Since the moment in 2003 when Roman Abramovich brought his billions to the KIngs Road, Chelsea have been one of the pre-eminent teams in English football.
In one dizzying summer they went from occasional Champions League participants to a team that was fighting for silverware on all fronts.
Since then, they have won the Premier League five times, gone close on numerous other occasions, and lifted four European trophies. When football betting experts are looking for a safe bet, Stamford Bridge is one of the first places they cast their eye.
And yet, as we near the halfway point of the season, Chelsea are well off the pace to add to their titles.
They’re on their eleventh manager since the arrival of Abramovic, and that isn’t counting caretakers or taking account of the fact that both Guus Hiddink and Jose Mourinho have both had multiple stints in the job.
Current incumbent Graham Potter has been there since September and is among the favourites to be the next Premier League manager sacked.
Chelsea is a rich club, and one of the more rewarding to support. But is it any kind of model upon which to base running a football team?
Player power seems to be a constant problem
The days when it was advisable or desirable to have a football team run by a dictatorial manager who struck fear into players are long gone. It’s positive that modern players know their rights.
However, what can be a problem is when a lot of trust is concentrated in the hands of a clique of senior players who wield more power than the manager. When a squad has become imbalanced, its average age is creeping up, or nothing has been won for a while, the need for a clearout and transition becomes clear.
And it’s hard to do when the club has too many players who aren’t happy to be part of that.
It’s possible to throw too much money at a problem
By the end of this season, it’s entirely possible that Chelsea will have spent as much as half a billion pounds in transfer fees alone across a calendar year. That’s not even taking into account a half-season loan for Joao Felix, who will be commanding significant wages.
When Chelsea kick off the 2023/24 season, it’s still highly debatable that they’ll even be second-favourites to win the Premier League. Sometimes the way to deal with an underperforming squad is to stop, take stock, and address problem areas in a focused way.
Chelsea’s scattergun transfer policy is akin to responding to faulty wiring by buying a new house, and adding a new swimming pool every few weeks for some reason.
How many players are they going to loan out?
At present, nineteen members of the Chelsea senior squad are on loan at other clubs.
Ethan Ampadu is aged 22, and has been at the club since 2017. During that time he has represented Wales at two major international tournaments. He has played for Chelsea once.
He’s not an isolated case, either. During the five years he has been at the club, Chelsea have bought and loaned in several defensive midfielders to play a role he has played in at a World Cup. To sign for Chelsea is not necessarily to play for Chelsea, and that can’t help squad harmony.