Predicting 10 more Chelsea mistakes this summer: McKenna, Jackson, ‘the next Enzo’ and…

Will Ford
Chelsea Gallagher Boehly McKenna
Enzo Maresca will likely have little say in Conor Gallagher staying or going

We’re less than a week into the summer and Chelsea have already made one mistake, but given Todd Boehly and his Clearlake pals’ penchant for blunders, we can all feel safe in the knowledge that there are more to come.

‘Sacking Mauricio Pochettino’ was actually on this list when we compiled it on Monday, but we’ve simply moved that to top the mistakes Boehly has already made, and came up with another to make this top 10. Turns out it’s really not hard to come up with them.

Here we go then, predicting 10 mistakes Chelsea, or rather their ridiculous owners, will make this summer…


Hiring Kieran McKenna
We’ve got nothing against the guy. What McKenna has done with Ipswich Town, earning back-to-back to promotions to take them into the Premier League in his first senior managerial role, is an extraordinary achievement. He will probably go on to far bigger and better things, but the next bigger and better thing should be Brighton, a Premier League club where young managers go to make a name for themselves, or at a push Manchester United, where McKenna has the He Knows The Club advantage. Not Chelsea.

We get what they’re trying to do. Boehly and the lads want to land the gems that Brighton have earmarked at source. But Chelsea hired Graham Potter from Brighton and that didn’t work, and now they’re just going round in a circle.

They had a world-renowned coach in Thomas Tuchel and didn’t like that he pushed back, so they sacked him and hired up-and-comer Potter. He couldn’t hack it so they sacked him and hired a second experienced coach in Pochettino, whom they didn’t like pushing back so he was mutually consented out the door, and now they want another young upstart.

The world-class, tactically astute man-management expert who’s willing to have no input on signing players and is under the age of 45 does not exist. Because if you are a brilliant coach you will want to have a say in which players you want to work with. If you don’t want that, you’re not a brilliant coach.


Selling Conor Gallagher
Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ethan Ampadu, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Lewis Hall and Billy Gilmour all came through the Chelsea Academy and have left in the Boehly era, and while at least half of those players could have stayed and made a difference, we get it.

The ‘pure profit’ thing is a nonsense, and while not spending money on dross would be a very good way of avoiding the need to sell Academy players, it’s not the Chelsea owners’ fault that it’s a nonsense. All clubs should be encouraged to keep hold of the players they’ve nurtured and have come through the ranks, and the fact that you get more profit for selling them than anyone else does the exact opposite of that.

Armando Broja will be off, and few Chelsea fans will blink an eye, Ian Maatsen has looked very good for Borussia Dortmund, but we understand that £30m will be too rich to turn down for the left-back. Trevoh Chalobah also looks likely to leave, which feels pretty daft given Chelsea’s upswing at the end of the season has coincided rather neatly with his return, but again, needs must. But they can’t sell Gallagher.

Firstly, he will be going to a direct rival in the Premier League. That’s not hurt Chelsea with Mount or Hall (yet) but it just feels like Gallagher would go to Tottenham or Aston Villa and continue to do exactly the same things he’s been doing so brilliantly for Chelsea, making them significantly better and Chelsea significantly worse.

He’s captained the team for the majority of the season, his form has barely wavered, Moises Caicedo has looked like Moises Caicedo with Gallagher alongside him in place of Enzo Fernandez and most importantly – the absolute key that these owners just clearly don’t care about or understand the importance of – no one is prouder to play for Chelsea than him. Surely they’ve got more hotels they can sell to themselves instead?

READ MORE: Guimaraes, Gallagher and Kudus? Predicting 10 PL stars to have a pre-transfer final day farewell


Signing ‘the next Enzo Fernandez’
More on The Project shortly, but the general idea has been for Chelsea to hoover up the best young players and offer them ridiculously long contracts. Throwing all subtlety and guile out the window in this quest they signed the winner of the FIFA Young Player Award after the World Cup in Qatar, Enzo Fernandez, for £106m.

By that point the midfielder had made under 100 senior club appearances and just 29 of those came in Europe for Benfica, who made £70m on him in six months. Even without considering what have turned out to be bang-average displays from Enzo for Chelsea since, it was terrible business.

They probably shouldn’t spend another nine-figure sum on the basis of seven major tournament games (only five of which Enzo started, by the way) and if they do – with both the European Championship and Copa America to come this summer – they may be well served by their process being slightly more nuanced than signing the actual young player award winner.

👉 Ranking Todd Boehly mistakes at Chelsea: Sacking Pochettino storms to top spot of 17
👉 Chelsea: Underwhelming contenders to replace Mauricio Pochettino headed by McKenna
👉 Pochettino sacked as Chelsea brains trust choose the path of unsalvageable stupidity


Sticking rigidly to The Project
Frustratingly because they’ve got rid of the man who’s played a huge part in making it so, Boehly and the lads now have some evidence that The Project is working. Cole Palmer, Malo Gusto, Nicolas Jackson, Noni Madueke and Moises Caicedo have – to greater and less extents – proved in their debut seasons at Stamford Bridge that signing young talented players to big contracts is a good idea.

But much of their improvement has presumably been down to the manager they no longer have to guide them, and while it feels inevitable that a lot of the fine work done under Pochettino will be undone by his departure, signing some experienced players would be an excellent route to prevent them going right back to square one.

The thought of McKenna or Enzo Maresca, both young coaches, relying on Ben Chilwell (27), Axel Disasi (26) and Christopher Nkunku (26) – who will be the oldest outfield players if Raheem Sterling leaves – as the wise heads to guide the team won’t fill anyone with confidence.


Signing a like-for-like Thiago Silva replacement
That said, what they absolutely shouldn’t do is try to sign all of that experience in one player. Thiago Silva is a beautiful and brilliant footballer, but Pochettino really struggled to get him into the team this season while playing the high-pressing style he values.

Quite simply, he wasn’t quick enough, and neither is Raphael Varane, who’s been pants at Manchester United for a while now anyway.


Buying players without asking the manager
They’re definitely going to do this. By all accounts it’s a big reason why Pochettino has left the club, but it makes no sense. Neither does giving a new manager total control – we’ve seen how well that’s turned out for Erik ten Hag at Manchester United. It should quite obviously be a collaboration.

The manager, or rather the head coach because that distinction is now vitally important for some mad reason, works with the squad on a daily basis and is better placed than anyone to look at their players and work out which positions need strengthening and with which type of player. They should then go to the board and say something like ‘we need a physically dominant, left-footed centre-back’. The recruitment team can then spring into action and come back with two or three options, at which point they should all sit in a room and discuss who they should attempt to sign. That should be the only way of doing things.

What’s actually happened at Chelsea, under all of the head coaches to have worked under Boehly et al. thus far, is that new players have been announced by the club as a complete surprise to those who have to then work with them. It is absolute insanity.


Marginalising Nicolas Jackson
Back in October, when Jackson was largely being ridiculed by rival fans for what was (and continues to be) some pretty ropey finishing, we urged Chelsea not to ruin our fun in January and allow us to enjoy the striker’s chaos for an entire season. For that we thank the owners (or rather their inability to spend in the winter window).

At that point there were a lot of rumours of Chelsea interest in Victor Osimhen, Ivan Toney and other big-name strikers. Those links remain, but an uptick in Jackson’s general displays across a season in which he’s managed 17 goals and six assists now has us wondering whether – for the purposes of success as well as fun – Chelsea may be better served spending their money on other areas of the squad and keeping the Senegal international as their first-choice No.9.

If Chelsea aren’t going to give Jackson the chance to show if he’s up to the task of becoming the main man then what’s this project all about? We would rather see Nicolas Jackson score 30 goals a season for Chelsea than literally anyone else, and he might just do it.


Failing to sign a new goalkeeper
Djordje Petrovic has been better than Robert Sanchez, but neither of them are anywhere near as good as the goalkeepers that finished above them in the Premier League. Ederson and Alisson have been among the world’s best for at least the last five years, David Raya won the Golden Glove, Emiliano Martinez is the goalkeeper of the season and Guglielmo Vicario has pulled off some truly astonishing saves and has been an inspired signing by Tottenham.

It’s one thing Chelsea used to get very right. Carlo Cudicini to Petr Cech to Thibaut Courtois was quite the run of excellence and Edouard Mendy was unbelievably good for a season. They’ll need to get it right again if they want to do anything of note next term.

READ MORE: Who was the best goalkeeper in the Premier League in 2023/24?


Taking a European ban
Nothing sums up Todd Boehly’s time at Chelsea quite like them not being able to afford to play in the Europa Conference League.

Firstly, the Europa Conference League? Jesus. When he took over they were the reigning Champions League winners. Now they’ve got to hope Manchester City beat Manchester United (admittedly near enough a sure thing) to ensure they play in Europe’s second tier rather than the third.

It remains to be seen whether they would want to play in the Europa League, but reports earlier this year suggested they would rather be banned than play in the ECL, because they’ve spent so much money that they couldn’t afford the financial hit of playing under UEFA’s stricter financial rules.

First of all, accepting a ban is confirmation of mismanagement, not that we needed one, but it would also be hugely useful for the future – which despite that mismanagement will presumably involve Champions League football at some point – that these young, inexperienced players become accustomed to European football and everything that goes with it.


Relying on Mykhaylo Mudryk
Chelsea fans are desperate for him to do well for a few reasons: he cost a lot of money; he promised so much with his displays for Shakhtar Donetsk; the good things he does suggest he could be unstoppable if he finds any consistency; they want Arsenal fans to stop their gloating over Leandro Trossard’s comparitive contributions.

But Mudryk’s really not been great, and he certainly hasn’t been consistent enough to suggest he can be relied upon to be the undisputed first choice on the left for Chelsea. And if Raheem Sterling leaves, which feels reasonably likely, that will be the case unless someone is played out of position.