Russian Roulette with a Trigger Happy Chairman

So off sails another Chelsea manager into the sunset, after an all too short tenure, counting his Roubles

Hardly a surprise was it? It was always a case of when rather than if, as the season progressed and following defeat to West Brom the axe was perhaps inevitable 

I’ve said before, that I thought the AVB appointment was one destined for disaster and it’s proven to be the case. The job was simply too big for the young manager and was the wrong job, at the wrong time.

But since Abramovich took over – and moreover since Mourinho left - for every incumbent of the Managers job it’s been the wrong appointment in one way or another. Either Abramovich can’t pick managers or there is something else going wrong at the club.

Mourinho was well loved at Chelsea and neither the players nor the fans wanted him to leave. Given the level of success, that’s understandable. Unfortunately, that has meant that every appointment thereafter has lived under the cloud of Mourinho, whether that be in the eyes of the players, the fans or dare I say, the Chairman.

The tales coming out of the bridge are that he had lost the dressing room and with characters such as Cech, Lampard, Terry, Cole and Drogba – players generally in the same age bracket as AVB give or take a few years – you can well imagine that was the case if they disagreed with his methods.

His decisions both on and off the field were questionable, a good example being the sale of Anelka and Alex in January. At a time when the club was crying out for a decent centre-half and a centre forward who actually had the ability to hit a barn door with a spade (Fernando Torres take note), his decision to allow these two to leave mid-season was ill-advised.

Maybe AVB knew an overhaul was needed but didn’t have the bottle to tell any of the Chelsea stalwarts or his boss who they may be. Especially if those concerned have been known to holiday on the owners’ yacht and have a direct line to Moscow.

But whilst player power clearly has a big part to play in life at Chelsea, for me, blame for their current plight rests solely with one man….Roman Abramovich.

It was well documented when he took over that his knowledge of the game was minimal but some of the decisions he has made during his tenure have been shockers.

Mourinho was a fine appointment and coupled with his policy of massive expenditure at the time, worked well. But he couldn’t leave it could he. He had to tinker. Whilst few thought the purchase of Shevchenko would be a bad one, it was clear from day one that he was the managers signing rather than the managers and with an ego the size of Mourinho’s a parting of the ways was always coming.

Avram Grant then came in. A strange appointment but one that almost paid off with a Champions League win. That wasn’t enough to keep the job though and off he went through the revolving door.

Scolari was a disaster from day one and whilst the move to replace him with Hiddink was a good one, it was only ever short term and the recruitment of a new manager began in earnest shortly after.

So when your ultimate goal is to win the Champions League, who do you turn to next? A bloke who’s won it twice as a player and twice as a Manager may seem like a wise choice and in my opinion, the best appointment made by the Russian since employing Mourinho. But winning a double wasn’t enough and it was curtains for Ancelotti.  

Then came the AVB appointment. Expensive and unproven but one for the future. Clearly at Chelsea 8 months is as far into the future as they can see.

So why have all these men failed? Why can’t they replicate the success they enjoyed under Mourinho. Put simply, because the Chairman hasn’t allowed them to.

He hasn’t backed any manager in the transfer market as he did Mourinho and whilst they’ve still spent money, it’s been on a different scale. The marquee signings have been more of a Chairman’s whim than part of any managerial team/squad building process and have done little to improve their overall position.

On two occasions Abramovich has spent big money on centre forwards that the manager didn’t appear to want and then pressured said managers into playing them.

On both occasions the players in question have shown the manager should have been listened to.  

On both occasions, it has signalled the beginning of the end for perhaps the best two managers in club football.

You lay out the money Abramovich has in the time he has been at the club and you can understand the feeling of wanting control. Business may work like that but football doesn’t. If you employ a manager, you must back him and let him manage. You must trust him and show the courage of your convictions.

It cost in excess of £20million to drop Ancelotti and bring in AVB and you can’t help but think they’d be better placed now had they stuck with the Italian.

Perhaps it comes with being a billionaire but self-reflection doesn’t appear a strong point for Abramovich and unfortunately, there is nobody at Chelsea or within his inner circle, with the necessary sized cojones, to tell him he is wrong.

They’d no doubt be shown the door if they did.

So what now? If, as believed, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho both fancy a change in the summer, Abramovich potentially has the pick of two of the greatest managers around.

If he fancies new blood, the current Barca man may be first choice and whilst you couldn’t go against that appointment, I’d go back to where it all really started for Abramovich.

It’s an ageing squad at Chelsea and those who are ageing have a stronghold of the club, very rarely seen before. Rightly or wrongly, that’s the case. They need moving on but if Chelsea are to be successful next season, they need to evolve from the team they are now. They need to phase players out gradually and bed new blood in. Who better to get the best out of Cech, Cole, Terry, Lampard and maybe even Drogba in their latter years, than the man they love and accredit with much of their career success.

With two big jobs probably available in the capital in the summer, it may be a case of which job Mourinho feels is a better vehicle to take him to his ultimate job at United.

But before we get to that point, Abramovich will have to hold his hands up and admit he got it wrong.

I don’t know the Russian and given the lack of dealing with the press, none of us do.

He doesn’t give the impression of one to admit his own failings but surely, if he really wants to take the club back to where they were and beyond, a return to the Fulham Road for the Special One is a must.







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Comment by redmisty on March 5, 2012 at 12:51

Tell the players the new manager (who won't be Mourinho) will be backed 100%


He probably said this about AVB. The problem is that we all know the new manager will not be backed 100% whatever Roman says!

The biggest problem at Chelsea is Roman himself. The players have too much power but that in itself is Roman's fault.

Comment by WorldClass on March 5, 2012 at 11:33

Mourinho was the right man David... lol

The fact is the Chelsea spine is now not what they where, I'm not saying they are poor players, but not at the lvl they where. Terry, Essien, Lampard and Drogba... this is the problem for any manager coming in. 4 players with the Owners Ear, who have been hugely pampered and now don't like it that some younger, quicker boy are coming and taking their spaces... 

DiMatteo's style of football though I think will be a success at Chelsea and I know there is huge respect for Roberto in the Chelsea dressing room... Watch Chelsea turn it around... watch Torres come in a perform for DiMatteo

Comment by David O'Loughlin on March 5, 2012 at 11:18

Very interesting, agree with a lot of it.


The fact is, Ancelotti was the right man and deserved more time. But he wasn't going to bother trying to sort out the team for 5 years time because he would have known he wouldn't make it that long.


Saying that AVB has taken a top four squad and completely lost them. As you said, the sales of Alex and Anelka (hardly power dressing room players compared to JT, Frank, Drogba) were foolish. He's been terrible in the media, always making it worse. Hyping the pressure on himself even more. And simply he's not done enough. He would not have secured 4th spot. Right man, wrong time.


Now Roman has to just hope Di Matteo can get them to the champions league and he can then fix it in the summer. Tell the players the new manager (who won't be Mourinho) will be backed 100%. Win the league/champions league or not he has 3 years to show improvement and he has full control over transfers in AND out. Then using his substantial bank balance go out and get the best man available and give him the money he needs. Its pricey but Roman is not poor.


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