Sven Goran Eriksson claims to have told the Russian billionaire to snub Tottenham to takeover at Chelsea, was he right?
The ex-England manager has been in the spotlight recently, to a number of stories that have opened the door to bizarre incidents from his illustrious managerial career.
The most high profile story was he signed a deal to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United, a decade before Alex Ferguson actually stepped down as United’s supremo. He also claimed that Scholes was England’s best player but was held back by his asthma, this for me is especially bizarre as the Swedish manager seemed to be a major reason the midfielder retired in 2004, when he could have easily carried on for another 6 to 8 years. Finally, after a horrendous flop at Leicester, he claimed the owners were cowardly in their treatment of him, despite throwing millions of their pounds on mercenaries and flops to stagnate mid-table in the Championship.
One of the more outstanding stories comes from his influence with Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich.
The Guangzhou manager told BBC Radio 5 Live:
‘’Roman wanted to buy a club in Russia
‘’I went with him to Moscow to see the facilities of two or three clubs.
‘’but then he changed his mind and he said he wanted to buy a club in London.
‘’he was thinking Chelsea or Tottenham
‘’he phoned me and said: ‘’who shall I buy?’’
‘’I said if you want to win the league then Chelsea – because you only have to change half of the team
‘’At the time with Tottenham maybe you would have had to change the whole team’’
But was the Swedish manager justified in his assessment, would it have been better in the long-term if he had brought Spurs?
When Abramovich took the reins in the summer of 2003 there was little time from his name being above the door, to the revolution starting.
The first season saw an unprecedented amount of money being spent bringing in some of the highest sought after players in Europe, the likes of Hernan Crespo, Adrian Mutu, Claude Makelele and Damien Duff were signed for huge 7 figure sums.
The assessment of ‘only needing to change HALF the team’ seemed lost on the Russian and when the side finished 2nd without winning a trophy, he showed his thirst for blood by sacking Claudio Ranieri and bringing in highly rated ‘special one’ Jose Mourinho and the cheque book was out once again.
Many of players signed in the first year of Mourinho’s tutorship went on to play a huge part of the clubs history with Paulo Ferreira, Petr Cech, Arjen Robben, Ricardo Carvalho and arguably their most successful signing ever Didier Drogba, which at the time was questioned by the fans all coming through the door.
The spending didn’t stop there and in his 10 years at Chelsea the Russian has spent over £700-million-pound on what is perhaps the most expensive assembled squad in Premier League history.
They have been extremely successful during the tenure of the trigger happy Russian, who has over seen the best period of the clubs history.
3 Premier League trophies, 5 FA cups, 2 League cups, 1 Europa League trophy and of course, their infamous Champions League win over Bayern Munich at Munich’s home ground in 2012.
But the sentiment of buying Chelsea because there was a ‘little’ less work to be done in the first instance seems somewhat, a little insignificant now. He has had to chop and change the Chelsea side on a number of occasions spending crazy amounts of money to keep them successful and he could have easily achieved the same at Spurs, given that they had the spending power that Abramovich was able to supply.
Tottenham were probably considered the bigger side at the time, and in some circles perhaps still are, but the gap between the two London clubs has shortened since 2004 and no-one can deny that, largely down to Abramovich’s influence.
Food for thought, would have been interesting to see where the two clubs would be if Abramovich had bought Tottenham and Ken Bates, who is credited with the demise of Leeds United had stayed at Chelsea.
Did Abramovich make the right decision listening to Sven, or could he achieved more at Tottenham?
image: © Free-ers