Stamford Surprise…

9 02 2009

The surprising dismissal of Luis Felipe Scolari from Chesea this afternoon has revealed much about the nature of the beast. Having courted the Brazillian for so long, it seems counter-logical for Chelsea to sack him at the point the going gets tough. Yet they did. Or rather Abramovich did. Yes, it is true, the Russian owner of Chelsea has had his final, definitive say in the matter.

For Abramovich, sitting fourth in the league is simply not good enough, especially as Chelsea seem so far off the boil they are practically frozen. The fortress that was Stamford Bridge is now little more than a hiderance to players already suffering from a crisis in confidence. So many key players are not performing to the same standard they were a couple of years ago. Drogba is unhappy, Deco is wayward, Terry looks less than composed, Joe Cole is off colour, and try as he might, Frank Lampard cannot continue to carry the team as he has done in recent times. And the reason for all this, is, according to Abramovich, Scolari. The big Brazillian’s first attempt at club management for a long time has imploded spectacularly, despite it being easy to suggest that he was not given a fair stab at things.

For Abramovich, Chelsea remains his plaything. It is true that he does care about the club, and wants success, but he feels that, as owner, it is his call on the major decisions. He forced Mourinho out last season, in what was probably his biggest mistake to date. He sacked Grant and Scolari for little more than a few poor results (Grant had only lost in the Champions League final and finished second to Manchester United). Neither were given a fair crack of the whip. Chelsea were the first rich-mans-plaything in this era of increased wealth from foreign climes. They are still considered the blueprint for league success, and have upped the stakes for other clubs. Suddenly it became hard to compete with them in financial terms, so teams had to find other ways of gaining the upper hand. United succeeded, and there are signs Liverpool have done too. Chelsea’s transfer policy of signing the big-name older players has done for Scolari. Youth is the way forward, yet it was a factor ignored by the previous three managers. Sir Alex Ferguson has often talked about his current team playing together for another ten years at the highest level. That is a sign of his youth policy working. Most of Chelsea’s first team are 30 or over, and it shows. Aston Villa, another team who have invested largely in youth players, have claimed third ahead of the Blues.

Scolari, then, was sacked for two reasons. Firstly, most of his key players are alarmingly off-form. As manager it is his job to correct this element. But, more importantly, I would suggest Scolari has paid the price for a transfer policy which is clearly not of his own making. In this regard I feel sorry for him.

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