Roman Abramovich’s stint as Chairman of Chelsea has undoubtedly been hugely beneficial for the club and its fans.
In June 2003, Chelsea Football Club was set to enter administration. Due to dodgy transfer dealings and poor business decisions; the club was simply no longer financially viable.
That was until Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire, appeared out of nowhere and turned the club’s fortunes around; investing millions of his own money into players and ridding the club of debt.
Within two years, the club had won its first title, and since then has won everything available; domestically and on a global scale.
Despite all this success however, ‘The Russian Empire’ hasn’t been without it’s problems, with a number of key mistakes very nearly costing the Russian everything he had worked for at the club.
From causing issues between the club and fans, to making baffling business decisions; Abramovich time with the club has been far from perfect.
So here we take a look at at FIVE of the biggest mistakes that Abramovich has made in his time at the club…
One major contention point between Abramovich and fans of the club has been his approach to transfer policy.
Now, of course, when Roman joined in 2003 and spent millions on players, there was no Chelsea fan complaining that he was spending too much. In fact, quite the opposite.
However, since then, the club has invested millions in a highly productive and successful youth academy. From the U8s through to the U21s, Chelsea’s youth system has won every trophy available to them. Despite this however, John Terry remains the only youth player to make it through the system in the last 20 years, with many players leaving on a free at the expiry of their contracts.
On top of this, solid players like Ryan Bertrand are let go for pennies; whilst replacements like Baba Rahman are brought in for £20million and offer very little.
Of course money has to be spent at any club, and this will continue at Chelsea. But for Roman to build a real rapport with the fans; he must start to utilise the youth sides that are already producing world class young talent.
This marred transfer policy is perhaps no better typified than by the £50million signing of Fernando Torres in January 2011.
Despite suffering a rough run of form, and just coming off of the back of an injury, Torres was signed for a British record sum, expected to lead the line for years to come.
In reality, Torres failed to work out at Chelsea, taking over 900 minutes for him to score his first goal for the Blues.
He went on to score just 20 league goals for the club, less than a third of the number he had scored at Liverpool in a similar number of games.
After several failed years, the striker left the club on a free transfer with very little fanfare.
Chelsea fans continued to support the Spaniard, but the fact is that Roman invested so much in Torres, yet he produced very little.
This is definitely one of his biggest mistakes whilst he has been in charge of the club.
The immediate failure of Fernando Torres was not attributed to the Spanish forward; in fact the blame was largely placed on Carlo Ancelotti.
The failure of Torres, combined with Ancelotti’s failure to retain the title ended up costing the Italian his job.
Now of course, after spending £50million on a new player; you will do anything you can to make him do the business.
But after winning the Premier League and FA cup double just a year earlier; the decision to fire Ancelotti was a baffling one.
And it was one that fans would not be happy with; with fans even to this day lamenting the decision.
Since leaving the club Ancelotti has worked wonders, dominating Ligue One with PSG and winning Real Madrid the coveted ‘La Decima’, giving Roman a taste of what he missed out on by letting the Italian go.
A manager that always wins titles and has an insistence on bringing through young players; Ancelotti was perfect for Chelsea, and the remnants of his sacking are still felt today.
Whilst Chelsea fans are appreciative of Roman and he has done, a number of issues at the club have caused huge conflict between the fans and the Russian owner.
Many of these surround issues with managers. As mentioned, fan backlash was frequent around the time of Ancelotti’s sacking, but Roman would unfortunately not learn from his mistakes several years later.
Fans pleaded with the boss to allow Roberto Di Matteo to stay on despite crashing out of the Champions League in the 2012/13 season, yet the hammer fell on the Chelsea legend as it had done on so many managers before him. What followed was weeks of protests in the 16th minute of every game at Stamford Bridge, in tribute to the unjust sacking of Chelsea’s Munich hero.
The same occurred again in 2015, when Jose Mourinho’s sacking caused an eruption of anger between fans of the club, who felt that the Portuguese deserved more time.
Just six months later Roman would make the same mistake again, deliberating for months over the future of John Terry, with Chelsea fans demanding that he be offered a new contract. The tide on this one has began to change, with the often stubborn Abramovich finally giving in to fan pressure and offering the Chelsea captain a new contract after months of rejection.
John Terry however was just the last in a long line of player departures; and this is where perhaps the biggest mistake of the Roman era comes in.
Following Chelsea’s Champions League victory in Munich in 2012, there has been somewhat of a clear out of the club.
Gone since are many of the players that the club and fans agreed were not good enough, and many have been replaced with far superior players.
However, in that process – a number of Chelsea legends have also departed. Perhaps most notably were the losses of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech – three constants of a Chelsea side that had won so much together.
Despite calls for all three players to be retained, they were all let go, and whilst you could argue that they had little choice with regards to Petr Cech; the other two are baffling cases of man management.
The Blues are now feeling the repercussions of their loss; the team fell apart under the pressure last season, lacking the leadership in the dressing room that had been such a constant in the club prior to this.
You cannot simply buy passion and leadership; and now Roman has a job on his hand to repair the damage that has been done.