Chelsea are headed into unknown territory. It may only be March but it’s becoming ever apparent that their season, for all intents and purposes, is over.
After bitter eliminations from the FA Cup and Champions League, the club is no longer able to win any silverware in 2015-16. Furthermore, any dreams of the top four are becoming more laughable by the day with the Blues failing to consistently claw back the deficit.
As a result, the rest of this season should be used as a chance for squad experimentation as the club has nothing to lose. If Guus Hiddink does so, it could prove vastly beneficial for the west London side heading into next season.
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Recent fixtures have seen Chelsea supporters forced to accept that Champions League football has escaped them.
While a Europa League place remains realistic, there is likely to be little enthusiasm for negating such a tournament. After all, the idea of qualifying rounds in July and long haul away trips seem far from appealing and likely to be nothing but a hindrance for the club.
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As a result, if Chelsea limp to the finish line in May, it wouldn’t really do any damage bar maybe dropping a few places in the league. If ever there was a chance to tinker with the team, it is now.
The process has already begun with youthful players being transitioned into the first team. Bertrand Traore, Kenedy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have excelled under Hiddink upon being given the opportunity.
Had Chelsea been running away with the league by this time, it must be hypothesised that these players would still be collecting dust on the bench. With the season practically over for Chelsea, why not further this experimentation?
In trying niche formations, young players and quirky tactics, Hiddink would be doing a huge favour for his successor. Now is a time for Chelsea to establish their direction and they have the unique opportunity to try ideas out and suffer few repercussions if they fail.
After all, if one of these ideas works, then it’ll be the Blues laughing in 2016-17. Furthermore, Hiddink is leaving in the summer so has no reason to be conscious of results as he isn’t vying for the permanent role himself.
Manchester City made a similar move against the Stamford Bridge side in the FA Cup. While it may have failed spectacularly, it provided pitch time for a plethora of players who wouldn’t usually get a sniff of first team football.
A Manuel Pellegrini-like overhaul may prove a little extreme, but it should serve as inspiration for the Blues. Besides, they have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain.
Do you think Guus Hiddink should field more youngsters this season? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!