Gary Neville says Chelsea are not ‘stable’ enough to finish in the Premier League top four this season as the former Man United defender set Thomas Tuchel and Todd Boehly a task to change his mind. The Blues have had a summer of change with the ownership instability leading to Tuchel’s side playing catch up in the transfer market.
Marc Cucurella’s signing on Friday meant that the west Londoners have now completed five first-team men additions. £300million is the target for transfer spend before September 1 as Chelsea could yet add three more players to their ranks amid strong links to Frenkie de Jong, Wesley Fofana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang respectively.
However, with any new additions unlikely to make their debuts any time soon, Chelsea could face a battle to keep up with the pace at the top of the table early on this term as pre-season demonstrated what could be ahead in the short- term for Tuchel’s side.
“We are some steps further. It was absolutely necessary. Maybe it was also necessary to lose that game like we lost it against Arsenal, against a big rival in the league who is trying to take our place. Maybe it was a wake-up call for everybody. Since then we have stepped up,” the German said in his pre-match press conference in relation to where his side are ahead of Everton.
“As always, the last week before the season is always where you feel a new focus, new excitement, new level of focus in training. Legs are fresh now, fresher than when we trained in Florida. Still, we are not where we can be but let’s see, we feel ready and competitive for tomorrow.
“A very good training week so far, the atmosphere is back to where it was before the Arsenal game like in the first weeks of preseason. Then we lost the energy towards the Arsenal game. After that we needed to digest but last week is good, we feel ready for tomorrow. This is very important to not lose focus and take the first week step by step. We took the possibility to prepare the whole week for Saturday, nothing else. This is where we are.”
An opening day affair at Goodison Park is never an easy task, even when Everton are at a low point. But regardless of the result already, Neville has written off the Blues before a ball has even been kicked.
“They look good [Arsenal],” he said on Sky Sport’s post-match coverage of Crystal Palace vs Arsenal. “At the moment, I think Tottenham will finish in the top four, they’ve done brilliantly, Conte will have them right. Chelsea will have to prove it to us; Manchester United are sort of the lesser out of those ones so Arsenal are in pole position.
“We’re writing off Chelsea, I’m writing off Chelsea because I just feel something’s not stable, we’ll see. They’ve signed a few players, spent money. It’s a big job for Arsenal to get into that top because Chelsea, United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, City – Liverpool and City are a given.”