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Time for a Change at Chelsea? – The Italian booted out by the Russian?

Well, this is the topic, which we, the Chels, are frequently talking amongst us these days, and it is nothing but the managerial position at our dear club Chelsea FC. To be honest, I was a mere kid when I started supporting Chelsea, and that was …

Well, this is the topic, which we, the Chels, are frequently talking amongst us these days, and it is nothing but the managerial position at our dear club Chelsea FC. To be honest, I was a mere kid when I started supporting Chelsea, and that was back in 2000. I didnt care about the managerial roles and the coaching stuffs at the club by that time, but just used to watch the game. The players, Stanic, Zola, Lampard, Terry, Desailly, Le Saux all amused me in those days. Sometimes when the camera shifted towards the Chelsea dug-out, I used to see a man, and I later found him, as Gianluca Vialli. Then I saw Claudio Ranieri, and I loved him. But in 2003, I came to know, that a Russian oil-tycoon named Roman Abramovich bought our club, and I came to know that we were in debts, before the takeover, and he had done a great favour for us, by clearing all those debts. I was relieved and excited, and from then I came to know about my club, and Mr. Ranieri.

Commanding as always, he was the man who led us tothe second spot in the Premier League, and we finished behind those ‘Invincible’ Arsenal. Ask every Chelsea fan, by then, he will tell you how delighted they were, along with me. But trust me, he was strict in every way, as far as I know, he loved the game and loved the job; he was always strict in his position. Though he talked much less, his attitude helped Roman Abramovich to consolidate the first beans of his empire. May be, people have forgotten him, but true Chelsea fans, will never ever forget his strict surveillance around Chelsea. But that season of 2003, proved a failure, in terms of trophies, and naturally he was sacked by our ambitious owner Roman Abramovich.

I will believe it when I touch the trophy, not before. They are young. It’s all right, they can dream. I am a concrete man and I want to continue to work hard. When I wake up I start to work. Dreams finish with the night.

Claudio Ranieri

The quote says it all, its one of the golden quotes, and perhaps many few managers have said it and proved it. Ranieri changed a lot of things around Chelsea, but sometimes his changes did cost us, perhaps we could have met Jose Mourinho and his FC Porto back in 2003 in the Champions’ League final, but what he had done for us, is surely great, inexplicable and unquestionable to me, at least. Perhaps, his strict nature was a key to transform a mid-table Chelsea to the English Chamions Chelsea??

Next came, the Special One, Jose Mourinho!! Now I dont have any words to describe him, the more I say, I feel that I’m saying the less about him. Chelsea’s badge always contained a Lion, in Roman Abramovich’s era, but it was Mourinho who taught Chelsea, how to bring out that Lion from the badge to the field. From then, every Chelsea player was as commanding as a Lion on the field, every time, they played for Chelsea.

I’m an open person and I always like to communicate.

Jose Mourinho

And thats why, it rocked other Chelsea haters around England, and rest of Europe!! Chelsea, being a club with a very limited history compared to other clubs in England proved that they were not short any honor. But, it wont have been possible If Jose was not there, his ‘Lion-heart’ presence transformed Chelsea from an English moderate to Europe’s elite. Mourinho alone, defended his team, his players, and he confronted the media single-handedly for them. So, he was a well-known controversial figure among the media, but Mourinho in his 3 and a half years’ reign didnt care what they kept on saying against him and his team. I told you all; he infused real life into the Lion of Chelsea badge.

Back to the day of his 1st silverware as a Chelsea manager, which was on 2005, Chelsea won the Carling Cup, by beating Liverpool 3-2 after extra-time!! Well, Chelsea did fall behind to an early John Arne Riise goal, but it was Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard who equalised for Mourinho’s side with an own goal, which was scored when 75 minutes had already elapsed on the clock of the game. And do you remember, how he gestured those Scousers in the  Millenium Stadium?? Well, have a look.

Well, he was sent off for that, moments later, so he was unable to see his team’s maiden trophy under Abramovich’s era!! But, perhaps, his approach and his ruling at Chelsea did irk Roman, as our owner felt, he was the Emperor himself!! Well, certainly he was!! So, two kings cant rule a kingdom at the same time, so Mourinho did depart in 2007, leaving Chelsea fans and players heartbroken.

Next it was Avram Grant’s charge. Well, he was the most quiet figure, who was not a considerable replacement at the time, when Jose Mourinho left the club. With an unstable ambience around Chelsea at that moment, Grant was unable to deal with the troubles  at Chelsea, which led key players John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to distance themselves from the manager. Grant didnt quite handle the pressure around Chelsea; he was too quiet to handle that situation. Terry wanted to be close with him, but Grant didnt want to close the gap with his captain. Chelsea lost in the Carling Cup final against Tottenham Hotspurs, and Grant didnt recall his captain, until the last minute, much to Terry’s frustration. Moreover, he had a beef with Nicolas Anelka too, as he said he didnt wanted Anelka, to which Anelka did hit back later.

According to The Sun, in the striker’s new book, ‘Anelka’, which is published on Sunday, he says:

“Grant used to look down on me.

“It was as though he felt I should be grateful and not ask for anything. The pretext for this was I had been brought in from Bolton.”

“I set great store by emotions and Grant did not show great confidence in me,” he said.

“In the 2008 Champions League final against Manchester United, Grant threw me on as a sub without giving me any warning.

“In the end I messed up the very last penalty in the shoot-out, which Edwin van der Sar pushed away. It is sad to say but I knew I was going to miss my kick.”

Well, another instance, where Grant proved a mere spectator and didnt quite control the matters, going in front of him, was the free-kick feud between Drogba and Ballack in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Manchester United, that kept Chelsea in the title race in 2008. Have a look at that:

So, he was not an ideal man to be there at Chelsea and he deserved to get the axe. Though, he guided Chelsea to their only ever Champions’ League final, and a Carling Cup final, and a 2nd place in the Barclays Premier League table in 2008, he was unable to gift Chelsea any trophy, and it was the 2nd year under Abramovich, which was trophy-less for Chelsea. Though he reached more distance than Ranieri, but at that time, if it was Ranieri, instead of Grant, Chelsea should have run away with trophies, and stability should have arrived at Chelsea.

Next, was Scolari’s turn. We, Chelsea fans expected a lot from him. Not only, that we expected trophies from him, but also some strict atmosphere around Chelsea, which was much needed at that moment. We thought, he can bully some rebel players, and shut down some of the turmoils in the technical staff; but sadly, none improved. Though Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba stayed with Chelsea, Drogba was not a person to be kept quiet, and there was a natural unrest within the squad, which saw the whole squad turning up against the manager – the notable among them were Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Petr Cech. His squad never used to win a comparatively big game, and so he was sacked in February 2009. Roman really needed a change to normalise the situations.

The person who came to replace the unpopular Scolari, was none other than an acquaintance of Roman Abramovich, Guus Hiddink!! Who thought he will completely change the attitude of Chelsea and restore it?? In his 3-month spell, he just lost one match (1-0 defeat away to Spurs) and drew one match. He helped several Chelsea players to regain their form back, especially Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Salomon Kalou, Petr Cech, and more. And most significantly he made today’s Branislav Ivanovic. The Serb almost used to spend every time either on the bench or even out of it. He held the mighty Barcelona at the Champions League at the Camp Nou to a 0-0 draw. The Catalans, upto  that time, scored and destroyed every team they found at the Camp Nou. He could have led Chelsea to a second successive Champions League final appearance, but he failed due to absolutely ill-refereeing.

But he was prized with a FA Cup triumph over Everton at the Wembley final. Chelsea fans wanted him to stay, but as he had kept his words always, he had to go to coach Russia again. He brought back the confidence in the Chelsea bench, as they did Liverpool at the quarters of the Champions League on 7-5 aggregate, including a 3-1 win at Anfield, in which Chelsea came back from a goal down. He did beat Arsenal 2-1 and 4-1. Should Manchester United were there in front of Hiddink’s Chelsea, they could have suffered the same fate as what Liverpool and Arsenal got. Stern in his position, he never let every player to believe that their days are numbered!! Well, certainly, Hiddink should be hailed the most in Chelsea managerial history alongside Ranieri and Mourinho; he restored the fear in other sides, by recovering Chelsea, and restoring Chelsea’s fighting attitude. Perhaps, he was the reason behind the upcoming successes that was coming for Chelsea next year.

Then came, Mr Carlo Ancelotti. Roman Abramovich was looking for him for several days before he lured him from AC Milan to Chelsea in 2009. Now my article is solely upon him, I said these all those above things just to remember you all, how the previous Chelsea managers were of nature, and their attitude. Well, this man is completely and completely different from all those above managers. He won 2 Champions League with Milan along with other notable accolades up there. Certainly, as the condition at Chelsea was restored back to normal again, Abramovich wanted him to deliver the gift which Chelsea had been missing in their history – the UEFA Champions League.

Maybe he came with that motive in Roman’s eyes, but he is the true ‘Gentleman’, I have ever seen in my life. He is too polite, and loves every Chelsea player, staff and even the Chelsea media like Ben Andrews, Gigi Salmon, etc. And he got that same reception in return. He believes his players and his team even till now. Well, he deployed a famous diamond-midfield, which really proved dangerous for the opponents, as Chelsea ran riot in every competition with their goals. Last season they beat all the teams, of the ‘Big Four’ quite comfortably, conceding only once and scoring 12 past them. But Ancelotti’s season was hit by some injuries to his keys players and Chelsea did exit after two rounds in the Carling Cup. His squad was so hit with injuries that he prompted to play Florent Malouda as a left-back. And Chelsea had to make an exit from the last-16 in the Champions League at the hands of Inter, the eventual champions.

Though Chelsea bounced back from it and claimed a first double in their history, which included the Premier League and FA Cup. Not only that his side scored an awesome number of 103 goals in the league, and their type of play were termed as the ‘Playstation Football’. Naturally, every Chelsea fan and player was impressed by it, but my question is ‘Was Mr. Abramovich impressed by it?’. I think ‘No’. ‘Cause the Chamipons’ League was still missing at Chelsea. Ancelotti helped Malouda to replenish his form back, which he never enjoyed at Chelsea before, formed a deadly strike-force of Drogba-Anelka, and many others. All works of him, should be forever praised immensely.

Carlo even wanted to stay at Chelsea for 10 years after his first season. Everyone wanted it though, by then. Ancelotti said:

“I would be happy to sign a new contract here.

“After this first season if they asked me how long I want to stay here I would say maybe 10 years. That wouldn’t be bad, especially if every season is like this season.

“I think stability is important. If we can work together for a long time it’s better to have stability for the club.

“It’s also important for the manager, because it’s not easy if you’re changing club every year.”

Well, things changed at Chelsea after that. Key players like Ballack, Deco, Carvalho, Joe Cole, etc left Chelsea, which proved too costly for Chelsea. Well, it was not noticed by the time when season started, as Chelsea continued continued their free-scoring form, and it went well, until all became worst after the loss against Liverpool. To add more miseries Frank Lampard was injured early in the season, new signing Benayoun suffered a long term injury, and injury woes continued at the defence as well, and the Chelsea midfield and the strike-force failed to perform.

That resulted Chelsea to crash out of their dominant competition in the recent times, FA Cup, as well as an exit from the Champions League at the hands of their bitter rivals Manchester United. At a point in the season, there was a threat that Chelsea will not qualify for the Champions League as they dropped from 1st to 5th, but Carlo had again managed to pull side back into the title race after moving his side ahead of Arsenal into second place.

Carlo, however admitted, he doesn’t fear the sack, but if things continued that way, everyone should have wished to fire Carlo at once. This season, may prove another trophyless season for Chelsea, but I think Chelsea should give Ancelotti another season. Moreover, every Chelsea great backed Carlo to keep his job, and alongside me, Malhaar Kale (the founder of Chelsea Fanatic), and Ash di Spontaneous (the founder of Chelsea Analyst, who also works for Chelsea Fanatic), do believe that Roman should keep Carlo for another year. His season, was marred with injuries and player departures, and other reasons, such as sacking of Ray Wilkins and poor form of certain Chelsea players, which are not in his hands. He tried the best to defend Chelsea’s trophies and add more, but it failed. But Chelsea players do back him still, as he is too polite and too soft with everyone. Though we heard that Martin Lipton did say that some Chelsea players do want Jose Mourinho back, but I wont comment on this. I can only say, that he needs to be strict around Chelsea; he should be bossy in his appearance, which Ranieri, Mourinho and Hiddink practiced.

Every media around the world, is saying that Carlo will be sacked by the end of the season, but I dont care them, as I know only one man can decide the managerial position at Chelsea; whether we will see Hiddink, Van Basten or Villas Boas, we dont know, but I want the Italian to stay personally. What are your views, Roman?

Written by: Prad Ghosh (ChelseaViewer)

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