Season Preview: Chelsea

How did you fare last season?
Third in the league, semi-final in the Champions league and FA Cup winners. That would have been acceptable five seasons ago but not now. The FA Cup masked a poor return for the investment put into this squad of players. Internal strife once again ruined a potentially successful campaign.

How do you expect you'll do this season?
We have stood still in the squad development stakes - no major signing but no major losses (so far). The other top three sides from last season have lost serious players. That puts us ahead in my book. So I expect us to win the Premier League.

The Champions League can all come down to a bit of luck or misfortune at the end, so that’s more problematic. Certainly this group of players has the ability to lift Europe’s top trophy.

What have you done in the transfer market this summer? Which of your new signings are you expecting most from?
Hmm, well I’m not impressed by the quality of the players brought in. Ross Turnbull played in goal for Middlesbrough twice against Chelsea last season and conceded seven goals. He had stinkers in both games.

Daniel Sturridge is left-footed which adds a new dynamic to our front line, but he is Carling Cup at best.

Yuri Zhirkov is a typical Roman Abramovich-motivated signing. A possible Shevchenko (AC Milan-inspired-Shevchenko not the past-it-Chelsea-Shevchenko we have now) in the making.

Where do you think you'll need to strengthen in the January transfer window?
There should be no need to strengthen in January if the club have done their business successfully in the summer. Other than serious injuries to players in the same position leaving no cover, then the Blues won't buy - unless the likes of Kaka or a Messi become available of course.

Have you any promising youngsters breaking into the team?
In a word: no. Most of our kids get farmed out on loan then ditched permanently. Michael Macienne may prove to be the exception - but it’s touch and go for him at the moment. Certainly keeping Ricardo Carvalho for another season has not helped his chances of cementing a place on the bench.

Have you got the right man in charge of the team?
Carlo Ancelotti may prove to be another Glen Hoddle - a manager who has a vision for a formation and shoe-horns players into that position. This diamond in midfield may prove to be his undoing.

Will he still be there at the end of the season?
Judging by Abramovich's recent decision-making on this - I think not.

Is the club being run well?
Chief executive Peter Kenyon is past his best at Chelsea and I think on borrowed time. His failure to handle the situation regarding Scolari last season exposed his weaknesses.

Abramovich has had to take personal control of key management issues. The John Terry affair in the summer is another prime example of this. Kenyon was unable to give Terry assurances he needed. It was only when dealing with Abramovich directly that the problem was resolved.

My dear old mum used to say: "There is no point in having a dog and barking yourself."

Kenyon is almost a dead man walking

Are you likely to be singing 'Sack the board' any time soon?
There is a board but Abramovich is the only one with power so the answer is no to that one.

Which team do you most want to beat and why?
Solid victories over Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal will be nice - and Hull of course - all the main contenders.

Who do you think will win the league?
Chelsea

Who do you think's going down?
Birmingham, Bolton and Burnley - all the Bs

How do you think Hull City will fare this season?
A repeat of last season's first half is required plus improved home form should steer you through to league safety.

Paul Lagan is editor of Chelsea Mad.

Click here to read what Paul said at the end of last season about how Chelsea got on in 2008/09.

Click here to read Paul's reaction when the fixture list was announced, giving Chelsea a home game against Hull City on the opening day.