Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Sorry fans, Chelsea truly is Roman's club now

Disclaimer: I in no way intend to imply that AVB or RDM were indeed mistakes, or that the players from the Jose era deserve to be kicked out. Far from it, in fact. I believe both managers deserved more time than they got, and that Lampard must stay. I am not responsible for misinterpretations you make reading the post.

Andre Villas-Boas hired as Chelsea manager
After Ancelotti's reign, Roman's personal favourite got the job

Let’s all be clear about one thing here: Andre Villas-Boas was Roman Abramovich’s personal choice, and Roman Abramovich hates it when someone else tells him that his choice was the wrong one. He always backs his men completely (as Ray Wilkins said here) unless he falls out with them, or sees them as unfit. There was a falling-out with Jose Mourinho while Carlo Ancelotti was no longer seen as the right man for the job.

Neither was true of AVB. Villas-Boas’ tactics were incompatible with many of the players, and his less than tasteful man-management led to dislike of said tactics turning into dislike of the man. Only, this dislike was confined to the dressing room. The Board were naturally forced to act given what finishing outside the top four would’ve meant. 

Obviously, we've been here before. Roman patiently listened as the players laid Scolari's flaws bare and had the World Cup winning Brazilian sacked. But this time, Abramovich was seething. He had not wanted this. He was on good terms with the manager and felt he was the right man to change Chelsea’s style and take them forward playing pretty football.

Andre Villas-Boas
AVB's sacking felt like shooting Bambi, a decision probably popular only in the dressing room

As written before, Roman Abramovich doesn’t like other people telling him that he made the wrong choice, making him look the fool. Even winning the prize he was supposed to covet most wasn’t satisfaction enough for him, for besides being derided in the media over Villas-Boas, he was now also being hounded by comments from every direction saying Chelsea were the ugliest and luckiest team to win the European Cup. He decided that the players responsible for making his (latest) Portuguese hiring look bad would pay.

Which is what is happening now, and will keep happening till the final flames of Mourinho and Ancelotti's Chelsea are well and truly quelled. Bosingwa, Kalou and Drogba were released (although Drogba wanted to leave himself), and Lampard looks set to follow them out even if he scores a hat trick every game from now (UPDATE: It seems talks over a new contract have begun). It’s hard to imagine that Essien will be a Chelsea player next season, and Ashley Cole beyond 2014. Don’t put it past the Board to even consider pushing out John Terry.
Roberto di Matteo
Club legend to the fans, but he was never wanted by Roman

AVB, Roman’s personal choice, was fired after pressure from the players. Roberto di Matteo, who was never Roman’s choice, was hired due to pressure from the fans. A few months later, Chelsea become the first defending champions to crash out of the Champions League group stages, heaping further embarrassment upon what Roman had been hearing earlier about Chelsea being lucky winners.

Roman Abramovich, Chelsea owner
Having been embarrassed enough, the oligarch no longer cares about other people's opinion

Hiring Rafael Benitez and sticking by Fernando Torres, come what may, have proved to be the Russian’s most unpopular decisions yet, but he no longer cares. Decisions hurting the fans will now be consistently made. The last two major decisions before the start of the season were made after pressure from players and/or fans, and both have left Roman feeling less than flattered. After AVB and RDM, the oligarch - who has pumped a humongous amount of his money into Chelsea - has drawn the line. Abramovich has had enough of listening to the players. Abramovich has had enough of listening to the fans.

He will run his club his way now, and Chelsea fans should learn to live with it.

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