It was only two seasons ago, believe it or not, that Chelsea triumphed in the race for the Premier League title; edging out Manchester United by just a point. While doing so, they netted over 100 times to finish with a goal difference of +71. Unfortunately for The Blues, times change, and they didn't. While Sir Alex purchased bargains such as Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling to bolster their squad, Chelsea signed David Luiz (to replace Carvalho) and the formerly prolific Fernando Torres. These signings clearly differed in impact, the subsequent season saw them beaten into second place by The Red Devils (with by a margin of nine points).
But surely they are facing the worst of their problems at the moment. A 1-0 defeat to mid-table West Brom saw Roman Abramovich gleefully sack the relatively young Villas-Boas, leading to the seventh managerial change in five years after Di Matteo took temporary charge this month. They languish in fifth place, just two points above Newcastle, and have only won once in the last seven competitive games. So where has it all gone wrong for the West London side?
First of all, the expectations of the owner. Chelsea have had billions pumped into their club, and when foreign businessmen start splashing out on a football side, they expect immediate success. This approach has led to the regular sacking and replacing of managers. If Abramovich was owner of Manchester United during the early, stuttering reign of Sir Alex, he wouldn't have lasted very long at all, but now look at him! Managers need time to settle with their team (this means more than the 9 months that Villas-Boas has) in order to initiate a long term projects. The only man who was allowed to flourish under the Russian's scrutiny was Jose Mourinho, who spent over three years in charge, but when you look at the likes of David Moyes, Arsene Wenger and Ferguson himself, this isn't very impressive at all.
Also; the co-operation and teamwork hasn’t been up to scratch. The title winning side of the 2009-2010 played like Champions, whilst this season, they have been prone to embarrass themselves in winnable games (observe Aston Villa, Everton and QPR). You could probably blame this on the underachievements of some players, notably Torres, Boswinga, Luiz, but from my perspective, the whole team have let themselves down and ultimately contributed to the early axing of AVB. Torres himself (making his 50th appearance against Birmingham tonight) has become a liability. Constantly being played in an attempt to justify his price tag when he is clearly under-performing.
Matters off the pitch could have possibly played a distraction. Terry's racial abusing of Anton Ferdinand seemed to be a black clouding looming over Stamford Bridge ever since the incident happened back in October (their form was very good before then). His trial of course is not until the summer, meaning the uncertainty over his innocence will continue for many months to come. In my personal opinion, he shouldn't be allowed to go to the World Cup, since a decision will not be made before then. Innocent until proven guilty would apply, but there is video evidence against the Chelsea captain...
Chelsea can begin to amend their problems by hiring a manager who will be allowed to stay in the job for more than five minutes. I personally think Di Matteo would be a good candidate for the permanent manager's position having proved his worth at West Brom and MK Dons (though they may not be clubs held in highest regard). A win today at Birmingham could be the building blocks for a revival under new management, but they are still going to be fighting for fourth place for the remainder of the season, which is not a position The Blues want to be in.