Well here we go again. Sitting at my computer flicking around the sports pages on the internet, feeling angry for Tony Adams even though I don't support Pompey, whatever happened to giving guys a chance I thought when I came across the latest managerial casualty. Scolari sacked as Chelsea manager was the headline. Whatever happened to he was the outstanding choice?
Look, I was at the Hull game, I heard the chants, the mood was ugly and one or two fans were muttering about whetting their knives for Scolari. What did not help Big Phil was the inexplicable decision to take off Quaresma, the new signing, who had been one of the better players, especially for Drogba. Nothing against the Ivory Coast hitman in fact but on the previous Thursday, I attended an event with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who pointed out Drogba played better with wingers and here he was, taking off a winger. Strange, to say the least.
However, having said all that, I am not a fan of removing managers midway through a season or this, as Sir Alex Ferguson has said, lack of patience. I did not like Grant for example, but given time he was improving and showing his worth. Again, I felt his dismissal was far too early. As was Claudio Ranieri's.
Roman Abramovich is turning into quite the managerial hitman. Four in six years is quite a rate. I do not think there are enough quality managers to keep that rate up! Unbelievable. What makes it worse is the air of inevitability about it. Scolari started off so brightly and I was hoping that the start would continue so that I would be shown up for my naivety. Unfortunately, my prediction came true, and now there is indeed egg on some very big faces. Not least of all Chelsea football club and their sugar daddy owner.
Roman Abramovich, for all his business acumen and millions, which he is clutching on to ever tighter these days, in the current economic climate where only oil money seems to grow in fields, has failed to understand football.
New managers always want an overhaul of squads, one of Scolari's gripes, the failure to bag him Robinho has been costly. The Brazilian has been every bit as brilliant as I hoped. Gallingly, it is in the blue of Man City and not Chelsea. However Abramovich's biggest mistake is not seing the need for stability, or past Mourinho's outbursts in the press for what they are-part of the brinkmanship of modern football. The state Chelsea are in returns us to another prophetic warning I laid out in a university newspaper article I wrote in 2007 reproduced here in full:
Jose Mourinho has his critics and much as he aims to be he is not perfect. However the events of recent weeks have served to make one thing clear. Mourinho is important to Chelsea and possibly the Premiership as a whole. If Chelsea sack or allow Mourinho to leave they would be making a catastrophic error. The events have made this clear as the rumours of unhappiness in the squad and the rumours of Mourinho’s departure have forced a re-examination of his achievements. Mourinho won the Premiership in his first season in charge and in a country that was not his own. This is a mark of a special manager. He has also changed the level of achievement in the Premiership. In his first season in charge Chelsea got a record points haul. The second season they also reached a ninety plus target. This in turn forced Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the best managers in the world to concede Man Utd’s historic approach of charging in the second half of seasons was no longer enough. To win the Premiership now a team must, much like Arsenal in their unbeaten year, have a consistent run, start to finish with few mistakes. Mourinho has helped accelerate that process. Mourinho has also helped bring on English players. For all the talk of big transfers, money and one or two mistakes-Shaun Wright-Phillips for example- who have not worked out, look at the squad again. When he came he was determined to keep the English spine to the squad declaring himself happy with the “best defender in the world” John Terry and the “best midfielder in the world” Frank Lampard. Sven Goran Erikksson criticised Joe Cole for not being more than a creative flair player but failed to galvanise the midfielder into a more rounded player. Mourinho however did. At the World Cup Joe Cole was arguably one of England’s better performers and made a fair fist of the troublesome left midfield position. Mourinho may be under pressure but it is pressure of his own making and there is no problem in that. Despite missing some key players through injury-both main goalkeepers, John Terry, Joe Cole even, Chelsea remain six points behind United. Chelsea are in both domestic competitions and the Champions League. As the latter competition returns Cech is ready to play, albeit with protective headwear, and Terry is not far behind. Thus any rifts, any desires by backroom forces would be ridiculous. The rumours smack of non-football related fears. That some expensive players, contractually and transfer fee, and the cost may not be returned immediately. If Chelsea fails to win this season, projects such as Peter Kenyon’s China trip in recent weeks would be less successful. Nobody but die-hard fans support an unsuccessful team. However, with Mourinho in charge, without interference, trophies will be won. He is a winner. He has won four leagues in a row. If money has been overspent than Chelsea should have been firmer from the beginning,. a player’s value should be similar regardless of who is calling. Again, regardless of whom Mourinho asked for, the club should be run as a business and some of Chelsea’s decisions have been poor business. That’s not up to Mourinho so those errors lay elsewhere. Than there are the alternatives: Mourinho is one of the youngest managers to employ. Guss Hiddink may be a great manager but he will for at least one season be following his PSV patterns and also managing a national side. Much as his management has worked wonders, the Premiership may test that juggling act. In addition he does not like the kind of press scrutiny the English game generates. Marcello Lippi has also been named as a contender but he is fifteen years senior than Mourinho and would have to learn English. Therefore it is evident that for his age and his abilities Mourinho would be a big loss to Chelsea and any decent board would try everything in their power to retain him.
The fact as we all know, is they didn't. I just hope, irony of ironies, Mourinho does not achieve what Inter hired him for, the Champions League. It would be his greatest and most satisfying victory. The biggest reply to the events that saw him ousted from what could have been a throne as long lasting as Sir Alex Ferguson's.