The Roman Abramovich Era – Good Times And The Bad
Being a Chelsea supporter of over 25 years, I’ve seen the struggles, the mediocre and the success of a proud club that plays its football in the capital city of England.
When Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich bought our club, it was delight and happiness all around, this was the man who would invest his hard earned money into our club, in order to get us up there amongst the best in the world. Roman certainly did that, last year we conquered Europe and became the Champions, along with a number of other trophies during the Abramovich era.
Along with the trophies, in came the big named players who even I never expected to see turn out in the beloved royal blue colours of our club. It has certainly been a great time to be a fan of Chelsea. In a business sense too the club was thriving, after all, this game is a business and a very cutthroat one at that. We gathered new worldwide support and in a business sense this could only mean good outcomes. Supporters from around the globe are buying our clubs merchandise thus investing in the cause, keeping the big name players coming to our club.
I can not even doubt my own personal love for Roman, before he came along, we were a struggling mid-table team that chugged attempting to make forward moves. I love what Roman has done for my club, this man decided to take his career earned money and invest it in our club, surely that must be a good thing?
As much as I have enjoyed, appreciated and loved everything Roman has done for this club, I can’t help but think has Roman’s successful desire to be the best in the world, become our own worst enemy and is slowly ruining what once was a passionate underdog club with no expectations?
I will never say a bad word about Roman, I’ve been sat there week after week reaping the rewards of being one of the best teams around, we would not have done this without Roman’s billions. But for me now, I see the big dark cloud that has descended over Stamford Bridge. Even the most positive die hard supporters find it hard to cast a smile at matches, it’s a sad scene and in a small part, the love has been lost.
In my opion, I believe I know the reason why this has happened. Over the years supporters have become increasingly frustrated at the way the board, Roman and his advisors have run this club. It seems with recent events that there are simply no thoughts for supporter morale, which is a bad move. You cannot have a club if you don’t have the support of the Chelsea public.
We have all stood by Roman when he has been a cutthroat businessman by sacking manager after manger and we all know by the end of this season we are about to witness ten managers in just nine years, this is simply ludicrous.
I am afraid that Roman’s pure hunger to be word dominators has seen the slow descent of a club that was once still singing songs at Stamford Bridge, even when we were 1-0 down to Coventry. I remember those days, the pride and the passion, it’s died an erratic death and it saddens me.
Morale is a very important and strong emotion, for a player and for a supporter. We must remember that we have players turning out for us week in week out, who are also supporters of the club as well and although they can’t express there own feelings to us, deep down we know how they feel, just like us, let down and disappointed. This must have an affect on them whilst being out there on the pitch. You know which players I’m talking about.
Lately I have seen heads drop, one time such powerful voices fade away and passion decreases quicker than the temperature from September to October. Players witness the happenings in the back room, these players create a bond and a connection to a manger, then they get sacked.
The last straw for most supporters has been this season, the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo followed by the appointment of Rafael Benitez. This hurt supporters more than Roman will ever know and it is not just because of this one time crazy decision, it’s built up frustration from all the sackings, new managers, poor performances and results.
For the people thinking that sacking Rafa is the answer, I’m afraid the root of the problem simply lies deeper than that. Emotions are strong, supports do not forget, the way this club has been ran without any thoughts for the true Chelsea supporter, this has been the problem of this seasons decline.
Last year we won the Champions League, this season we have not paraded like a proud team that has just been crowned Champions of Europe, we have had the look of a dead man walking and I feel this is not a harsh perspective.
Sacking manager after manager is not the solution, this is a club that has passionate roots, most of these supporters have witnesses us going to clubs such as Luton Town and battling out for just a point. That is the reality of this situation, these supporters don’t need to support the best team in the world, they merely demand respect from the board and a right to watch their beloved team fight and provide a passionate effort; it’s as simple as that.
I am not saying that Roman must leave or even that he’s ruined this club, because that is simply not the case. What he has done for this club has been a godsend, but the poor Russian has merely become deluded by his own desperation for success and now misses the point. His business head has taken over his decision-making and supporters are scared to point their blame at him.
Roman seems to have a dangerous obsession with turning the club into Barcelona, which is all well playing tippy tappy football and can be attractive to watch there’s no doubt about that. But unfortunately we all know that you cannot buy a Barcelona, the majority of those players have been objects of the great Camp Nou Academy, which produces the best natural technically gifted players in the world. Chelsea have a decent youth setup as well, I’d love to see us bring young players through in the same way as Barcelona. There is nothing more exciting than producing a top young player through the ranks, it’s also a benefit for the National team as well.
There is still hope though, after all, we stay carefree and we always keep the blue flag flying high. The club now needs stability and Mr Abramovich if you miraculously do get to read this, you must look closer to home than just big money signings, you need the supporters back on side, you need to realise what is important for a club like Chelsea. Players such as Oscar, Eden Hazard and even Juan Mata will be suffocated by the huge lack or morale surrounding the whole club and will move on, its; the harsh reality. I’m not about to go into the contract issues surrounding Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, that is a whole new article, but I will say, it’s players like Lampard who make this club, who create the positive attitudes that can once again reign around Stamford Bridge.
This season is not over, we can still concoct a decent ending and maybe bring in some silverware, but the supports have to overlook current happenings, stay positive and cling on to the hope that Stamford Bridge will again become a fortress, not a world beating fortress, but a passionate and defensive fortress that cannot be beaten without a raw fight.
Chelsea till I die
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Simon Phillips – News Editor