By the time Fernandinho scored with a sweet stroke of the ball, the message was already clear to Chelsea fans, players and management. Standing still is the same as going backwards.
The sheer fact that this discussion is already arising with 36 games left in the season shows the real crisis Chelsea have found themselves in with only two games played.
To be fair to Chelsea and José Mourinho, it is a cycle that many Premier League champions have fallen into. Win the League, fail to strengthen, lose out. Manchester City did it last season and it’s even a cycle that non Premier League champions Liverpool have fallen into in recent times!
After the sale of Luis Suarez, they didn’t really buy anybody that elevated the entire starting XI and thus had a spectacular failure of a season after such a stellar performance in the previous season.
Chelsea now face the possibility of having a failure of a similar magnitude if they do not strengthen or attempt to revamp their team this year.
Whilst Manchester United have signed a plethora of players and Manchester City look to confirm Nicholas Otamendi – on top of already signing Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph – Chelsea, until yesterday, had failed to make a significant signing that would bolster the team. Instead, they have merely replaced players that have left the club.
Asmir Begovic came in for the departed Petr Cech, whilst last season debacle player, Radamel Falcao, agreed to a loan deal to take place of the exiting Didier Drogba. No real players had been brought in to plug the gaps in Chelsea’s team.
— J-L (@TheSilvaLining) August 17, 2015
However, almost in reaction to Sunday’s defeat, Chelsea confirmed the transfer of Baba Rahman from FC Augsburg, which will add squad depth and could potentially solve the problem of Branislav Ivanovic.
The Serbian right-back has always been a little bit of a defensive liability and the first two games of this season has been a trial of fire for him. Jefferson Montero and Sterling gave him a torrid time and even his reliability at set-pieces seemed to have left when Vincent Kompany bettered him to take the game even further away from Chelsea.
Why Mourinho sticks with him week in and week out is a mystery to me. Baba Rahman offers Chelsea the opportunity to play Cesar Azpilicueta in his natural position at right-back. If Ivanovic is still needed, he could play centrally alongside John Terry, Gary Cahill or Kurt Zouma.
The next thing that Chelsea have to do is remodel themselves. For a long time now Mourinho has insisted on a one striker system, which has worked previously. Maybe this season, Mourinho should attempt to play with two strikers and Loic Remy being a definite option for one of the two.
He offers a different dimension to Falcao and Diego Costa. He has the ability to drop deep and play as a false nine or a shadow striker . Another alternative would be to revert to a 4-3-3 system and have Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nemanja Matic in midfield as protection for Cesc Fabregas who is also a defensive liability.
Lastly, on to the underlying theme of this article. Strengthening. Chelsea, in my opinion, need: another centre-back, a solid midfielder and a right-winger. Chelsea’s pursuit of Everton centre-back John Stones has been highly publicised and they are confident that they can achieve a deal.
In midfield, there have been rumours about Alex Witsel coming in to the team, but giving Ruben Loftus-Cheek a permanent starting place in the senior squad might just do the trick.
Antoine Griezmann, FC Barcelona’s Pedro Rodriguez and Real Madrid’s Isco have all been linked to Chelsea but Pedro looks like the best value for money and with an asking price of only €30 million, Chelsea need to consider purchasing him.
Part of strengthening a team is also getting rid of dead wood, or asking players to step up. It seems that Juan Cuadrado and Ramires do not offer much to the team and they should be shown to the door.
Fabregas and Willian both need to step up their performances, the former particularly has a tendency to disappear in the big games. Chelsea tend to be very dependent on Eden Hazard and when he doesn’t perform, others need to be up to the task too.
In short, Mourinho summed it up perfectly in his post-match interview yesterday. He claimed that he knew what 36 times 3 was, implying that Chelsea still have 108 points to play for and the season is far from over.
However, if he wants success in the Premier League and the Champions League he has two weeks to make the appropriate adjustments. If Chelsea fans want to know if their team will succeed this season, these next 14 days will prove vital.