Let’s End the Roman Out Talk Before it Takes Hold

I want this first blog of mine (Thank You ChelseaDaft for giving me this opportunity) to give an alternative view of Roman Abramovich and th...

I want this first blog of mine (Thank You ChelseaDaft for giving me this opportunity) to give an alternative view of Roman Abramovich and the choices he is making in running Chelsea FC.

Instead of a mad wealthy king who demands everyone adjust to his whims, I see someone who is discovering how to own a sports franchise. Never forget that Roman has only been a team owner for 10 years. Few would claim that 10 years into a new venture they never made mistakes, or were finished learning the best way to operate. This is of particular relevance because of the recent turmoil over Rafa Benitez, advisors, and the state of the club.

Some supporters are taking their cue from journalists who insist that Chelsea is now a joke club because of the way they handle managers, using these recent events as an example, and want Abramovich and the board gone to change the perception of the club.

Alternatively, I would suggest taking the following thoughts and forming a different theory. First, lets forget this ‘9 managers in 10 years’ phrase as truly reveling anything about how Chelsea FC think of management. Instead, we should view this changing of mangers as a changing of needs for the club.

  • New Owner Phase - When the club was purchased in 2003 Ranieri was already in place. Roman had no choice in his hiring so should not be blamed for his firing. Every owner has the right to hire who they want to lead the team. 
  • Team Building Phase – Jose Mourinho. Great hire and needed to create an image for a newly minted (not newly formed, simply changed) club. Major purchases were made, and an identity established. Unfortunately the success of this made Abramovich think he knew everything, and left Jose with the same complex. This breakup was coming, and not from insanity or some whim, but an owner thinking he deserved to work with someone without constantly having to fight in private and public. 
  • First Interim – nothing to say except that Grant was a placeholder. Lets not pretend that this is was an exhaustive hiring search. So to really count him as a manager of the club that was wrongly fired is ridiculous. 
  • New Direction – Scolari was supposed to make watching the team more fun. I don’t think that is a crazy notion. Asking people to watch your team, buy merchandise, and make them TV compatible in a new era of global branding is a sensible direction to take the club. Scolari could not deliver, the club was losing, and he made poor buys (Deco + Bosingwa). Crucially they were also slipping out of the Champions League places. I don’t think there is an argument as to why he should have remained. 
  • Second Interim – Hiddink was, unfortunately, always a stopgap because of his international coaching duty. Ridiculous to state that this was another unacceptable coaching change. 
  • Lets win with older players before our youth is ready – Carlo Ancelotti is the first coach who I believe has a legitimate case that he was poorly treated. Jose helped with his own demise, but Ancelotti won with the players he had without great new investment. He did make mistakes. The team faltered in winter two years in a row and lost in the final 16 of the Champions League two years in a row. He could also have used McEachran, Kakuta and Bruma more to help the older players remember that there was competition for places. In the end it was sad how he left. I think the club didn’t know how to handle his firing, so you get Gourlay relieving him of his duties in a hallway. 
  • New Younger Direction – Villas Boas was tapped to give a blueprint for the team that would be more attacking and younger. I understand that this was a difficult mandate, but he didn’t win enough or judge when these changes were appropriate to be made. He needed to be pragmatic. The loss of fourth place in the league coupled with new FFP rules forced Abramovich’s hand. 
  • Third Interim – Di Matteo forced Roman to hire him by winning the Champions League. He was not wanted. I hate that this is true, but it is and therefore it cannot be claimed that his position was anything other than temporary. 
  • Fourth Interim – Benitez was supposed to win with the current squad. This is despite all its flaws. The fact that he can’t reflects poorly on him, and he should leave sooner rather than later. 
Out of the 9 managers under Abramovich only Mourinho, Ancelotti, Scolari, and Villas Boas were true full time hires. That is four out of nine. Each one had a mandate. One was to build, another to become flashy, another to win with the old guard, and finally to create a blueprint for the future.

This is not a series of spur of the moment hires and fires. Each coaching hire had a specific purpose. The club should have stuck with people longer, and had more confidence in the larger plan. Instead they panic when the Champions League qualification is under threat, which could lead to a huge loss in revenue, drastically affecting recruitment and FFP compliance.

As an owner you can understand why Abramovich gets nervous when things go wrong. Abramovich is not blameless. He needs to have different advisors. I can’t argue with the majority of his player recruitment (I will explain this more in later posts), but he needs to use the academy more, and find people who will challenge him. But he is not crazy or erratic. He has a vision of the club and one can see it play out through his manager selections.

If FFP was never an issue there would be more room for error, but that is not the reality. Each move he makes can be logically examined if one takes the time.

As fans lets not overreact to a horrible hire (RAFA OUT), and bad advisors. Abramovich wants to achieve what we fans want – entertaining winning football with some academy players mixed with good purchases.

Carefree & KTBFFH

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