Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Steven Beacom: Roman Abramovich has made Chelsea successful... and hated

Roman Abramovich treats managers as disposable objects

Roberto Di Matteo’s reign as manager of Chelsea was never going to last. They never do at Stamford Bridge.

It’s just the way it is under Roman Abramovich.

Since he bought the club in 2003 he has employed EIGHT managers, throwing them away like a dirty rag when he wants to.

All bar Guus Hiddink, who was working in a caretaker capacity, have been sacked.

And all, bar Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, have failed to last longer than 100 games.

For the record the others were Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant, Luis Felipe Scolari and Andre Villas-Boas who, like Di Matteo yesterday, walked through the exit door which is always open.

Abramovich is the most ruthless operator in football yet, in some crazy way, all his hiring and firing has worked because Chelsea have won TEN major trophies since he took over — three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and, of course, one Champions League.

Before Roman, the Blues hadn’t won that many in their history — and they’ve been around since 1905!

Therein lies the rub. We can criticise Abramovich for getting rid of managers quicker than viewers deserting The X-Factor, but without him Chelsea would NOT have experienced the glory they’ve enjoyed in the last decade.

Forget Mourinho, the real Special One at Stamford Bridge is Abramovich, who has bankrolled all the recent success, spending millions on new managers and players.

That’s not to say, though, that his actions aren’t worth scrutinising.

The way Abramovich has gone about his business has done little for Chelsea's image among opposing fans which to some degree is a pity because their remarkable glory run probably merits more respect than it has received.

The bottom line is that most feel Chelsea are more a Russian's plaything than a football club these days, with the Blues buying all their honours rather than building towards them.

Remember how Leeds were the most hated team in the land in the 70s? Chelsea wear that tag now.

Having the unpopular John Terry as captain obviously doesn’t help. He’ll probably be manager one day. Well, everyone else gets a chance.

Di Matteo got his, taking charge of a team left in disarray by Villas-Boas. The Italian with effective, if not easy on the eye, tactics led Chelsea to the FA Cup and Champions League, somehow beating mighty Barcelona in the semi-finals and Bayern Munich on their own patch in the final.

But six months after guiding the London outfit to that historic triumph, he was out on his ear. He deserved better.

Abramovich never really fancied him as manager believing he was initially very much a stop gap appointment.

Even the Russian knew, however, he couldn’t dismiss a man who led the Blues to the Champions League and reluctantly rewarded the crowd favourite with a two year deal.

Once a poor run of form came though Di Matteo was always going to be removed.

He didn’t help himself on Tuesday getting the shape and selection of his side wrong in the 3-0 defeat to Juventus, leaving the holders on the brink of an embarrassing early elimination from the Champions League.

With Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona coach and the man Abramovich really wants, on a year long break, Rafael Benitez is arriving until the end of the season.

Some think he'll get the best out of £50m flop Fernando Torres, as he did at Liverpool. Without Steven Gerrard supplying the Spaniard I wouldn't be so sure.

What we can be certain about is that Rafa will leave the Bridge next year and Guardiola arrive, if he accepts the lucrative offer coming from Chelsea in the summer.

It is the Abramovich way. Roman is the only true boss at Chelsea. They all know that.

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