A view of the betting odds on Chelsea’s next manager includes something old, something new, something foreign, and something Sven. Jose Mourinho is favourite, Fabio Capello, Gus Poyet, Manuel Pelligrini and David Moyes follow amongst others, but with each candidate the same question arises – why do you want the Chelsea job?
Roman Abramovich has revolutionised the club. The Russian billionaire will celebrate ten years in charge at Stamford Bridge, although depending how the Benitez experiment ends celebrate may not be the word. Abramovich has spent over £2billion on Chelsea, according to The Sun, and long term planning does not appear to be part of the Blues mission statement. Every time a problem comes up money is spent on. Every time a manager is brought in to bring change the old guard fights back. Every time someone needs to go, be it players or manager, it is the manager who pays the price. It can stop a good coach’s career dead in its tracks. The Chelsea hot seat is a poisoned chalice.
For Mourinho, it would be a return to his old Premier League stamping ground. The Portuguese boss is set to leave Real Madrid in the summer whatever happens, and the Daily Express reported the ex-Porto and Internazionale manager has texted Abramovich in advance of a return to the Bridge. If it is true that their relationship has healed, Mourinho has to ask himself has the nature of the Chelsea job changed. If he wants rid of Fernando Torres, will Abramovich force the Spaniard’s stay? If the Special One wants to keep Frank Lampard, will the owner cave in? He has never in the past, why would he change now? They say you should never go back, and without the total control he demands Mourinho may avoid the Chelsea hotseat.
Abramovich’s fits of interest and the power of his clique in the Chelsea hierarchy will put off many managers who will have seen how fragile and powerless the manager’s position is. Benitez has done his best to avoid any statements that may be viewed as meddling, instead targeting the fans. Andre Villas-Boas has repaired his reputation at Tottenham but still bristles at the lack of support Abramovich gave him when implementing the owner’s vision. Carlo Ancelotti was sacked despite leading the club to its first league and FA cup double.
So why take the risk? One answer would be money – the manager can expect a top wage packet and compensation agreement when the inevitable comes – but another answer is simpler. Chelsea are a massive club, playing in the Premier League, one of the best leagues in the world, in London, and a glamorous part of London at that.
It is a huge opportunity for managers looking to make the step up to the big time, like Moyes, Michael Laudrup or Poyet, and a chance of redemption for managers like Pelligrini, Capello, or even Sven Goran Eriksson (Abramovich wouldn’t, would he?). Sure, they may not last the length of their contracts, but it is a chance to win medals, win plaudits, coach some of the world’s best, and at worse progress your career. It is why Benitez took the job, he figured he had nothing to lose having been out of the game for nearly two years.
It may not be a job for a young manager, as Villas-Boas and Roberto di Matteo have shown, but for someone looking to finally reach the top after decades of service or for a fallen idol to climb back to the summit again. However, rather than picking from the best coaches on the planet, Chelsea’s recent history means they are having to find a manager with something to prove. It may not be a bad thing, but this scenario will rear its ugly head again soon enough for Chelsea and their fans.
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