A report from The Athletic has given some very intriguing information about what is going on at Chelsea.
The Blues are facing a bottom-half finish – which would be their worst-ever finish in the Premier League.
They are currently six points off 10th-placed Fulham with six games remaining.
Unfortunately for them, they still have to face every team currently occupying the top four spots in the table – with only one of those fixtures being played at Stamford Bridge.
To say it has been a difficult season at Stamford Bridge would be the understatement of the century.
Now on their fourth different manager this term, the Blues have lost five in a row under Frank Lampard, who is expected to remain in charge until the end of the season.
A Todd Boehly-led consortium purchased the club from Roman Abramovich last year and the American billionaire has made his intentions clear, signing over £500million worth of players.
Furthermore, the majority of players brought in have signed long-term contracts, while some players who were already at the club have committed their future to the Blues.
The number of players joining the club (eight in the summer and eight in January) has created a bizarre situation in West London.
Managing such a bloated squad cannot be easy as you are guaranteed to have several unhappy players, and it was arguably Graham Potter’s downfall.
The Athletic have given us an insight into what the f**k is going on at Stamford Bridge, and it is superb.
From anonymous sources to outrageously long queues in the canteen, there is a lot to absorb from this report. Strap in.
‘A veteran Chelsea employee’ told The Athletic: “It is as bad as I have ever known it.”
This is particularly telling as the anonymous member of staff has been at the club ‘for many years’. What they have to say has been ‘echoed elsewhere by sources contacted’. Yikes.
Unsurprisingly, morale is at an all-time low with ‘bad results and performances’ causing it to ‘nosedive’ and there is a feeling that ‘it will take more than a few wins to galvanise the dressing room again’.
One ‘significant factor’ is the squad size. ‘Over 30’ players are reporting for training every day, which leaves Lampard and his coaching staff in an ‘impossible’ situation.
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea are looking to offload several players in the summer transfer window, the report states.
This will make the situation ‘more manageable’, although there remains a ‘financial incentive’ given the amount of cash Boehly has spent in less than a year at the helm.
Players likely to leave will be entering the final year of their contract and those ‘who have indicated a reluctance to renew’.
The report adds: ‘The club will consider selling those with two years left on their deals as well, especially if a good offer is made for their services.’
‘Several squad members want to leave’, The Athletic have been told. Funnily enough, ‘not all of those concerned fit into the “12 months left on their contract” scenario.’
Some players already ‘regret’ signing long-term contracts, with many new signings not yet ‘key parts of an exciting project’, when they were ‘under the impression’ this would be the case. Of course, this can still come to fruition.
Another aspect that is impacting the morale throughout the playing squad is the wage situation following the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Most of the players to sign a contract since Boehly bought the club agreed to a wage drop of 30 per cent should Chelsea fail to finish in the top four or win this season’s competition.
Many players will not be affected by this, which is sure to make the atmosphere even more unpleasant.
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The anonymous source added: “That situation is hardly going to help harmony within the group. You’ll have some players paying the price financially for the bad results this season, and some who are not.”
Even though it is down to the players and the management that they have had a poor season, it ‘has added to the sense of unrest’.
It is noted that Boehly’s visit to the dressing room after the home loss to Brighton raised a few eyebrows; however, Lampard insisted this was not an issue and was echoed by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Boehly made a ‘speech’ to the players and even ‘singled out a few of the signings’ he has made.
Another source revealed they once witnessed ‘such a long queue of staff for lunch at the club’s training ground one day that it stretched outside the entrance to the dining room and down the corridor’ – which was ‘unprecedented’.
Chelsea’s situation has not been helped by the lack of ‘natural leaders’ in the squad. 30-odd players and hardly any leaders? FFS.
One leader is Cesar Azpilicueta – who is expected to leave this summer – and Thiago Silva – who is ‘far from fluent in English’ so is not ‘in a position to give rallying speeches’.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, the January exit of Jorginho ‘has been a significant blow’ as ‘he was a very popular figure among the group and one who could converse in all languages’.
The report adds: ‘Some are choosing to stay at home during their downtime more than usual rather than taking the opportunity to unwind, to ease the pressure, by going out together’.
It is correctly noted that should players be seen out partying and socialising they will be accused of not caring, with the club in disarray.
The way to get everything back on track is to ‘reset’ and ‘start again’ in the summer.
Whatever happens between now and the end of the season isn’t too relevant. But this will be a huge summer for Chelsea.
You can read the full report on The Athletic here.
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