It is a well known phenomenon at Chelsea at this point. A manager does well and the transfer window that follows is the moment to strike while the iron is hot. Doing so would set Chelsea up for years. Yet time and time again, the board fails to strike.
When Jose Mourinho won the Premier League in 2015, that summer was the moment to back him. The board didn’t and his side fell apart without reinforcement. Antonio Conte won the Premier League in 2017 and that was the moment to back him. The board didn’t, failing to get primary targets and, perhaps even worse, replacing them with subpar options. Again, the side fell apart without reinforcement.
It takes another flavor too. When Frank Lampard came into his first summer transfer window following the transfer ban, he was clear about which players he wanted and in some cases who. The board listened, partially, but also brought in players he did not ask for or have a plan for. Having to juggle more than necessary, the team again fell apart. The board may have had the right thought in mind having learned from the Mourinho and Conte fallouts, but they went their own way at the expense of their manager.
This summer the same story could unfold. The seeds are already there. Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea is flying and it is the moment to strike. The board historically says no reinforcement is needed when the team plays this well. Or, they could do like last summer and buying players without the call for them, usually at the expense of the signings that are actually needed (see a defensive midfielder as the club brought in attacker after attacker last summer, good as they might be).
It is an issue for every Chelsea manager and board interaction. The board sees players as investments. That isn’t what a manager needs. The manager needs the right players to improve the team not subpar players of a similar mold or players of a completely different skillset because they have huge value.
The board was so close to getting it right with Lampard by handing him the keeper he asked for and Ben Chilwell. They were deaf when it came to Declan Rice and it is very hard to see Lampard asking for or even needing all three of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and Hakim Ziyech. Those are mistakes the board can’t keep repeating, for Thomas Tuchel or whoever has to follow him if the same story unfolds for the German.
If Tuchel wants a player, that is the only player the board should go for. If he wants a player gone, the board should do what they can to make it happen. No signing subpar alternatives. No signing players that aren’t needed at the expense of ones that are. No pointing to Tuchel’s so far stellar record and saying reinforcements aren’t needed. Just back the manager, finally.
This summer is a moment to strike while the iron is hot. The right window, fully in support of Tuchel, could finally put Chelsea back into title race contention. It can finally put them securely into the Champions League and perhaps even make them one of the likely winners. The board has messed up these moments before and it has seen Chelsea backslide. They can’t do it again this summer.