The futures bright(er)…the futures blue?

Now that the dust has settled on what was an emotional, nerve-jangling and dramatic Champions League Final I thought I’d take some time to discuss just how big this victory could be for Chelsea Football Club and what it could mean for the London based club moving forward.

After what has been nothing short of a remarkable Champions league journey for Chelsea and a total transformation since interim manager Roberto Di Matteo took the reigns, where there season went from potential disaster to delight in the moment Didier Drogba cooly slotted his penalty home and send the blue half of the Allianz Arena into wild raptures.

What has been interesting is that more then 48 hours later everyone at Chelsea including players, management and owner have kept tight lipped about the immediate future and coy when it comes to answering some very serious questions for the club.

1. The Manager

One of the first questions that Roman Abramovich has to address is who will be the man to lead the European Champions into the 2012/13 season. As ever Mr. Abramovich was tight lipped and refused even a few words to the worlds press after the clubs greatest night in there history – however do not be fooled, you can guarantee his mind will already be firmly placed on who the right manager is to lead Europes best team, and the direction he wants Chelsea’s project to go.

It was only a few months ago that Chelsea’s season was in pieces and after the huge investment in both hiring and firing Andre Villas-Boas many were ready to write of the clubs project, the current playing staff and the direction in general. (see my article “The Roman Empire…where to now?”Does Di Matteo deserve his chance full time?

So it was no great surprise that one of the first questions posed to interim manager Roberto Di Matteo by the excited hoards of media was surrounding his future and that surely he now deserves the role full time.

BBC Sport Writer Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) sums it up nicely in his piece “What now for Chelsea’s heroes?”

Has winning the Champions League burnished Di Matteo enough of the gloss of glamour to be given the job permanently? Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, gracious in defeat, immediately handed the Italian an imaginary three-year contract. Abramovich appears more reluctant to take the plunge.

Di Matteo, who even let his own stone-faced mask slip as he spoke in the early hours of Sunday morning, has presented a compelling case. He has renewed fractured team spirit, revived players routinely referred to as Chelsea’s “old guard” and produced two clear, and more importantly successful, strategies against Barcelona and Bayern. Of course good fortune was involved but it invariably is and the prizes were handed out for victory, not artistic merit.

It is hard to see how Di Matteo could have done more. If he is not appointed Chelsea’s permanent manager now, then it is hard to see when he ever will be.

It appears that whatever the outcome is in the managerial department we will have to wait and see. Today Chelsea’s Chief Executive Ron Gourlay stated that the club would stick to their protocols and take there time in naming the new man…”We will look at the season, look what worked for us, look at the mistakes we made, put them right and then take it forward. “I know the fans will be pushing for Robbie, but we’re not jumping into anything rash.

“He has done fantastically well and I’m very proud of him and what he has achieved. But we will stick with what we said and sit down and talk things through and work things out.”

2. The Players

John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba…all three have the Chelsea blue blood coursing through there veins and today find themselves written into the history books of the club – but rewind just a few months back under André Villas-Boas’ reign after the first leg tie vs Napoli this dream must of seemed a sheer fantasy. From being told by press, pundits and the public that there careers were coming to a close, that Chelsea needed to revamp and reinvest in youth, that the “old guard” have done there dash…Roberto Di Matteo took a hard long look and went against all these negatives and decided that it was this “old guard” who would be the only ones capable in turning the blues nightmare season around.

Frank Lampard – Chelsea stalwart

Since that moment just over 3 months ago Chelsea have gone on to clinch the FA Cup and Champions League title, Didier Drogba has rediscovered his unplayable best, Frank Lampard still at his remarkable consistent best chimed in with 16 goals and 10 assists from midfield and John Terry who despite all his off field problems has managed to lead his beloved Chelsea team to victories in some of Europe’s toughest arenas.

Despite all the positives and the sheer goliath effort that the “Old Guard” have produced in the final 3 months of the season under Di Matteo I think that both fans and the owner himself would be silly not to think that this aging squad still needs a rejuvenation to be able to compete at the top across all competitions – there 6th place finish in the Barclay’s Premier League season is testament to this, although we all know the problems Mr. Villas-Boas had during his short reign.

This Champions League victory could in fact have bigger ramifications in the transfer market then Manchester City’s Premier League title victory, and give Chelsea an upper hand when it comes to luring in some of Europe’s top players. From being on the precipice 3-months ago and in danger of falling behind Manchester City, United and Europes elite both on and off the field, Chelsea are suddenly now able to offer something very difficult for even the elite to turn down: playing for Europe’s best club, in arguably the worlds best league, guaranteed Champions League Football, an opportunity to be crowned World Champions at the FIFA Club World Cup and perhaps even more importantly the lifestyle…being able to live in one of Europe’s (let alone worlds) most affluent and diverse cities on the doorstep of Europe is a very nice little package indeed – something that even both Manchester City and United cannot compete with.

  3. The Owner

Well it has only taken the Russian billionaire just shy of 10-years, some of the worlds best managers, a plethora of top class players and an investment of just over a whopping £600million to finally get his hands on the trophy he craved…The UEFA Champions League.

“Finally its mine!” – Roman finally gets his hands on the UEFA Champions League

Now that he has achieved that burning desire the question for me is “What next?” for Chelsea’s Russian owner. There have been some who have said he could even step down after realizing the goal he set himself and the club way back in 2003, but for me what we could in-fact see is a re-energized chairman who has only just quenched his thirst at European glory and now wants Chelsea to become the best in the world!

There is no way to hide the fact that in todays modern game finances and resources play a huge role in the success of a club both domestically and internationally, without massive investments attracting the very best is becoming harder and harder. You only have to look at Manchester City’s almost “overnight” transformation into England’s top dogs and Real Madrid CF recent years of massive investment in players and manager to dethrone FC Barcelona to become Spain’s numero uno.

Conclusion…

To close I shall go back to the title of my previous blog on Chelsea Football Club in the aftermath of André Villas-Boas sacking, “The Roman Empire – Where to now?”…

As long as Roman Abramovich is in control at Chelsea Football Club, matched with this new found glory and success I can picture many a club and its managers across Europe taking a collective breath and crossing there fingers in hope that the “Roman Empire” does not come a knocking for their finest men and entice them to what could be a bright blue future to come.

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