Boehly may provoke more Chelsea backlash with two unpopular decisions

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Chelsea owner Todd Boehly is nearing the one-year anniversary of his historic takeover of the London side but there has been no honeymoon period for the American billionaire, as he continues on his tough learning curve in his first 11 months in English football. And with two pressing decisions to make before the summer transfer window, he faces the ignominy of further exacerbating his relationship with the club’s supporters.

The 48-year-old has been lambasted for his trigger-happy approach to club ownership after his £4.25billion takeover with equity firm Clearlake Capital in May 2022. Four managers have already been in the dugout this season for the Blues as they stumble towards their worst Premier League finish, with Frank Lampard’s side 11th in the table despite a £600million spend on transfers.

Boehly seems to be learning on the job after making some critical errors in his first season, with many regarding his brutal decision to axe Thomas Tuchel as premature and misguided. Chelsea fans were left furious with the German’s sacking, just 16 months after he led the club to a second Champions League triumph.

The expedited nature of Graham Potter’s nature suggested the Blues owner had not thought of the downside to hiring the Brighton coach, who for all of his promise had never managed a club of Chelsea’s size before. And after six months in charge, the Englishman was axed by Boehly and his co-owner Behdad Eghbali.

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His next decision will be to find a permanent successor for Potter after the unsuccessful interim appointments of Bruno Saltor, who took charge of one game before deciding the job was too pressurising, and Lampard, the club hero who has lost all four games in charge.

After an ‘exhaustive’ managerial interview process, Luis Enrique and Julian Nagelsmann have been ruled out of the running, despite their popularity with the fans as coaches with world-class reputations.

Instead, it appears Chelsea are nearing a decision on their next boss, with former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino the favourite to take over after Boehly was ‘struck’ by the Argentine’s demeanour, while Vincent Kompany and Ange Postecoglu are also in the frame. But that could cause further unrest amongst the fanbase given Pochettino’s close ties with Spurs.

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Indeed, it cannot be ignored that the Argentinian has been persistently linked with an emotional return to north London after his sacking in 2019. And besides his solitary triumph with Paris Saint-Germain in 2021-22, the 51-year-old does not exactly boast a track record of success in England after losing two finals at Tottenham – and his appointment may prove to be an unpopular choice in west London.

Then there is the matter of resolving Mason Mount’s contract. Despite hiring Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart as co-sporting directors, Boehly has personally handled Mount’s contract talks from the start but has so far failed to find a resolution.

In the latest development, reports claim the Chelsea supremo has made a desperate attempt to lock Mount down to a two-year extension with a huge pay rise, believed to be £250,000-a-week.

It could be all too late, though, after months of stagnated negotiations that may have convinced the England international to leave. Insiders insist Mount is happy to stay at the club but he wants to feel valued, and offering him a contract that puts him near the top of the club’s highest-paid players would demonstrate that.

The only alternative for Boehly is to sell Mount, with interest from Liverpool and Manchester City – and that is a difficult decision to make as it would make Chelsea fans sick to their stomachs.

Boehly has already made concessions to try and right the ship by giving up on his Potter experiment and conceding ground to Mount in contract talks, which shows that he is willing to get the fans on his side.

But with European football nearly out of the equation next season, it is imperative he nails his next two decisions to bring Chelsea back to the level where they belong after a disastrous campaign under his management.

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