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A Definitive Guide To Life Under Roman Rule


Dorset

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" Abramovich changed English football and ensured that, to be successful in the Premier League, clubs have to spend big money… Chelsea are having their problems, but you look at their squad and realise that a tweak here and there will make them a quality team again… Supporters are not interested in being a well-run club that does not win anything. If you offered them a badly run club who win trophies every year, there is no doubt they would take that every time."

 

                                                                                                                                                          Alan Hansen (The Daily Telegraph, 3rd December 2012)

 

Although not the prime subject matter for Hansen’s piece yesterday, these Roman-related statements caught my eye for the simple reason that the dour Scot had, without realising the fact (and I choose that word advisedly) hit upon a major conundrum facing top level football clubs since our owner’s arrival on the scene. Put bluntly, like it or not (and for the most part we have liked it a lot) Roman Abramovich has had an unquenchable desire to drive Chelsea inexorably forward, hell bent on serial success, and it has always been his raison d’etre from Day One of ownership. At the time it was a state of mind seemingly unique to him, unlike any instinctive boyhood fan-fuelled allegiance, the sort that is so often inherited, nor did it in any way resemble the acquired affinity that can be bestowed upon oneself, albeit no less significant for being so.

 

Working from this baser fan, or fan base if you prefer, a choice of wording no doubt governed by your own sensitivity on the subject, we find Premiership history telling it as it is, namely that before our benevolent Russian pitched up his level of trophy-winning intensity had only ever been matched by two Premiership clubs, United and Arsenal, with a one-off title win achieved at Blackburn by the archetypal fan (Jack Walker) whose attempt at others was, like as not, smothered at birth by geographical subservience to the Mancs and aligned to the swift onset of limited funding. Clearly, as Hansen points out, ’big money’ needs spending year-on-year and it is not enough to merely start the football rolling - it soon stops and for confirmation of this you just have to ask what is left of the Blackburn fan base…

 

… and while you are doing that perhaps it might be an idea to ask them what they think of Venkys London Ltd, the holding company that bought a 99.9% stake in Rovers, spending the Indian-princely sum of £23million to cover the club’s debt, thereby taking control in circumstances not dissimilar to our own at around the time Roman spied the Bridge from his seat on a plane above the ground all those years ago. Comparisons don’t end there either, because every hack in the country will be only too pleased to equate and acquaint you with Rafa Benitez’s current situation and that of Steve Kean, the ex-coach of three months standing (which, mercifully, is not now in front of a baying crowd) both subjected to abuse that was always going to be best directed at their employers and, if you really believed the appointers to be that wrong in the first place, followed up by calls for them to be removed, not merely their minions. To be fair, disaffected they may be, but the Rovers fan base continues to do just that, through relentless protest, whilst I can only assume it is a logical(?) next step for those of us so incensed by Roman’s running of the club. If so, no doubt those of you with such strong feelings will make them known in response to this topic.

 

In eager anticipation and with another avenue to explore, let’s now join the pure of heart and clean of conscience down at the Emirates, where a certain business model has been described as sheer perfection for nigh on eight years. This [far from] happy home is inhabited by fans who have had to endure every minute of a steady decline on the pitch in the mistaken belief that ‘Arsene knew‘ - quite what, forever remaining a mystery. Pot-less, often pointless, there can be no finer example of the perception in Hansen’s ‘well-run club that doesn’t win anything’ comment. Moreover, who could possibly argue against the Emirates faithful (never mind the revolting at Rovers) not wanting to take Roman in a heartbeat due to their obvious need of an owner unafraid to measure success by results on the park and not by doleful, somewhat premature, financial fair play adherence.

 

Warming to this theme, rumour has it that Wenger’s got £40million to spend in January, a sum we feel will be stumped up by Roman for Radamel Falcao, irrespective of the threatened owner abuse from fans who, in the past, have always stopped short of criticising his largesse, especially when it benefited them [vicariously in the form of expensive signings] and despite being openly critical of an indulgence for dismissing coaches, so easily replaced in likeminded fashion to players. Indeed, have we really reached the stage where we accept his benevolence, almost as of right, whilst openly ridiculing him for a seeming obsession with Torres? Here again, when it comes to Fernando, I’m sure I’ll be told the real story in responses to this topic, probably by those who honestly believe he is a complete waste of space and money, although I would then like to see those selfsame posters declare that they don’t much mind if another penny isn’t spent on a replacement, because Romelu Lukaku will do the job for us.

 

Okay, naivety crept in there for a moment. I accept that is not going to happen and it wont happen until we, the fans, take a full swig from the bottle marked ’Realism’ which is found on the shelf marked ‘Choice Chels’ in the shop called ’Modern Day Football’. A dose of it taken in the bad times (for that is where some misguided and Media-influenced individuals appear to think we are) as well as the good will do none of us any harm. Not even Robbie, who is probably basking on a beach somewhere as I type, soaking up the sun and counting his compensation. Or Bruce Buck and Ron Gourlay, probably basking in the self-satisfaction of knowing Rafa (what part of the word ‘interim’ do we not understand?) was damaged goods all along, without actually having to say so out loud in front of Roman. Or Pep Guardiola, probably basking in glory somewhere in New York, wondering what all this fuss is about over here and thinking to himself - what’s the problem, surely everybody knows what’s happening next season, don’t they? No, Pep, only Roman knows and that, when you spend the money he has on our club, is probably just as it should be.

 

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I think as fans we deserve a happy medium, his money has been good but that doesn't mean we have to keep standing by and watching him crap all over legends even if they are well compensated.

 

Robbie is never going to be skint but I doubt he would have had he been sacked when AVB was but he was Chelsea through and through and I doubt he looked on it as just a Job, he will likely have a right good time with whatever compensation he has, he will likely get another top Job but I doubt the next club will be in his heart like this one and I doubt our next manager will be in the fans hearts as Robbie is.

 

There is more to life than money and for me more to supporting a club than trophies or expensive players.

 

Why should we all feel grateful to Abramovic because he has an expensive hobby? why should we get attatched to managers and see real hope for a future with them at the helm just for him to sack them for a whim? because he can do something we'd all do if we could afford it? .

 

No I'd sooner have Batesy and be in the second division, at least he actually had an idea of what Chelsea fans wanted even if he didn't always do the right thing.

 

Anyone who could install Benitez as manager here iseither so distant from or contemptuous to the fansbase that he doesn't deserve our unblinkered gratitude and the idea that keep sacking managers has given us more silverware/success than we would have had if he let one of three or four he has sacked stick at the Job is for me just plain wrong.

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I quite like this article written by Matt Dickinson in The Times:

Would we really know better than Roman Abramovich?

So what sort of club owner would you be? A chummy political leader just happens to have given you vast tracts of national energy resources, you’ve turned oil into cash and now have billions to blow on yachts and football.

How would any of us behave given the wealth, freedom of choice and mad passion for football? Not nearly as erratically or whimsically as bonkers Roman Abramovich, we tell ourselves. But are we quite sure about that?

We say we would appoint a management staff and leave it to the experts. But, seriously, where is the fun in hands-off ownership?

We are not Sheikh Mansour, sitting in a palace back in Abu Dhabi, benevolently signing cheques from afar. Manchester City fans might regard that as model ownership but we are proper football supporters who want to live and breathe our club.

The eternal fan’s condition is to think he knows better, yes, even than Arsène Wenger: “You don’t know what you’re doingâ€.

And now we have the opportunity to put some long-held theories to the test. All those blindingly obvious mistakes that even the best managers make — that gaping hole in the middle of Manchester United’s midfield, for instance — we can now put right in our team. And it goes without saying that this is not ego at work. It is for the good of the club.

For all those millions we are paying the manager, the least he can do is listen — and explain his thinking. It doesn’t sound so unreasonable.

We want to know what team is being picked, and of course we should not have to wait until after the result when he may be full of excuses. We want to know what performance to expect; and is it really so wrong to interject with “4-4-2? Are you sure about that?†As a fascinated fan, we want to understand what makes the manager worth backing. The least we deserve is a proper insight into how, say, José Mourinho makes those all-important half-time interventions.

“There’s f***-all going on in most dressing rooms, I can tell you,†Simon Jordan concluded after his ruinous ownership of Crystal Palace.

But maybe he just chose uninspiring managers. What does go on in the inner sanctum? We should know, but that is going to require a trip to the dressing room before kick-off and at half-time. Outsiders will say we are interfering but, in another business, this would be called sensible oversight.

Then there is the training ground. Jordan trained with the Palace players a few times while trying to get fit for a charity match. Good for him. Who wouldn’t want a kickaround if they owned the place?

Would it really be an imposition to ask Petr Cech to stay behind so we can take some penalties, to test ourselves against one of the world’s best? It seems the least a player can do when we are paying him £20,000 a day. One small indulgence for our billion-pound investment seems fair enough.

It’s not like we have registered ourselves for a guest appearance in the first team. Not yet, anyway.

And it’s not like we have imposed ourselves on the players’ social lives. Hanging around with Ashley Cole and a gang of models at Chinawhite might have sounded like fun ten years ago (OK, 20 years ago) but we aren’t that desperate for a good time.

We are just in it for the good of the club, bringing our passion to bear. And we are reasonably minded. We know the club’s heritage. We might want a little input into the kit — perhaps a bit more classic and retro — but we have no plans to change the colours. We aren’t philistines.

“He’s entitled to do whatever he wants because of the amount of money he’s put behind the team,†Sam Allardyce says of Abramovich. And why shouldn’t we be able to sign the right type of characters for the dressing room, deal only with agents who are not spivs, surround ourselves with advisers we trust.

It might sound like meddling, but we love the club and we want more fun than Randy Lerner and Ellis Short are having just now. Some owners may have more patience, like Peter Coates or Dave Whelan, but they have less ambition. We don’t want to be hanging around the bottom half of the table or, to borrow a depressing phrase, “growing organicallyâ€. We crave success, like the fans.

It all sounds so reasonable when no one around you is saying “noâ€, and this is how it must all appear to Abramovich in his strange, billionaire’s existence, where no decision ever has to be explained or justified. So how different would you be in rich man’s shoes?

In this corner, we make just one promise. When it comes to firing the manager, we will have the grace to do it in person instead of despatching a flunky.

Even as a billionaire, we have not forgotten that manners cost nothing.

 

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Rules under Roman....I love Chels..... Shut up or your off to the salt mines..I love him too and he's better than all the other muppets I see running Prem clubs.  Good post Huttsey.  I think we'll see him mellow slightly since recent discord and reckon FSW will stay in the job until end season at least.

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