The latest round of transfer rumours suggest Chelsea are in for a busy summer. Not sure about which players will join the Bridge but this summer will see yet another chapter in the Chelsea managerial merry-go-round being written however, rather than the usual ‘odds-on’ favourite being touted weeks before anything official is announced there has been absolutely nothing from the club regarding the position currently held by the incumbant Rafa Benitez.
Roman and his close circle have potential to make a massive statement of intent this summer. The decision to hire Benitez after the un-timely and highly unpopular dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo last November should play on their minds. They will know they can’t afford to get it wrong again. But with this comes the problem that has been talked about in the media for 18 months now which is; Who would actually take the job? Pep Guardiola’s decision to take over at Bayern Munich in the summer has to be seen as a massive snub to Mr Abramovich after he was so public in courting him for so long. Jurgen Klopp has distanced himself more than once this season with the same going for Manuel Pellergrini. One has to ask why either manager would want to “up-sticks” from their respective clubs where they are well liked and also enjoy a certain degree of success to take over at one of the most dysfunctional clubs in Europe where success and winning silverware doesn’t necessarily mean you wont be picking up your P45 in May.
When he purchased Chelsea in the summer of 2003, the immediate influx of new players where given to Claudio Ranieri to mould into something that would represent the new era Abramovich craved. He wanted a Barcelona-esque style of play but what he got was something completely different. Although playing good football & finishing second in the league and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, Ranieri was rather unceremoniously sacked in May 2004 replaced by Jose Mourinho. Of course, we all know Jose was a breath of fresh air, not just for Chelsea FC but for the Premier league and English football in general. Players loved him, some parts of the media loathed him but what he did was win and win big. 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups and a Community shield ensure that Jose had written his place in Chelsea history. He didn’t really deliver the specific style of football that Roman craved but he did create a team that was almost impossible to defeat. Unbeaten at Stamford Bridge for 86 matches, record points haul in a single season, least number of goals conceded to name but a few. However, this was not enough and in September 2007 news broke that Mourinho had been sacked after reported rift with the owner.
This now represented a period of time where managers werde just not safe at Chelsea. All came with the positive outlook of being “committed to the project” but all struggled to see the end of their respective contracts. Avram Grant (sacked as a losing CL finalist), Luiz Felipe Scolari (sacked after 7 months), the double-winning Carlo Anchelotti & Andre Villas-Boas all felt the axe with ‘caretaker’ roles in between for Guss Hiddink, Ray Wilkins & Roberto Di Matteo. Its like Roman himself doesn’t know what he wants, even when Roberto Di matteo delivered the one trophy he craved more than any other, he was still dismissed without a thought as soon as there was the slightest hint of results going sour.
Which brings us nicely to Benitez. Abused and heckled from the word go, to be fair to the bloke he has keep his head fairly level (apart from the mild outburst after the FA Cup game up at Middlesborough) and has remained somewhat calm in his approach. He was just never going to shake off his time and what he said about CFC while he was in charge at Liverpool, things that were said without any thought of his future. The call from Abramovich asking him to take over would of been abit of a surprise one would imagine. However, Roman couldn’t of imagined the fans protests after his appointment would carry on so long. We still sing for Di Matteo in the 16th minute of every home game but you have to ask, when will that stop?! Is it now a carefully aimed shot across the bow to remind Benitez (not that he needs reminding) that he replaced someone who brought us success against all the odds?!
In my opinion, its perfectly set up for Jose to return. Club in transition with playing staff, fans disillusioned and the media just happily picking bits of us every week. He would bring back stability to the on-field side of things, take attention away from the club and back onto himself & in turn create the environrment to build success again. He has un-finished business with Chelsea and everyone knows it. The question is does Roman have it in him to not only re-hire him, but leave him alone to do what he does best?!
Safe to say this will be the most important and significent summer for Chelsea Football Club since 2003.
By Chris Hamilton
You can follow me on Twitter @_ChrisHamilton