What will Rafael Benitez’s successor inherit at Chelsea?

Yesterday’s defeat has killed off any lingering prospect of Rafa Benitez staying on at Stamford Bridge. But what will his successor inherit?

Manchester United v Chelsea - FA Cup Sixth Round

1. The Premier League title must, and can, be won The bare minimum for a Chelsea manager is the title, fail to win that and history suggests you will be fired. That however, ought not cause too many sleepless nights as with a few additions (see below) you have been bequeathed a squad which is very capable of winning the Championship.

What this semi-final confirmed is that Manchester United have been allowed to walk away with a title that should have been put beyond them. Man-for-man it is clear Chelsea and Manchester City have better squads than the leaders – which is hardly surprising considering the cash which has been lavished upon them.



2 Luiz can be Chelsea’s Touré The most urgent addition required is a deep-lying midfielder. John Obi Mikel is a perfectly decent holding midfielder but the game has moved on. For a team of Chelsea’s ambition it is no longer enough to be Claude Makélélé, winning the ball and giving it to the play-making team-mate, the deep midfielder must be able to initiate attacks as well as break them up. That requires a greater range of passing than Mikel or Ramires appear to possess, and increased mobility. For City’s second goal Samir Nasri ran past both Chelsea midfielders far too easily.

Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League

3 The old guard are gone Chelsea’s dressing room used to be one of the most powerful in the game, strong enough to see off unpopular managers such as Luis Felipe Scolari and Andre Villa-Boas. But Roberto Di Matteo, Benitez and, especially, Old Father Time, have continued the process begun by Villas-Boas with considerable success. Didier Drogba is in Turkey, Frank Lampard headed for the USA and John Terry is more likely to be found on the bench or in the treatment room than on the pitch.

Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League

4 Dare to give youth a chance Only one of the players used by Benitez yesterday, Ryan Bertrand, is a product of Chelsea’s expensive youth system. Nathan Ake, the teenage Dutch midfielder, was on the bench having started in Moscow in midweek. Others are on loan at a range of clubs, from Middlesbrough to Malaga, though like most of Chelsea’s young players Lucas Piazon, who is at the latter, was acquired for a fee in his late teens. With Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules in place these players are surely worth consideration, though given the pressures on Chelsea managers that will require bravery.

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