THE OBJECTIVE: Chelsea want their title back. As all entitled Premier League clubs do.
THE CAVEAT: CHELSEA CAN BUY PLAYERS AGAIN. Any transfer bids must be accepted.
Following the decision last month to reduce Chelsea’s transfer ban, we’re back in the transfer market once again. Time to refresh and replace in order to contest some silverware. Hang on tight.
December Manager of the Month: Pep Guardiola
Guess who is back, back again. How many times is that now, Pep?
After beginning the month with a 2-2 draw against local and title rivals Manchester United, six straight wins followed. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
December Player of the Month: Moise Kean
Dancing aside, Kean has been on fine form for the blue side of Merseyside. Key performances include, naturally, his 2-goal man-of-the-match performance in the win against Chelsea.
And so, to the transfer market. As close as November I was thinking of hunting for a new striker, but Michy Batshuayi really has hit form since then, with 6 goals just in the last month. I think it is time to target the indifferent midfield. It needs an injection of attacking flair and sharpness.
Unfortunately, and inexplicably, Chelsea have been left were a mere £1.25m to spend on players. What happened? Wages happened, along with 2 or 3 major contract renewals. £40m came in, but just shy of £40m also went out. Including recieved transfer fees.
Now at first glance this looks like a disaster. If the team cannot be strengthened, then a disappointing season is surely on the cards. However, with the squad having depth in numbers, its time to offload the stagnant for some more vibrant talent. Championship Manager style. But first, back to the football.
Premier League Fixture #21 – Leicester (Away)
Finally some resilience. Despite being pegged back by Pereira’s penalty in the first half, Chelsea kept up the pace with the one-time leaders of the Premier League throughout. Having being second best against most sides above them this season, this is a sign of Chelsea’s capability. Now just to hopefully add some quality too.
Transfer Funds Required
The problem this season has been goals. As mentioned before, Michy Batshuayi’s place is cemented with a great run in the first team so far. But he needs help. Pedro is on and off, Pulisic only seems to have a decent game from time to time. But furthermore, some of the younger players with high value could be the key. After all, I won’t be buying anyone with just £1 million in the bank.
First let’s take a look in the reserves. Old Antonio Conte favourite Victor Moses is still at the club and I wasn’t the only one that didn’t realise it. He is rated at a cool £7 million too. Unfortunately in Championship Manager you have to be ruthless, so on the transfer list he goes. Marco Van Ginkel is one of Chelsea’s many European youth purchases, joining the club at just 20 years of age. After a career-threatening anterior cruciate ligament injury, the major of Van Ginkel’s Chelsea career has been on loan at other clubs. Again, a handsome valuation of £5m will help towards first team reinforcements. Both are listed for sale, with immediate interest from Wolves and Tottenham respectively.
But what about the first team? I look at Callum Hudson-Odoi, a great youngster no doubt, but that £12m valuation just screams ‘sale’ to me. He simply hasn’t performed to the standard required. So, on the list he goes. Ross Barkley is another under-performer who will be shown the door for the right fee. Given the current state of Chelsea’s season, the managerial position is definitely on the line. There is still Champions League qualification up for grabs. There is still an FA Cup to win. There is still the Champions League itself to win. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And now, it’s time for the FA Cup run to begin.
FA Cup Third Round – Burnley (Away)
As soon as youngster Dwight McNeil is shown a red card for a dangerous two-footed lunge on Christian Pulisic, with Batshuayi putting away the subsequent penalty, this FA Cup third round tie is plain sailing for Chelsea. Marcus Alonso comes in and bags himself the cherry atop an easy third round victory. And now back to transfer news….
And it isn’t the good kind. Olivier Giroud, a somewhat peripheral figure, yet useful, figure this season, could be on his way to the other part of north London. It wouldn’t be a popular move for sure, given the number of years spent at Arsenal.
Or not, as the Frenchman quickly clarifies. This doesn’t happen very often in Championship Manager, but with some big games to come, it is a welcome decision by the forward.
Spurs also tried a move for the transfer-listed Ross Barkley, with similar results. What a steaming pile of Hotspur.
There is success for Spurs however with Marco van Ginkel. Off he goes to north London. Did Spurs have any players in the first place?
Now it’s Chelsea’s turn. Time to inject some new blood and crank things up. Wolves’ Ruben Neves is hopefully one that is capable. At just over £6m, its a chance worth taking.
Tottenham’s back again, this time for another out of favour midfielder, Danny Drinkwater. Despite winning the Premier League with Leicester, Danny’s career has nosedived ever since, and regular football just hasn’t happened for him. Hopefully this move to Spurs will work for all parties. It certainly does for Chelsea’s transfer balance.
Another sale, this time of reserve starlet Reece James. A cool £4 million in the bank. Thank you to the blue side of Merseyside.
Following the formality at Burnley, Chelsea next face a home tie against League One opposition in Ipswich Town later in the month. Hopefully a good chance to proceed further. And now, back to some actual football.
Premier League Fixture #22 – Manchester City (Home)
A big fixture against the league’s form side. Chelsea were so, so close to getting the win. Man City found their saviour in Sergio Aguero with just a few minutes to go. Proof that one goal is often never enough.
Back to transfer news, a quick check on expiring contracts prompted a punt on another Wolves midfielder, Joao Moutinho. Instrumental in getting Wolves into the Premier League, and ensuring they have remained there, Moutinho has opted to move to the blue side of London from next season. Chelsea’s midfield is looking stronger day by day.
And what of Tottenham? Following bids on various Chelsea players, a further surpise emerged in that Dele Alli showed up on the interested transfer listings. Upon further investigation it appears Dele is having an awful time. Out of action, out of favour and now, out of Tottenham. Dele Alli is now a Chelsea player.
Premier League Fixture #23 – Brighton (Home)
Batshuayi’s form could not have hit at a better time. Brighton might not be the strongest opposition, but putting teams to bed has been a problem for Chelsea all season. A hat trick for the Belgian secures a dominant home win. Let’s hope for more wins than draws as the season hits the final 15 games.
Back to transfer developments, and it looks like more money for the Chelsea transfer kitty. Wolves have come in for the transfer listed Victor Moses. The bid was of course reluctantly accepted….
…and splashed on Everton’s Lucas Digne almost immediately. The left back position hasn’t been secured by anyone consistently this season, so some major competition can only be a positive step.
The squad is looking transformed already. Certain signings are also resonating with the rest of the squad also. Positive vibes all around. An its about to get better…
Hudson-Odoi was the first player placed on the transfer market in this window. His £10m price tag seemed a bit much, and was left as a hopeful money earner. Now it has come in big. Thank you AC Milan.
BREAKING NEWS: Tottenham confirm they have officially lost the plot with a counter offer of £12.25 million for Callum Hudson-Odoi. The player decides to stay in London, with close to an additional £3m going into Chelsea’s bank. Booyah.
And so comes a final signing. With the departure of Rudiger earlier in the season, a cool £5m on England international Michael Keane should help bolster the defensive line nicely. I think Chelsea might be ready.
New Squad Tactics
Now that is looking much better in terms of balance. As the season has progressed Mason Mount has emerged as the partner for Jorginho, who sometimes steps in Kante’s role when he is unavailable. Batshuayi and Giroud are on form up front, and Alli loves the number 10 role. Things are looking up.
Premier League Fixture #24 – Bournemouth (Away)
Blimey. What a start for Deli Alli. Within 20 minutes of his first appearance as a number 10, he is off the mark for Chelsea. Despite the topsy-turvy score-line this was a match Chelsea were always in control of, and more importantly, winning. A month unbeaten for the boys in blue.
FA Cup Fourth Round – Ipswich Town (Home)
Another easy cup victory. Another 4 goals too. Good to see defenders getting a share of the spoils too. Onto the next round against Aston Villa!
Transfer Round Up
To start out with the disappointment of having virtually no transfer money, and concluding with the signing of 4 key players could really turn the season around.
What of the departures? With so much sale activity, the return of Ross Barkley to Everton was completely missed. £82m raised, and just £24.5m spent. I’d say that’s pretty good business.
Elsewhere, across the globe, the Inter-American cup, otherwise known as the Copa Libertadores, came to its conclusion. River Plate came up trumps after a penalty shootout against Monterrey.
Premier League Table, end of January
2 big wins and 2 good draws opens a gap between the top 7 and everyone else. Chelsea are by no means going to win the Premier League this season. But 5th is now only a 4-point gap. Hopefully Chelsea will also finally get that 10th win of the season.
At the top, City continue to dominate. The battle for 2nd is more interesting, with just 3 points between 3 teams. At the bottom, Newcastle looked doomed with just 2 wins all season. But somehow they are only 6 points from safety. Relegation zone mainstays Southampton and Sheffield United remain in trouble, with Wolves and Villa perilously close to the bottom also.
14 games to go. 42 points up for grabs for all. With the return of European competition also, its a make or break month for a new-look Chelsea. Until next time, TTFN!
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Championship manager and its fan made updates are available as freeware from http://www.champman0102.co.uk/
For this blog the October 2019 data update was used.