Chelsea’s Champions League dreams are fading with questionable recruitment tactics and poor performances.

London –What we know Chelsea When they enter the first full year of this new age? How do they plan to build the team, what is their playing identity, which players are in it for the long haul? In the space of 90 minutes on the pitch or 24 hours off it, this club can throw you into even deeper confusion trying to track its progress.

In many respects, Thursday proved to be a crash course at Todd Boehly’s Chelsea. There was high drama in Graham Potter’s attempt to strengthen his squad and a recruitment approach that is at best radical, at worst indicative of an organization that doesn’t understand what it takes to succeed in English football. In trying to scramble up the Premier League table, they found themselves vulnerable, short on guile and long on injuries.

It was defeated by 1-0 Manchester City There was a hard lesson in that, even with their many impressive moments in the first half, this cranked-up version of the Blues only looked like they could get away with the champions, not that they could strike a decisive blow. They have faced the Premier League’s top three three times in their last five games. In each they watched from afar the following team; This defeat to Pep Guardiola’s side may indeed have been the most impressive of all but once City untangled themselves in the second half there was only one winner.

Suddenly the 2021 European champions have an almighty task if they are to return to the Champions League next season. They follow Manchester United fourth by 10 points; The only team from the capital to win the continent can no longer say they are the leading lights of west London. Fulham and of Brentford Graham Potter’s predecessors keep Chelsea on top as the season approaches the halfway mark, despite only starting in September.

This iteration of Chelsea will tell you they are different, they have the patience for a project and Thomas Tuchel was fired because dynamism is as important as the points dropped. Of course, Potter isn’t managing as a man under the spotlight, anyone with a mandate to reach the top four from ownership or find a new job will certainly not replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, replacing him with a different vintage gunner. In 19-year-old Omari Hutchinson.

“He came on a minute later and hasn’t played for a while,” insisted Potter after Aubameyang’s crestfallen reaction. “He made a complete change for us. Manchester City let you run a lot and I thought he did well for the team. He was a bit tired and we needed energy so we thought of using Omari, Conor. [Gallagher] and Louis [Hall]. He gave everything for the team.”

It says everything about Chelsea’s journey, still less goals than in the Premier League Erling Haaland, Aubameyang looked one of the most dangerous threats to the City goal in attack without even taking a shot at it. He was at least running towards it, showing his old trademark speed without a pass coming his way. A Carney Chukwuemeka The only moment Chelsea went close was a shot before the interval. with Christian Pulisic and Raheem Sterling With the injury list leading to a full XI, it’s hard to see this team improving quickly with 6 points from a possible 24. With the Champions League looming, Potter’s sights are fixed on more immediate concerns.

“In the situation we’re in, it’s the wrong way for us to think about what could happen in five months,” Potter admitted. “We try to stick together as a club and move forward.”

It will be difficult for Chelsea to make the top four this season but perhaps the bigger questions is whether those above Potter have put the club on the right path to get back there. The hierarchy in the hours before kickoff was a surprise to Benfica head coach Roger Schmidt, who indicated that the search for Enzo Fernandez had not been conducted in a professional fashion.

“There is a club that wants him, they tried to attract him, but they know they can only get him if they pay the clause,” he said. “It is insulting to all of us, for Benfica, they are making the player mad, they want to pay the clause and then they want to negotiate.”

Potter wasn’t prepared to put Chelsea’s side into the story but to oscillate between one approach and another is keeping in mind how the club has done business under Boheli. After all, they spent their summer lurching from one player to another, trying to steal Gabriel Jesus Arsenal or Richarlison Before Barcelona always treated them the same from Tottenham. Now they’re trying the same with Mykhailo Mudric, whose Instagram activity can be confusing for a highly online Gooner, adding another winger to a position where they recently recruited Sterling and already have Pulisic.

Meanwhile, Benoit Badiache arrived on Thursday to add a left-sided centre-back Mark Cucurella Arrived, seems quite suitable for the same place. Kalidou Koulibaly, another summer signing, has been getting most of his minutes on the left side of defence. Chelsea’s defenders can excel in that position Levi ColvilleSent out on loan to Brighton when Potter was in charge.

They certainly need a central midfielder with N’Golo Kante constantly struggling with injuries in the final year of his contract (though not enough to keep them from offering a new deal), although Mateo Kovacic and Denis Zakaria have provided some support with impressive performances. that area. After a long pursuit of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, the move for Fernandez came like a bolt from the blue. There is no harm in being reactive to the changing fortunes of the game but if you are constantly pivoting you will lose balance.

To say nothing of the new habit of handing out six- and seven-year contracts as a rule is an effective way of modulating transfer fees in the long term, but it begs questions about whether Chelsea are boxing in the next tie. Bakayokos and Danny Drinkwaters even longer.

Thursday’s defeat showed just how far Chelsea are from competing now but the main question hanging over Stamford Bridge is whether they are on the way to becoming a competitive team in the near future.

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