It’s pretty clear from this week’s press and social media that there’s a widespread distaste for the way Chelsea FC has behaved in its sacking of Roberto di Matteo as manager. A glance at Twitter on Wednesday told me that there are plenty of Chelsea fans who are fed up with the way Roman Abramovich treats his minions, to the extent that some are at the point of not wanting to support the club any longer.
The affair has highlighted some of the worst aspects of modern football, an unhealthy melange of big money, big egos, demands that will never be fulfilled and a willingness to declare a manager a failure for a short term sticky patch. There’s an overwhelming sense of it being a plaything of a billionaire with little patience and less loyalty, made worse by knowing it could easily happen at other clubs that are not as big as Chelsea. Leave aside the stench that remains from the John Terry and Mark Clattenburg affairs, there’s something deeply unpleasant in the events of the past few days.
The worst thing about it is the sense that, despite everything that’s wrong with the club, it will go on being one of the elite in England and one of the most successful in Europe. It will still have the money for massive transfer fees and big wages, which means it will have a large pool of world class players who will win most of their games, and carry off a series of trophies, no matter how much managers are undermined and discarded. There’s a lot to be said for continuity in football, but the experience of the last twenty years shows that it comes second to the amount of money behind a club.
So it’s still possible that, even with a manager who most believe is there as a stopgap, Chelsea could win the Premier League this season, and probable that over the next couple of years it will win two or three trophies. The only real threat is that the owner’s money disappears, and even then a club of its size has a big enough revenue stream to keep itself in the top rank.
That’s what’s really annoying – money makes up for all kinds of mean minded madness in modern football.