The season is now officially over. However for most Chelsea fans, it was as good as over three or four months ago. Having won the Premier League comfortably 12 months ago after spending more time top of the table in a single season than any side in history, it’s fair to say we expected a lot from this campaign. However to have finished 10th and not got even close to winning a trophy is simply unacceptable for a squad of this standard.
It is easy for people to say that Jose Mourinho should take the blame because we won more points under Guus Hiddink in the second half of the season, and his very public falling out with Eva Carneiro affected the players, but that is simply not the case. There have been too many occasions where the players just haven’t played well enough or have not cared enough to do well.
This leads us perfectly onto the subject of Eden Hazard. At the start of the season we were talking about him as one of the best players in the world after winning the PFA Player of the Year award for the 2014/15 season, now we’re talking about him as a traitor. He didn’t score a Premier League goal until towards the end of April, and was as good as invisible at points before then. The fact some fans are talking about him as a great player because he scored a couple of goals towards the end of the season shows just how fickle football fans are. The two goals against Liverpool and Tottenham were wonderful strikes, but these were games that meant nothing to us. If he can do this on a regular basis next season, he may be forgiven, but for now, not a chance.
Some blame must also be placed on the club’s hierarchy, in particular Michael Emenalo. I think it is clear that Mourinho knew that this squad wouldn’t have been good enough to retain the Premier League title, but the board simply didn’t back him. The likes of Pedro and Baba Rahman were brought in to replace players who had left, while the less said about Falcao the better. It was obvious that Mourinho wanted John Stones, and possibly even Paul Pogba as well. He didn’t receive the full backing of the board, and ultimately, this cost us. Emenalo must pay the price for this with his job, also given that he said the players should take no blame for Mourinho’s sacking. I still don’t know what qualifies him to take such an important role at such a big club.
A number of players will also pay the price for such a poor season. Branislav Ivanovic was dreadful defensively for much of the campaign, but we gave him a new one-year contract. On the other hand John Terry has been given a new contract because that’s what the fans wanted, not for footballing reasons. Nemanja Matic has had a tough season, but I think a lot of that is down to confidence, especially after being taken off against Southampton just 15 minutes after coming on. John Obi Mikel however can be shown the exit, because we need to move on as a club, and we can’t move on while someone like that is still at the club. He is too slow, and he just lacks quality with the ball at his feet.
In the more attacking areas of the pitch, I can’t see Antonio Conte keeping both Hazard and Oscar at the club, but I’m not sure which one will leave. Hazard has been a disgrace this season, so it really depends if we can get him playing for the club again. If we can’t, buy him a one-way ticket to Paris. Oscar is another one who has undoubted quality, he just can’t seem to produce it on a consistent basis. Up top, Diego Costa is the only man who has a chance of being here next season. Pato and Falcao have been awful, and will not be staying, while Loic Remy doesn’t want to be at Chelsea, and we don’t really want him either. There’s a simple solution to this.
I think Antonio Conte is the right man for the Chelsea job at this current time. When he took charge of Juventus, they had just finished 7th and he took them to three consecutive titles. I know Serie A is nowhere near as competitive as the Premier League, but I think he will be able to adapt to the style to English football.