It was almost impossible to pick out a single team for crisis club of the week after all the shenanigans at the weekend.
West Ham, Everton and Wolves all made exceptionally strong cases with dire performances, while Manchester United won their game against Fulham only to then watch on in horror as Cristiano Ronaldo decided to smash the footballing equivalent of the emergency eject button on Sunday night.
A feisty Piers Morgan interview, shockingly, didn’t go too well as everyone without a variation of his name in their own Twitter @ quickly turned on the Portuguese forward, including his international teammate Bruno Fernandes. Oh well, at least you’ll always have Piers in your corner, Ronnie lad.
This isn’t about Ronaldo, however. This week’s (un)lucky winner is Chelsea.
Chelsea have lost four of their last five, beating only Dinamo Zagreb and losing to Brighton, Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle. All very good teams, but the kind you’d expect Chelsea to compete with given the money they spend and their aspirations. They didn’t look remotely like winning any of those four games.
Beyond that, they’ve failed to win in their last five games in the Premier League – also drawing to Manchester United and Brentford – and now sit eighth in the table, only two points ahead of newly promoted Fulham and level on points with Brighton.
Considering that Chelsea stole their manager Graham Potter and his entire backroom staff, along with handing them £55m for disaster in a wig Marc Cucurella, you’d expect them to be doing a fair bit better and Brighton a whole lot worse.
Chelsea’s recruitment has been a shambles. Splashing that kind of money on Cucurella, who isn’t as good at left wing-back as Ben Chilwell and has been an unmitigated horror show as a centre-back, doesn’t make the remotest kind of sense. Lewis Hall, an 18-year-old academy product, started the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle in his place, even despite Chilwell being out with injury.
Elsewhere, Armando Broja and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are far from the calibre of striker needed to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League, centre-backs Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly have a combined age of almost 70 and they have way too much depth in central midfield compared to almost every other position.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, for instance, is now regularly turning out as a right wing-back after a brief but spectacularly nonsensical flirtation Potter had with putting Raheem Sterling there. Carney Chukwuemeka was signed for £20m despite being available as a free agent at the end of the season. He has made three appearances.
Essentially, the club’s decision-making in terms of personnel has been misguided for a while. Even before Todd Boehly arrived on the scene and started doing things so insane I can scarcely believe it wasn’t a nightmarish fever dream, like attempting to buy Anthony Gordon for over £50m.
Selling Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi and losing Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer, to spending over £100m replacing him with the ageing Koulibaly and injury-prone Wesley Fofana, are perfect examples of the systemic problems that run deep at the club, even if they still have the financial power to cope with the mistakes they consistently make in the transfer market.
Not sign upcoming free agent Cristiano Ronaldo, or rekindle their pursuit of Anthony Gordon, or pay drastically over the odds for any Brighton player. That would be a good start. Not sacking Graham Potter would probably help, too, as he’ll need a while to sort all this mess out.
If Potter can convince Boehly of his vision for the squad and get the American billionaire to properly align himself with a sensible, long-term recruitment strategy, this might just work out yet. That’s easier said than done.
The manager himself also needs to start getting a tune out of more of his players and will be desperately looking forward to the potential returns of Reece James, Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante following the World Cup.
It may require a change of system and a clear-out of some deadwood in the January transfer window for Chelsea to start showing signs of improvement, but by then Champions League qualification could already be in jeopardy.
Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest await in their first two games back after the break. Win both of those, restore some confidence and go from there. It’s only Man City and a well-rested Erling Haaland to play afterwards. Gulp.