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The Chelsea Way Might Not Be The Wrong Way
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 1 year ago


Yesterday morning my mum phoned me, and despite neither of us being Chelsea fans, she was outraged by the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo. "That man (Abramovich) is such an idiot," she said. And I agreed, mostly because I can’t be bothered arguing with my mum about football. If I’m going to argue with my mum, I’d rather do it about major emotional issues.

But I thought that maybe, when it comes to Chelsea, I should play devil's advocate. In England, the majority of pundits and commentators seem to think that the way to be successful in football is to find a good manager, back him in the transfer market and be patient, allowing him to slowly build for long-term success. Over and over, we’re told how football managers need time and that the really successful teams are the ones who stick with their manager for decades.

But maybe that's the totally wrong approach. Maybe you should give someone six months to do the job and if you think they're crap after six months, get rid of them. I mean, in the nine years since Abramovich has taken over, Chelsea have employed nine different managers, which should be a recipe for complete failure, but actually they've done pretty well. They've won the Champions League once, the Premier League three times, the FA Cup four times and the League Cup twice. That's not a bad return.

Let’s imagine that when Abramovich took over Chelsea, he appointed a manager called Interim Jones (it’s not a realistic name, but never mind - maybe in a few years Interim will become a very popular boys name). And Interim Jones, over the course of 9 years at Chelsea, won the Champions League, the Premier League three times, the FA Cup four times and the League Cup twice, we would probably hail Interim Jones as one of the great managers of the present day. We would talk of him in the same breath as Sir Alex and Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. But Interim Jones doesn’t exist – he’s just a lovely name to give to Mr Abramovich’s business strategy.

Of course, you could argue that money talks, and it's not the managers who made the biggest difference to Chelsea at all, but Abramovich's billions. It’s a pretty persuasive theory; give any football team billions of pounds to spend on the world’s best players and they are always likely to win something. Manchester City seem to be doing ok.

Italian and Spanish clubs have been hiring and firing managers for decades now. Ten years ago I remember reading that if an Italian club lost 4 games in a row, the manager would normally be kicked out. To my English eyes, it seemed like madness, but maybe they were onto something. In the last 20 years Spanish and Italian clubs have performed as well as – if not better than – English clubs in Europe. The fact that many of them had a new manager every eight months doesn’t seem to have harmed them too much.

Opponents of this theory will point to the number of trophies Manchester United have won by sticking with Sir Alex Ferguson for 26 years; but maybe, in the same way that there's more than one good way to manage a football club, there's also more than one good way to own a football club. Maybe the Manchester Utd way (sticking by your manager) and the Abramovich way (sack them as soon as you think they are crap) are just two different strategies. In the time since Sir Alex has been Manchester United's manager the club have won the Premier League 12 times, the FA Cup five times and the Champions League twice. In the same period, Real Madrid have employed 23 different managers and have won La Liga 11 times, the Copa Del Rey once and the Champions League three times. They are quite similar records.

Maybe one managerial strategy isn't inherently better than the other. In the same way that Barcelona’s tiki-taki strategy isn’t morally better than Manchester United’s strategy of pace and counter-attack, maybe getting a new manager every season isn’t any worse than sticking by your manager through thick and thin.



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Lonaldo (Chelsea) 1 year ago
Ravish987 that is the smartest thing anyone have said all day. However management of a football team goes beyond the ability to coach. Look at Guss hiddink for instance made his mark with south korea a poor team in my view and went on to be recognised as the man that can get a team that is not so good look so good. When at chelsea he had the millions and they wanted him so badly but he jumped ship
Ravish987 (Manchester United) 1 year ago
Hmmmm.... Sticking to a manager holds true for clubs with limited amounts of money. Clubs like Real or Chelsea have plenty to shell out every year on players who themselves are enough to get you some silverware. Also, if firing-hiring tactics were adopted by say Arsenal or Everton they would have been playing in Championship by now. It's all about money.... If you have got it, you wil win silverware. If you havent got it then managers will win silverware for you!
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 1 year ago
I agree with you that for the elite clubs, it's mostly about money. Chelsea seem to buy players without having a specific manager in mind. I doubt Di Matteo had much say in the signings of Oscar and Hazard. However, it's harder to say how Everton or Arsenal would have fared had they changed manager. I'm sure there are Arsenal fans who would argue that Arsenal fallen into a rut under Wenger, consistently finishing in the Champions League places but rarely challenging for trophies. Who knows what would have happened if Arsenal had sacked Wenger five years ago? They might have been relegated or they might have won the league
Matt (Footytube Staff) 1 year ago
To emphasise that sacking managers is a rich mans sport. If reports are to be believed Chelsea have forked out over £86m since 2004 which is more than Everton have spent in the transfer market in the entirety of the Premier League
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 1 year ago
Matt, I think the £86m figure is a bit low!
[account-removed] 1 year ago
Actually, that figure is compensation, not inclusive of signing on fees or compensation to clubs (like the 13 million to Porto for AVB). It also does not include the agent fees and the hiring and firing of the staff managers usually bring and take with them. While I'd not like to stake my life on this statement, it is said the compensation was around 75 million just in the last 4 years.

There is also the question of Financial Fair Play rules. Chelsea have spent a considerable sum on players, offset some of these figures through sales, but they've spent quite a large sum of money on managers and staff as well. How're they balancing the books for all this? Aggressive marketing and branding seems to be working, as well as loopholes (City's 400 million deal). Isn't this making things easier for the "rich" and tougher for clubs trying to break into the champions league? How soon can we expect to see 2 teams always pulling away form the top of every league like Real Madrid and Barcelona do in the Serie A? Everything's so quite interlinked.

The problem of changing a manager so often in footballing perspectives, is players adapting to their approach. If there were a quick glue way to say "insert manager x, style pass and move" and the players seamlessly fitted in, I doubt any chelsea supporter would have any qualm whatsoever. However, various managers have various styles of play, and different favourites. There always are hierarchies that form in clubs, with some players being "seniors". This was encouraged by Jose Mourinho during his stint at Chelsea, but discarded by AVB. That immediately caused friction. It also went from a "defend" to "pass the ball into space" to "pass the ball to player's feet" and then "quick one twos". This change of playing style actually does take its toll on players. Torres is the proof of that. During his time at Liverpool, Gerrard and Alonso threaded the ball to him perfectly, allowing him to make intelligent runs off the defender's shoulder. At Chelsea, the ball is played to his feet more often than not, asking him to either play it sideways or generate something out of nothing. He's lost in between two places now, and a 50 million pound investment really hasn't borne fruit.

Should a club be allowed to make such wholesale changes at will, through infinite spending? More often than not, EPL sides are struggling in Europe now. Germany, which does not allow foreign investors into clubs has actually done quite well for itself through team spirit and cohesion, leading to some very entertaining football. The question then, has to put what Dortmund's done in the past two years, and what PSG/City has done to get to where they are in perspective. When its being shown that excessive money need not be the solution, why are more and more owners intent on throwing in insane amounts of money on one player or manager?
Vasa77 (Olympiakos Piraeus) 1 year ago
Well argued
TheGod (Juventus) 1 year ago
TheGod says, Benitez will spoil and wrack Chelsea apart. He grabbed the opportunity because he was jobless. TheGod is not a Chelsea Fan but here goes the Gaga world where another Leeds in making. Benitez totally wrong choice. Roman you don't know how to kick a ball, the smell of the grass and the mud where you never experienced as football player. We know, but you don't know, money making the beautiful game in the world raped. Mean it raped.

You don't know what you doing, Roman. It's will very hard to be humble when you think you are the greatest. Pity Chelsea Fans, get ready to be like Leeds Fan, Benitez wracked Liverpool apart, Inter apart and now it's coming to your way. TheGod disagrees entirely with Roman
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 1 year ago
Hello TheGod, I think you make an interesting, if irrational, counter-argument. Whenever Abramovich sacks a manager, pundits and fans come out of the woodwork to say he's "not a football man" and that he "doesn't understand football". Whereas it seems to me that these are quite old-fashioned terms. He certainly has a different approach to other football club owners in England, but he's been very successful. And if he didn't care about Chelsea, he'd sit on a beach in Hawaii, leaving the manager in charge for decades, counting his money and enjoying the sunshine.

What is certain is that before Abramovich took over, Chelsea were in dire financial straits and looked like they might follow Leeds into bankruptcy and he rescued them. Since then they've embarked on the most successful period of their history, winning numerous Premier League titles and now the Champions League. And as we all know, if Benitez isn't successful with Chelsea and it looks like they won't qualify for the Champions League, then Abramovich will simply sack him
Matt (Footytube Staff) 1 year ago
Matt says, Matt is unsure what TheGod means but pretty sure they use the mirror plenty

Matt would be happy if the Saints sacked every manager and won 7 trophies.
ManUK (Manchester United) 1 year ago
I'm not sure talking in third person is helping your case TheGod, but of course, that's just ManUK's opinion
Peteko 1 year ago
Well, as soon as I read that in the opening post of this thread that Greg was going to play "devil's advocate", I had a presentiment that TheGod or someone playing his lawyer would show up to dissent
Peteko 1 year ago
There are some managers that will make a club likable beyond their regular fan base. Chelsea had at least two of them in the recent years. Ancelotti and DiMatteo. This does affect business eventually.
I usually go for the the teams in red, but under these two managers I often found myself rooting for Chelsea. They both had class and had great impacts in the club.
So, it is understandable that people got upset when they were fired. Especially when it is coupled with the feeling that they both needed more time at least to respect their initial successes
Peteko 1 year ago
Greg yours is an interesting argument.
In fact often changing managers will reignite the spirit of the team and change the entire season. After all, RDM taking charge after the sack of AVB serves as proof.

However, it is hard to say whether Chelsea's successes over the Abramovich years are evidence that firing managers works. One could say that this great generation of Chelsea players would have had more trophies had they enjoyed a much more stable regime.

The only way to explain the sack of RDM is impatience. This was Chelsea's first slump since he took over and there are always slumps with a team, even if it is Pele's Brazil. I think this has been the best Chelsea I have seen in many years. With Oscar, Mata and Hazard, their game is getting better despite the loss of the top position in the league. It was certainly not the time to fire the manager. Doing it within the calendar year of winning Champions League is just throwing tantrums
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 1 year ago
Peteko, I have no idea how Chelsea would have fared had they stuck with Mourinho or Ancelotti or Di Matteo. You're right that they might have been even more successful. We will never know. You're right that it was Di Matteo's first slump, but we know that Abramovich expects Chelsea to always reach the knockout stages of the Champions League and finish in the top 4 of the Premier League. Last season Di Matteo finished 5th in the league but won the Champions League. This year they're doing ok in the league but look very likely to exit the Champions League at the group stage. So he decided to take action.

Personally, I would have given Di Matteo much more time, but my argument is that Abramovich has been very successful by sacking managers as soon as he thinks they are failing
Ekoj (Perspolis) 1 year ago
When you have money with no discipline or principle, it's like the broken clock theory. Very inconsistent and eventually managing a trophy whenever your opponents happen to have bad day.

Chelsea hasn't accomplished anything yet, the fans know that very well. Did you see the fans chose to pick on Rafa and not Roman against City? They know once the money is out everything will go with it.

Actually it's not about having too much money, it's about lack of democracy and centralized power which are poison for any system. And that's coming from someone who is not from football. Not even from Britain !
Matt (Footytube Staff) 1 year ago
"Chelsea hasn't accomplished anything yet"

Champions League: 2011–12
Premier League titles: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2009–10
FA Cup: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2011–12
League Cup: 2004–05, 2006–07

All since Roman Abramovich took over.

You can argue that the titles were 'bought' (which titles aren't these days?) but you cannot say they have achieved nothing.

Ekoj (Perspolis) 1 year ago
I meant accomplishing a system not trophies. Not being a champions one day then being eliminated the first round the next season. When was the last time United finished 6th in PL?

We are so used to it we don't even notice hard work. It's hard work within a well-thought process
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 1 year ago
But no system is perfect. There is a reason that no team has ever won the Champions League twice in a row. Manchester United have a "system" and the same manager for 26 years but it didn't stop them crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage last season
Ekoj (Perspolis) 1 year ago
You mean champions current format? Well that helps to disregard Ajax in the early 1970's or how many times Liverpool was in the final up to mid 80's? And nobody said they were perfect but they are more reliable, it's like having a investment when you retire. (I think you're trying to play with words and numbers here)

People who judge a team based on trophies, are usually the same people who get bored when a match is goal-less, because they focus on the ball all the time instead of the players
Football is about harmony, it's a mind game. If you grow in that area then silverware will come with it eventually.

Greg, I think it's fair to assume that you are as just as impatient as the Chelsea club owner. You need some balance there
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 1 year ago
God bless you Joke. I'm a Spurs fan. I'm used to not winning anything and I'm used to the disappointment of getting a new manager every year. "People who judge a team based on trophies, are usually the same people who get bored when a match is goal-less, because they focus on the ball all the time instead of the players Football is about harmony, it's a mind game. " is a lovely sentiment, but it has nothing to do with football. Football is no more about harmony than it is about jazz or butterflies or train timetables. And most football teams - indeed most sports - are judged on trophies. That doesn't mean that trophies are the only barometer to measure sporting success, but they are the most important. Sir Alex Ferguson is considered a better manager than Arsene Wenger because he has won more trophies, despite Arsenal often playing more aesthetically pleasing football.

Obviously, everyone is entitled to their own opinion on which systems/managers work best, but my argument was simply that managerial continuity may not be as important as many people think
Matt (Footytube Staff) 1 year ago
A team has to be judged on trophies as that is the only criteria we have to judge a team by.

Unless football switches to a judging panel to award points the only thing that matters is the scoreboard and the trophy cabinet. The only group of people that judges a team by any other means are fans.

As a fan of a less than successful side I find myself often harping on about our style of play and the wonders of our youth academy, why? I simple have noting else to be proud of, it is all I have to throw up as testimony to us being the greatest side the world has ever seen (we are not), The day I have to resort to using the fact that we don't sack managers 'that' often is a day I dread.

Joke you also view the manager as a greater piece of the puzzle than any other member of the coaching or playing staff. If the style of play and level of success required is set by the chairman how is sacking the manager any different for the 'harmony' of the side than selling an unwanted defender or even benching a player that is not playing well? (looking at you Torres)
Dawich (Chelsea) 1 year ago
Joke thinks he has an argument, but one can tell that he does not know much about football
Ekoj (Perspolis) 1 year ago
When I was 10 years old I started watching football for the first time World cup 1994, utterly clueless about the balance of power in the world of football. It took me years to find out why a country like Bulgaria which I thought they were a major side in the world almost vanished. It's called infrastructure.
.
If you notice hereditary tradition of fan-ship comes from clubs with long history and strong infrastructure, England or Italy etc.... Well that's part of it not the whole thing. But you guys are part of. That system, part of history
Maybe I envy that kind of system for other reasons, we don't see that in most countries, it brings unity, it gives you an identity.

I've seen a very similar management in the Arabian peninsula (our rivals), they fire all time and spend a lot. Their stadiums are empty, it's all empty. That's why they invest in Europe, to get rid of that emptyness.

Maybe because you're inside the system, and I'm looking from the outside. And when you're within a system it's hard understand what to be grateful about including myself.

I hope that all made sense, I'm very passionate about this issue I'm not trying to put you guys down. I a

I read a lot of history, that's how everything in my head is wired up. Same behavior patterns are also observed in football at times that you see in their actual history.

So trophies are important too, but lets not make it all about business and marketing. I know cliche again but I don't know what else to say. That's how I feel.

{edited to one post}
Matt (Footytube Staff) 1 year ago
You seem to be making more of a point regarding history and tradition rather than focusing on the point being made, which is that just because a chairman decides to opt for a different tactic than is commonly used or historically used does that necessarily make it wrong?

How we judge the correctness of it? The only way to judge is by measuring the clubs performance against other teams and the only way to do that is by looking at the trophy cabinet (well at Southampton its a trophy shelf, well less a shelf than a hook, ok ok its a coat rack but when we get a trophy that is where it is going). With this all we can say is Chelsea have achieved a lot compared to their rivals regardless if we agree with their managerial recruitment policy
ManOnDMoon (Manchester City) 11 months ago
Feels like the right time to dig this out.
My opinion is that managers are overrated in the Premier League. There is no "one way" to achieve success. And Abramovich is not an idiot either, he's protecting his business, successfully it seems.
Edit: Where is Greg by the way? His blogs are sorely missed



   
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