Todd Boehly may well be regretting his purchase of Chelsea Football Club. The poor billionaire’s had a rough time of it since riding in as the white knight of Stamford Bridge.
He’s got himself to blame for most of the nonsense though and we’ve ranked the mistakes he’s made in his short time at the helm…
10) Premier League All Stars
Starting a pitch by claiming the Premier League could “learn a lesson from American sports” was never going to go down well, and Boehly’s suggestion of a North versus South All-Star game was predictably met with xenophobically tinged responses from people who know English Football.
It appeared to be an offhand comment made with the best intentions of giving back to the football pyramid, but the one extra game in the calendar that, let’s face it, loads of people would watch and would provide millions of pounds for smaller clubs was a terrible idea as everyone would definitely get injured during that one specific, half-arsed game.
9) The Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne academy
At that same New York conference in September Boehly claimed Chelsea have “one of the best academies in the world”, which is arguable, but using Salah and De Bruyne to evidence the worth of that academy rather sullies the argument, and by association any other point about Chelsea or football in general.
Salah broke through at Egyptian side Al Mokawloon before moving to Basel, while De Bruyne made the first team at Genk before a transfer to Chelsea. And namedropping either of those two players to attest to Chelsea’s excellence in developing players isunwise.
Using Boehly’s earlier All-Star comments against him, Thierry Henry advised the American owner to “learn your own lessons and then come back and teach us something” in reference to his lack of knowledge on the history of his own football club.
8) Failed hijacks
Barely a day has gone by without Chelsea reportedly attempting to hijack one Premier League transfer or another. Despite cherry-picking people whom we assume are among the best in the business from Brighton, RB Leipzig and elsewhere to oversee all things transfers, those individuals appear to be engaging with the market in the same way as Boehly did during the summer, and how anyone with an interest in football with access to the interweb might – gossip columns.
The difference being that those of us waking up to Fichajes or Mediafoot telling us that Arsenal linked with Mykhaylo Mudryk or Pedro Porro won’t then set about Googling the number of said player’s agent, which we assume – judging by their targeting techniques – is Chelsea’s rudimentary method of entering talks.
7) Signing Kalidou Koulibaly
£35m for Kalidou Koulibaly seemed reasonable. Sure he’s 31 and had just one year left on his Napoli contract. But he’s captain of the African champions, he has been linked with a huge array of very fine football clubs in the last seven years or so, and has been widely regarded as one of the top centre-backs in Europe at that time.
He’s been rubbish though, hasn’t he? It looks as though poor old Thiago Silva is a one-man band at the back for Chelsea, powerless as Koulibaly alternates between miscontrolling the ball and passing it to the opposition.
6) Outsourcing medical work
To be fair, dismissed pair Paco Biosca and Thierry Laurent weren’t doing a great job last season as medical chief and head physio – Chelsea topped the injury count in the Premier League last season with 97 according to Howden’s European Football Injury Index. But the injury problems have ramped up since Boehly decided to outsource some of the medical work to a private physiotherapy company.
That decision – which results in nonsensical situations like Wesley Fofana having to fly to America for a medical – preceded Chelsea’s ludicrous injury list. As things stand Denis Zakaria, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, N’Golo Kante, Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell, Armando Broja, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Christian Pulisic and Edouard Mendy are all on the sidelines.
Chelsea have ‘launched a medical review’ with reports claiming players are unhappy with Biosca and Laurent’s departure and, in some cases, believe they have been rushed back too soon.
5) ‘Disrespecting’ Benfica over Enzo Fernandez
Benfica boss Roger Schmidt wasn’t at all happy with Chelsea’s approach for Enzo Fernandez. Referred to as “the club who wants Enzo”, like they’re a footballing Lord Voldermort, Chelsea were accused of making the midfielder “crazy” through suggesting they would meet his £106m release clause when they in fact had no intention of doing so . Boehly stepped down as sporting director five days later.
4) Paying £62m for Marc Cucurella
I can’t have been alone in thinking £2m would have been steep having watched Cucurella attempt to control the ball in the dying moments of Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Fulham. He had only recently come on having been replaced in the starting line-up by 18-year-old Lewis Hall. And there’s little in the way of excuses for Cucurella, who won Brighton’s Player of the Season last term under the very same manager he now stumbles under.
But the price of Cucurella points to a wider issue for Boehly, who appears to continually have his pants pulled down over transfer fees. They ended up doubling their initial offer for Wesley Fofana, eventually landing him for £75m, shelled out £9m for six months of Joao Felix, plus his hefty weekly wages, and over £320m in total on players, none of whom have yet proved to be worth anywhere near their various, generally exorbitant, transfer fees.
3) Pushing for Anthony Gordon
Remember this insanity? By Gordon’s own admission Chelsea’s £60m bid for him was “absolutely crazy”. ‘But I’m not very good at football,’ he presumably thought, along with the rest of us. Tuchel didn’t want Gordon – because he’s watched him play football before – but Boehly was desperate to sign a player who’s got seven goals and three assists in 64 Premier League appearances and can’t hold down a place in a team battling for relegation.
2) Signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Given we’ve been told by Boehly that the club’s decision to sack Tuchel was made over a stretch of time and not as a result of the defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, how the hell can he explain the signing of Aubameyang? He’s a 33-year-old striker, who was infamously kicked out of Arsenal for being a bad influence in the dressing room, signed purely because he scored a load of goals under Tuchel seven years ago.
Aubameyang’s already ‘depressed’ and desperate to leave but can’t go back to Barcelona because he can’t be registered three times in a single season. A stunning waste of money.
1) Sacking Thomas Tuchel
“It wasn’t a decision that was made about a single win or loss, it was made about what we thought was the right vision for the club.” It’s a shame Boehly’s vision couldn’t include the manager who had won the Champions League a year previously and had taken Chelsea to six finals. It’s also a shame Boehly’s vision wasn’t apparent before he spent £270m on players for the manager he would then sack five days after the summer transfer window closed.
Simon Jordan reckons the secret reasons behind Tuchel’s Chelsea sacking would “make people’s eyes water” but on the face of it the decision looked incredibly rash, and the timing downright ridiculous. It meant Potter, who could have been given a summer to train with a new squad and make additions, has instead been left drowning in the deep end with a mismatched group of Tuchel’s players.