I’d like to begin this little diatribe by paying some credence to the Daily Mail. Regular readers of CFCnet will know that this takes no small effort. I think both the site team, and our enlightened readers, hold this execrable rag in the same measure of contempt that we reserve for racist drunks shouting on street corners. In their pants. But it is an article in this very organ that has inspired this editorial. Please bear with me. As soon as I’ve typed the last word, the Mail will be going straight back into Room 101.
The Mail cites the much-vaunted rift between owner and manager as the reason for Roman’s boycott of the Liverpool game this weekend. No jokes about hubcaps being stolen off helicopters, please. This is serious. Because this article was just one in a whole slew of nasty little pieces that have run in recent days. For those that haven’t had the time or stomach to trawl the lot, let me give you a few examples.
- “Shevchenko Backs Ancelotti for Chelsea Job”
- “Chelsea Dressing Room avoids ‘Snitch’ Sheva”
- “New Chelsea Boss Named By Foreign Sources”
- “Let’s Shake Up the Top Two – Liverpool”
Actually, I just added that last one in for a bit of a chuckle.
I’ve also seen suggestions that Roman is miffed at the perceived lack of support from Chelsea fans… that a show of support for the manager is a betrayal of the massive investment we’ve been favoured with in the last 3 and a half years.
I’ve always respected Roman’s silence. I find his restraint admirable, particularly in the world of football where any vague utterance is pounced on and pored over ad nauseam. He doesn’t do TV. He doesn’t really give interviews. He stands in his box and he kicks every ball with the rest of the crowd, and off he goes. He’s built, and is building, a remarkable football club out of a great one, and the right management from his team could see Chelsea carve out a genuinely legendary modern history of silverware and success.
Surely, though, now is the time for Roman to say something? Surely now is the time for our owner to explain to the fans what this rift – for rift it surely is – is all about? We must surely be too old to really think that a man who has amassed this sort of fortune can have his judgement swayed by a 30-year-old striker. I can’t imagine how Andriy Shevchenko would be able to exercise influence over the club’s owner, even if he wanted to, to bring in a new coach. Don’t these men all have a little more respect for each other than that?
I want to stop reading ludicrous conjecture in the Sun and Mail. I want to stop reading slightly more convincing conjecture in the Guardian and Telegraph. And I feel that only the owner has the power to stop the feeding frenzy and put the episode behind us. This is nothing to do with whether the manager stays beyond the end of the season. The huge affection that José has engendered amongst the fans and players is one thing. The future of Chelsea Football Club is quite another, and no true fan would have trouble choosing between the two. We don’t demand guarantees as to who will be in charge, or who will be playing up front, or whether we’ll buy Tal Ben Bloody Haim. We want to know whether this issue can be resolved now, so that the club can get on with the business of competing in the 4 competitions available to it.
So, Roman, I have a challenge for you: that you tell us what’s really going on here. Not one of the hundreds of thousands of fans in England (or the millions, if we believe the statements, around the world) takes your huge investment in our club for granted. I don’t recall us forming an action group to harangue the new owner, as happened in Salford. We value our owner and we repay your investment with one of our own: our loyalty and our passion for the club. For the team, the manager, the staff, the owner, and everyone else connected with it. But we’d like some answers, please.
And, by the way, if you’d like to trot these answers out exclusively to yours truly, I’d be happy to meet you for a pint in Belgravia. Leave the chequebook at home. I’m buying.