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The Real Issue At Chelsea

It’s been a rocky ride at Chelsea this week and from the players to supporters, you won’t find many smiles on faces. In fact, the proverbial ‘furrowed brow’ had nothing on me yesterday every time I saw the dug-out – even a hefty trowel full of polyfilla wasn’t going to help my frown lines.  I’m just not happy. I’m not happy with the way Roberto Di Matteo was treated, I’m not happy with the choice of replacement but most of all, I’m not happy with Roman Abramovich.

There, I’ve said it – and it’s about time someone did. Ok, so it may well no appear in any manual on ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People At Chelsea’ but seriously, I’m sick of pussy-footing around the real issue at the club. Roman Abramovich, our owner, our benefactor. The man we are indebted to. For those who didn’t arrive along with our windfall, we know what he did for us and even for those who followed behind him, they’ll appreciate what he’s continued to do for us over his nine years. But surely every debt only has so many installments before it’s repaid?

It’s like Ken Bates all over again.  Now there was a man who really knew how to push supporters to their limits as far as loyalty was concerned. Another owner with an unhealthy intolerance of managers, Bates was far less shy of publicity than his successor though.  Publicly slating everyone from the vice-chairman to supporters, hiking up ticket prices – no doubt to help fund the electric fences he wanted to pen everyone behind – and running up administration-threatening debts whilst turning the club into the Ken Bates Hilton. And yet, we still felt we owed him some sort of grudging respect for taking the club on at a time when financial concerns were high and prospects were pretty low.

Even that respect wore off over time though, not least of all because of his persistent disregard for the Chelsea faithful. Mind you, whilst Bates also went through 9 managers, he took 21 years to reach that number. Roman Abramovich meanwhile, in nine years, is on manager number nine and counting – and the appointment of the latest one shows every bit as much disregard for Chelsea supporters as his predecessor demonstrated. And not just the supporters either, because some of those players the FSW now has the privilege of managing were around when he was giving his opinion on just how ‘plastic’ everyone at the club is.

To be honest though, this week’s events are really just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Manager’s can be scapegoated as much as the press, public and even some of our own supporters like but none of them in the last 9 years have ever been given long enough to determine their real metal at Chelsea – although having said that, we’ve had a couple who shouldn’t have got in the door in the first place. And we can take it out on individual players as much as we want, but if someone inside a club decides they want a player and they’ll pay whatever ridiculous fee it takes to get them, are they meant to respond with an insistent “I’m really sorry Sir but I can’t take your money because I won’t give you a fair return on it?”

We even have a go at the board – and quite rightly so given their apparent incompetence to make anything resembling a rational decision – but the bottom line is, there’s only one man responsible for the presence of all of these people at Chelsea FC. One man seems to have made all the hiring and firing decisions over the last 9 years and to be honest, unless he’s going to bite the bullet and get his coaching badges, it really is time he stepped back and surveyed the damage.

Of course we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude, we’ve gone from the brink of administration to European Champions winning shed loads of silverware on the way. We’ve been treated to some incredible times over the last nine years and yet, it feels as if it’s all come at a price. With each latest bit of scandal inside Stamford Bridge either left unchecked or worse still, ignored altogether, goes a bit more integrity. And with each sacking, comes even more destabilisation at the club – and the inevitable public ridicule.

Not that I care what anyone outside of Chelsea thinks of us anymore really – I’m just about immune to that now – but I do care how I feel about the club I’ve invested a huge part of my life in. And right now, I feel let down. Despite my initial skepticism about a rich Russian oligarch playing Football Manager with the club I love, I gradually developed a respect and trusted him to act in Chelsea’s best interests. Indeed, it was only a few years ago I was defending his involvement at the club. That was then though, this is now and despite the fact his very first action at the club was to sack a manager for ‘tinkering’ too much, Roman Abramovich seems more intent on meddling than ever – and it needs to stop.

Or in other words, it’s high time someone explained the meaning of the term ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ to our owner so he’ll step out of the kitchen………and tell Manuel his services are no longer required either, obviously!

 

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