This morning saw the end of another pitifully short tenure for a Chelsea manager as Roman Abramovich dismissed Roberto Di Matteo after a mere 262 days in charge. This fast-food style of management might bring in trophies, but is it really a sustainable way to run a club?
Poor Roberto Di Matteo, it seems winning the Champions League isn’t enough to keep you in a job these days. You can imagine a My Super Sweet Sixteen style tantrum when it turned out he was going to be the new Chelsea manager. Bruce Buck saying to Abramovich ‘I’m sorry Roman but we couldn’t get you Guardiola, we did get you Roberto Di Matteo though, and he won us th…’ – ‘BUT I WANTED GUARDIOLA DADDY. I WANT HIM.’ Before promptly screaming that he hates him and running off to sulk in his room.
In the 2003-2004 Premier League season Arsenal stormed their way to the title, going 38 games unbeaten in the process. Alex Ferguson kept his job. Since then Manchester United have gone on to win four titles, the Champions League, three League Cups, four Community Shields and a Club World Cup.
I was hoping to compare this list of honours with that of Chelsea from the same point and argue that having one manager was a much more rewarding and effective system than sacking the boss every time something goes tits-up. But Chelsea actually have a very similar honours list to United since 2003-2004, give or take a league cup here or an F.A cup there. Given the empirically proven successes of bringing in a string of big-name managers, are the days of long-serving Fergusons and Wengers numbered?
Modern football does seem to be sliding hopelessly towards an I-want-it-now-daddy frame of mind, where Verruca Salt type owners are hiring and firing like Alan Sugar having a nervous breakdown. But football will never simply be a numbers game.
Abramovich’s ludicrously fickle hire ‘em – fire ‘em managerial strategy has brought silverwear to the club but won’t realise his vain dream of making the Chelsea the world’s most famous and successful club. After being appointed in 1986 it took Sir Alex Ferguson until the 1992-1993 season to win the league, but United stuck by their man and it has reaped clear rewards with United winning more titles than any other team. Who is to say that AVB, Di Matteo, Ancelotti , or any of the other experienced and successful managers who have passed through Chelsea’s doors would not have formed a comparable legacy and mentality if given more than a few months to craft it?
Being patient allows a manager to form a proper relationship with his players and club, this bond between player and manager transfers to new signings, youngsters coming up from the academy and creates a healthy working environment for a team to flourish. The stability of clubs with long serving managers such as Moyes at Everton or Pulis at Stoke is forged by exactly this relationship of managers with their clubs. It doesn’t help when the manager barely has time to learn the players’ names before having to start glancing over his shoulder for Abramovich’s manager cannon.
Sustainability is the word here, but sadly for Chelsea Abramovich’s managerial policy is about as sustainable as the oil that runs in his veins. Or at least, this would be the case if the money were to ever run out, the absurd riches of Abramovich mean that he can continue to use Chelsea as a one man financial Bukkake Party. Consistently Hiring managers and then paying them millions in redundancy packages when they hit a slump in form is only possible in this crazy new world of gazillionaire football. People say money talks, now in football it not only talks, but climbs to the top of the table, strips and dances, leaving everyone feeling uneasy and hollow.
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