The warning signs were present in Thomas Tuchel’s second game in charge.
After a goalless draw against Wolves in his first match as Chelsea head coach – for which he had just hours to prepare after his appointment – the German opted to reinstate Marcos Alonso (£2.4m) into the starting line-up.
His faith was repaid as the Spaniard scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over Burnley and that set a fire in us here at Dream Team.
We published an article soon after musing whether Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 formation would mean a reincarnation of the 2017 Alonso who smote all before him under Antonio Conte.
And by extension, what that would mean for Ben Chilwell (£3.5m) — Dream Team’s most-popular defender at the time of writing.
Since the 0-0 against Wolves it’s been nothing but wins under the ex-PSG gaffer’s watch and just one goal conceded in six games.
That one goal came in the only game Chilwell has started since Alonso scored against Burnley and the England international was replaced just after the hour mark.
The ex-Leicester left-back was one of the better players under Frank Lampard but he’s been the most notable casualty of the change in management, or more precisely, the change in formation.
Alonso became a liability in a back four under Maurizio Sarri but has flourished whenever he’s been allowed to play as a wing-back with three centre-backs behind him.
It’s impressive how quickly Tuchel noticed this about the 30-year-old, especially considering Chilwell is a relatively recent £50million arrival and has been in decent form for most the campaign.
This shift has turned Chelsea’s form on its head and improved their hopes of achieving Champions League qualification but it’s come as a hammer blow for hundreds of thousands of Dream Team bosses.
After a fantastic first third of the season, Chilwell appeared for lock-in for entire campaign but his demotion to benchwarmer has meant he’s only gained four points since Tuchel’s arrival.
Alonso has amassed 39 points in the same period.
A straight like-for-like transfer would give gaffers another £1.1m to invest elsewhere, turning a problem into an opportunity for improvement.