Sunderland ‘Til I Die is out and it is hard not to think about if it were a club closer to home. What if Chelsea’s 2015/2016 season went even worse?
When Sunderland agreed to have a documentary done for the 2017/2018 season, they surely did not think they would be facing a second relegation in as many years. Sunderland ‘Til I Die stands above the Manchester City and Juventus documentaries not because it is naturally superior, but because it is more real. It is not the tale of a champion beating everyone in front of them. It is a tale of bad becoming worse.
The 2015/2016 season felt like that for Chelsea at times. Jose Mourinho was sacked between match day 16 and 17 with the Blues sitting in 16th. The club was a lone point above Norwich in 18th and had a measly 15 points. It was met with a dose of disbelief, but some were openly asking if Chelsea could be relegated just a year after winning the Premier League title.
So what if that did happen? Maybe Mourinho stays on and cannot stop the rot. Maybe Guus Hiddink is unable to steady the ship. Maybe someone else comes in and just blows it. What if the unthinkable did happen and Chelsea did spend the 2016/2017 season in the Championship?
First of all, there would be an absolutely massive fire sale. While Chelsea is clearly more sustainable than a club like Sunderland, that sudden loss in revenue would cripple the club’s wage structure. In addition, it is all but certain a club like Chelsea has few if any relegation clauses to lower those wages to a manageable level.
The clear out would see few remain. The senior players that do opt to remain have been at the club for the long haul and they are looking for the bounce back. The superstars are all gone. And Chelsea immediately has to turn towards their academy, heavily, to fill the gaps.
Patrick Bamford and Tammy Abraham fight over the starting striker spot. 2015/2016 signings Baba Rahman, Kenedy, and Matt Miazga become key players. Tomas Kalas, Nathan Ake, Ola Aina, Bertrand Traore, Lucas Piazon, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek finally get the chances long promised to them. The youth revolution comes early, mainly due to necessity.
As for who is manager, that is a big unknown. It would have come too early for either Frank Lampard or John Terry to step right in so it is entirely possible the Blues would turn towards Joe Edwards and his then assistant Jody Morris much sooner.
Chelsea’s young squad avoids getting close to relegation, but they cannot fly into the automatic promotion spots either. The Blues annoyingly finish just outside the top two and are forced into the playoffs. But Chelsea being Chelsea, they manage to get back into the Premier League. But no one should expect them to shoot straight back to the top because the resources took too big of a hit from the one year in the Championship to manage that. The Blues have a long way to go.
What other what ifs would you like to see? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!