February 26, 2013
Neil Ashton’s story in The Mail makes for some uncomfortable reading.
While there are plenty of reports of ‘dressing-room mutinies’ at different clubs across every season, Ashton is a good journalist and isn’t often wrong. By all accounts, the animosity towards Rafael Benitez from the Chelsea supporters has infected the players.
Benitez doesn’t want to be at Stamford Bridge, the fans don’t want him there and never have, and supposedly the players are now questioning his methods.
A £50m white elephant, a lop-sided team, a defence separated from mediocrity by Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard’s contractual situation, and no permanent manager.
Are there any positives at Chelsea at the moment?
The counter-argument to any criticism of Roman Abramovich is almost always the European Cup win last season. Fine, but did the team win in Munich last May because their owner created an optimal working environment, or did they bring home the trophy in spite of the chaos that he created? The more perspective we gain of that Champions League run, the more appreciative we should all be of what some of those individual players achieved. Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech…what a miracle they made.
Like all very wealthy men, Abramovich will never question his own judgement. Within a certain context, that’s a very useful personality trait, but in this instance? Not so much. His millions may well have propelled Chelsea into the stratosphere, but his lack of patience, his meddling, and his inability to retain a sensible club structure are dragging them gradually back down to Earth.
Something has to change here; managers have to been given longer to implement their ideologies, the entitlement and ego within the first-team squad has to be restricted, and Chelsea have to start functioning like a proper club again. No more interim managers and no more premature sackings; this season can’t just be written off on account of Rafael Benitez’s shortcomings, because it’s quite apparent that he lacks the authority or gravitas to move the team in one direction or the other. He’s just the Lee Harvey Oswald here: the convenient fall guy who distracts from the bigger, more alarming picture.
Sack a manager first, think about it second. What successful hiring and firing policy every starts like that?
Whether rival fans like Chelsea or not, the Premier League – from a balanced competition perspective – needs them to be strong, and needs them to compete properly at the top of the table.
If Abramovich’s haphazard decision-making continues, what reason is their to believe that they’ll be doing that again soon?