It seems impossible to put your finger on one single cause of Chelsea’s high-profile debacle of 2015-16. A damaging concoction of factors seems to have conspired against the Blues this season in what proves the worst defence of a Premier League title in the competition’s history.
Consequently, the Stamford Bridge side will be fighting to ensure the same mistakes aren’t made once again as they fight for resurgence under Antonio Conte. The disaster of this term should serve as an important lesson learned.
In light of the uncertain short-term future Chelsea face upon the end of this season, here are three mistakes the Blues must avoid repeating over the course of the summer:
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Having such a short pre-season
Seasons can be made over the summer leading up to it and the Blues’ preparation for 2015-16 was certainly lackadaisical. It can only be assumed that Jose Mourinho was resting on his laurels after a successful year in having such a laughably short pre-season.
The summer of 2014 saw Mourinho schedule Chelsea’s first friendly on July 16th, which saw Wycombe Wanderers slaughtered 5-0. However, last summer saw their first fixture played out six days later than the previous year.
What makes this so confusing is that 2015 didn’t even see a major international tournament grace the summer months yet still Chelsea started so late. In addition, the Blues only played four friendlies and didn’t win a single one.
Beginning their pre-season just 17 days prior to their inaugural Premier League fixture saw Chelsea shoot themselves in the foot and set themselves up for a sluggish start to the season.
The Stamford Bridge side must ensure that this summer they enter the new campaign fully prepared and with a squad that’s had time to gel. Even with Euro 2016 bound to cause issues, there can be no excuses if this pre-season is as anarchic as the last.
Neglecting youth assets
Sadly for Blues fans, it took four tumultuous months and the exit of Jose Mourinho for their side to finally show some interest in youth in 2015-16. However, the eventual deployments of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Bertrand Traore and Kenedy came far too late.
The youthful trio have been overwhelming successes under the wing of Guus Hiddink and look set to have flowering futures at Stamford Bridge. Nonetheless, it took extreme circumstances for Chelsea to even sniff at the idea of turning to their youthful ranks.
In times of adversity it’s not always correct to be stubborn with the old-guard. It is often younger players that value pitch time the highest and show the most hunger for victory, consequently deploying them can often be a huge benefit.
Therefore, in 2016-17, if times get tough, then Chelsea should learn from last season and relax their default stubbornness. Blooding youth stars can often be a great aid but they only do so much if called upon so very late in the season.
Being quiet in the transfer window
With Roman Abramovich holding the money, it’s little surprise that Chelsea usually spend big in transfer windows. However, by the club’s standards, the summer of 2015 was an oddly quiet window for the side.
In fact, Baba Rahman, Asmir Begovic and Pedro proved the only major signings of an unspectacular few months. This is disappointing on the club’s behalf considering the first two have mainly been collecting dust on the bench this year.
In being so blatantly complacent in the transfer window, Chelsea ignored Alan Hansen’s immortal footballing wisdom that: “the trick is always buy when you’re strong”. Despite this, they made the incorrect assumption that their current, jaded outfit could simply stroll to retaining their title.
It seems this lesson has been thoroughly learnt though with the west London side being linked to a plethora of Serie A stars in particular this summer. The Blues must increase their squad depth and build upon their weak areas, but above all not be content with their current arsenal.
Furthermore, while signings such as Rahman may be flying the flag for long-term investment, if Chelsea crave immediate success, then buying established, top-quality stars must be the answer.
It doesn’t take a professional football analyst to tell you that Chelsea have made mistakes at every turn this season. Nonetheless, if they learn from the three aforementioned errors in particular, there’s no reason why 2016-17 won’t see normal service resume in west London.
Which of these mistakes do you think was most damaging to Chelsea this season? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!