The 19th of May, 2012 is not a date Chelsea fans will forget any time soon.
All you have to do is bring up the Champions League of 2012, and Chelsea fans will remember that magical campaign featuring comeback victories over Napoli, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. Chelsea were, officially at least, the best team in Europe, as Roman Abramovich finally claimed his holy grail. That was only six years ago, but six years can be a lifetime in sports, especially at a club like Chelsea.
Roman Abramovich isn’t known for his patience, and Antonio Conte doesn’t seem likely to survive for another season at the helm. After last season’s title, Chelsea was hoping to avoid another manager search, but that seems to be where they’re headed once again. They won the FA Cup against Manchester United and held onto the anniversary of their Champions League win, but the trophy win doesn’t seem to provide any more clarity on Conte’s future. Which begs another question: Why is Conte getting all this pressure when he has won a trophy in both seasons at the Chelsea helm?
Luis Enrique and Massimiliano Allegri were the current favorites to take over in the summer, with Thomas Tuchel and Carlo Ancelotti also being mentioned, but now neither seem to be available. Tuchel was recently hired at PSG, Allegri stated he will be staying at Juventus, while Enrique continues to be discarded. Leonardo Jardim might be the man in the front seat now, but there is still nothing too clear.
Whoever it will be isn’t walking into the greatest situation. There seems to be a lack of solid leadership in the locker room, and again, Abramovich isn’t known for his patience with managers. They might try to pry someone away from a different club, but who would be available that would both be a good fit for Chelsea, and also be a big enough name to please the fans?
With the futures of stars Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard in doubt as well, Chelsea might end up at a crossroads over the summer. Some of the transfers made over the past year haven’t performed as planned (Bakayoko, Morata, etc), and it could come back to haunt the club. Hazard has noted that the Champions League isn’t a priority, but several other factors could push him away, likely towards Real Madrid. This especially holds true if the new manager, assuming Conte is out, can’t get the extra level that is expected at Chelsea out of the players.
If there are any reasons for hope at Chelsea, their youth team has been absolutely dominant in reaching the final of the FA Youth Cup each of the past seven seasons, winning six of them. On the other hand, their current loan system makes it seem unlikely that any of them will break through. They also did win the Europa League the previous time they fell to the competition in 2013. Winning it again this season shouldn’t seem too far fetched. This current Chelsea squad is solid, maybe not on the level of Manchester City, but enough for the top four at the very least. With some shrewd transfers, the Champions League should be calling in 2019.
No one knows what the future holds, especially in sports. At this time next year, we could be looking at a club with another Premier League title, while still hoping for a Europa League crown as well. In an alternative scenario, we could be looking at another unsuccessful season with more failed transfers and unpleasant results. Looking at it right now, the future at Chelsea is more unclear than ever.
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