Sat in my seminar on Wednesday, November 21st, carefully making notes, my friend Tom nudges me. Assuming it’s a latest draft of our 5-a-side formation, I peer over. A tweet on his phone read: “Manager, Roberto Di Matteo has parted company with Chelsea.”
This came of no great surprise. Chelsea have been sacking managers left, right and centre since Mourinho’s departure. In fact, as a job, it is to football what the Defence against the Dark Arts role is to Hogwarts.
Twitter explodes. It was more a surreal sense of, “again?” “He won the Champions League!” “He won the FA Cup!” “He’s an ex player who won the Champions League and FA Cup!” and so forth.
As an Arsenal fan, I have grown to live with the idea of silverware being few and far between. I’ve taken solace in the stability of the club and Wenger himself, who has seen twelve Chelsea managers come and go in his time at Arsenal.
However, look at Chelsea and what they have achieved. You may question the dismissal of Di Matteo, a former player who brought two trophies to the club in under a year. It’s the stuff of dreams for any club surely. What about Ancelotti? The domestic double and he still got sacked.
But consider this: under what system have these managers achieved success? You may well question the ethics of having so little patience with a manager, but can you question the success this atmosphere of managers under pressure has had?
The salient facts are these: twelve trophies in seven years; three Premier League titles, four FA cups, two league cups, a Champions League title and two community shields. Are you going to be the one to tell me that Abramovich’s methods are unsuccessful? Then why are so many Chelsea fans aggravated?
It’s because trophies are not enough. In an age of money-football, fans are clinging to pride just as much as silverware. Arsenal fans boast of the ethics of the club, Manchester United and Liverpool fans speak proudly of their history and rivalry which has endured and even Norwich City fans take pride in back-to-back promotions built on the team motif.
Meanwhile, Chelsea? Well, as I said, Twitter exploded. Journalists joked, opposition fans jeered, and Chelsea fans talked of what a mess they were becoming. A never-ending carousel of store-bought trophies and managerial casualties.
The issue is not of Di Matteo’s sacking. He did well, in fact, he did extremely well. But his saga is just another chapter in a history Chelsea are still building, which is increasingly beginning to resemble Henry VIII and his many wives.Tweet