How Chelsea have become a feeder club for their Premier League rivals

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 27 February 2018, 13:38

IN CASE you had not noticed Chelsea slipped quietly out of the Premier League’s top four on Sunday.

A late goal by Harry Kane for Tottenham at Crystal Palace means Chelsea’s and possibly even manager Antonio Conte’s destiny is now out of their hands.

The deed was done in an understated way just as the outgoing Premier League champions would have liked. Chelsea went down fighting 2-1 at Manchester United but all the headlines were at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final.

Now the dust has settled on the first final of the season, a landmark moment for Chelsea and their embattled head coach cannot go ignored.

Whether or not you agree that finishing in the qualification places for the Champions League should be important – it is.

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And Conte’s prophecy that it would be a ‘struggle’ to finish as one of the top four teams in England this season is coming painfully true for the fans.

What’s even more frustrating and disheartening must be their recent travels and games to come when the slow realisation will dawn upon them that Chelsea have become a feeder club for the real contenders.

Mo Salah, Kevin de Bruyne and to some extent Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata making the power brokers at Stamford Bridge squirm as they watch their one-time main rivals pass them by.

One player is dominating the debate in English football at present and that is Salah. Discarded by Chelsea and picked up via a roundabout way by Liverpool last summer.

Thirty one goals later he must make Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and his immediate subordinates who sanction the ins and outs of the transfer market shift very uncomfortably in their seats every time he hits the back of the net – so that’s a lot of fidgeting.

De Bruyne has been the centre piece of a Manchester City team which has the Premier League title sewn up, the Champions League as a distinct possibility and a League Cup trophy already in the bag.

Another who did not fit in at Chelsea and was sent packing by former boss Jose Mourinho. He scored a world class goal against his old club earlier in the season and awaits them this Sunday when he will probably put another large dent in their ambitions.

Matic’s controversial move to Manchester United last summer was agreed by the Chelsea hierarchy and he has gone on to prove himself a cornerstone of the team which sits second in the table and comfortably in the zone for automatic Champions League qualification next season.

Winger Mata, another Chelsea export, was rumoured to be the first out of the door when Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford, yet he is still there and plugging away.

Every Chelsea manager is the subject of constant speculation about their future and Conte is not immune. His future hinges on finishing in the top four this season we are led to believe.

Yet the real problem seems to be higher up the food chain at Stamford Bridge.

Whether it was former technical director Michael Emenalo, Abramovich’s right hand woman Marina Granovskaia or anyone else among the top brass who thought it was a god idea to dump those players it does not help whoever is in charge.

Irrespective of whether Mourinho, Conte or their superiors signed off those deals it has made Chelsea a second rate squad – at least for now.

Meanwhile Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool all reap the rewards of Chelsea’s astute buying but disastrous selling policy and occupy a neat one-two-three in the Premier League thanks to exports from Stamford Bridge.

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