In the past decade, Roman Abramovich has delivered Chelsea FC fans glory with one hand, yet has slapped them in the face with the other.
The billions poured into the London club by the Russian oligarch owner have come at a price. Abramovich controls the purse strings, so he controls the team.
Yet Abramovich has escaped persecution from supporters, who are fearful he’ll cut the funding.
The scenes in the terraces at Stamford Bridge have never been so troubling in the modern era of the club.
Blues interim manager Rafael Benitez is criticized, win or lose, by Chelsea fans who lament Champions League winner Roberto Di Matteo’s unjust sacking.
Misfiring Spanish striker Fernando Torres is also no longer immune from supporters’ rage.
Targeting the manager is not the approach the fans should be taking. They must demand Abramovich keep his meddling nose out of the footballing aspects of the club. Only then will the club reach its potential.
After sacking Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas Boas and Roberto Di Matteo (a group with five Champions League titles between them), Abramovich has made it virtually impossible to attract a world-class manager to coach his team.
Ancelotti’s assistant Ray Wilkins was also sacked on a whim; a decision that caused Chelsea’s 2010-11 campaign to implode.
Given Abramovich’s trigger finger, is it any wonder Pep Guardiola snubbed the available Chelsea Job? Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp would do well to follow Guardiola’s example and stay in Germany.
Abramovich has also removed his managers’ say in buying players. His board is responsible for selecting new recruits.
Important first team players including David Luiz, Eden Hazard and Oscar were bought without consulting the manager.
These players fit Abramovich’s ‘attractive football’ mould and the manager must work with what he’s given.
The oil baron’s meddling extends past purchases and into team selection.
Benitez, like AVB, Di Matteo and Ancelotti before him, has been coaxed into playing 50-million-pound-man Torres, just as Mourinho was instructed to play another flop – Andriy Shevchenko.
The fans have openly booed Torres for his poor performances and called on Benitez to install new striker Demba Ba. In reality, Benitez’s hands are tied.
At the same time, Abramovich has demanded a youthful team.
Legendary midfielder Frank Lampard has been told to move on at season’s end and stalwart Florent Malouda has been excluded from the first team and must train with the reserves.
Even Benitez has admitted his Russian boss takes a hands-on approach:
“He has ideas. I have ideas. We share ideas. We explained to each other what we’re trying to do. It’s fine.”
Fine? Yeah right.
For all the silverware that Abramovich’s money has delivered, his endless meddling in the actual football played by his club is unacceptable.
It’s time Chelsea fans put aside the fear of daddy pulling the trust fund and embrace a bit of anti-parental misbehaviour.