Chelsea: Who is to blame?

The manager has been sacked.

The form is in the toilet. The fridge door was left open. The telly is on the blink. The dog is crapping all over the carpet again.

The district line is suspended between Earl’s Court and Wimbledon.

Todd Boehly has arrived claiming to be a friend of Bruno Saltor.

Chelsea Football Club – welcome to 90min’s ‘Who is to blame?’ series.

30. Ken Bates
Ken Bates
Big Ken’s tenure was bittersweet / Robin Jones/GettyImages

Blame rating: 0.1/10

Ken Bates bought Chelsea for £1 back in 1982. A quid. 100 pennies. 1/2000000th of a Michu. Three Borussia Dortmund season tickets.

He then loaded them with £80m of debt, but it was then followed by an unprecedented era of spending and success. So swings and roundabouts I guess.

29. Winston Bogarde
Winston Bogarde
A legend of the game / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Blame rating: 0.5/10

We may never see a case like Winston Bogarde’s at Chelsea again. Actually, scratch that, it’s completely plausible under Boehly and his 10-year long contracts.

But Bogarde was the trailblazer. Signed on stupidly high wages for no reason, disregarded by two managers in about a month. 12 games played in four years under enormous pressure to simply cut his losses and move on.

Bogarde wanted the bag, though. He has my total respect.

28. Gianfranco Zola
Gianfranco Zola of Chelsea looks dejected
Iconic / Ross Kinnaird/GettyImages

Blame rating: 1/10

Chelsea have had some truly astounding players on the books throughout their history. But after Bogarde, their first modern legend was Gianfranco Zola.

He was one of the Premier League’s first flair players, someone who redefined what football in England could be, a pioneer in making Chelsea showtime. This is all his fault.

27. Jeremy Clarkson
ITV Autumn Entertainment Launch
You’ll never be Chris Tarrant. / Nick England/GettyImages

Blame rating: 1.5/10

It’s customary in these ‘Who is to blame?’ pieces to point the finger at someone from Top Gear.

Richard Hammond ranked highly in my Tottenham article, so it’s only fitting that Chelsea fan Jeremy Clarkson comes in here. The big whopper.

26. Antonio Conte
Thomas Tuchel, Antonio Conte
Bahahahahahahaha / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Blame rating: 2/10

Speaking of people to blame for Tottenham’s disaster, here comes Antonio Conte[The Undertaker’s theme plays]

Sure, he won Chelsea their latest Premier League title, but he burned a lot of bridges in the aftermath of that glory, notably raking in £26m in compensation for unfair dismissal and joining rivals Spurs.

Still, at least he gave us the famous Thomas Tuchel handshake…

25. Antonio Conte’s text to Diego Costa
Antonio Conte, Diego Costa
Conte and Costa’s relationship turned sour / Catherine Ivill – AMA/GettyImages

Blame rating: 2.1/10

But Conte’s funniest antic by far was sending a text message to star striker Diego Costa saying he wasn’t in his plans, six months after trying to sell him to the Chinese Super League.

The Spain international was sold back to Atletico Madrid days after the summer transfer window closed.

24. The summer 2017 transfer window
Danny Drinkwater
A cursed sight / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Blame rating: 2.5/10

So who did Chelsea buy in 2017 to help defend their title? Pull up a chair, have some water, sign this liability waiver.

Willy Caballero. Antonio Rudiger. Tiemoue Bakayoko. Alvaro Morata. Davide Zappacosta. Danny Drinkwater.

That’s a lot of rubbish players, and Antonio Rudiger.

23. Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku, Antonio Conte
Lukaku succeeded under Conte at Inter / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

Blame rating: 2.6/10

The one player Conte wanted more than any other in 2017 was Romelu Lukaku, who instead joined Manchester United.

Lukaku would finally make his Stamford Bridge homecoming in 2021, looking a shadow of his former self, extending Chelsea’s infamous striker curse and supposedly being offended when Tuchel called Conte the Belgian’s ‘daddy’.

22. Kepa Arrizabalaga
Kepa Arrizabalaga
Kepa has a world record 0% save accuracy when facing shots from more than 18 yards (citation needed) / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Blame rating: 3/10

Good news, Chelsea fans – there are only two more years to run on the initial seven-year contract that Kepa Arrizabalaga signed following his inexplicable £72m move from Athletic Club in 2018!

Bad news, Chelsea fans – there are still two more years to run on the initial seven-year contract that Kepa Arrizabalaga signed following his inexplicable £72m move from Athletic Club in 2018.

21. Chris Deeley’s article claiming that Kepa Arrizabalaga was, quote, ‘fine’

Blame rating: 3.1/10

Former 90min favourite (well, employee anyway) Chris Deeley once wrote that Kepa was ‘absolutely fine’ and to ignore his ludicrous transfer fee.

It was a take which aged horribly, but one that remains available to the internet to his credit.

20. Marina Granovskaia
Bruce Buck, Marina Granovskaia
For the avoidance of doubt, Granovskaia is on the right / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Blame rating: 3.5/10

I’m going to level with you. I’m trying to crack some laughs here. It helps to not acknowledge who Chelsea’s previous despicable owner was and why he was ousted. Are we on the same page?

Anyway, that doesn’t mean that former director Marina Granovskaia is exempt from some tongue-in-cheek criticism, though.

19. Chelsea’s loan army
Dominic Solanke of AFC Bournemouth in action with Mason Mount of... News Photo - Getty Images
Dominic Solanke and Mason Mount were graduates from the loan army / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Blame rating: 3.6/10

Boehly is clearly disrespecting Chelsea tradition by choosing to have a first-team squad of 239 players instead of opting to loan half of them out.

18. Vitesse Arnhem
Dutch Eredivisie"Vitesse v FC Utrecht"
Hello again, Mason / VI-Images/GettyImages

Blame rating: 4/10

Chelsea B, back in the day. Definitely a legitimate arrangement.

17. Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard
“Just happy to be on the list! No but seriously I am looking for a new club please call me.” / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Blame rating: 4.5/10

Well I can’t not blame Frank Lampard, can I?

16. Branislav Ivanovic-biter Luis Suarez
He does bite who he wants, tbf / ANDREW YATES/GettyImages

Blame rating: 4.6/10

Were Chelsea infected by some rabid disease which spread when Luis Suarez took a bite out of Branislav Ivanovic back in 2013?


Is it time for us to panic? Is it time to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?

Yes I would, Kent.

15. Luis Garcia’s ghost goal
Lionel Hutz Simpsons GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Blame rating: 5/10

Chelsea fans, could you imagine your life if Luis Garcia’s goal in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals back in 2005 wasn’t awarded?

14. Rafa Benitez
Rafael Benitez
Chelsea fans have said some mean things about Rafa / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Blame rating: 5.1/10

Whether he was managing Liverpool or Chelsea themselves, Rafa Benitez was the scourge of the Blues, continually denying them Champions League glory.

13. Willian
Willian even scored against Chelsea this season (LOOOOOL) / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Blame rating: 5.5/10

Listen, everyone knows that the Chelsea player scapegoated more than any other in the last decade was Willian. It’s only fitting that he ranks somewhere on this list, right?

12. Jose Mourinho

Bring him home / ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages

Blame rating: 6/10

The man who raised the bar and won nearly everything available to him. The man who dragged the club into a relegation battle.

I think I speak for everyone when I say the world needs to see Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, part three.

11. Paul Baker’s Jose Mourinho song

Blame rating: 6.1/10

10. The fake rivalry with AFC Richmond

Blame rating: 6.5/10

Was playing up a rivalry with Ted Lasso’s AFC Richmond – a team who literally are not real – the best thing Chelsea could have done while their season was going down the pan?

For ironic comedic purposes, yes actually.

9. Roy Kent

Blame rating: 7/10

Chelsea even made a big song and dance about Roy Kent – a fake player for said fake team – ‘returning’ to Stamford Bridge.

Ted Lasso producers caused a stir when they made amendments to a banner for the late Ray Wilkins to honour Kent – again, NOT A REAL PERSON – in the show.

8. Antonio Rudiger
Antonio Rudiger
Oh how Chelsea miss him / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Blame rating: 8/10

Why is Rudiger, one of the very best defenders in Chelsea’s history, on this list?

Because the plot of this article called for it.

Moving on…

7. The dad from the Antonio Rudiger announcement video

Blame rating: 8.1/10

Remember earlier when I said how disastrous Chelsea’s summer 2017 window bar Rudiger was?

I changed my mind. It wasn’t worth it for this.

6. Tom Henning Øvrebø
Chelsea v Barcelona 2009 Champions League semi-final 2nd leg
“And the Chelsea fans cover their eyes in horror…” / Tom Jenkins/GettyImages

Blame rating: 8.5/10

“It’s a disgrace…it’s a f***ing disgrace!” Didier Drogba declared after Chelsea were essentially robbed of a place in the 2009 UEFA Champions League final by Barcelona and the questionable decision-making of referee Tom Henning Øvrebø.

It’s a game which defined his career and cemented his legacy. Not to be confused with Chelsea influencer Tom Overend. Easy mistake to make.

5. Anthony Taylor
Enzo Fernandez, Anthony Taylor
Enzo Fernandez speaks for Chelsea / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Blame rating: 8.6/10

And yet despite Øvrebø’s discrepancies, the bald referee that Chelsea fans hate the most is Anthony Taylor.

You only need to search his name on social media to get a clear picture on what they think of him (please seek the bill-payer’s permission if you are under the age of 18).

4. Thomas Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel
Tuchel loved a trip to the club megastore / Pixsell/MB Media/GettyImages

Blame rating: 8.9/10

Chelsea had super Thomas Tuchel. He knew exactly what they needed.

Unfortunately, that vision clashed with the club’s new hierarchy, who were insistent on ripping up a solid base to start from scratch with a coach who was clearly inferior to the German in every way.

3. Graham Potter

Graham Potter
Now he’ll never win the f**ing Champions League / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Blame rating: 9/10

Okay, Graham Potter is obviously a lovely guy, but let’s not pretend that dragging Chelsea from the top four to 11th (eleventh) was acceptable even amid the loud nonsense going on around him.

The beard worked. The roll neck worked. The idea to bring him in at least made a little bit of sense. But Potter teams remain allergic to scoring goals and Chelsea just looked like an expensive version of his flawed Brighton teams. His calmer style did not win over an overcrowded dressing room.

It was time to go.

2. Brighton & Hove Albion

Gary Bowles
If you squint, the badge even looks similar to Chelsea’s / Stephen Bardens/GettyImages

Blame rating: 9.5/10

Ooh, we’re Brighton, we’re the Seagulls, we do everything right, we’re not stupid, we don’t have Neal Maupay anymore, ooh. Pathetic.

Brighton are the model club and Chelsea tried to copy that model, poaching their manager and about 37 members of staff to fill one director of football role.

Their approach with an open chequebook saw the Blues bring in some utter dross. Meanwhile, Brighton are thriving under Roberto De Zerbi and are making a push to reach the UEFA Champions League.

1. Todd Boehly

Todd Boehly
What in tarnation? / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Blame rating: 10/10

Despite assertions from desperate fans that Todd Boehly has a masterplan for Chelsea, the evidence aggressively suggests he does not.

They were the champions of Europe when he and Clearlake Capital completed their purchase of the club. The squad needed refining more than rebuilding. The head coach was one of the most proven in football.

But then the chaos kicked in. Boehly anointed himself as the interim sporting director and oversaw the biggest summer spend ever, assembling a bloated hodgepodge roster and sacking Tuchel a week after backing him.

Potter came and went either side of another chaotic transfer window. Chelsea have not yet reached the magic 40-point total and we are in April. They have been overtaken by west London neighbours Brentford and Fulham.

Chelsea are in a crisis because of Boehly.


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