The club has been run as if by an over-excited teenager on their new football video game; they have sacked two managers in a season, they have spent too much money and they have too many players.
Graham Potter’s dismissal on Sunday felt utterly inevitable. His was an appointment destined to fail at Stamford Bridge for so many reasons, not least the confusion about which players to pick and who to leave out and the pressure created by such lavish January spending.
Potter was a bad fit. After working with a relatively small group at Brighton, he was unprepared to manage a bloated squad assembled at such a cost, with most of his players on long and lucrative deals. Like Mykhailo Mudryk.
Chelsea handed the 22-year-old an eight-year contract upon his £88m transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk in January. They can hardly look to offload the Ukrainian in the summer after an underwhelming start to his career in England.
Mudryk was always going to outlast his boss, even if Potter did get a whopping five-year contract worth £50m of his own. There’s no transfer window for sacking managers.
Mudryk – four league starts and no goals so far – wasn’t alone in finding himself on the periphery Chelsea squad, of course. The Boehly-sanctioned spending spree has left a trail of chaos in its wake, with new players simply not trusted – or deemed unready – to feature.
Noni Madueke arrived in a £35m deal from PSV but has only started twice for the club. David Datro Fofana cost £8m but has only played an hour of league football. Brazil youngster Andrey Santos was an £18m buy and immediately sent on loan, as was Malo Gusto, the £25m right-back seeing out the campaign with Lyon.
Even those who arrived in the summer, such as £63m left-back Marc Cucurella and £35m centre-back Benoît Badiashile are still not guaranteed starters.
Mudryk was the target of Ian Wright’s ire after Chelsea played out a tepid 0-0 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday night. The former Arsenal man opined that the wide man simply didn’t appear “bothered” – an issue, in Wright’s view, caused by his contract length.
“They’ve bought players and put them on these contracts and if we don’t start seeing something in the next… well now, we should be seeing stuff now,” Wright told Premier League Productions.
“At the moment you are looking him, is he bothered at the moment? He doesn’t seem to me like he’ll be bothered about what’s going on at the moment because he’s got a long contract, this manager will go, we’ll see what the next one does.”
In fairness to Mudryk, he arrived at a club in turmoil and he initially thought he was going to Arsenal, before a last-gasp Chelsea transfer hijack. Potter was struck by options paralysis, so he generally stuck to established names like Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Joao Felix in attack.
In normal circumstances, Mudryk’s £88m fee would create its own pressure for the player, but Wright believes there is little incentive for new boys like the 22-year-old at Chelsea.
“It’s kind of put something into the players minds where they’re relaxed,” he added.
Time is on Mudryk’s side to come good, so too many of his fellow recent recruits at Chelsea. Yet the manager at Chelsea is always the most expendable man at the club and there will be pressure from above to make these signings work in the way they were supposed to. Enzo Fernandez, all £106m of him, is another like Mudryk who must be picked and who must succeed.
Luis Enrique is the bookies’ favourite to succeed Potter and will be familiar with this kind of pressure, having managed Barcelona and Spain, where the stakes are always high.
But Boehly’s contract policy and the finances tied into this current Chelsea squad could haunt the next man in the hot seat.