So the gravy train continues to roll at Stamford Bridge….albeit towards the door marked exit….with the news that the latest passenger waiting to disembark is sporting director Frank Arnesen. Of course it’s nothing we haven’t heard before, with his position said to be under threat as far back as 2008 but this time, it’s the man himself announcing his decision to get off at the end of the season.
Following the club’s confirmation that he plans to leave when his contract expires at the end of the current season, Arnesen says “It has been a privilege and an honour for me to work for such a big club with so many great people. After six wonderful years I have decided to seek a new challenge when my contract expires at the end of this season. It has been a tremendous journey and I would like to thank everyone at Chelsea, especially Roman (Abramovich), for giving me the incredible opportunity to help build on the club’s Academy and youth system along with our greatly talented academy and scouting staff.
We are now seeing the fruits of that labour as our stated aim was to get one player from the Academy into the first team each year from 2010. We have a great crop of young players now coming through, and I feel it’s the right time for me to start looking towards a new challenge. The past two years I’ve worked more closely with the first team as sporting director, and it has been a joy to work alongside Carlo Ancelotti and this exceptionally talented squad and staff.
It is always difficult to take big decisions like this, but it is entirely my decision. I’m looking forward to continuing my work here until such time as the club decides which way they want to move forward. With that in mind I wanted to make the decision now, giving the club plenty of time to make the necessary plans for the end of the season. I will always be grateful to the club and Chelsea will always be in my heart.”
Of course, Arnesen is by no means the only departure, with the Stamford Bridge cull going back as far as 2008 when Roman decided it was time to get rid of 15 hangers-on or scouting staff if you want the job title at the time. Since then though, the cut-backs have seen the squad trimmed so far down to the bone, a few injuries leave us dangerously close to exposing the marrow, not to mention the recent, very confusing sacking of Ray Wilkins.
And all of a sudden we seem to have gone back years again…..no, not quite back as far as the 80s, although the way we played against Sunderland, our football was pretty close….but it’s all starting to feel a bit déjà vu in terms of the goings-on behind closed doors.
It wasn’t that long ago we had Avram Grant forced upon us as a replacement for Jose Mourinho – for me, a charlatan who got the job through nepotism alone because he certainly didn’t have the appropriate CV to take on the job. That had to be one of the most depressing times for me as a Chelsea supporter. We were the laughing stock of the Premier League and whilst he undoubtedly had the fortune of taking over a team that not only picked itself every week but also felt stung enough by injustice to retain enough momentum to get through the season with some credibility in spite of some eye-stinging displays, when push really came to shove – he was just an inept embarrassment.
Fast forward and what we now have is the popular Ray Wilkins replaced by Michael Emenalo. Yet again an inside choice, yet again an appointment that seems to be based more on friendship than suitable qualifications and yet again a destabilising effect on the manager. After all, once Grant – regarded as the eyes and ears of Abramovich at the time – started hanging around at Chelsea, Mourinho’s days were numbered. So now that Emenalo has been slotted in – quite clearly against Carlo’s wishes if his body language at Birmingham was anything to go by – is history about to repeat itself?
It’s well known that despite winning the double last season and playing the sort of football Abramovich had to do without under both Mourinho and Grant, Ancelotti hasn’t been offered a new deal yet. The man who’s brought us plenty to look forward to in the short time he’s been with us, and the manager Roman Abramovich courted for so long, suddenly looks like he could end up being just another manager going through Roman’s revolving door.
Unless of course there’s another explanation for the latest goings-on?