Times are pretty good right now and the future seems pretty bright for Chelsea FC and its fans, but have you ever really stopped and thought about how the Blues arrived at this wonderful point in club history?
Still psychologically drunk on the UEFA Champions League victory and its subsequent qualification for this year’s tournament, the FA Cup win and a 3-0-0 start in the English Premier League this young season it’s easy to be basking in a royal blue glow right about now but how about a little love for the suits who helped create this reality?
As fans, it’s so easy right now to talk about Fernando Torres possibly returning to his old form or how marvelous Eden Hazard has been so far, but behind all this glory and optimism are some very intelligent and powerful and rich men who have helped make this present reality a fun one in which to live for us Chelsea FC fans.
Now I’m usually the last man on earth to be praising rich and powerful men but Blues owner Roman Abramovich, chief executive Ron Gourlay, chairman Bruce Buck and manager Roberto Di Matteo, as well as the board and a number of other key people in management, deserve some serious recognition for all they have done since March to make things the way they presently are over at Stamford Bridge.
The 42-year-old former Blues midfielder quickly scrapped the Blues 4-3-3 formation that the former Porto, and now Tottenham Hotspur manager, basically inherited from José Mourinho in favor of the 4-2-3-1 system now used by most international clubs.
Seemingly re-energized by Di Matteo and the smallest glimmer of hope, Chelsea then went 4-0-0 in FA Cup play under its new skipper and 5-0-1 in Champions League action en route to bringing back two pretty nice pieces of silverware to west London and providing the greatest climax in the team’s history.
Even though he helped the Blues win their first Champions League, management made caretaker boss Di Matteo really sweat about his possible future at The Bridge with Pep Guardiola being rumored as the guy who could very likely get the manager’s gig.
But Gourlay deemed Di Matteo the "right man to lead Chelsea onto further success" and the Italian was rewarded for masterminding the Blues’ spring of all springs with a two-year contract in mid-June insisting on more than a year’s deal not wanting to be perceived as just a seat-warmer for Guardiola who started a one-year sabbatical.
So basically all Di Matteo had to do was revive Chelsea from the dead and win the tournament of all tournaments—beating powerhouses Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the end—to finally rid that “interim” from his title.
Two other huge pieces of the puzzle on the field were also handled perfectly by management in the late spring when goalkeeper extraordinaire Petr Čech was signed to a four-year contract and an unhappy Torres was assured he would get his chance to start at the striker spot and prove his worth to the club in the coming season.
So with Di Matteo, Čech and Torres all taken care of, management then went on the summer transfer window shopping spree of all summer transfer window shopping sprees.
After letting go of well-known Blues’ stalwarts like Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and José Bosingwa—and knowing guys like Florent Malouda and Michael Essien, among others might also have to eventually go—the club used Abramovich’s deep, oil-rich pockets to sign Marko Marin, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Oscar, César Azpilicueta and Victor Moses as Chelsea began its latest metamorphosis.
And with the transfer window closing August 31, the Blues still have a little bit of time to try to sign another striker—the only real position the club is now short on depth.
Now granted, having a Russian billionaire owner willing to spend millions to get his team just the way he wants it is a luxury most teams in professional sports can never even imagine, but it doesn’t always translate to instant success as Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn (formerly New Jersey) Nets (22-44 last season), can certainly attest to.
And one needs to look no farther than across Londontown and ask Arsenal FC and Gunners fans just how important management can be to a club and its well-being.
Since 2005, Arsenal have lost four captains—Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fàbregas and now Robin van Persie—as well as other players like Samir Nasri and Alex Song. And all one needs to do to see how much losing all that talent from the Emirates hurts and how it affects the die-hard fan is to follow Piers Morgan on Twitter.
Now that’s entertainment.
So we watch the games comfortably from our couches at home on television or from the stands and put tremendous value in what happens on the pitch and from our Chelsea heroes like legends Drogba, Frank Lampard, Čech and John Terry and we justly canonize them for their stellar play.
But we should really stop for a second and realize that guys like Di Matteo, Gourlay, Buck and Abramovich, as well as all of the coaches and trainers and even agents, are making and have made some really big decisions on the sidelines and in the locker room and in the boardroom and have made a lot of telephone calls lately to make this exactly the way it is we see it today.
And although seeing the Blues repeat as European champions and FA Cup champions and making a run at the EPL title will all be incredibly hard feats, especially with a big blue target now on their backs, I would hate to think how hard those lofty goals would be to achieve had these people in management not pulled all of the proper strings that they have.
These people certainly deserve their share of gratitude from us fans for a job well done.
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