It’s been a weird month or so for us Chelsea fans hasn’t it? Depending on what your choice of journal from the Fourth Estate is we’ve gone from well run Premiership/FA Cup/Carling Cup/Champions League contenders to a strife torn dysfunctional bunch of headless chickens. We are apparently a club in crisis on and off the pitch, with draws at home against lower league opposition book-ended by a lucky win over Wigan and a glorious thumping victory over the same team on Saturday. As with most things, the truth, in my view lies somewhere in between. Saturday’s victory was a welcome return to winning ways but when one considers how poor the opposition was that may not be telling us much about potential upturns in our fortunes.
For example, it was great to see Arjen Robben back, but let’s not kid ourselves here… I mean he was hardly a constant first team choice prior to our dip in form was he? No, Jose Mourinho likes to move things about and keep players on their toes. Robben’s season thus far has been a mixed bag of first team starts, bench warming and being dropped completely. Mourinho is a clever man though and as much as the press and broadcast media spin against us let’s also remember that he and the club are more than capable of “spinning” stories as well. He has slowly but surely convinced some fans that Robben’s absence was a key factor in our on-field issues, but again the truth is in the middle somewhere. I love Robben, but his contribution this season has been mixed. For Mourinho to laud him as vital seems pretty rich when you see the selection policy on Robben prior to his injury. Look at the Joe Cole injury. Mourinho is only too happy to quote the effect his absence has on the team, but prior to Christmas it hadn’t had a bearing on results, although there is a case for arguing his absence has affected the performances. John Terry is a rock, no question about it, but again, when Mourinho harps on about what a loss he is, where was the sense in letting William Gallas and Robert Huth go, both capable deputies and seemingly more so than Khalid Boulahrouz? What about Frank Arnesen and his role? We were led to believe that Mourinho was happy with his appointment, but that now they are locked into some kind of mutual power struggle death-grip. Has Mourinho ever come out and said how wonderful Arnesen is and how great his choices have been? No! But even if it wasn’t a good relationship shouldn’t they have been making out it was?
So you see my friends, our leader and the club are just as capable of pulling the wool over our eyes as the press and broadcast media. Look at the press and if you believed all that had been said about the club, you might be fooled into thinking a certain Ken Bates had returned with all of the Machiavellian scheming that is alleged to be going on. Again, the truth is out there, but getting to it will be nigh on impossible in the face of spiralling “unnamed sources” and “close friend” based quotes being published in press articles, aligned to the “no comment” stance the club always takes on this. The upshot of this battle is the effect on the poor fan. The likes of you and I who either go to the games or support from afar are left in the middle with the unedifying choice of blindly believe the press, or blindly believe the club. Of course the club won’t refute every story as they would be constantly responding to every cruddy little rumour and bit of hearsay that comes along. But I would argue that with everything that’s going on now around the future of the most successful coach we’ve ever had, if not the most successful around at the moment the club should have published an unequivocal and straight talking denial or confirmation. Do they really believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity? With the recent history of some of the crass and insensitive releases and statements that have come from Simon Greenberg, Peter Kenyon et al that have undermined the name of our great club (whilst growing the brand ironically), it seems hard to see how this current speculation and in-fighting will endear us to new fans or neutrals alike. I do not profess to believe in full what has been written, but am inclined to believe there is a fabric of truth underpinning some of the stories. Information and rumours leak from every organization, be it political or business based, so undeniably some of these rumours are coming from inside the club, and undeniably some will be based in fact.
So let’s imagine the worst case scenario here, that Mourinho either jumps ship, or is made to walk the proverbial plank by Roman “Captain Blackbeard” Abramovich and his trusty band of pirate cohorts, Peter “Seaman” Kenyon and Frank “Rating” Arnesen and gang. Who would want the job of jumping into our red hot frying pan? I have listed some of the alleged likely candidates with my own views. Please feel free to comment as you see fit.
Fabio Capello: A busted flush as his tenure at Real Madrid is proving. Not known for valuing entertaining football and a seemingly old-school stalwart of Italian style defensive football and disciplinarian management. His treatment of David Beckham is nothing short of disgusting. Oh, and don’t try to kid me he didn’t know anything about the Juventus scandal either. Which makes him a good liar or downright bloody clever.
Marcello Lippi: Yeah, won the World Cup but really? Is he proven at club level to the same degree as Mourinho, or Arsene Wenger, or Alex Ferguson? Plus he has never coached outside of Italy, so his Premier League knowledge will be zero. Doesn’t speak English.
Frank Rijkaard: The Gobber Supreme and will always be known for the grolley into Rudi Voller’s bubble perm in the 1990 World Cup. Has done well for Holland and for Barcelona but his star appears to be fading with Barca’s underwhelming season thus far. I can’t see him being accepted that easily at Stamford Bridge.
Johann Cruyff: An anti-Chelsea scumbag who wouldn’t get within 100 yards of the ground without getting a well deserved hiding.
Sven Goran “Moron” Eriksson: Please God… No! No matter what we’ve done we don’t deserve this f*ckwit in charge.
Roberto Mancini: So compare him to Mourinho… how is he better exactly? How would this not be a retrograde step?
Didier Deschamps: Has the advantage of being an ex-player so probably would understand the culture and fans. His Monaco team did well to knock us out of the Champions League three years ago despite patently being the lesser team on paper. Claudio Ranieri’s mystifying choices undoubtedly helped. Monaco got caned by Porto in the final but does a 90-minute match tell the full story? Deschamps is doing well with Juventus albeit in Serie B but would probably prefer to stay and prove himself there.
Avram Grant: You might as well pick Homer Simpson. Who is this bloke and what has he ever done?
And so we’re left with what exactly? Well if we were to be brave and have the courage of our convictions then my choice from the group above would probably be Deschamps, but as I have stated in a previous comment, is there not anyone closer to home that might fit the bill?
Mark Hughes: Ex-Chelsea and still widely held in high regard by Blues fans. Was a winner with Manchester United and with Barcelona. Has a wide amount of experience albeit not coaching at our level. Could this be an opportunity for a good young coach to be given a big chance?
Martin O’Neill: Only just back in the game after his (correct) choice to look after his ailing wife. A proven coach who likes to entertain and has never shown any problem with jumping ship for a bigger better deal. Aston Villa are struggling but even Mourinho would struggle with what they have.
Steve Coppell: If anyone is more intelligent, diplomatic and thoughtful then I’m buggered if I can find them. Has worked wonders with Reading but there remains a big question over his ability to work under extreme pressure in an environment where the spotlight is on all of the time.
Chris Coleman: Another bright young prospect who has shown he can make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Has shown he can work under an autocratic owner, and if you can do it for someone as flaky and barking as Mohamed Al Fayed then a young self-made stable Russian shouldn’t be an issue.
Stuart Pearce: Future England material without a doubt and would find it hard to resist the call of duty for his country were he a success anywhere to be frank. Passionate, uncompromising and surprisingly diplomatic and honest. Would surely relish managing a team with the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard in it.
Harry Redknapp: Too old probably, but it remains a mystery as to why he hasn’t had a bigger club, or why he wasn’t considered for England. Would make a marvellous “mentor” for one of the younger choices.
That’s all folks, let’s see some suggestions or comments then, bring it on, come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!
- Pat Nevin’s Chelsea verdict
- ‘If something got in his way – which is winning – he would leave’
- Are more owners now meddling in first-team affairs?