Todd Boehly gave a pre-Real Madrid pep talk to the Chelsea players in the Stamford Bridge dressing room following their latest demoralizing defeat, to Brighton on Saturday, in which he labeled the club’s plight “embarrassing”.
Co-owners Boehly, Behdad Eghbali and Hansjorg Wyss would all go into the home dressing room following the 2-1 defeat to Brighton, which was Chelsea’s third successive defeat.
After interim manager Frank Lampard expressed his thoughts to the players, Boehly addressed the squad and appears to have described the current situation, in terms of results and the fact that Chelsea are in the bottom half of the Premier League table League, as “embarrassing.”
The Chelsea owners made sure Lampard had finished delivering his verdict before speaking in the dressing room. But Boehly is said to have left the players in no doubt that he, Eghbali and Wyss had spent £600m in the transfer market to win and were falling short of expectations.
He also tried to strike a positive note, reiterating the fact that Tuesday night’s match against Real is a chance to keep the season going, end the embarrassment and give Chelsea fans something to be proud of.
While Boehly’s pep talk may raise further questions about the extent of their involvement, the owners’ decision to step into the dressing room also represents an acknowledgment of their own responsibility in what has turned into an extremely busy first season following the club’s purchase by Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea are two goals behind Real Madrid from the first leg, before which Boehly boldly predicted they would win 3-0 against the holders of Europe.
Boehly now needs his Madrid prediction to come true at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea to proceed miraculously and end his first season as co-owner by ending in disappointment in Europe, as well as domestically.
The American billionaire was targeted by fans sitting above him at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and has also faced criticism from pundits after he and co-owner Eghbali sacked two head coaches, Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, in 12 months and have spent a fortune in the first two transfer windows.
Boehly appeared to be protesting to disgruntled fans at the Brighton match, although they will no doubt agree with his assessment that Chelsea’s form and position in the bottom half of the table are “embarrassing”.
Boehly was also filmed by fans describing the tie with Everton as an “s—– f—— match” last month, which turned out to be Potter’s penultimate match in charge.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid are reportedly upset that Italian referee Daniele Orsato will be responsible for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea.
The Italian was in charge when Madrid were defeated 2-1 by Manchester City in the first leg of their last 16 in 2020. The club’s players complained about his performance after that match, just like Luka Modric did after the elimination of Croatia by Argentina in the semi-finals of the World Cup
But Orsato also took charge of Real’s dramatic comeback win against Manchester City in last season’s Champions League semi-finals, awarding them an extra-time penalty. Overall, he refereed seven games for the Spanish club, with Madrid winning three and losing four, showing 17 yellow cards a Los Blancos players at that moment and a red card.