In his mind, Roman Abramovich can do no wrong. He has a plan, yet it’s so secret that you wonder if even he knows the ins and outs of it.
Alarmingly, and maybe with a little amusement, no one can do right by the Russian. A Premier League title is not good enough, a domestic double is not good enough, capturing the Champions League is not good enough. His model seems simple, but it’s beyond any realms of logic.
Now there’s an idea that Rafa Benitez is under pressure after less than a handful of games. The Spaniard never stood a chance with Stamford Bridge openly protesting his appointment from the get go. Avram Grant may come in as an advisor to a man who has won league titles, the Champions League and has cracked the Fernando Torres code. Insulting, certainly. But if the Chelsea owner is starting to retrace the steps of his latest managerial signing, he surely needs to think that he’s royally screwed it up once again.
What was wrong with Roberto Di Matteo? I can think of a few things, but at least there was calm and stability at the club—you know, relative to Chelsea’s recent history. What’s wrong with Benitez? Not a whole lot, but Abramovich knows that maybe he wasn’t the best choice. But where were the advisors earning their pay and giving the owner a quiet word to tell him to rethink his decision?
Chelsea may be picking up trophies but they’re not getting anywhere. What’s the point in splashing out on flash players and becoming the envy of most other clubs in the league if the only answer to a poor run of form is to turn to the old guard? Whether anyone likes it or not, Chelsea are in a transition from the successful figures of the last decade and onto something that should bring them success in the future.
Accept that it takes time. Maybe accept that you can’t throw a bunch of superstars together and assume they’ll become an all-conquering side without any blips. Real Madrid were evidence, as well as most recently with Manchester City.
When the classy attacking football doesn’t work, the club seems to launch for the panic button. A lengthy run of poor results is hardly ever something that can be given a positive spin, but there should be acknowledgement for how good the opposition were. Chelsea are entitled to nothing and shouldn’t see themselves as beyond hard work and developing at a steady pace.
The club have spent a lot of money, appointed a manager they may not really have wanted and got rid of one who seemed to have all the players on side. When things aren’t working, just wait out the storm. That’s how football works and that’s how sports works. If the owner can’t accept that sports works in cycles then maybe he doesn’t belong.
I certainly don’t buy the idea thrown out there that Abramovich is highly clued-up on football and has a good knowledge of the game beyond just the Premier League. I like music, I know music; it doesn’t mean I’m about to start my own record company, nor does it mean I’m equipped with any resources—knowledge or other—to successfully get a company off the ground.
The owner has his people around him making decisions at the club, but it’s only really his call if a decision goes through, no one else’s. He’s the Vince McMahon of football.
Looking to players like Didier Drogba to come in a provide a quick-fix will keep Chelsea in the never ending cycle of achieving but never really finding the identity they crave. What happens when Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry aren’t available to call upon anymore? That phone may only ring for another year or two for the striker and midfielder, while Terry is seen as the only player in world football who can hold the backline together. For all their money—excuse me, for all his money—why doesn’t Abramovich put together a group of scouts, identify what makes Terry such a key figure in the defence and go out and replace in the market? That seems to be the answer for everything else.
Three managers in less than 18 months is about as stupid as it gets, but why keep making stupid decisions only to retrace your steps with even more baffling decisions? Chelsea have more money than God, but even for those in such wealthy seats of power, it may get worse before it gets better.
Chelsea have made their bed, actually Abramovich has made his bed; Chelsea fans are just the first in line to witness it firsthand.