10/09/2015 12:52 BST | Updated 10/09/2016 06:12 BST

Chelsea Continue to Go Backwards After Poor End to the Transfer Window

If it was naive to think that Chelsea were automatically favourites to win a second successive Premier League title ahead of the 2015/16 season - and it most certainly was - it's even more naive to think that now. Quite simply, Jose Mourinho's team have been left behind by their competitors and a terrible transfer window has now left them playing catch-up.

Chelsea steam-rolled their way to the title after taking the league by storm in the first half of last season. In stark contrast, they were rather poor in the final months of the season, often masked by occasional moments of individual brilliance from Eden Hazard, among others, as the team looked like they were just going through the motions.

That has been even more apparent in the opening weeks of the new season, but this time the world class cutting edge hasn't been there to hide it.

In his 2011 autobiography, Gary Neville described the complacency that crept in at Manchester United after the club won the treble in 1998/99. "I can see why it didn't feel essential to go out and buy more players," the former defender turned Sky pundit wrote.

"We were champions of England and Europe. But we had a chance to build a dynasty and we squandered it. There would have been less chance of it (the malaise) happening if we'd an injection of fresh blood, a couple of big names to keep us ahead of the competition."

Chelsea needed one or two quality new players to keep their own desire and hunger burning bright and raise the level. But whether it came down to arrogance or merely a lack of planning, they didn't deliver. They also genuinely just needed more bodies as well. Beyond a few top quality individuals scattered across the pitch, there is a rather weak looking squad at Stamford Bridge, with little strength in depth.

In their most recent Premier League outing against Crystal Palace - a thoroughly deserved second defeat in four games at the start of the new campaign - Branislav Ivanovic was as appalling as he has been all season. It's surprising given the consistently high level at which the experienced Serbian performed throughout 2014/15, but not having any backup plan whatsoever is a shocking oversight on the part of Mourinho and club officials.

There is no one behind Ivanovic waiting to pounce, ready to make the shirt their own. It has made pulling the 31-year-old from the starting line-up virtually impossible. Mourinho could use Cesar Azpilicueta on the right, but that would leave him equally exposed on the left, with only untested 21-year-old Baba Rahman to call on.

Chelsea started the season with just three centre-backs, worsened by the fact that John Terry was quickly hit with a suspension. The club tirelessly attempted to prise John Stones away from Everton, but naively left themselves with too little time to turn their attention elsewhere when it ultimately proved fruitless.

Multiple desperate bids for Paris Saint-Germain's Marquinhos were reported on transfer deadline day, but Chelsea ended up with Papy Djilobodji - an unknown player who was part of a Nantes team that finished a lowly 14th in Ligue 1 last season. To add insult to injury, the 26-year-old has already been omitted from the club's Champions League squad because of foreign quotas.

Not only were new players needed all across the back-line, but Mourinho also needed to strengthen in midfield. Genuine competition for Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic is sorely lacking and it has been plainly evident in the duo's performances so far this season. Adding Pedro further forward was good business, but losing Juan Cuadrado and not at least replacing him was another mistake in terms of depth.

Diego Costa's questionable hamstrings have held out so far up front, but the naturalised Spaniard looks far too keen to engage in a fight every time he steps out on the pitch rather than actually play football. With only Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao as back-up, the options are simply not there.

Chelsea are not in danger of falling out of the top four, make no mistake about that. But they have handed their rivals a significant boost - most notably Manchester City, who have added key players in several positions.

No team has successfully retained the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2008/09. Just four games into 2015/16, Chelsea already look like the latest to fail.

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