I started supporting Chelsea in 1996 when the Club signed Rudd Gullit – Dutch Legend and one of my favourite players – as Player-Manager. His signing thereafter of Celestine Babayaro of the famed Olympic gold medal-winning Dream Team sealed my affection for the Club. Building on the groundwork of Glenn Hoddle, Gullit built a new brand of attacking football by signing continental stars like Zola, Di Matteo, Vialli Casiraghi and others. The Club had moderate success winning an FA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup within 2 years. The Vialli and Ranieri eras consolidated on this string of successes.
However, with the advent of the Jose Mournho the story changed. The exploits are carved in the annals of the Club’s history. I won’t go into the details.
However, the truth of the Club’s situation this season is apparent to all. What we have witnessed is the unanticipated decline of Titanic proportion of Chelsea Football Club. This situation is perhaps the best example of the proverbial perfect storm: every possible variable has aligned to turn a a group of Champions into complete non-starters. Many theories abound as to how this all came to be. Below are some of the elements I believe contributed to what culminated in the Club’s decision to terminate Jose’ contract.
1. A group of players – majority of whom were arguably motivated to achieve beyond their natural abilities and now find it hard to sustain it;
2. A driven manager who over-drove his wards to the point of burnout – he used the fewest number of players to prosecute a gruelling 2014/2015 season
3. Board’s failure to make money available for the necessary talent upgrade required despite manager’s express request ( Stones, Pogba, etc);
4. Late start to pre-season coupled with players’ indiscipline and poor fitness issues;
5. Internal issues with Jose and the club Doctor creating unnecessary bad blood and instability; within the back room staff and player body
6. EPL TV deal money making other teams stronger with more quality squads and equally figuring out how to beat Chelsea now;
7. Players’ loss of confidence as a consequence of bad run;
8. Manager’s failure to shake things up long enough and give Youth a chance consistently, especially when his established regulars were failing;
8. Lack of enough big characters in the dressing room…coupled with a few journey men who don’t have the same passions as the old guards a la Lampard, Drogba, etc.
9. Managers failure to manage his emotion at several post-match press conferences creating disaffection and low morale with players;
10. Instances of clear sabotage through poor performance by some key players. The Leicester match was in my opinion of some not playing for the shirt. Player power!
11. As a consequence of the above, the unanticipated spectre of a relegation scrap is now looming…
With the level of ‘patience’ demonstrated by Roman this time around, it is understandable that the proverbial “something’s gotta change” meant the easiest option is the manager’s sacking. However, in my opinion this decision (as justified as it is) comes with collateral damage of setting the club back many years. First you can’t find too many top managers willing to come Chelsea with the pressure of achieving the same of success in a short period of time. And many of them wouldn’t have the same passion as Jose. Moreover, the long term plan of creating a stable club has been derailed.
Finally, all the parties have to take their share of responsibility for what is an utter mess. It’s been a sad day.
The question to ask now is “quo vadis Chelsea? Where do we go from here?”
Keep The Blue Flag Flying High #ktbffh
– Segun Obagbemi
Image source: Anon