Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers could bring stability to Roman's Chelsea empire

By James Corrigan

Football has never made much sense but at the moment it would have Salvador Dali toking on a reefer, moaning "man, this is way too surreal".

One manager leaves when his team is lying two points from automatic promotion and another leaves when his side are three points away from the Champions League. And we consider one dismissal to be downright weird and the other to be on the overdue side of inevitable.

But then, nothing surprises us any more. Except, of course, our surprise.

No, Gary Megson does not have much in common with Andre Villas-Boas (Megson actually played the game), except their participation in this soap opera about a travelling circus stopping to replace its cast every other village. Megson split up with Milan Mandaric, AVB received the Dear John letter from Roman Abramovich. The former had the support of his players at Sheffield Wednesday, the latter was presiding over insubordination at Chelsea. Who is wrong, who is right? Is there a wrong and a right?

When one considers that both Lionel Messi and Pepe were forced to serve suspensions in Spain at the weekend it is impossible to see any line. Consider it: Messi, a hero who only brings positives to the sport, was adjudged to have been as culpable as Pepe, a pantomime villain who has made a fortune out of the negative. The eyes don't convey it but the maestro and the beast have conceded the same number of fouls this season. What have the referees been watching? Jose Mourinho TV?

What sort of sport is this when they ban, even for one match, one of the finest ever to place toe to leather for a collection of irrelevant misdemeanours? It's like the RSC banning Olivier for not flossing. I challenge anyone to argue that Messi is a dirty player who required punishment to bring him to heel.

The rules are an ass and the referees who feel under intense pressure to enforce them are ruled by arses. Their vision is so far off the ball, so far off what is threatening to destroy their sport, they are making a mockery of governance. Never mind rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, this lot are quibbling over the place mats among the debauched gourmets of Apicius. Roman is the common denominator here.

And now the press say Mourinho is on his way back to west London, ready to quit Real Madrid after winning them La Liga, for a reunion which the fans will claim is emotional but instead will be egotistical. Members of the Spanish press even speculate that Pep Guardiola would actually consider moving from the Narnia of Barça to the anarchy of Chelsea. Abramovich has, they say, been courting Guardiola for three years – or in Stamford Bridge parlance, for four managers' lifetimes.

Will anyone bring some sanity to this madness? The newspapers this morning will be packed with advice for Abramovich which nobody believes he will heed. Player power is as heinous as the succour of the old guard. Indeed, the two are intertwined. Can it really be true that players on hundreds of thousands per week can be accused of downing tools, but without the nerve of the unions of yore, instead like children turning their backs on the nerds in the kindergarten? This is where football is right now and Abramovich must share plenty of the blame.

Success could always be bought, yet back in the day the price wasn't beyond the local tycoon. Now it's on a level even the Queen struggles to comprehend. The monsters at this trough cannot help themselves and neither can the parasites fattening themselves on all that waste. The stench is a mere by-product as, very naturally, is the pollution. It flows from top to bottom.

But – drum roll for the pointless lecture – Abramovich has the chance to make an example. He has the opportunity of appointing a manager to break up the cabal and to build something with more value than simply the transfer columns. Oh, for the oligarch to turn his back on the short-term and look to a long-term and, more pertinently, a worthwhile legacy. In Brendan Rodgers there is the ideal man to be entrusted with a dream.

Here is a Chelsea man but, more to the point, a pure Chelsea man who learnt only the footballing expertise of Mourinho's management. Furthermore B-Rod, as they are now calling him, would stick to his style whatever Abramovich demanded and then the owner really would have a choice. Does Red Rom love football, or only the reflected glory it brings?

At least he can always claim to have changed English football for ever – and made it perfectly reasonable to sack a manager after giving him seven months to oversee an arrogant shambles. Mutiny brings no bounty. Will they ever learn?

Belfast Telegraph


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