‘Patience is a virtue’. It goes without saying and it’s a quality not known in football nowadays. Roberto Di Matteo who led Chelsea to arguably, their greatest night in their 112-year history by winning the UEFA Champions League was sacked last Wednesday after a 3-0 defeat away to Juventus.
After reports of ex-boss Di Matteo being sacked at 4am through a phone call, Roman Abramovich has now built up a lethal reputation within the football world over the treatment of his managers.
With Rafa Benitez now appointed as the interim manager, unsurprisingly unfavoured with the Chelsea supporters, here's a look at why managers should stay away from managing Chelsea.
Winning the Champions League and FA Cup should grant you some freedom, some leeway but most of all a heck load more faith than Di Matteo received from Abramovich.
Although he won Europe’s top club honours, he was never the first choice manager; Abramovich had his eyes set on appointing Guardiola who decided then to take a year long sabbatical.
Reluctantly, Di Matteo was offered a 2-year deal and his sack came as a shock. He led the team to the top of the Premier League and was still in the Capital One Cup and within a good shout of the Knockout stages of the Champions League.
However after a string of 2 wins in 8 games and Chelsea dropping to 4th in the league, Abramovich did what he is most famous for and without a care in the world he got rid of fan favourite Di Matteo.
It goes to show that success will not guarantee a long stay at Chelsea.
His predecessor, Andre Villas Boas went through a similar run of poor results and was given the abrupt sack. His dismissal came as more of a shock due to Abramovich’s support of AVB’s long term plans for the team.
AVB aimed to buy young and start young but it was doomed from the very beginning. Villas-Boas lost the respect and faith of Chelsea’s fans by dropping their most popular players to the bench: Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.
Reports of a falling out between the boss and his senior players and after a string of poor results, Abramovich lost total patience and like Di Matteo, AVB was given the axe after an away defeat to West Brom.
If you’re loved and cherished by the team’s fans then you’re most likely in it for the long run. Just look at Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes.
Idolised, cheered and shown patience by their fans the three managers are known for their quality football and are respected by all in the world of football.
At Chelsea, being a fan favourite means nothing. A clear example of this was Jose Mourinho, ‘The Special One as he was known, was an exceptional manager and in his own right, Chelsea’s best overall manager.
A man who was adored by the players and fans, a man who inspired the club in ways not seen as a Chelsea fan and a man who ended the club's 50 year long wait for a Premier League title.
He became Chelsea’s most successful manager winning six honours in his 3-year stay. Abramovich risked the wrath of Chelsea fans by letting him go due to disagreements with the board-involving successor, Avram Grant.
There is pressure for being a top flight manager as expected; clubs like Barcelona, Man Utd and Man City etc are expected to win the big trophies but with Chelsea there’s extra pressure for having to be consistently good and deliver trophies.
Clubs will inevitably go through slumps and suffer surprise defeats and losing streaks but as its been shown at Chelsea, if it happens to the manager he will eventually be sacked.
It’s a sad story but it is an inevitability that’s been proven time and time again. During his tenure as owner, Abramovich has demanded immediate success from the team albeit through a ton of money being spent on players and managers.
Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and now Rafael Benitez have managed Chelsea for a combined 12 years; still 14 years shorter than the current reign of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Chelsea could learn a thing or two about managing a club from United. For prospective Chelsea managers (Pep Guardiola), if you want to stay long term at the club: You have to beat West Brom away, always start Torres and win every game, otherwise you might be getting that dreaded 4am phonecall too.
image: © Jason Bagley