Chelsea's first year of Todd Boehly: £600m hole, managerial disasters and 29-year low

Todd Boehly arrived with ambitions to turn Chelsea into a worldwide powerhouse again after rescuing the club from the abyss with a £4.25billion takeover. But ask the supporters whether they are better off now than they were a year ago - even when the club could not afford to provide petrol for their coach on matchdays - and it might not be the answer Boehly is hoping for, even 12 months after he replaced Roman Abramovich as the club's custodian.

To say Boehly's reign has resembled a rollercoaster ride would be misleading. This was not Stealth at Thorpe Park or even the Aerosmith ride at Disney World, this has been the rocky, vomit-inducing nervousness that comes from an unstable fairground ride.

Throwing money at Chelsea's problems has only added to them, and Boehly is yet to win over the fans. It is not fair to suggest the issues are all of his own making, of course. Four managers have been placed at the helm by the hierarchy have all fallen short - and admitted as much - in their own area of expertise. As for the players, it speaks volumes that Chelsea fans had trouble picking candidates to receive the the end-of-season Player of the Year award.

But there will be no man more relieved for the season to end than the LA-based businessman as the rebuild begins under Mauricio Pochettino next season. So, what has gone wrong for Chelsea with Boehly as the club's owner - and why? Express Sport looks to answer those questions with a deep dive into his first year at the club...

A managerial mess

The brutal manner in which Boehly relieved Thomas Tuchel of his duties as Chelsea's head coach only emerged some months after his sacking, but no one was surprised about the cold and quick nature of their meeting. It took less than five minutes for the German to understand he was on his way out, and despite his protests, he reluctantly accepted just 12 hours after the Blues had lost 1-0 to Dinamo Zagreb.

That sacking arrived just four months after Boehly took charge amid an ongoing disagreement over the club's vision for the future. When the cracks started to emerge and results turned against them, Boehly took it as an opportunity to oust Tuchel - but he underestimated the fallout. The fans had adored Tuchel for the manner in which he turned things around, winning the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup in his 18-month reign. Sacking their popular boss, rated as one of the Premier League's best, was far from a popular decision - and even less so when Graham Potter was approached to replace him.

While there is no doubting Potter's talent, he was unproven at handling a squad of stars at a club the size of Chelsea and in his six-month reign, it became clear the job overwhelmed him at times.

Potter made a fine start and was unbeaten in his first nine games in charge, which included convincing wins over AC Milan in the Champions League and an excellent performance against Manchester United before Casemiro's last-gasp equaliser. But a 4-1 defeat away to Brighton - the team he had built and Roberto De Zerbi perfected - proved to be the turning point. After that, Chelsea would win just three of their next 16 games.

Even a run of three consecutive wins in March and a place booked in the Champions League quarter-finals couldn't save Potter after a dreadful 1-0 home defeat to bottom club Southampton. Boehly had stuck by his man through thick and thin, insisting the club wouldn't sack him. But the time to pull the trigger had already been way past its due date when the American finally announced Potter's departure, leading to questions over his decision-making.

Boehly's managerial plan to bring in Potter for Tuchel might have worked had the German should have been given a full season to prove whether he was capable of leading the club under the new owners. It is a mistake he has now learned from with the process of hiring Pochettino, and now the damage repair can begin.

Chelsea's 31-year low

Potter finished his reign with only 12 wins from 31 games and just 33 goals scored. That paled in comparison to his next hire Frank Lampard, brought back for a second spell as caretaker to help Boehly claw back some respect from the angry fanbase.

The reality not only embarrassed the 44-year-old, it made a mockery of the Chelsea owner's faith in the club legend. Lampard was painted as another Roberto Di Matteo, a manager who could extract the best out of Chelsea's players by letting them free of the shackles.

But after his failed spell at Everton, Lampard saw it as a chance to prove himself as a coach again - and his wild experiments against Real Madrid only undermined his reputation, rather than improved it. One victory against Bournemouth and two draws against Nottingham Forest and a Newcastle team on the beach in Lampard's 11-game spell was enough to convince Boehly he wasn't the man going forward. But in fairness to the Blues icon, he never had a chance given the dire situation he was thrown into.

Even as Chelsea finished the season with a draw, it must have felt like a defeat after sliding down into 12th, with Crystal Palace finishing a point above them and the likes of Brentford and Fulham at least nine points ahead. It confirmed their worst Premier League finish since 1993-94 - a black mark that will remain against Boehly's name for decades to come.

Blowing £600m on transfers

Boehly could have been forgiven for getting lost amongst the excitement of having a club as his new plaything and hundreds of millions at his feet, courtesy of Clearlake Capital. After all, we've all done the same on Football Manager. But expecting 19 new signings - all from different nations and leagues - to gel together in such a short space of time is far-fetched.

The summer transfer window proved to be an expensive one, with £271 million spent on the likes of Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel Slonina, Cesare Casadei and Carney Chukwuemeka.

Another £323m followed in January with Enzo Fernandez, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Malo Gusto, Joao Felix, Andrey Santos and David Fofana all arriving as new signings. Add in the £60m agreed deal for Christopher Nkunku and Boehly's eye-watering bill far exceeded £600m, giving them a 31-man senior squad with only a 20-man squad for each game.

Of course, Boehly's involvement as interim sporting director was crucial in making some of those deals happen - in particular, Fernandez, Mudryk and Nkunku. Private jets, 12-hour negotiations by phone and medicals in the United States, it all sounded very impressive. The reality was somewhat different, with other football CEOs taking advantage of Boehly's naivety to charge a premium price for their talent.

Sooner or later, Boehly discovered how he had been hoodwinked and the job itself was exhausting, so he set about hiring Christopher Vivell, Joe Shields, Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart to head up his new recruitment team, with Winstanley and Stewart appointed co-sporting directors. Had Boehly done that in his first months at the club, Chelsea might have saved themselves a huge wad of cash.

But at the very least, the club have a squad to be reckoned with for the future. In Mudryk, Fernandez, Badiashile and Fofana, the team have a young spine to build upon with all four players aged 22 and under, and that is at least something Boehly can point to as a sign for better times ahead under their new boss Pochettino.

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