Following Chelsea’s disastrous exit from the FA Cup yesterday against plucky opponents Everton, 4-3 after a dramatic penalty decider, it has to cross one’s mind that a certain Russian billionaire who was watching the game, might just be growing tired of the current menu on offer at Stamford Bridge. Gone are the days of invincibility under Jose Mourinho when Chelsea were unbeatable at home in every competition throughout the Portuguese maestro’s reign. Gone are even the days at the beginning of the season when Chelsea swept all before them in a seemingly devastating charge towards honors. Will Roman Abramovich tolerate this new level of mediocrity and where did it all go wrong ?
I think I’ve answered my own first question by even writing this article and yes, I do think he’ll jump ship pretty soon. Roman Abramovich is used to winning in all walks of life and this current team looks old, jaded and slow, despite the addition of record signing Fernando Torres in the January transfer window. His public aim has always been to win the UEFA Champions League but with the crowd he has playing for the club right now, they’ll be lucky to make it to the quarter finals. Even under the reigns of Felipe Scolari and Avram Grant, who were never highly regarded as replacements for Mourinho, the standard of play was still at a very high level, and way above what’s on show right now. The sheen has definitely worn off the Chelsea blue.
To answer the second question, we don’t have to go that far back. Only to November 2010 whe, to the surprise of the footballing world, Chelsea parted ways, somewhat acrimoniously, with assistant manager Ray Wilkins. Various reasons have been cited for the dismissal from a boardroom comment made towards Abramovich to a “surplus to requirements” decision from Ron Gourlay, the new executive director of football. Of course, the club refuses to accept any connection with the drop in club form, but I can guarantee you that the players looked upon Wilkins as one of their own, and must have been dismayed at Carlo Ancelotti‘s limp reaction to the firing. Wilkins has been a Chelsea man all his life and was well respected. To have a man with his stature treated in the manner he was, must have left a rift in the dressing room a mile wide. Things haven’t been the same since.
Chelsea have an opportunity next week to somewhat right the ship in the knockout stages of the Champions League against FC Copenhagen. On the face of it, it should be a straightforward task to progress to the next round but it seems like all of Chelsea’s game carry this sense of urgency these days. Adrift in the Premier league title race, and out of the League Cup and FA Cup, Champions League glory is all that is left. They have a capable squad and a proven manager but the chemistry is wrong and can’t be fixed this season.They are a club in crisis and the knives are out for the people responsible.
Chelsea had better smarten up pretty damn quick or the Roman Abramovich will be warming up the plane on the tarmac at Heathrow.