squad pulling above their weight while the rivals had started their rebuilding. This Chelsea squad, if managed well, should comfortably finish in the top four and hence that’s hardly the expectation. Under Carlo, we won but we didn’t progress.
AVB came in. It was clear that Roman is all for the rebuilding of the Chelsea squad. And it started from the manager. AVB was to oversee the phasing out of the senior players and bring in and install new players. AVB failed at achieving the fine balance of maintaining the results while reorganising the squad. It was probably too big a project for AVB. All he had to do was to keep us in the hunt in all competitions and ensure champions league football – that was the minimum. If he had done that, he’d have had the privilege of marshalling this new, young and fiery Chelsea team.
Typically, in Chelsea, managers are like players. They are part of the solution. Neither are they expected to strategise the future nor the execution of the strategy is dependent on them. So AVB goes but the rebuilding is happening anyway. The champions league win though has had a big impact on expediting the squad refresh and the kind of players we sign.
As you could see, the contracts of many of our players are expiring this summer or next summer. Roman’s idea was always probably to see out their contracts, get the maximum from their time and to start rebuilding. We are not a selling club. So we have kept all the players to get the best of their contracts and boy did we get that! Roman played like a true businessman and got full value for all the money he spent and let them leave only after he’s got that.
So the squad refresh would have happened in this summer anyway. No matter who the manager is, no matter whether we won the champions league or not, whether there is FFP or not. If the club needs to continue to be competitive in football terms, this squad refresh is absolutely a must at this point in time.
So the much-awaited rebuilding of the Chelsea squad is indeed here. We’ve got Eden Hazard and Marko Marin. We also had got Lucas Piazon, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne. We’re still looking to sign Oscar, Willian and a quality right back. That’s more than £100m worth of quality players that would be the future of Chelsea FC.
This rebuilding of Chelsea is very significant for many reasons. Firstly, it reiterates Roman Abramovich’s passion for Chelsea FC. No matter how much he does for the club, he will always be doubted by the neutrals because he’s a billionaire businessman and he doesn’t care to explain himself. Back in 2004, every man and his dog said Chelsea is Roman’s new plaything and he will throw it away when he’s bored of it. About 8 years on, Roman has put Chelsea in the global football map and is clearly hungry for more and more. He spents hundreds of millions, built a world class training facility, wanted to build a brand new stadium and is rebuilding the squad now. What more should he do before the world knows he’s here to stay!
Secondly, the FFP impact. See, I don’t rate the FFP and I don’t think the implemention of FFP will be unforgiving. FFP will be effective from 2013-14. I’m quite confident that the FFP will crash and burn soon for a new football order but it makes sense to have a squad that would hold us in good stead for the next five or six seasons, just in case it doesn’t. When you could have most of your starting eleven under 25 years of age, that means you’re well placed for any financial regulation of any sort.
Thirdly, the competition. If you don’t do this, you lose out. I know it sounds like the credit crisis. But that’s the reality. Arsenal are experiencing this. But they didn’t quite lose out because all that they want is champions league money and they’re getting it. The clubs that really want to win major competitions have to invest quite a lot. Because, you get what you pay for. The only other way is to have an academy that’s your major source of talent and that’s gonna take time. Until then, if you want to deal with the competition and win major honours, you gotta spend. By spending in this summer, Chelsea FC have sent a message to all that we are right in it. It’s like this quote from The Dark Knight: “It’s not about the money. It’s about sending a message.”
Chelsea FC are spending their money on young and hungry players who are believed to have great potential and prospect, as confirmed by stiff competition we are having to face in all our signings. The kind of players we have bought has also undoubtedly restored some respect for Chelsea among the rivals. While they always respected Chelsea, albeit grudgingly, they would now embrace Chelsea better with these younger and more expansive players.
The other thing is, we haven’t gone and bought superstars like Man City & PSG do. Even when Roman spent big in 2004, Chelsea didn’t buy superstars. We bought some good, young and hungry players and turned them into superstars. Even the ones that were there like Terry and Lampard were just good players then. And when we did buy superstars, we bought them after they spent their prime elsewhere. So, unlike Man City & PSG, Chelsea are investing in young talents now. And that also has meant a lot of respect for Chelsea.
For me, this is easily the most exciting summer to date and we aren’t even done with our transfers yet. I can’t wait for the new season. I just can’t. And interestingly, I haven’t set any massive expectations depite what’s happening at the club. I’m quite aware that these are some great players individually and they still need to train and play as a team and gain experience to be champions. I’m prepared to wait and I think this is one wait all Chelsea fans must be prepared for.
When Chelsea won the champions league at Munich, Roman Abramovich said this to the Chelsea players and staff in the dressing room: “This is just the beginning”. That is all.