England defender Gary Cahill insists Chelsea won’t make the same mistakes again as they look to rebuild under newly-appointed Italian Antonio Conte and challenge for next season’s Premier League title.
Chelsea have suffered a disastrous campaign, losing 12 games and conceding 53 goals as the defending champions finished the season in a lowly tenth position and saw boss Jose Mourinho sacked in December.
There is certain to be much upheaval at Stamford Bridge this summer, with skipper John Terry among a host of star names facing an uncertain future.
Cahill, who was yesterday named in Roy Hodgson’s provisional England squad for next month’s European Championships, has promised Chelsea will be a very different proposition next season; whatever personnel arrive in SW6 this summer.
“The lesson from this season is that I never want this season to happen again,” said Cahill, who was taking time out to appear at Surrey Sports Park to meet some of the 2016 intake of the SSE Next Generation programme that sees 100 young sportspersons given grants of £1,000 towards training costs and equipment.
“I never want to feel like this again – especially at a club the size of Chelsea because we are used to winning competitions and fighting until the very end to win trophies.
“This season has been very different and the lesson is that I want to take the taste of this season and this feeling and the way the season has been and never let it happen again.
“We have seen him [Conte] and he has been to the training.
“In terms of additions, that is natural and normal and it has to be done.
“If John Terry leaves then we will be short on central defenders so I am sure that will be the case.
“It has been the case since I have been at Chelsea that we have had top international footballers at centre back and I see that being no different and no problem. It is a challenge for all of us.”
Chelsea captain Terry is presently considering a new contract offer ahead of Conte’s arrival and Cahill believes the job of replacing his central defensive partner will not be easy.
“I think it is going to be difficult for anyone to replace JT because it is very hard to replace someone like that as a player, a captain and a personality in the dressing room,” he added.
“It is going to be very tough but it is Chelsea and a big club so there will be additions there and strength in depth.
“In terms of myself, my role is going to be the same because I have been there for a few years now and I will be fighting hard to be a big part of next season at Chelsea along with the other players I am sure they are going to bring in.”
Despite a disappointing campaign with Chelsea, Cahill was named alongside fellow central defenders John Stones and Chris Smalling in Hodgson’s provisional England squad for this summer.
Cahill was part of the England squad that failed to perform in 2014 at the World Cup in Brazil but the Chelsea defender is convinced Hodgson’s squad is much-improved as they prepare to head to France.
“We have certainly improved in the right way and the way we would have hoped to from the disappointment of the World Cup,” Cahill said.
“We have bounced back and to get ten wins from ten is a record and we kept five clean sheets – which is a joint record. To be involved with these records is fantastic and we are proud of that.
“We are heading in the direction. We have been playing some good stuff, we have changed stuff tactically slightly and everyone has adapted to and bought into that.
“It has gone well but we are not getting carried away and we will be judged on what happens at this tournament.
“We need to get off to a good start and that will be the key to ease the pressure. To get that momentum will be the key.
“Of course we need to defend better as a team but it is ultimately about results. If we get the right result in the first game then it breeds confidence going into the second game. It is all about getting a good start.”
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