Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: The biggest problem with Chelsea could be Abramovich himself

It would have been perfect. Chelsea winning the Champions League at Wembley.

Becoming the first London club to lift the trophy.

In their home city.

The script was written.

The thing is Carlo Ancelotti and his all-star cast of players fluffed their lines. Again.

I am starting to wonder if they will ever win the biggest prize in club football.

I suspect Roman Abramovich is thinking the same. And that just won’t do.

Russian billionaire Abramovich is used to getting what he wants. But, as he has found out since taking ownership of Chelsea eight years ago, money can’t buy you everything. Not Champions League glory anyway.

Abramovich has thrown around £1 billion at Chelsea since taking control at Stamford Bridge.

He’s spent massive amounts of cash on scores of high-profile players, furnishing them with salaries that could feed starving countries for centuries.

Then there’s been the managers recruited for fortunes and sacked when the mood has taken him.

The Glazers might own Manchester United, who defeated Chelsea on Tuesday night to knock them out of this season’s Champions League, but there is no doubt who is the boss — Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Scot still calls the shots.

Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant, Luis Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink and current manager Carlo Ancelotti have all been well aware who the main man is at the Bridge.

And I’m not referring to Didier Drogba, who has thought he has held that mantle for years.

Even Jose Mourinho, the Special One himself, worshipped by fans like the ancient Greeks and their gods, was not the number one at Chelsea.

He arrived having won the Champions League at Porto and went on to lead Inter Milan to European success.

With a bit more time at the Bridge it’s a fair bet that Mourinho would have taken the Blues to the promised land, but he was run out of town with Abramovich deciding a new coach, with more attacking ideals, was required.

That worked out, didn’t it?

Now if Roman, the restless tycoon, is true to type, Ancelotti, who made a monumental error by starting the fast-fading Fernando Torres at Old Trafford, will be on his way.

A domestic league and cup double last season, won under Ancelotti, means little when all Roman wants is to conquer Europe.

It’s a bit like Abramovich making do with a speedboat rather than the new £600 million super yacht he has invested in.

Maybe he should think for a second that the more he changes managers, the more things have stayed the same where success, or rather the lack of it, in the Champions League has been concerned.

Continuity is not all bad. Look at Manchester United.

Obviously the players and managers must take responsibility for their failings at this level, but perhaps the biggest problem is Abramovich himself.

Belfast Telegraph


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