Also springing to mind is the old English saying, ‘money isn’t everything’. Which admittedly would be far more apposite were it not for the even greater than Chelsea riches of Manchester City. Both, in my modest opinion, have done serious harm to English football, exacerbating the menace and distortions of the Greed is Good League.
City of course are much richer than even Chelsea and their owner and patron Roman Abramovich, though by contrast with the Russian oligarch, Sheikh Mansour and his billionaire family tend not to interfere with the running of the club. So there has been no equivalent of the £30 million Chelsea wasted on the declining Andrei Shevchenko, nor the even more absurd and wasteful £50 million squandered on poor Fernando Torres.
Will Dracula now, so to speak, meet the Wolfman? In other words, will Jose Mourinho renew his liaison with Roman Abramovich? I cannot see it happening. In the first place, Abramovich would have to eat a large portion of humble pie, having kicked out the Special One after he himself had thrown his toys out of the Directors Box at Villa Park, where Chelsea were on their way to losing 2-0. And why would Mourinho want to return to a club where he had been so abruptly ejected and where, as it has been pointed out, a number of his own key players, now aged 30 plus, are still there, when the team needs rebuilding.
Abramovich goes through managers in a way and at a speed reminiscent of that old monster, Jesus Gil, at Atletico Madrid. You wonder now why any manager of consequence, after what has happened to Ranieri (yes, he threw away that European game in Monaco), Carlo Ancelotti and, of course, Mourinho himself would want to enter the revolving door awaiting him at The Bridge.
And Villas-Boas? How sorry should we be for him? And how rash an appointment was he by Abramovich? An owner who clearly craves for instant and absolute success, whose apparent readiness to give ear to Villas-Boas’ so-called “project” was surely chimerical. Abramovich may even have transiently believed in the idea himself when he hired Villas-Boas, but this is a man for whom patience is conspicuous by its absence.
Moreover, Villas-Boas made mistakes. Tactically, his attempt to push his defence upfield was never going to be accepted by its very lynchpin, John Terry, let alone the others. Secondly, like his predecessor Ancelotti, he was far too ready to indulge the whim of the owner by so frequently and vainly picking Fernando Torres. Thirdly, his treatment of Alex and Nicolas Anelka was at once harshly insensitive and self-destructive. Either of them – both churlishly excluded from the first team’s Christmas jamboree, and banned from first team training, could have been most useful in recent weeks. Alex, in a defence which so badly missed Terry – Cahill and Luis both all at sea in Naples – and Anelka, in an attack his versatility could have reinforced. See Naples and die? You could almost resurrect the phrase after the team Villas-Boas picked there, so fragile in midfield, so absurdly deprived, initially, of Ashley Cole – went down to ignominious defeat.
Now it hardly looks as if Roberto Do Matteo, allegedly not persona grata with the players, will last for long. And how to explain the role as the so-called Technical Director of Micahel Emenalo who, before he found favour at Chelsea, was limited in experience to coaching a girls team in the USA.
Abramovich would like, one hears, to have Barcelona’s Guardiola. Well, so would anybody. But would Guardiola enter the revolving door?
By Brian Glanville