At a club like Chelsea where we have gone through six managers in seven years (and will appoint no.7 sooner rather than later… hopefully) it comes a time where fans become frustrated with the management from above, a supposed hierarchy who have no idea about football despite it being their working life ruining it for the rest of us.
The sacking of Carlo Ancelotti, pre-empted by fans and media alike months before it emerged as fact, has somewhat divided the two parties. Half of the Chelsea-obsessed faction believes it was a wise move considering some of the insipid displays (the away trips to Marseille and Everton come to mind) while the other half are seemingly disgusted by the way the club runs its business (sacking Carlo *in the tunnel* comes to mind).
The fact that Ancelotti failed to have any faith in his youngsters despite promoting five of them as replacements for 520 games worth of experience that had departed is a sore point for many. However others will argue that he was given a tactical paradox in Fernando Torres, a fifty million euro expenditure that required the replacing of Didier Drogba into a system that had been built around the Ivorian, whose attributes are vastly different from Torres. No reason why they can’t play together, but that’s another story.
It’s a question as we look back on Ancelotti’s time at Chelsea of how much control he had over his club. Ray Wilkins, his loyal assistant was given the boot for reasons still unknown today, and after this debacle Ancelotti claimed he was appointed on a technical basis, not the manager.
This caused uproar amongst the Chelsea faithful, who see anything other than the vision employed by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United as subpar and indigestible for the English game.
However, the idea of a messenger-boy between the playing ground and the corporate box, a la Director of Football, is not such a dead idea. Employed most notably by Tottenham, and now, Liverpool, it sees the manager take control of on-field affairs, including tactics and formation, while the DoF controls transfers, scouting, and all the little details in between. The idea stems from the notion that people like Ferguson, perfectionists, must control every detail and be in charge of what bus they take to Newcastle.
Sport, and increasingly more so, football, has become a business. Solvency and financial prudence have become just some of the buzzwords floated around by high-end journalists, and to an extending nature, footballing types as well, especially Arsene Wenger and Barcelona’s chain of command. The gap between business understanding and football understanding has become more and more entrenched. Perhaps then there is need to push this gap further apart. A DoF allows for the manager, or head coach, or whatever you want to call him, to worry about team affairs.
It is crucial that the relationship between a DoF and the head coach is understanding and not power-crazed. That is why mooted managerial changes like Hiddink as DoF and Marco Van Basten, where we have reports that the two actually like each other and would be happy to work together, make sense. The ideas floating through on the other hand such as Hiddink at DoF and Guardiola as DoF are ludricious, as both have different philosophies and it would be hard not to mention Ovrebo.
Where is the issue at Chelsea? We’ve examined the potential changes why do we need them? Ancelotti’s departure underlined key issues with the current set-up: there’s no balance between all levels of the chain at Chelsea. The board undermined Ancelotti this season; the players undermined Scolari two years ago; Mourinho undermined the board three seasons ago; for ours, UEFA’s and the supporters sake, let us hope the next appointment can get on with each other.