Chelsea 0 Fulham 0: £107m Enzo Fernandez can’t help Blues as £88m Mudryk hooked at half-time of feisty derby stalemate
FFP is the least of Graham Potter’s worries – they had enough trouble with FFC.
The expected carnival of football and goal rush to accompany Chelsea’s astonishing transfer splurge last month failed to materialise with the most expensive goalless draw in history.
After spending more than £600 million, UEFA’s financial rottweilers are watching to see if the Premier League’s biggest spenders have strayed over the line with regard to Financial Fair Play.
Chairman Todd Boehly is confident his club has not broken the rules but sitting in his VIP box at Stamford Bridge last night he must have been thinking about value for money.
More than half a billion quid for two shots on target all night – one of which was a tame, upward looping header from 38-year-old defender Thiago Silva is not what he was looking forward to.
The other was a cracking effort from £10.5 million striker Davd Fofana which was blocked from crossing the line by Fulham skipper Tim Ream.
But it’s still not much of a return on the kind of investment that could change entire economies.
Boss Potter is now blessed with the kind of squad many managers can only dream of.
Handing a debut to the most costly signing in English football in £106m Enzo Fernandez. He was playing just behind £88m winger Mykhailo Mudryk and ahead of £35m new defender Benoit Badiashile.
Chelsea have wingers, defenders and midfielders coming out of their ears but with the exception of sub Fofana’s late charge, seem to have forgotten about strikers.
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It is also a sobering lesson that spending money is easy, spending it on the right players is the difficult part. Potter admits that himself.
Chelsea are used to getting things their own way by ransacking the transfer market.
Barely three weeks ago, despondent fans stood in the away end at Craven Cottage calling for ‘our Chelsea back’ while watching their team get beaten easily and have a player sent off.
What they meant by that is a demand for the board to go out and spend loads of money like they used to under previous owner Roman Abramovich.
Nobody can complain that Boehly hasn’t stumped up his hard-earned to try to inject some life into a flatlining squad.
Three new signings were in the return match at home to Fulham last night.
Potter was able to make seven changes to his team from when these teams met on January 12 on what became a significant low point in the club’s recent history.
Chelsea fans got used to spending their way to success and after transfer embargoes and Government sanctions, they have got their wish again.
But it is going to take time for a massive influx of new faces to settle in. This season is pretty much written off with just a faint hope of going deep into the Champions League.
Luckily for Potter one thing about this club isn’t coming back regardless of how much cash is spent. He appears to have the best bosses in the world who laugh and smile at every feeble performance and insist it is all about the long-term.
Abramovich would have had Potter out on his ear by now or at least the head coach would be worried if every day was his last in post.
Of the new boys on parade, Enzo Fernandez looked most at ease. Yet even he faded in the second half aside from a shot that curled wide.
Robust with his tackling and all well-timed, the Argentinian also has an eye for a decent pass forwards and several times unhooked his attackers from their markers with weight balls, only for Ziyech or Havertz to either miss the target hopelessly or be caught offside.
Mykhailo Mudryk, relatively cheap by Chelsea standards at £88m, seems like an old hand already having played a few minutes at Liverpool a fortnight ago.
Described as speedy and devastating by his fans, he was subbed at half time having failed to get any change out of Fulham’s impressive right back Kenny Tete.
He was replaced by Noni Madueke, the latest to make his bow at a club which has more debutants than a posh finishing school.
In addition to new Chelsea faces, old ones were returning. Reece James was back in action after a nagging knee injury which has hampered most of his season.
Raheem Sterling and Ben Chilwell were on the bench. Sterling was on the pitch by the hour mark, along with captain Cesar Azpilicueta. Potter forced to turn to the more established players in a bid to dig something out of an underwhelming performance.
There’s a bit more to Fulham these days though. Arriving at Stamford Bridge sitting above their neighbours in the Premier League table and capable of smooth football backed up by the beast in midfield that is Palhinha.
Chelsea came closest to scoring when Hakim Ziyech played a clipped ball forwards for Havertz to race onto and lob keeper Bernd Leno, only for his shot to hit the post and rebound out.
The point means Chelsea climb above Liverpool into ninth place and have now won only once in their last seven games in all competitions.
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