Football news: Chelsea must move fast as huge changes are about to grip club
Seldom is summer a quiet time at Chelsea, and this closed season looks like being more tumultuous than most. Dan Levene on two months where nothing is expected to stay still for very long.
Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea celebrates with the Europa League Trophy following his team's victory in the UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Baku Olimpiya Stadionu on May 29, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Despite exceeding his objectives, by returning Chelsea to the Champions League and lifting a European trophy, the appointment was never a particularly good fit for the club.
His style of football, lack of connection with the fans, and the refusal to deviate from a very fixed script all worked against him – as did some truly dreadful results in mid-season.
This way out is seen as a face-saving solution for all concerned.
Frank Lampard is favourite to replace him, though the appointment of an unproven manager from the Championship – club legend or not – would be a huge shock move for one of Europe's major clubs.
Frank Lampard has been strongly linked with a return to Chelsea as manager
Image credit: Getty Images
An effective swap with the Old Lady – where Chelsea take-on the man Sarri replaces, in the form of Massimiliano Allegri – might make more sense.
But Chelsea need to get their act together quickly: the last two managerial appointments both happened far later in the summer than was ideal.
The first job on the new boss' plate will be to reform the team in the absence of Eden Hazard: who confirmed last week it was a case of 'goodbye', and that fans would know more within a matter of days.
Hazard owes the club nothing: he arrived seven years ago, and has delivered sterling service as the most influential individual in the delivery of two league titles, two domestic cups, and two European trophies.
Christian Pulisic cannot hope to be a like-for-like replacement: though there are clear similarities in terms of positioning and marketability.
His arrival is expected to herald a switch in global focus: as the club does its level best to romance the American market, in a way that it has only fleetingly tried in recent years.
The third major change is one that won't really affect on-pitch affairs at all: club captain Gary Cahill hasn't been a first-team player for more than a year.
But over the seven and a half years he spent with the club, a time in which he really did win it all (give or take the Club World Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy), he came more and more to embody the modern Chelsea – in a way that John Terry had previously personified a slightly earlier model.
Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea and Gary Cahill of Chelsea celebrates with the Europa League Trophy following there team's victory in the UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Baku Olimpiya Stadionu on May 29, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Image credit: Getty Images
Cahill's popularity in the dressing room, and the unpopularity of Sarri's sidelining of him among players, was illustrated by him being one of the first elected by the group to lift the hefty Europa League silverware out in Azerbaijan.
His dedication and professionalism have rubbed off on countless honours, but he also stands for so much more: being an engaging media performer for so many years – literally, the public face of Chelsea.
He was the first Chelsea captain to give his all to diversity campaigns: such as the club's participation in the Rainbow Laces push for LGBT equality, and the campaign against antisemitism; and did more than any of his predecessors to promote Chelsea's women's team.
Chelsea lose more than just a player, in Cahill, and in some ways his influence and quiet, considered leadership will be tougher to replace than Sarri, or even Hazard.
These few switches will ensure huge changes over the next seven weeks; and there will doubtless be more we can't even yet envisage over that time.