Chelsea: Ghosts of past haunt Blues on tough US tour with furious Thomas Tuchel demanding transfer solutions

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·4-min read
Chelsea: Ghosts of past haunt Blues on tough US tour with furious Thomas Tuchel demanding transfer solutions
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In the humidity of Orlando, Chelsea’s pre-season bubble burst to leave them sweating on the future.

Arsenal’s 4-0 win in Florida over the weekend exposed flaws in the club’s preparation both on and off the field. The humiliating defeat also led to a furious Thomas Tuchel warning he could not guarantee his team would be ready for the new season.

In a worrying assessment of the problems at Chelsea, Tuchel also said he was in “urgent” need of quality players and questioned his side’s ability to compete with Manchester City and Liverpool next season.

The Arsenal defeat came 14 days after all felt well with Chelsea in their training camp in Los Angeles. The climate was cool and the Todd Boehly-Clearlake consortium were visible and happy, even though Tuchel admitted he was tired from the early demands of the new regime.

Fast forward two weeks and Tuchel’s mood is much worse. He again complained about the work he has to do on transfers before the Arsenal match. Tuchel would like to focus on preparing the team for their opening game of the season, at Everton on August 6, but he is helping co-owner Boehly find his feet in the transfer market.

Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly have been signed for a combined £80million but the Chelsea squad is weaker than last season and Tuchel is demanding further additions.

Chelsea are short in defence following the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers after mismanagement at the end of the Roman Abramovich era.

The focus has been so much on covering old mistakes with new signings that Chelsea are still carrying plenty of baggage. The only high-profile player who has left is club-record signing Romelu Lukaku — on loan to his former club, Inter Milan.

Chelsea have been unable to offload anyone else. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are still around despite wanting to join Barcelona, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic are unhappy with their roles and Armando Broja has seen a move to West Ham fall through.

In pictures | Chelsea face Charlotte in pre-season

Raheem Sterling takes on a defender in the pre-season game with Charlotte (Getty Images)
Raheem Sterling takes on a defender in the pre-season game with Charlotte (Getty Images)
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Christian Pulisic celebrates netting Chelsea’s goal in North Carolina (Getty Images)
Christian Pulisic celebrates netting Chelsea’s goal in North Carolina (Getty Images)
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Levi Colwill in action versus Charlotte (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Levi Colwill in action versus Charlotte (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
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(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Conor Gallagher reacts after missing his spot-kick in the friendly shootout (AP)
Conor Gallagher reacts after missing his spot-kick in the friendly shootout (AP)
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(Getty Images)
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Kenedy, Michy Batshuayi and Ross Barkley are still in the squad, despite clearly having no future at the club under Tuchel. There is also frustration in the academy that Billy Gilmour, Harvey Vale and Tino Anjorin were sent home from the tour to play with the Under-23s.

The problems around squad management have been just one issue during a less than ideal tour of the United States.

Ever since leaving their brilliant LA training base at UCLA, the conditions have worsened for the squad. Chelsea stayed in one of Las Vegas’s most luxurious casinos but had to face the dry desert heat. They then moved to Florida, where sweltering weather conditions were taxing on the squad. They were beaten by MLS side Charlotte on penalties before the Arsenal thrashing.

Thomas Tuchel was furious after Chelsea were thrashed 4-0 by Arsenal in Orlando (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Thomas Tuchel was furious after Chelsea were thrashed 4-0 by Arsenal in Orlando (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

This was a tour arranged under the Abramovich regime and it has felt more like a marketing exercise than a sporting endeavour, as the squad racked up air miles travelling from coast to coast. Unvaccinated players N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have taken no part in pre-season, training with the U23s and U19s squad instead.

Chelsea’s squad will reunite with their midfielders tomorrow, after being given today off. Tuchel will continue to work, taking calls on transfers and attempting to find tactical solutions as he weighs up new formations with a back four for the new season.

In the meantime, the new owners are under pressure to find transfer market answers to please their manager. They purchased Chelsea in chaotic circumstances and the club is threatening to continue along down those lines this season. It could put a delay on the ambition to move the west Londoners to a more stable model of football governance exemplified by Liverpool.

This was a tour arranged under the Abramovich regime and it has felt more like a marketing exercise than a sporting endeavour, as the squad racked up air miles travelling from coast to coast

Former Crystal Palace loanee Conor Gallagher has successfully staked his claim to start the first game of the new season, however, Tuchel will likely stick with Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho against Everton.

Koulibaly looks ready to hit the ground running alongside Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah, who were exposed against Arsenal.Ben Chilwell and Reece James will hope to rediscover their form of last season after returning to full fitness.

Sterling has played both of his matches alongside Kai Havertz and Mason Mount. Although the trio have yet to gel, they seem to be the preferred combination.

In pictures | Chelsea vs Club America

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(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
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(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

However, Chelsea’s new owners must deal with a bloated squad, unsettled senior players and unfulfilled youth stars.

These are the ghosts of Chelsea’s past under the Abramovich regime and Todd Boehly and Co need to be nimble enough to resolve Tuchel’s issues.

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