Chelsea have unveiled their new home kit for the 2022-23 season that pays homage to a former manager whose approach to transfers the club would do well to pay attention to this summer.
According to the club’s official website, the jersey is a tribute to Ted Drake, the coach who joined Chelsea 70 years ago and led them to their first league title and helped shape their identity ever since.
Drake is responsible for changing the club’s badge to the image of the “lion rampant regardant,” which remains to this day. He also changed the club’s nickname to “the Blues” when they previously had been known as “the pensioners” due to the retired British Army veterans who reside at the nearby Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Chelsea unveiled the shirt with by posting a “Class of ’22” launch video on social media, which begins with an archive clip of Drake pledging to change the club’s nickname and then features stars such as Pernille Harder, Kai Havertz, Sam Kerr and Mason Mount running riot in the halls as a beleaguered Thomas Tuchel tries to maintain order.
The shirt acknowledges Drake’s influence with parts of the lion symbol of the badge reproduced in turquoise stitching on the white collar, while the nickname bestowed upon them by him is embossed into the single button at the front.
The rest of the jersey is all the same shade of the club’s iconic blue but is given extra texture with an angular, geometric pattern that catches the eye but is a welcome scaling back from the wild zig-zags and warped checks of recent seasons.
Chelsea herald Drake for leading the club to become champions of England in 1955 “having recruited wisely and in contrast to the past when unreliable big names were signed.”
The coach eschewed the club’s previous approach of signing well-known players to attract big crowds by focusing on producing more of their own youth players and bringing in transfers from the lower leagues, and that change led to their first major trophy, on the year of their 50th anniversary.
How times change. This summer, Chelsea have sent striker Romelu Lukaku back to Inter Milan on loan just a year after signing him from the Italian club for €115 million, while the club’s new co-owner and interim sporting director, Todd Boehly, has been linked with interest in seemingly every big name going in this transfer window, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Neymar.
Still, the proposed signing of Raheem Sterling — with sources telling ESPN that the Manchester City winger could be signed for a fee of around £45m — does seem like a shrewd bit of business for the Blues. Perhaps Boehly & Co. are keeping Drake’s methods in mind when they venture into the transfer market this summer.