Tactics and Transfers: Simplicity will make most of Chelsea’s spending

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Enzo Fernandez of Chelsea after the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Chelsea and AFC Wimbledon at Stamford Bridge on August 30, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Enzo Fernandez of Chelsea after the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Chelsea and AFC Wimbledon at Stamford Bridge on August 30, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) /
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LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 25: Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino embraces Levi Colwill of Chelsea after the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Luton Town at Stamford Bridge on August 25, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images) /

Against Wimbledon, Luton (in highlights) and then Nottingham Forrest Chelsea looked like exactly the club that they are. A new one. Yes, yes it’s true the club was founded over 100 years ago. Congratulations to you on your literalism.

But they are a new team. At this point, few of the players have been with the club for more than 24 months outside of a chosen (and attempted to sell) few. They don’t even really know each other and could likely be forgiven for having been distracted as well as worried about the never-before-seen business dealings that could impact their futures within the game.

Now though with the window closed things need to be allowed to calm down. That is easier said than done but patience and simplicity (Patience’s sister who works in fashion I assume) are both qualities whose merit and value have never been called into question.

The group is incredibly young and only recently even met one another. Does that sound like any of the best sides you have ever known? Barca 2008-2009, Manchester United 1998-1999 or 2007-2008, Arsenal 2003-2004, Manchester City 2022-2023. Nope. Each one of those sides had a couple of transfers in and out but by and large had played together for a very long time and become cohesive units together.

CFC likely has players who are still suffering jetlag they’ve been with the team for so little time. I’d be shocked if they even all knew each other’s names and where they were all from. So it will take time, obviously. The positives are all still as they were at the beginning of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino is a good manager and his head is glued on straight. The talent level of the squad is higher than it was before. Many of the jaded, cynical, and tired players whose spirits had been sucked out over the past several years’ level of complications have been moved on.

Given the revenue that the club has and the reasonable expected growth trajectories and maturation each player will have, it would be reasonable for the Blues to take some time off spending for a season or two after this.

They probably won’t, but it would be reasonable. CFC make roughly £485 million in revenue in a good full year of full competitions. In one season of simply not spending Chelsea could offset almost half their spending by the FFP revenue-to-spend system.

That together with their simply knowing one another will make a big difference in the way Chelsea play. Though Chelsea continue to claim they’re playing in a 4-2-3-1 at every juncture it must be the most 3-5-2 looking 4-2-3-1 ever.

It hasn’t been too pleasant to watch recently and certainly not as lovely as the pre-season football was. That said, that was literally preseason, and the strength of the 4-2-3-1 was the artistry of Christopher Nkunku who is now a second knee injury into his time since Chelsea paid for him. So I actually believe 3-5-2 is logical and given it’s my favorite formation I’m ok with it.

I will admit though that it is perhaps misleading for the squad at the moment. With a team as young as Chelsea’s it might suit Pochettino to know that too many changes will make the players lack confidence.

The current strength of the team is Raheem Sterling. So Pochettino should build around putting him in the best position possible. 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 are both formations that could maximize Sterling’s strengths while getting other members of the team into their best positions. The fear of overexposing Thiago Silva in a 4 at the back formation is likely negated by £200 million of defensive midfielders in front of him (if it doesn’t then well – Yahtzee!?).

Caicedo, I can make an argument for dropping. It would let him relax and get his feet under him but I’d also understand playing him through to get his confidence. So either one is fine but he does appear to literally be stumbling under the weight of his transfer at the moment.

Enzo is undroppable because well, he’s unbelievable. Lesley Ugochukwu was looked marvelous every time he’s played thus far and deserves a run I believe. Then adding in Gallagher, Mudryk and Sterling in front of them with Jackson out front would do a lot for the continuity of the side moving forward from the summer.

In the end this is the 4-2-3-1 that I would go with for now: Sanches, Gusto – Silva – Colwill – Maatsen (Chilwell), Enzo – Lesley, Sterling – Gallagher – Mudryk, Jackson.

Next. Chelsea injury news: Reece James, Nkunku, Fofana, Lavia. dark

That’s how I would go at the moment. But the truth is that with patience and simple practice this team will grow into the one that it has the potential to. The only thing CFC needs to do is stop fiddling and allow it to do so.