Monday, 23 May 2011

Poison Chalice

It's a fabulous opportunity. You are going to be paid higher than any other executive in a similar role, you will have limitless cash to invest and some of the best team members in the world already there. The job is yours for the asking.

Sounds good.

What's the job? Manage Chelsea Football Club.

Err, no thanks.

It's ridiculous. Carlo Ancelotti was on his way out the moment he stepped into the job, as have been all the others who tried it. Last season he won the 'Double' of Premier League and FA Cup, this season he finished runner up. Possibly the day he spent £60 million on a dead striker he knew his days were numbered but, to be honest, it was long before then.

The fact is he was hired and fired by a person whose only qualification in the job is that he has a great deal of money. Roman Abramovich wasn't a professional footballer, has never coached or managed a team and hasn't really owned a club until he came along at Chelsea. Yet he sacked one of the previous managers for ending as runner up, even though Avram Grant lost out in the Champions League on penalties only. While he then brought in Felipe Scolari who probably had the right mercenary attitude.

And here's the rub. The top two teams in the English game for the last 10 years have been managed by the same two men the whole time - Ferguson and Wenger. Both have finished runner up or worse and only one has won the Champions League. The point here is that if you have a strategy and you trust your executives, then stick with it and stay true to your plan.

With Abramovich there is only the goal - no plan. Scolari came in with the right attitude. Give it a go, if it doesn't work out I will be set up for life in terms of money and there's always another club or country to manage. As for Chelsea success? Who cares?

The players must be getting tired of all this. A Chelsea die hard in Ray Wilkins was summarily dismissed earlier in the season who would have had the respect of all the players. That was a vital link lost in a foreign management world.

As with Jose Mourinho, Ancelotti had all the credentials with two Champions League wins at AC Milan. Mourinho has proved his skills were no fluke in winning the Champions League again at Inter Milan (and he proved that it was his genius after Benitez succeeded him and Inter died a death). In both instances, the depth that each club sank to was that Tottenham were able to take effectively 7 out of 12 points against them in the Champions League this season at their first go. The two mighty Milan teams would never have been so generous under Mourinho and Ancelotti.

The whole point here is that Abramovich will reap what he sows. If he doesn't make and back a plan then he will only ever get mangers who come in with a mercenary attitude. It is probably easier, quicker and less painful to fail early than to stay a while and win something. No one will think the worse of you for doing so. In fact, you will have a perfectly decent or better career afterwards. For those who think Avram Grant has gone down a peg after managing West Ham, remember that no one had ever even heard of him before he surfaced at Chelsea.

So Chelsea could end up being nearly men. They might win the odd thing as spending such stupendous sums has to bring something. But they can't ever be a Manchester United or an Arsenal.

Why? Because the owner cannot forgive. Failure - and he won't tell you what that is - is not an option.

Without a plan, Chelsea will be just a club in a nice area of town with rich players. The New York Cosmos of British football.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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