A shambolic 16th position in the league table leaves Jose Mourinho’s position dangling by the thinnest of the threads.
Stamford Bridge is certainly in troubled waters with these recent dismal showings and retaining the title is a forgotten ambition, with most feeling that even a European qualification this season would be miraculous for the Blues.
What made the champions falter so uncontrollably this season? The ‘Special One’ is often criticised for not encouraging players from the youth squads and destroying the careers of those who don’t fall under his regime.
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Ironically, many players at the club last season have been showcasing their trade elsewhere this campaign and proving the 52-year-old wrong for letting them go. Here are five of the best Chelsea should not have sent away in the summer.
1) Nathan Ake
This promising Dutch defender was once touted to be the ideal successor for the likes of David Luiz and John Terry, with Rafael Benítez at the helm.
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He made five appearances in the 2012-13 season, featuring in crucial away Europa League games against Rubin Kazan and FC Basel. Ake was voted as the best young player at the club in 2013. But, since Mourinho has taken charge of the club, he has made only one Premier League appearance, featuring in their 3-0 loss to West Brom where he came on as a substitute.
The Ruud Gullit doppelganger has now been sent on a season-long loan to Watford and particularly showed his worth against West Ham, nabbing an assist. Ake would be an ideal player for Stamford Bridge this season and could have been a potential solution to their defensive woes.
2) Petr Cech
This transfer made several Chelsea fans cringe while sending those at the Emirates into delirium.
The Cech deal was a complete shocker for all, even more so because he was allowed to join local rivals Arsenal.
The north London club look completely rejuvenated with a solid shot-stopper in goal and he could make the difference for the Gunners this season.
The loss of the experienced keeper is even more painful for Chelsea because of the injury to Thibaut Courtois. Stand-in, Asmir Begovic seems to be having big-team jitters since joining from Stoke.
The star of Chelsea’s Champions League winning side of 2012 would have been perfect to resurrect this season for the champions.
3) Juan Cuadrado
Imagine buying a fancy, expensive car, but never taking it out the garage, seldom using it and when asked by a friend if he could borrow it for a few days, gladly accepting the offer.
That is the situation with Cuadrado. He was purchased in January from Fiorentina for an approximate fee of €23 million.
Mourinho used the swashbuckling Columbian very sparingly last season, with most of his appearances coming as a substitute. He failed to make a telling impact and was sent out on loan to Juventus in the summer.
Cuadrado seems to have found his feet at the Italian club, leaving Chelsea fans thinking how different their season could have been if he had stayed at the Bridge.
4) Tomas Kalas
The instant memory that most Chelsea fans have about this young defender is his stellar debut in the away game against Liverpool in 2014. The Blues famously won 2-0 and crushed any hopes of the league title for the Merseyside club.
Kalas showed the temperament and experience of a player way beyond his years and was a rock at the back, denying the brilliant Luis Suarez any clear-cut chances. But since then, the young defender has rarely featured for the Blues.
His latest loan stint is at Middlesbrough, the club that knocked out Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United of the Capital One Cup. With performances like those, it makes you wonder if Mourinho was wise to let the defender leave.
5) Josh McEachran
McEachran’s story at Chelsea was destined to be one for the history books had it not been abruptly cut down by the Portuguese manager.
A young English player, home-grown in the Chelsea youth academy, set to make it big in the first team. But sadly, that was not the case. The British midfielder was sold to Championship side Brentford after loan spells at Swansea, Wigan and Watford.
The 22-year-old had been at the Bridge for a long time, making his debut way back in 2010 and his style of play has drawn comparisons to the likes of Luke Modric and Jack Wilshere. He could have been a reliable backup option this season with Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic failing to impress.
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