I’ve always wondered what I would do in the football season break. It’s usually tough in the initial weeks with all players and managers going on holiday and all that. Then the excitement starts to build in as we look to see who are we shopping for. Here at Chelsea, every other season, we end up shopping not just for the players but also for the managing/coaching staff. This time around, looks like there’s a lot of shopping to do – starting with the manager.
If you believe the betting odds, it’s going to be Guus Hiddink, the football advisor for Roman Abramovich for many years. It’s said that Roman doesn’t trust anyone as much as he trusts Golden Guus. All football decisions taken by Roman are consulted with Guus. He could also be the only guy who may not get a sack from Roman. It’s also rumoured that Guus would take up the role of football director while a new manager would work under his ‘guidance’. Actually, I like this idea. If the role of football director going to exist in Chelsea FC, it’s better that it’s held by someone like Guus who’s closer to the players as well as the owner.
Guus considers himself too old for the manager job at Chelsea. It’s certainly a high pressure job in football today and is lot more demanding than his ‘nothing-to-lose’ type of adventures, including his short stint at Chelsea. If he becomes the football director, the search for manager would still be on. But the question that’s still on my mind is, who would be keen to take up the job of Chelsea manager, which is a thankless job.
It’s not easy being a Chelsea manager. You’ll be paid truckloads of money. You’ll have a great squad to work with. You’ll have world class training facilities. In return, you should show success and progress, plus, you should stay in the good books of the owner. If you don’t tick any of these boxes, you’ll be gone. And you would still be paid a very handsome compensation that even exceeds the salary of some of the top managers. Any manager that joins Chelsea will come in with the knowledge of these things.
The expectations are always clear. In fact, I have a feeling that Chelsea managers would be told, on appointment, the clauses that might trigger a dismissal. Which is why I don’t feel too sorry for Roman-sacked managers – I’m sure they knew what they were getting into. I’m also sure what they knew that they would go out richer even if they didn’t make it. They signed up for it. What they don’t sign up for is the treatment.
There are several versions of how Carlo was sacked. The most popular one in the media is that he was notified in the tunnel that ‘they’ wanted to have a quick word with Carlo. And in a room, in the Goodison Park stadium, he was told that he is being dismissed of his services. Now, this lacks class. In fact, this is pathetic.
No matter what, surely he could have come back to Stamford Bridge and the discussion could have happened there. I don’t know what’s the need to sack him one hour after the final match in an away stadium. That’s completely classless. Whoever thought of this idea deserves imprisonment. Retention or dismissal are footballing decisions but the manner in which they are conveyed is of supreme importance.
This is a man who won out first double in history and has entered our history books for a good reason. There’s certainly a way to treat him. I’m not talking about his sack. I’m talking about the manner in which he got to know it. It’s these things that bring the club to disrepute. It’s not the sacking in itself, it’s the manner of the communicating it. Our PR has caused us more disrepute than our footballing decisions. It’s not just a matter of our reputation. Firstly, it’s a matter of treating the man in a dignified manner. That’s the least a football club can do to a football man like Carlo.
I understand why Carlo was sacked. Over two seasons, including the season where we won the double, we didn’t do as well as we should have. Carlo couldn’t get the best out of our squad and he couldn’t pull us out of the slump. And, he failed in the champions league barrier. Whether these arguments are right is debatable. We have been debating on this very blog on these lines. In my view though, I fully believe in the above statements. When Roman also has similar belief, more often the reaction is brutal.
We now have an impression of Roman. We know what he likes and wants. We know what he cannot tolerate. He is success-hungry. He wants to win the champions league. He cannot tolerate failure. Now, if we need to find The Right One (yup, not the special one or the fantastic one), our manager needs to mirror the expectations of the owner. That means, our manager should also be success-hungry, should give everything to win the champions league and must hate to fail or lose. In a way, Jose Mourinho was that, which is why our most successful period was when Jose and Roman worked together.
This is why options like Benitez, Pellegrini, Redknapp, Lippi etc are straightaway a NO. They are not the kind of managers Roman is looking for. These can be the short term managers until we get the big fish. Who would that big fish be? Andre Villas Boas seems to be less ambitious for the Chelsea project. Otherwise, he could be a fine candidate. The only match that I got to see of his Porto was the Europa final and Porto were terrible. But then, he won the title!
The other name that’s in the air is, none other than Josep Guardiola. There are rumours that we’ve made an approach. It’s quite known that he wants out of Barcelona because he wants a new challenge. Winning with this Barcelona team is certainly not as big a challenge as with any other team. He’s young, he’s successful and success-hungry, he’s won two champions league titles already. He’s just fine for Chelsea. But he’s going to see out his contract with Barca which ends next season.
Pep has won a lot in his initial few years in football management. I for one, would wait for him to repeat his magic in a different league, with players of different quality and calibre than Barca’s, working in a different country in different type institutions with different ideologies. Pretty much what I ask of Messi too. All said, Pep can be an incredible choice for us. And he could be the man that Roman might want to give time and patience to build the new Chelsea. So, it could be another case of finding a temporary manager while we wait for the permanent manager to arrive.
These are all rumours and unconfirmed news. We need to wait, probably for weeks, for the appointment of the new Chelsea manager. If it’s a temporary manager that comes in, I’m fine. As regards, the permanent manager, I really hope someone who’s under 50 and comes to Chelsea to prove a point than to treat this as a retirement plan. For me, lack of track record is not a problem, poor track record is. A young, confident, courageous and ambitious manager (Brendan Rodgers anyone?) is what I’m looking for. Not easy, I know. Anyway, it shouldn’t be that easy to find a manager for a club like Chelsea FC. After all, we’re talking about ‘The Right One’.