EPL worst transfer window ever: Chelsea
Icarus, in Greek mythology, was the son of Daedalus, who dared to fly too near to the sun with wings made of feathers bound by wax. In spite of being cautioned that flying too high would cause the wax in his feathers to melt, he ignored his father’s warning and flew higher and higher, ecstatic with his newfound ability of flight. As expected, the wax melted and he plunged into the deep sea below to his death.
Like Icarus, Chelsea brought their downfall upon themselves last season, looking limp and tired throughout the season and completing the worst title defence in Premier League history. The Blues had romped through to the Premier League title just the season before, finishing eight points above second-placed Manchester City.
Diego Costa was scoring for fun, Cesc Fabregas assisting when he wanted to and Hazard was at his destructive best. Under the reborn John Terry, Mourinho’s ‘little horse’ had become a ‘big horse’ and kings of England.
At the end of the season, Chelsea’s confidence had turned into arrogance. Immaturity showed in Chelsea’s veins right from the start of the next summer transfer window. The team which had just learned to fly had become so overconfident of its capabilities that it thought, just like Icarus, it could soar unprotected into next season. The club believed that a team which was almost unbeatable the season before needed little improvement. However, they were wrong. So terribly wrong.
The summer of 2015 was the worst transfer window Chelsea have had in recent times. While other top teams were strengthening their squads massively, with Manchester City buying the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, Chelsea sat back and watched, thinking their title-winning squad was more than enough to last them the whole of next season.
Petr Cech was sold to Arsenal for a meagre £10m, with the Chelsea legend becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of game time at Stamford Bridge, there are few clubs in the world with a world-class goalkeeper, and Chelsea didn’t have one, but two such goalkeepers in Petr Cech and Belgian Thibaut Courtois at their disposal.
However, Cech chose a move away from Stamford Bridge, which Jose Mourinho later reiterated that the transfer was done owing to the happiness of the Chelsea legend. Stoke City goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic was brought in as a replacement for £8m who did have a safe pair of hands, but was nowhere close to Cech’s standard and failed to keep Courtois on his toes for a place in the starting line-up.
Chelsea recruited the rapidly declining Radamel Falcao on a season-long loan after he had spent a woeful season at Manchester United the season before. The dressing room presence of the enigmatic Didier Drogba was never going to be replaced by the Colombian.
Chelsea’s arrogance showed as they didn’t reinforce their attacking line-up which was wholly dependent on the injury prone Diego Costa who had scored 20 goals the previous season, leaving the Premier League champions wanting in goals throughout the season when Costa was out of form or injured. Mourinho didn’t trust Loic Remy anymore and Falcao was sidelined for long periods, playing in only nine matches through the course of the season.As a result, Chelsea scored only 53 goals in the Premier League last season compared to the 73 the season before.
The defence which was rock-solid in the 2014-15 season was expected to last another, with a rejuvenated John Terry having one of his best seasons ever in a Chelsea shirt the season before but, playing every minute of the previous Premier League season would take a toll on the former England captain was not given enough importance by club authorities as they failed to find a permanent replacement for the Chelsea veteran.
The pursuit of Everton’s John Stones to replace him failed, with the Toffees rejecting every bid made by the London club. Nantes defender Papy Djilobodji was bought for £2m as a backup who, as expected, never really got going and was soon loaned to Werder Bremen in January. Added to that, the unsettled Filipe Luis was also sold back to Atletico Madrid for £15m. Abdul Baba Rahman was brought in as his replacement for a whopping £21m from Augsburg, who also failed to deliver.
In the course of the season, Chelsea suffered major defensive setbacks. Kurt Zouma tore his ACL mid-season and with frequent niggling injuries to either Cahill or Terry, Ivanovic had to deputise in the centre of the defence, leaving incoming winger Kenedy to often play as a left back because Jose Mourinho didn’t trust Baba Rahman anymore after a couple of woeful performances.Chelsea conceded a whopping 53 goals last season compared to the 32 of the previous one. Defending, which was so highly appreciated by Chelsea fans all over the world, was left in shambles owing to the transfer policy of the club.
There was a little light at the end of the tunnel when Chelsea got hold of Barcelona forward Pedro for £21m in the dying embers of the transfer window.In the previous season, the Blues had wrapped up their major transfer deeds before the World Cup commenced, scooping up Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa from Barcelona and Atletico respectively, hugely bolstering their attack.
The arrival of Pedro seemed like a panic-buy to most, however, Chelsea fans were fairly happy as they had finally got their star signing of the season. Pedro would go on to notch only 7 goals in the season which would see the champions fall from grace to endure the worst defence in Premier League history.
Chelsea’s immaturity, arrogance, and complacency in the transfer window was largely responsible for the disastrous season they had. Jose Mourinho was sacked in December following a ‘palpable discord’ with the players, and though incoming interim manager Guss Hiddink managed to steady the ship somewhat, the damage had been done.
The Blues finished 10th in the league last season, a massive 31 points behind winners Leicester City, and managed to win just 12 matches throughout the season. The present transfer window will be one to look forward to for the Blues fans.
They have already bought Michy Batshuayi from Marseille for a fee of £33m. Antonio Conte will be in charge at Chelsea from the dugout this time around and he would hope that the club authorities get hold of the players he wants for the rebuilding job at Chelsea, otherwise, another woeful season is in store for the Blues.