Chelsea in 2016: what the fallen champions need to do next year
Despite winning the Premier League title and the Capital One Cup, 2015 was not a year that Chelsea will only remember for the successes.
Performances dipped and the second half of the year was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster that ended with the best manager in the club’s history, Jose Mourinho, being sacked for a second time.
So what will 2016 have in store for the Stamford Bridge club? Here, Matt Law looks at four issues for Chelsea to address to make sure they enjoy a Happy New Year.
Appoint the right man
Guus Hiddink will lead Chelsea into 2016 as the club’s interim manager, but moves are already afoot to try to find a permanent manager to take over in the summer. Pep Guardiola remains the dream choice of owner Roman Abramovich, but Diego Simeone is the more likely reality.
Having sacked Mourinho, Abramovich and technical director Michael Emenalo have to get the next appointment right. Massimiliano Allegri and Antonio Conte are currently the back-up options, but both of the Italians would represent a big risk as they have never worked outside of their native country.
Make the big decisions
The contracts of captain John Terry and vice-captain Branislav Ivanovic expire at the end of this season and, as it stands, Chelsea should not hand another playing deal to either man. While Terry could be kept on in an ambassadorial role if he is willing to retire, Ivanovic should be let go following his appalling performances in 2015.
Both players, particularly Terry, have been wonderful servants to Chelsea but it is time for the club to move on and embrace a new era. Replacing them will not be easy, but Chelsea must start identifying their successors now.
Give youth a chance
Chelsea have made big strides over recent years regarding youth development, but the club still need to prove they can provide an adequate pathway to the first-team for young stars.
Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek needs to be used more regularly and allowed to make mistakes without the threat of being immediately dropped, while more encouragement could also be given to Charly Musonda and Ola Aina. Chelsea will start to encounter problems recruiting and keeping the best young players if the status quo continues.
Re-focus in the transfer market
Chelsea enjoyed a superb 2014 summer transfer window that effectively secured the Premier League title for the club, but 2015 was far less successful. January signing Juan Cuadrado came and went, while only Asmir Begovic has made any sort of impact from this summer’s arrivals.
It is clear the Blues will need to make changes to the current squad to challenge for the top honours again, which puts pressure on technical director Michael Emenalo to find the right signings. There can be no more Papy Djilbodjis and Michael Hectors if Chelsea are going to be taken seriously.