Coaching or recruitment to blame for Chelsea’s plunge?
It’s a proven fact that for all the wealth he is in possession of, business mogul Roman Abramovich lacks patience.
At least in regards to the endeavours of his beloved FC Chelsea.
Since becoming the owner of the west London club in 2003, Chelsea has had nine managers to date and the club recently earned the uncanny distinction of being the first defending champion in Champions League history to be knocked out in the group phase.
And with that, the man who won the club its first Champions League title earlier this year, Roberto Di Matteo, was unceremoniously given the sack. So what might have gone wrong at Chelsea and was Abramovich right in giving Di Matteo the boot?
For starters, why did the management splurge money on not one or two but three attacking midfielders who all play in similar positions?
Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin are quality players but when a player of the calibre of Juan Mata is still around, was it necessary to bring in the trio?
Moreover, with pricey recruit Fernando Torres garnering a reputation of unpredictability, they should have sought the services of a couple of top strikers instead.
Additionally, they should have brought in a defensive midfielder who could provide ample support to the likes of Mata, Hazard and Oscar.
If they thought Jon Obi Mikel and Ramires would handle the job, they were so wrong because the team seems to be losing the ball far too often in the middle of the park.
It’s hard to say whether Di Matteo was responsible for the signings or Abramovich.
To make things worse, the presence and experience of John Terry and Frank Lampard was missing as the two veterans have been out of action due to injury.
With the exit of Di Matteo, the appointment of public enemy number one Rafael Benitez as interim manager has led to widespread criticism from devoted Chelsea supporters because as Liverpool manager in the past, Benitez had always been scornful towards Chelsea and its fans.
But the Spaniard adopts a business-like approach to coaching and time will tell whether his methods can revive the flagging fortunes of Chelsea.
He needs to earn the respect of the players before stamping his authority and for that to happen, one of his first tasks is to strike a good rapport with senior players such as Terry, Lampard and Cech.
No matter how loathed he is by the fans, Benitez is tactically astute. With reasonable success in Europe with different clubs, he does have a way of bringing the best out of his team.
Liverpool’s magnificent comeback from 3-0 down in the memorable 2004-05 Champions League final against AC Milan is testimony to his brilliance.
However, if Chelsea continues to falter under Benitez, this season might prove to be a defining period in the history of the club for both the fans and the owner. Will Abramovich have the last laugh?