It’s fair to say that Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne were exceptionally good last season.
While De Bruyne ran the show for Man City as they stormed towards the title, Salah netted an incredible 32 goals on his way to winning the Premier League Golden Boot.
You can even say that Romelu Lukaku was one of United’s best players last season, netting 16-times following his big-money from Everton.
But what do they have in common?
They’re all massive Chelsea rejects.
And we’ve been wondering how well a team of Chelsea rejects would do in the Premier League.
It’s a tantalising thought, isnt it?
So we went and did just that with Football Manager 2018:
Using the game’s editor tool, we made a ‘Chelsea Rejects FC’ side out of the old Southampton team (sorry, Saints fans) – basically because we’re lazy and Southampton already have former Blues stars Ryan Bertrand and Oriol Romeu in their side.
We’re pretty pleased with this line-up, and especially impressed with our ability to remember Josh McEachran and Patrick van Aanholt’s place in the Chelsea history books.
We understand that some of these are questionable.
After all, Petr Cech and Branislav Ivanovic had long and fruitful Chelsea careers before they were cut loose.
But both were considered surplus to requirements in their final season’s at the club, but continue to play at a top-level (in fact, Cech only moved a few miles further north to Arsenal).
We also booted out Saints start-of-the-season-gaffer Mauricio Pellegrino and some of his backroom staff and replaced them with old boss Carlos Ancelotti and his former assistant Paul Clement.
The Italian master won the domestic double at Stamford Bridge during the 2009-10 season, but was sacked at the end of the 2010-11 campaign after finishing behind Man United.
So, without further ado, let’s see what this squad of former Chelsea flames can do.
To do this, we simulated an entire season of the game and had a look at their end of season results.
Here’s how they did:
Well, look at that.
Not only did our merry-band of Chelsea rejects finish in the top three, they finished three places and nine points ahead of their former employers.
Now that’s satisfying.
Let’s have a little look at how Ancelotti’s side lined-up:
This is the side that seemingly played in the final game of the season, although it’s worth noting that Nathan Ake – and not Nathaniel Chalobah – played the majority of the season at centre-back.
Nemanja Matic, Andre Schurlle and Branislav Ivanovic were also regulars ahead of Daniel Sturridge and Jeffery Bruma, while Lukaku normally played as a centre-forward, and not a winger.
Rather pleasingly, Matej Delac – who spent eight years at Chelsea before finally deciding to leave earlier this year – failed to make a single appearance for the Blues, but made a handful (six, to be precise) of appearances for the Chelsea Rejects in all competitions.
Good for him!
Further forward, Lukaku was the club’s top goalscorer in the Premier League with 18, with Juan Mata and Salah behind him with 10 and nine respectively.
Sturridge only notched four though, which is disappointing.
De Bruyne – who had a wonderful season at Man City and is widely considered one of the best midfielders in the world right now, topped the assists chart with 18.
Shall we have a look at how the Chelsea Rejects did in the cup competitions?
In the FA Cup, they fell to eventual-finalists Leicester in the quarter-final stage.
But they did reach the final of the Carabao Cup, losing to league champions Man United.
There was better news on the player awards front.
Kevin De Bruyne was voted Footballer of the Year and also won the much-coveted Player’s Player of the Year.
Not bad, not bad.
Furthermore, the Ginger Prince made it into the Team of the Season, alongside teammate Juan Cuadrado.
You’ll notice there’s no Chelsea players in the line-up.
So, there we go then.
A solid third-place finish, well above Chelsea, while KDB, Salah and co did better than many of their old Chelsea teammates – much like real-life.
Regrets are better left unspoken, Chelsea.