One version of events suggests that the revolution at The Bridge featured a shocking restraint on the part of the owner – a man hitherto identified chiefly for his hatchet-mania. It is said that Abramovich actually supported his manager better and longer than the players did… before finally wielding the battle-worn veteran that is his Ukrainian Kukri. Thus we are presented with the possibility that Mild-Mannered Frank, known and loved for his A Level in Excruciatingly (S)killed Diplomacy (WhenFacedWithanInterviewSituation,Brian) and for his formerly likeably cuddly tumtum may – repeat may – have played a more aggressive role in the undermining of the brilliantly verbose ex-Porto man than Comrade Youknowwho. I’m shocked.
And could it likewise be that Ashley Cole, in a post-Napolitan strop, sought to apply the full, intimidating force of his intelligence to the de-stabilisation of Villas-Boas perhaps – I imagine through scrawling SHIT on the gaffers desk, or similar? And did Didier maliciously synchronise incoming Rolexes for that infuriatingly deadline-hugging fine-teasing screech of supercars into the car park, before winking knowingly at the watching but helpless ‘boss?’ We may never know.
We may never know if that kind of stuff mattered more than the dark, results-driven mutterings exchanged between the Real Boss and (again, I imagine) his own reflection most mornings, for the last month or two. But however, it seems sadly likely that the players… the players wanted The Bemackintoshed One out. More than the newly sensitised Abramovic, amazingly.
So no more absurdly fluent but amorphous/slightly increasingly ludicrous post-match roadkill dissections. And no more cruel dressing-room japes at AVB’s expense. So… so who’s next? The flawed Benitez – who surely isn’t to be trusted entirely to spend, spend , spend on the backbone of a new squad if his record at Liverpool FC is to be held in evidence? Who else? Who else, more to the point more likely than AVB to turn around a team that in recent times combines talent with an unappealing smugness?
Even throughout the good times – and let’s be clear folks, even now is a historically fortunate time for the club and its supporters – there’s been a tad too much of the histrionic (Drogba?) or the sulky (guess who?) or the near-bewilderingly indulgent about many of the sub-galacticos that have plied their trade at The Bridge. (Their trade being actually and apparently something they’ve appeared often to tinker with or dabble at rather than apply themselves to as though, god forbid, they meant to a) truly fulfil some meaningful contract with the club and the supporters b) stay longterm.) Maybe this is what money buys? Mercenaries. Badge-kissers.
There may indeed be some traceable and even inevitable momentum leading us to where we’re at ‘darna Bridge’. Fans feel stuff like that whilst guys and gals like me search for encapsulating wisdoms; like this one. Particularly of late there’s seemed to be no team.
Who are Chelsea? John Terry was – Frank Lampard was – but this year’s flux seems to deny us any convincing evidence of who just might be next to carry that flame/torch/designer symbol. This living by mood is surely both a result of the Russian owner’s unstillness as well as of the consequent carousel of arrivals and departures from the dug-out – whether they be playing or more-or-less ‘overseeing’ arrivals. Bottom line, like the eyes of Dr T J Eckleburg, it is Roman who sees all. Voices full of money populate both Scott-Fitzgerald’s novel and the environs of the Kings Road. A key difference is that Roman scorches past the merely symbolic into the hands-on, the prosaically influential. He is tinkerer-in-chief, in truth, as well as sower of dreams.
So the club has lurched from one temporary beauty to another. Mourinho and Ancelotti, in their hugely different ways were on the one hand outstanding and on the other… gone. Hiddink too. Fans of Graham Norton will be familiar with the dumping chair at the end of his current run of shows, from which those who fail to entertain the Great Unwashed sufficiently (in Graham’s twinkling Irish eyes) are unceremoniously hoiked back’ards. Reminding me of Chelsea – or Abramovich? Who have the same crassness going for them but lack, generally, the humour.
So let’s return to that question: who’s next? Hilariously (from outside) it appears that Abramovocih has already exhausted the list; like serially. For me, Benitez is a goodish coach who rose periodically – i.e. in cups, typically – to the challenge of galvanising Liverpool. But he signally failed to produce a side which genuinely troubled those competing over the season’s length for the Premier League title. And the longer he went about that business, the less convincingly or astutely he dealt in the transfer market. Given that the Chelsea Project (volume 9?) clearly does imply a serious need for restructuring – culling, actually – as well as buying in, Rafa would not, I confess, be on my wish-list. Is he really top of Roman’s?
But who else is both capable and available? Mourinho – no? Hiddink – no. Guardiola – surely no?!? Does this already begin to bring us into contact with the untested or the (Chelsea)-undeserving? If Abramovic really does want to win and win stylishly that list shrinks yet further; to the extent that the feeling might be that Chelsea simply cannot get the right man; a feeling that first suggested itself whoa… about five or six years ago, or whenever somebody started kicking managers out every season.
Roman will surely go for a big name. Roman will surely not, however, concede to that new man the right to truly manage; begging the further question who, in their right mind, would want to take the Chelsea thing on? Unless for the money.