After Boehly and Clearlake’s chaotic first year at Chelsea, it’s time to see what they’ve learned

It’s time to find out what lessons Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital have learned after their crash course in Premier League soccer.

Chelsea certainly came crashing down to earth in the co-owners’ first year in charge of the two-time Champions League-winning club.

It felt like Boehly and Clearlake were in a hurry to get ahead of the curve in their first season at Stamford Bridge. Now they are playing catch-up after a chaotic campaign saw them spend record amounts on new signings, hire and fire managers and oversee Chelsea’s worst ever season in the Premier League.

In response, Mauricio Pochettino was hired as Chelsea’s fourth manager in less than a year, while even more signings have been made to add to the $630 million Boehly and Clearlake had already spent on players since buying the club for $2.5 billion last year. A slew of big names have headed for the exit as well, with N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount most notable among them.

Go big or go home has felt like the overriding policy under Boehly and Clearlake and in many ways they have followed the approach of former owner Roman Abramovich by splashing out huge sums on players and discarding managers at will.

Abramovich brought the club unprecedented success, including a full set of major titles. By contrast, Boehly and Clearlake’s first season was a spectacular failure as a team that had won the Champions League in 2021 finished 12th in the Premier League table and just 10 points above the relegation zone.

Who could blame them if they were trying to emulate Abramovich’s strategy?

He spent big on some of the world’s best players and they were the backbone of teams that won five league titles and two Champions Leagues among 19 major trophies in less than 20 years of the Russian oligarch’s rule.

The biggest managers in the world were routinely fired and yet the titles kept on coming.

No wonder Boehly and Clearlake thought they could get away with firing Thomas Tuchel just weeks into the season, despite the popular German having made Chelsea champions of Europe and Club World Cup winners in less than two years in charge.

They went all in on Graham Potter as his replacement, despite the former Brighton manager being unproven at elite clubs.

Potter lasted seven months in the job and that included a six-week hiatus as the domestic campaign was interrupted by the World Cup in Qatar.

Perhaps Potter would have fared better had he not been loaded up with so many new signings and a squad so bloated that not all of them could be registered for the Champions League.

The hiring of former manager and iconic player Frank Lampard was a last throw of the dice and was another call that fell flat as Chelsea lost eight of his 11 games in charge, winning only once and crashing out of the Champions League to Real Madrid.

Chelsea has fallen so far in the space of a year that few expect it to compete for the title this season.

Yet the pressure will still be on Pochettino to deliver results quickly.

Like Boehly and Clearlake, the former Tottenham manager will also be in a hurry to make an impression on his return to England’s top flight.

He had been in contention for the Manchester United job before Erik ten Hag was chosen instead and has waited a year to get back into the game after leaving Paris Saint-Germain as French league champion in 2022.

He took Tottenham to the brink of major silverware — most notably to the Champions League final in 2019 — but never won a trophy with the London club.

He will have a point to prove.

Pochettino has been busy in the offseason.

Chelsea’s new signings include forwards Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson, defender Axel Disasi and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.

Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo could be signed before the transfer window closes.

Importantly, Pochettino has trimmed his squad, with Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Christian Pulisic, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kai Havertz, Mateo Kovacic and Kalidou Koulibaly joining Kante and Mount by heading for the exit.

While that was necessary to get an unwieldy squad under control, Chelsea has lost a huge amount of experience, trophy-winning knowhow and character among that star-studded list.

Mount’s departure to United was not received well by supporters, given that he was a product of the club’s youth academy and, at 24 years old, still to reach his peak.

Kovacic joined Manchester City and Havertz moved to Arsenal. The fact that those three players were signed by the league’s three leading clubs from last season is a measure of the quality Chelsea has lost.

In Kante, it has lost an icon and one of soccer’s great midfielders after his decision to move to Saudi Arabia.

But if that was a blow, the Saudi Pro League’s ambitious recruitment drive did mean Chelsea could offload the unwanted Koulibaly and Mendy. Hakim Ziyech has also been linked with a move to the oil-rich kingdom.

With so many comings and goings it seems inevitable this will be a season of transition for Chelsea and Pochettino.

Not only does Pochettino have to get his own signings up and running, but Chelsea has still not seen the best of last season’s big recruits Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk.

A quick return to the Champions League is the priority. And after a year of chaos under Boehly and Clearlake, a bit of stability would be welcome, too.


James Robson is at


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