Since he took over the west London club in 2003, Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich has transformed the club into a truly elite club associated with winning titles.
In the 15 years of his ownership, Chelsea has won 5 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, 1 Champions League and 1 Europa League. On average, that is a trophy every year. Now, that is a top class achievement, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
In his endeavour to achieve excellence, he has hired some of world football’s great managers of recent times, as well as some promising ones.
From Jose Mourinho through to Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink, Luis Felipe Scolari, Rafael Benitez, Antonio Conte to Andre Villas Boaz, Italians Roberto Di Matteo and the new appointee, Maurizio Sarri.
Yes, it’s true, Chelsea has been hugely successful, but they have been guilty of negating steady progress through their stop-start approach to managerial handling.
Chelsea has lacked a brand specifically due to the change of managers every other year. Since purchasing the club in 2003, Roman Abramovich has hired 13 different managers on either permanent or temporary basis.
In doing so, the men in charge, rather than stamping their authority on the team by creating a brand of football that would form the identity of the club, have ended up implementing stop-gap measures to ensure immediate success, lest they face the wrath of the insatiable owner!
Apart form tasking the men at the helm with ensuring immediate success on the pitch, the Russian tends to exclude his managers from some of the sporting decisions.
For instance, he sanctioned the sale of their legendary goalkeeper, Petr Cech to London rivals Arsenal against Jose Mourinho’s wish, while Antonio Conte publicly complained when midfield powerhouse, Nemanja Matic was sold to Manchester United last summer, an instance that partly precipitated a fallout between then manager, Antonio Conte, and the Chelsea hierarchy leading to his eventual sacking in July this year.
In all fairness, regardless of the nature of the club structure, a manager should have a say in the player sales and purchases for one simple reason.
It’s the manager who uses those players, formulates a system best suited for them and it’s those players that make or break the manager as he is judged on their performances on the pitch.
Therefore, selling Petr Cech or Nemanja Matic without the consent of the manager was a mistake, it was an insult to either manager and should never, ever have happened!
Arsene Wenger had stomached and suffered insults from the Arsenal fans worldwide for his perceived overwhelming desire to sell the club’s best players every summer, although it was a club policy as one of the means to offset the club’s debts.
However, Mourinho and Conte were quick to distance themselves from the decisions to sell the aforementioned players, exposing the cracks within the Chelsea administration.
Such cracks were laid even more bare this summer in light of the club’s efforts to replace Conte. Chelsea knew only too well that they would sack former Italy and Juventus tactician even before the end of last season, but his departure was announced in July when he had even taken charge of preseason training.
Conte himself knew that he would be sacked, but had to fulfil his obligation of putting the players through their paces even when he knew he practically didn’t have a job.
His players and fans knew about it too. Can you imagine being in a job you know is going to be passed on to someone else? It must have been a terrible feeling for poor Conte!
Mr Abramovich knew the contractual ties Sarri had with Napoli, he knew he had to pay up to get his man, he dilly-dallied, eating up Maurizio Sarri’s precious time he would have had with his new players, especially at a time when there was the distraction of the World Cup.
A compromise was finally reached, Sarri arrived but late. Fans are not convinced he’s going to have enough time to prepare, with the Premier League starting in ten days. We all know he implements a very intricate, fascinating attacking style of football which his new team is clearly not used to and one that will take time to engrain.
Then again, the man himself has a footballing resume that doesn’t make for interesting reading as he has never won a major title throughout his career.
Perhaps he is a late developer, having spent most of his time in banking. In terms of the player transfers, Chelsea has just one player, Jorginho, who followed Sarri out of Napoli and one they signed from under Man City’s noses, who thought they had a deal in place to sign the Brazilian born Italian midfielder.
Juventus centre-back, Danielle Rugani seems so near, yet so far, with most of the speculation rotates around players departing.
Willian is the subject of three unsuccessful bids from Barcelona. Belgium skipper Eden Hazard and compatriot Thibault Courtois are being courted by Real Madrid, with the former targeted by Florentino Perez as a replacement for the departed Cristiano Ronaldo.
Timoue Bakayoko, an expensive flop from AS Monaco is linked with a loan move to Sevilla while there’s talk of Ngolo Kante being targeted by French Giants PSG.
This, therefore, points towards the fact that the new man, Maurizio Sarri, has his work cut out, with so much to put right in so little a period of time left to start the Premier League season that they will start with a curtain raiser match against Pep Guardiola’s City this Sunday.