Chelsea lifted the Champions League trophy in 2021. Less than 24 months later, the club are a mile off that resilient Thomas Tuchel side. They are unlikely to feature again in the competition anytime soon, let alone win the whole thing.
The Blues, now led by Frank Lampard following two sackings in a season under the new ownership, were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday by Real Madrid, who scored four unanswered goals past them across two legs.
The situation is even grimmer in the Premier League, as they sit outside of the top half behind the likes of Aston Villa and Brentford, and 17 points behind fourth-placed Newcastle United. Champions League qualification is impossible, Europa League is improbable, and they will have to compete with Liverpool for the Europa Conference League position.
Chelsea unrecognisable under the new leadership
Didier Drogba, who was part of the club’s most successful period during the Roman Abramovich, fails to see any shade of Chelsea’s former self in this current side. After the London outfit’s 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid, the former striker said: “I knew this club with a certain class during the Abramovich era, but today I find it lacking. It’s very hard for me to see how they got rid of certain people.
“They should go back to the principles and values they had. I no longer recognise my club.”
Drogba doesn’t recognise his club. Frankly speaking, considering the number of signings and changes in the backroom staff made under the new owner Todd Boehly, there won’t be many Chelsea fans who would be able to name all first-team figures at Stamford Bridge this campaign.
Talking about the club’s transfer policy, Drogba said: “A dressing room with 30 players is difficult to manage for the coach, whoever he is. We try to compare with what was done during the Abramovich era, where there were many acquisitions of players, but the choices were very intelligent. Bringing in players like Petr Cech, Andriy Shevchenko, Hernan Crespo, Michael Essien, Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda, and others.
“It was to win titles, and they are players who already have some experience. Here, the strategy is different, and they bet on young players. I think they certainly lack charismatic players and leaders. It needs players who take responsibility.”
How can Chelsea return to their best?
Boehly and his team will have to get a lot of things right heading into the next season to give Chelsea a suitable platform and tools to compete with Premier League’s big boys and resemble the legendary Chelsea side in which Drogba starred.
First and foremost, they need to get their managerial appointment right. Lampard’s short-interim spell, in which Chelsea have lost four out of four games, shows just how tough it is to manage the current crop of players. Secondly, in the summer transfer window, a lot of fringe figures need to depart in order to trim the squad. Most importantly, only a few world-class players should arrive to strengthen different positions in the starting XI. Easier said than done, though!