Going into the summer transfer window, Chelsea fans had The Fear. And not for the first time, either.
From the outside looking in, many would struggle to understand why. The Blues had scrapped their way into the Premier League top four; had won the Champions League against the odds; and in Thomas Tuchel, had one of European football’s best coaches.
Yet all of the above is why The Fear had returned. The question being asked within the Chelsea fanbase was simply: What if Chelsea don’t capitalise on the success achieved by Tuchel and back the German in the transfer market?
“Two or three could be very, very good,” Tuchel admitted just hours after the Blues’ Champions League final win in Porto, his champagne-soaked trainers not yet dry.
“It’s a constant thing to never deny change. That you always bring new energy, new guys who question the old beliefs, who challenge everybody in the training and in matches, so I think it’s a good thing.
“We don’t need another seven and another complete turnover because it’s also our job to keep on improving, because we have still a young squad and it’s not about stealing from them the chance to prove it again that they are capable of growing and evolving.
“But we have some ideas, of course, to make the group stronger and I think this can always be a positive thing to challenge all of us.”
What Tuchel hoped for in the summer transfer window emerged before the Chelsea squad had even flown back to the United Kingdom. A new striker was top of the list. A midfielder too. He was also open to the addition of a new right-sided player and a centre-back if the right option became available.
As demands go, they were hardly the most outlandish. Yet as June moved into July and no signings had been made, The Fear among Chelsea supporters started to grow. It felt all too familiar.
In the 2015 summer transfer window, for example, Chelsea supplemented Jose Mourinho’s Premier League title-winning squad with Baba Rahman, Kenedy, Papy Djilobodji, and the loan signing of Radamal Falcao.
Pedro would arrive late on from Barcelona, but it was an underwhelming window and the Blues would capitulate under the Portuguese, who was sacked in December 2015.
A similar story played out two years later. Antonio Conte had steered Chelsea to an unexpected Premier League triumph and wanted the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku added to his squad. Instead, Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata were signed alongside Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater.
The following season proved a rather miserable one of the Blues and Conte departed a little more than 12 months after winning the top flight in his maiden season at Stamford Bridge.
Was history going to repeat itself? July passed without an addition to Tuchel’s squad, barring the signing of third-choice Marcus Bettinelli, so The Fear increased.
But then came August and Romelu Lukaku for a club-record signing. The Fear eased. And on transfer deadline day, it was fully eradicated when Saul Niguez was brought in on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid.
Tuchel got what he wanted. And Marina Granovskaia, who oversees Chelsea’s transfer business, even said as much in the announcement of Saul’s signing: “We welcome Saul to the club and believe he completes our squad as we compete for honours in five different competitions this season.”
Chelsea have backed Tuchel this summer, more than any other coach that has secured trophies recent memory.
He was given the opportunity to assess every returning loanee in pre-season, his biggest transfer wishes were met, and the club also accepted his desire to keep Callum Hudon-Odoi at Stamford Bridge on deadline day rather than letting the 20-year-old leave on loan.
Tuchel has enjoyed great success at Chelsea but he knows it must be sustained in the months ahead; the fear of failure always looms large at Stamford Bridge.
However, unlike previous head coaches, Tuchel has been given everything needed to succeed. Yet with that an expectation to claim further silverware. He will have to deliver.
Source by Football London