It was only a month ago that Chelsea became champions of England, but the offseason is moving quickly. Rumours are flying around about new transfer signings as the club starts to prepare for the upcoming campaign.
Before trying to move on into the 2017–18 season, it is imperative to evaluate what went right and wrong for the club. Before I look into the changes to be made, I want to look at what Chelsea should continue to do, and what they need to change. This is the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Chelsea’s 2016–17 season.
Good: Can I just say everything?
A million good things happened to the club this season. Winning the Premier League cheered up the blues many Chelsea fans were feeling after a previous turbulent 10th-place campaign.
A million reasons could be named to explain Chelsea’s success, ranging from Antonio Conte, N’Golo Kanté, David Luiz, Victor Moses—the list could go on and on. The common theme of the names just listed is the root of the reasons of success: new blood.
The West London club had been champions in the past, but they always sputtered during the next big race. There was always an issue of complacency at Chelsea who only repeated as title-holders once between 2004–06. José Mourinho’s second stint with the club was supposed to be the start of a new dynasty, but the board failed to obtain proper reinforcements in the transfer market, and the culture of complacency resulted in the sacking of a beloved manager, and a mid-table finish.
This season was a breath of fresh air because of the new people that were brought in. Moses returned from loans with Liverpool, Stoke City, and West Ham, and was given a proper chance to prove his worth in the squad. Cult hero David Luiz returned from Paris and was an important defender in the middle of the back-three. Player of the Year Kanté was the midfield destroyer that Chelsea desperately needed in their lineup. LMA Manager of the Year Conte changed the fortunes of the club and inspired his squad back to the top of the Premier League.
Chelsea finally made the right moves in the offseason, and they are currently linked to Tiemoué Bakayoko and Corentin Tolisso. Time will only tell if Chelsea blows their engine moving forward, but the future is looking bright for this new Blues dynasty run by Conte and co.
Bad: Diego, Diego! Wherefore art thou Diego?
On his best day, Diego Costa is world class and unstoppable. His abilities could carry a team if the rest of the squad were underperforming. He proved his worth in the first half of the season when he scored 14 Premier League goals before New Year’s Day. The Spanish striker was vital in Chelsea’s 13-match winning streak to pull away from the pack into first place.
Costa’s form deteriorated as the season progressed. He only scored six more goals during the remaining 19 games, and seemed to return to his old ways of antagonising himself to opponents and referees. His touch became as heavy as an elephant, and defenders stopped him as soon as he got the ball and tried to move forward. He carried his team to the front of the pack, but his team had to carry him to the finish line.
The hot-headed Costa, prone to tantrums on and off the pitch, boldly told the Spanish media that Antonio Conte wants him to leave the club. Bad has gone to worse by making the statements public because the transfer talks are not as private anymore, leaving the club in a weaker position during negotiations.
It is probably best for club and player to part ways as amicably as possible. Chelsea shouldn’t sit on this matter for too long to draw out a summer-long drama. At the same time, it hurts to lose one of the best strikers in the world when the club suffered at the position since the doomed purchase of a shadow of Fernando Torres.
Ugly: The importance of transparency and decency
Chelsea were in the heart of controversy at the end of 2016 when The Telegraph dropped an exclusive about the club paying to cover up a sex abuse scandal. Robert Mendick and Ben Rumsby reported that the club allegedly paid off a former youth team player from going public with accusations. The alleged victim was sexually assaulted by former chief scout Eddie Heath who worked with Chelsea from 1968–79.
The club started an internal investigation after details were leaked, and former first-team forward Gary Johnson revealed himself to be the player that was paid £50,000 in 2015 to not go public with the allegations.
“All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on,” Johnson said to The Guardian. “I hope and pray no clubs are allowed to cover this up—no one should escape justice.” Chelsea released a statement the next day, admitting to the settlement including a confidentiality clause. The club apologised for trying to hide the matter, and is looking to learn from this case.
Regardless of the possibly shady practices by both parties in the non-disclosure agreement, the story left a black mark on Chelsea’s history. This may have happened decades ago, but it’s not an excuse to defend the club that many fans love. As humans, we need to be critical of everything, even to the badge we worship. Chelsea, and every club for that matter, need to be diligent to make sure abuse of any kind never happens again, especially since they work with young, impressionable people at all facets.
Many lessons were learned this season, and they were good, bad, and ugly. The season ended on a high, but Chelsea must work hard to continue moving forward. The summer of 2017 will be vital in whether Chelsea can sustain success domestically while making a run at European competition.
With the names that the club are linked to in the transfer market, Chelsea should continue their winning ways. However, those links need to become official before all bets should be placed on blue. For now, we can only salivate at what looks to be a dynasty.