On Thursday morning, Chelsea released a statement announcing that the club had been recognised as the football club with the Best Reputation 2021 from the World Sport Organisation. Club director Marina Granovskaia was pictured with the award at Stamford Bridge, posted on social media and instantly sparking scorn from onlookers.
Some of this is due to the recent sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich and the change in ownership. However, the award in the context of 2021 – a year where Chelsea won a Champions League and Super Cup – makes a lot more sense. Granovskaia also attracts criticism for some of the club’s recent transfer business.
With the sale of the club from Abramovich to Todd Boehly’s consortium all but finalised, the club is expected to have a change in strategy over transfers moving forward. With profits becoming a vital part of the future, the margin for errors over deals will close, and the persistent errors in squad building cannot be allowed to continue.
Granovskaia is sometimes unfairly maligned, mainly due to a misunderstanding of her actual role at the club, as some of the director’s dealings have worked wonders in the past for the Blues. However, given the persistent use of the word “rebuild” from the mouth of Thomas Tuchel, there is a need to revamp the club under the new guidance.
With that in mind, here are three things that should be on Marina’s to-do list after the Todd Boehly takeover is completed.
Make brutal decisions
One of the phrases attached consistently to the Abramovich era was ruthlessness of how the club would quickly dispense of coaches in search of quick improvement. However, their treatment of the squad and unwanted players has offered the opposite impression.
Stockpiling names who have absolutely no future at the club has become an inside joke amongst fans. The likes of Danny Drinkwater, Timeoue Bakayoko, Baba Rahman and Michy Batshuayi are still on the books despite barely kicking a competitive ball for the first team in years. Loaning out older players in the hope of some dream fee has proved a mistake as their value rapidly depreciates.
Selling a player too soon is better than too late. Several names like Marcos Alonso and Jorginho both fall into this category this summer. With their contracts up in 2023, the new era should quickly make calls on players for profit, even if they could offer value to the squad.
Resolve wage structure
It is quite farcical to think that both Mason Mount and Reece James sit far below the likes of Timo Werner and Saul Niguez over the past season based on wages. The Cobham graduates have become two of the club’s most valuable and consistent players, they should be paid likewise.
Withholding names like Werner, who have proven generally poor additions not only reflects the club’s recent transfer mishaps, but also the imbalance between the perceived superstars and those who are actually effective for Tuchel.
It also is about resolving contract concerns early and swiftly, something Granovskaia failed to do with the senior defenders.
To outsiders and even some fans, this may seem hyperbolic. We’ve just pointed out the brilliance of Mount and James, Trevoh Chalobah’s breakthrough, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the loan stars that could be returning this summer.
But last summer proved why there is still some way to go for the club in appreciating the true gift the academy is on a regular basis to offer internal solutions. The sales of Marc Guehi, Tino Livramento, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and more in 2021 might have looked good on a spreadsheet for Granovskaia, but it fundamentally weakened the squad and made the defensive contract crisis much bigger.
With new owners who want to follow Liverpool’s model under FSG of spending what you earn, Cobham can offer a chance to save money and find new squad additions for free. Every time the club looks at a target, particularly ones below the age of 23, the question must be posed if there is an internal alternative to promote.
Also, for Granovskaia, the value you might get in the short-term for a young player might benefit the balance sheet, but will it inevitably lead to Chelsea having to spend more to improve that same position in the future?