Imagine an engine, but not just any old engine. The equivalent of an F1 engine if you like. A machine constructed of beautifully machined and crafted parts designed for constant high performance. An engine that when it was designed and constructed would run for years with little or no tweaking combining elements of beauty, economy and brute power into the perfect winning unit. An engine that drove the whole machine upon which its devoted followers would obsess over, spending large amounts of cash to watch.
The engine does what it was designed to do for some time with a tweak here, an addition there, the replacement of a worn part every now and then. Even in the years when it didn’t win every race the machine always came pretty damn close.
But times change and the funding model that built the machine has altered, as has the economic circumstances of the environment in which it operates. The owner comes along and, partly to comply with the new game rules, and partly to soothe his own frustrations decides to dismantle the engine crudely, replacing reliable and well honed parts with new cheaper replacements yet to be run in, all the while telling the Team Principal to like it or lump it.
This new engine runs well for a while, mainly on existing functional parts but these older parts fail and the newer parts aren’t bedded in. The results decline, and even when the older parts are re-furbished in order to ‘sweat the assets’ they aren’t quite the parts they once were, they take longer to return to their old smooth perfectly fitting selves. In some cases the Team Principal doesn’t even trust the replacement new parts, instead choosing to use other older parts and making them fit into the engine despite not being designed for the role being forced upon them. Square pegs/round holes and all that.
After the worst set of performances in years, one misty night In December sees the engine suddenly stop smoking, spluttering and stalling and spring back into running almost like it used to. It’s not entirely fixed but with some tweaking and tuning its previous levels of consistent high performance cannot surely not far away. And the new replacement parts are finally showing signs of being de-burred.
That cumbersome analogy my friends, is the reality of the new Chelsea. Roman Abramovich is ushering in a new operating model at Chelsea, not necessarily based on austerity, but rather based on a far greater self sufficiency. Instead of buying in, he wants to make everything from scratch, the players and the coaching staff. Yes, there’ll be some money available for occasional big names where justified and when Roman is assured that he’s not going to be spunking millions up the wall on another ‘knackers yard’ ready player like Shevchencko, or managerial flights of fancy such as Shaun (now seemingly lodged in the ‘Where are they now’ file). But for now, it’s about getting the seeds sown for a self sufficient future without the paucity of success seen in the red part of North London.
Yes, this policy does smell a little of Wengerism. It also means that for the new generation of Chelsea fans they’re going to have to get real when it comes to current continuously heightened expectations. Whereas us more…ahem…mature fans will take solace from recent success, nostalgically recalling far worse times than November/December 2010 whose results would have been enough to summon up street parties and bunting bedecked houses in SW6 during the more desperate times in the 70’s and 80’s.
More ramblings can be found at http://www.chelseafcblog.com/