Perfection. It’s something often desired but rarely ever attained. Many of us thought we had the perfect owner and the perfect manager – unlimited resources and the man to mould it where so many others would fail to do so. A match seemingly made in heaven, and for a while – it worked.
As soon as the special one departed SW6, many supporters, and I count myself amongst them, were overly vocal in the concerns about the direction in which the club was moving. How could Chelsea remove its most successful manager ever and hope to better the dreams realised whilst under his stewardship? Nothing added up. We’d gone from a state of managerial stability that hadn’t existed at Chelsea in a long time, to total disarray in a matter of just 24 hours. How could this have happened? More to the point, why?
Many started prophesising that our time was over, how Chelsea were finished as a force in football. Yet that really isn’t the case at all. In fact it’s a very interesting time right now, in many ways it’s the still part of the genesis of new Chelsea. This episode hasn’t been the beginning of the end, merely the end of the beginning.
Before Roman arrived on these shores, we as a club had no infrastructure. There were no facilities for the first team let alone the reserves or youth teams. So, once Roman arrived, the first team was the primary area of investment, and invest he did – moving Chelsea up to a level to compete with the established order and bringing about almost instantaneous success. All the while, the clubs core foundations were being ripped up and rebuilt.
Now have an effective management structure (both administrative and commercial), an academy that is starting to bear the fruits expected of it, we have youth coaches galore, a world class training centre and scouting network, and we also have top notch a medical department for fitness and recovery. We have a forward plan at each individual level of the club.
Most, if not all of those parts are relatively new, with new people working within them, each establishing their own position and way of working. They’re all important and each has to develop that position, and subsequently their worth at the club. Yet the clubs overall direction, i.e. the sum of the various parts, is and must be managed by those at the top levels of the club. The direction of the club will be set by the owner and executive board, it’s their club and they’re entitled to steer the course as they see fit.
The trouble is that when the first team coach starts to over-ride any of the other areas, it undermines them and eventually holds those areas back – especially when they’re only following the route they’ve been set on by the owner and directors of the club, as well as the director of football.
It may be a popular view that it’s the cabal of Russians, Israelis and Dutch are misdirecting the club, but when the plan they are attempting to enact was undermined or ignored by the Portuguese cabal, the effect was damaging and wide-ranging. The trouble is, at the earliest stages in the genesis of new Chelsea, the Portuguese cabal did generally know better than the rest, but it didn’t help each and every facet of the club reach a standard expected of it.
Now there’ll be a new first team coaching group and they’ll not be allowed to overpower or influence the other parts of the club structure. Ten Cate wont be allowed to do more than just coach the first team to a high standard, he won’t in any way try to set the direction of the club the way the Mourinho did. He’ll be here because of his skill-set in training the first team squads and will do nothing beyond that. Even if a new coach comes in, say Rijkaard for example, with Grant moving back upstairs, Rijkaard would then only have the first team as his area of responsibility.
If and when he ever parted company with Chelsea, he wouldn’t be able to bring the rest of the club down around him, because the various areas won’t rely on his lead and their direction wouldn’t have been set by him during his time in charge. Also, the next coach won’t be trying start the entire process and build the club from scratch either, much of what they need to challenge for titles will already be in place.
Hold your nerve and keep supporting, don’t get downhearted by all the things that are happening right now, or what may said or be printed on a daily basis to try and further rock the foundations. These things are upsetting, but it will turn out right in the end. It’s a very interesting time at Chelsea and those who are wasting their time wallowing in pity are going to miss it all happening right in front of them.
Chelsea are no longer just building a first team, they’re building a dynasty that’ll last a hundred years. That’s what Roman promised and that’s what he intends to deliver. His reputation is relying on this working out, so you can bet your bottom dollar that he won’t rest until it does.
When it eventually happens, it’ll be as close to perfection as anything you’ve ever seen.