The Roman Empire…where to now?

Claudio Ranieri, José Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Anchelotti and André Villas-Boas…as yet another manager comes and goes from Chelsea Football Club under the ruling of Roman Abramovich, the media frenzy once again whips up a storm as to who the new successor will be. For the time being Roberto Di Matteo has been installed as interim manager until the end of the season, a season which Abramovich must hope ends in a Premier League Top 4 finish and qualification for next seasons UEFA Champions League.

The Empire

Fernando Torres - Roman's £50million Man

Fernando Torres - Roman's £50million Man

Since taking over as owner of Chelsea Football Club in June 2003 the Russian billionaire has embarked on a ambitious journey to turn Chelsea into the top club in England and amongst the elite in Europe. Abramovich has certainly put his money where his mouth is with a huge investment of approximately £600million and attracting some of the games top stars to grace the hallow turf of Stamford Bridge.

With two Premier League Titles, three FA Cup’s, two football league cup’s and two community shield wins Chelsea under the Roman empire is going through one of its most successful periods of its history (only Manchester United have won more titles in the same period). Despite this success it appears Roman Abramovich is still not happy and failure to get his hands on the UEFA Champions League trophy appears to be the underlining reason for the long list of managerial casualties at The Bridge…AVB is the latest to have been given the “thumbs down” and off with his head treatment from Mr. Abramovich.

The Troops

With the financial clout of Abramovich the Chelsea fans have certainly been spoilt when it comes to watching they’re team week in week out for the past 8 years or so. The approximate £600million Roman investment has not only seen a massive redevelopment of Stamford Bridge and the surrounding area but the growth of the club commercially on a worldwide scale has been meteoric. Chelsea FC as a brand are now amongst the big boys of England (Manchester United, Liverpool) and Europe (Real Madrid, FC Barcelona) when it comes to international commercialism and fan base growth. On the pitch the transformation has been just as impressive.

One of the main catalysts to Chelsea’s worldwide commercial growth has been the players each manager under the Abramovich regime has had at their disposal. If we look at the current 2010-11 squad we can find International and National Team Captains playing alongside European and World Cup winners and an investment of around £80million, yet once again the troops are left without the right general to lead them toward victory.

Despite more transfer window investments one thing that is still clear to see in the current Chelsea squad is remains of the Mourinho era, an era that seems to have left a scar on senior players within the ranks and a shadow over each and every manager since José’s tenure. This scar raised its ugly head in the months leading up to André Villas-Boas’s dismissal when players made there feelings clear to sections of the media about AVB’s selection process and philosophy…a new philosophy which was not helped by poor results and thus a loss of trust from the players and a torn dressing room that seems to find it difficult to let go of the past.

The General

They have tried “The Special One”, a stop gap experienced manager in Gus Hiddink, a world cup winner in Luiz Felipe Scolari, a previous Champions League winner in Carlo Ancelotti who lead the club to the domestic double in his first season and one of the games brightest young managers in André Villas-Boas with the potential so steer the club on a new and exciting future…so what direction do they take now? who is the right man to be the next leader? What does Roman Abramovich want?

Managers Win Percentage at Chelsea under Abramovich

From the roll call of former managers it appears that Chelsea have tried almost every type of manager; both personality wise and playing philosophy wise. With Mourinho despite his success Abramovich became tired of the teams brand of football, with Scolari this brand of football was too expansive and didn’t seem to fit the requirements of Premier League Football which showed in his results, with Ancelotti the clubs UEFA Champions League existence was jeopardized when the club fell out of the FA Premier League Top four in his second season in charge, and now most recently with André Villas-Boas both results and the risk of UEFA Champions League qualification in doubt has led to another change of Roman’s heart.

There seems to be a clear lack of patience and acceptance from Roman Abramovich that football clubs, players, playing styles, football in general and success comes in cycles. The desire of constant and immediate success expected by Abramovich explains the turn over of managers during his reign, but surely this turn over must be halted if Chelsea FC and Abramovich expect future success and silverware to arrive at the club on a more consistent basis.

The reluctance of accepting stability, having the appropriate pathways and opportunities for players at the club to develop and move into the senior environment (despite the financial investment of the new academy and training facilities) and the stagnant evolution of the current Chelsea team since the Mourinho days are proof enough that Roman Abromovich has to change his approach…or continue to spend huge sums for very little gain. So who is the perfect man to take Chelsea forward and ticks all the boxes…?

The Answer…?

This is the £600 million pound question that is still to be answered and as mentioned previously the burning desire of UEFA Champions League glory that appears to be fueling Roman’s Empire.

The latest odds have José Mourinho as favorite to return, but could he come back to a club and replace the senior players who he once held dear? senior players who looked up to him, trusted him and were loyal to his commands to only be replaced for a new project? Would Abramovich allow Mourinho total control of this project and would Mourinho want to leave Real Madrid CF where he has spent the past 18 months finally getting the total control he requires to do his job?

Could Mourinho be heading back to Stamford Bridge?

The other man on Chelsea’s wish list is Pep Guardiola who has had unprecedented success with FC Barcelona and in his short time at the club has won all there is to offer. Could the Barcelona born and bred manager leave his boyhood club for the bright lights and even more pressure for success in London? Guardiola despite only agreeing to sign 1-year contracts at Barcelona for motivational reasons has openly stated that “once I do not get the same response from the players, once they begin to get comfortable and are tired of hearing my voice then its time to leave” – this does not appear to be the case just yet and despite being 10 points behind Mourinho’s Real Madrid they continue to strive for UEFA Champions League honors. At FC Barcelona Guardiola has stability, a working successful player pathway and an environment in place that he has moulded into modern footballs benchmark…does Chelsea have the same support structures in place and patient chairman to allow his blueprint to develop and come to life?

If Roman Abramovich cannot lure one of the two best managers on the planet to Chelsea then who is the answer? Does Abramovich finally concede its time to revamp and rejuvenate a Chelsea team which this season has been one dimensional and lacking togetherness…and allow a manager the time to achieve this?

Or will it continue to be the case of “when with Rome-an, do as the Rome-an does and expect immediate glory or else”!

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1 Comment

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