'He needs to find his happiness' - Chelsea legend Joe Cole on why he feels bad for USMNT star Christian Pulisic and the type of manager needed at Stamford Bridge

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Christian Pulisic Chelsea 2022-23
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GOAL caught up with the former winger to discuss all things Chelsea heading into a busy summer.

It's going to be a massive, and somewhat unfamiliar, summer for Chelsea.

A new manager will come in as the club ushers in a new era that will, hopefully, last longer than the one overseen by Graham Potter. A number of players will certainly be on the way out the door too, given the bloated squad - but even with their current numbers, you can't rule out the idea of Todd Boehly finding a way to spend big once again.

All of that comes against the backdrop of the worst Chelsea season in nearly three decades, depending on results in these final few weeks. There will be no Champions League, no Europa League, no trophies. The Blues enter this summer with a massive squad and an uneasy mood.

The 2023-24 season will begin in the U.S., with Chelsea set for a preseason tour of America starting in July. In the States, Chelsea will face Wrexham, Brighton, Newcastle, Fulham and Dortmund, with the clash with the German powerhouse set for Chicago as confirmed by the club over the weekend.

Joe Cole knows something about playing for a Chelsea team at the very top, having won three Premier League titles in his seven seasons at Stamford Bridge. He also knows a bit about playing in the U.S., with the winger ending his career with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in America's lower leagues.

So, ahead of the Blues' busy summer, the former Blues favourite caught up with GOAL to talk all things Chelsea...

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  1. 'I feel sorry for Pulisic'
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    'I feel sorry for Pulisic'

    One Chelsea player that faces an uncertain future this summer is Christian Pulisic, who very well could be gone by the time the Blues arrive in America for preseason.

    Pulisic has been linked with plenty of moves, having seen his progress repeatedly halted by injuries in recent seasons. Just when he starts to play his way into the manager's plans, disaster always seems to strike.

    Cole, though, very much still believes in Pulisic - a player that he thinks can still be a contributor to a top team...if he can stay healthy.

    "He's a super talented footballer," Cole told GOAL. "He's won the Champions League with Chelsea and he played a big part by scoring important goals. It's just, I feel sorry for Christian with the amount of injuries he's got. It's really stopped his development.

    "I think he needs to find his happiness again in a Chelsea shirt. It's very difficult and there's always competition. There are 31 players playing in the Chelsea squad, world-class players a lot of them. He has to find his rhythm again. There's no doubt he's a top, top, top footballer and he just needs to find out and work out how his body is and how he can keep himself on the pitch because, if he can do that, football is not a problem for him. He'll be fine. He's a great player."

  2. A bloated squad

    A bloated squad

    Cole knows plenty about playing under pressure at Chelsea. He was a key figure during some of the Blues' best years, starring alongside many of the club's biggest legends.

    This team is far from that level at the moment, currently sitting 12th in the Premier League, but the competition is as fierce as ever.

    With 31 players in the first-team group, disregarding those out on loan, the competition for places is crazy at Stamford Bridge and it is clearly unsustainable.

    A summer clearout is expected, with several big names expected to walk through the door after two straight windows of big spending. The ownership is far from afraid to buy, but this summer looks like the time to sell.

    "The owners have come in and they've got great ambition," Cole said. "They put in a lot of money. They put their money where their mouth is. They've tried to spark it and it's a difficult time for the club. The club's going through transition, change of owners, changes of managers, playing staff, backroom staff, everything's changed. So I think I feel like the next stage, it needs to be calmer.

    "I would imagine there'll be fewer players coming in, more players leaving and taking their journey elsewhere, but there's no doubt the owners have great ambitions.

    "We understand we're in a period where there's this transition. This summer is going to be crucial and every decision has to be made very deliberately, very measured, and make sure it helps the team overall compete on the pitch because we're a while away from being able to compete with Manchester City at the moment. They're a phenomenal team, and that's the standard where Chelsea needs to be."

  3. Who will be the next Chelsea manager?

    Who will be the next Chelsea manager?

    While trimming the squad will no doubt be vital, Chelsea's biggest decision of the summer will be the manager.

    Frank Lampard has stepped in on an interim basis but has done nothing to stop the bleeding. This season is now a lost cause and there will be no European football next season.

    Chelsea, though, are the type of club that can draw in candidates despite that fact. They've been linked with some of the biggest names in Europe, including Julian Nagelsmann and Mauricio Pochettino, with the latter said to be the leading candidate at this stage.

    Whoever comes in will have a tough job, though.

    "There's no manager in the world who's going to come in, flick a switch and Chelsea are going to be where they want to be," Cole says. "So it's going to have to be done in stages and processes. The next step in the next stage is about just settling down the players, settling on a core of the squad, the players that you're going to rely on to do the job.

    "It's going to be a manager of that ilk, and it's going to take time. It's going to take time and that's one thing, unfortunately, coaches don't have so it's going to be tough to get the right man in but I'm sure that the owners are working very hard at finding that right person."

  4. Life in the U.S.

    Life in the U.S.

    After his time at Chelsea, Cole remained in Europe for another six years before making his move to the U.S. with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

    The Rowdies were - and remain - in the U.S. lower leagues, giving Cole a much different taste of life in America than fellow English stars David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

    However, Cole still looks back fondly on the experience and still makes Tampa a regular stop whenever he comes back stateside.

    "It was a great experience," he said. "Me and my family, we made lots of friends and I'll always be connected to that part of the world. We loved our time there. It was so interesting. At the end of it, I started my coaching career as well with six months as a player-assistant manager, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    "The project, when I first joined, there was potential for the Rowdies to go into MLS, but something fell through financially and it didn't happen, and I could have left and gone back home but I stayed because I was having such a good time and the people were great.

    "One day, I would hope that, and I'm pretty sure it will happen, the Rowdies will be playing in the MLS and I think they'd be a powerhouse because it's such a well-supported club. Only positive things and I had a great time, a great time."

    What has struck Cole the most, though, is the growth of the game as a whole, from the grassroots level right up to MLS and the U.S. national teams.

    "There's so much talent here," he said. "It just made me realize that this game will become, I believe within the next 50 years, the premier sport here. It's the fastest-growing sport and the kids love it, don't they? We had a massive, beautiful fanbase there and I think it's been embraced.

    "It's just a long burn. It's going to take a longer time but the World Cup will obviously help, the upcoming World Cup, and yeah, it's exciting times."

  5. A global club

    A global club

    Chelsea, like most clubs these days, understand the importance of the American market and capitalizing on it is about more than just having Pulisic in the squad.

    The Blues, who also travelled to the U.S. last summer, are one of many clubs heading stateside for preseason, with several coming back to the U.S. for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic. The introduction of the Premier League's Summer Series adds yet another layer as talks continue about possibly playing competitive games in the U.S. at some point in the future.

    For the Blues, though, tours of the U.S. are key to keeping the club where they are: among the elite. The sport truly is global, and Chelsea have become a global club, something few would have believed a few decades ago.

    "I think it's massive," Cole said. "Over the last 20 years, Chelsea has gone from a good side in England to this global powerhouse and I've seen it first-hand from when we were playing with the growing number of fans coming to games and the interest in the team.

    "I think Premier League teams and the Premier League are global and it's important for these clubs to get out here because there's a lot of fans and a lot of passion out here. I know the lads, the players, love coming out here for preseason. They love playing in these games against top sides like Borussia Dortmund and they love the people and the welcome.

    "Let's just say that I know that it works for the American fans and the American market, but Chelsea get a lot from it as well."