Dan reckons Chelsea’s money man is in it for more than the silverware.
It was the classic football tale: Russian billionaire buys football club, spends millions on players, recruits most promising manager in the world, manager ends Manchester United-Arsenal Premiership stranglehold bringing a smile to neutrals, manager pisses off Fergie and Wenger bringing great cheer to neutrals, team wins Premiership for the second consecutive year, club captain is made national captain, two world stars are signed breaking the British transfer and salary records to help the club become European champions.
And then things went wrong.
It might seem ridiculous to deem a season â€œwrongâ€ when the team finishes second in the league, gets to the Champions League semi-final, wins the Carling Cup and possibly the FA Cup, and a few years ago it would have been ridiculous to say this. But things have changed for Chelsea in a short space time and they have become victims of their own success.
>If there is one thing that football fans hate more than a team that wins all the time, it is a team that wins all the time having spent a shedload of money. Neutrals are jealous because Chelsea have the two ingredients that they dream of: success and the money to buy whoever they want. We all want an Abramovich as our teamâ€™s chairman. A man who can buy world stars like Cristiano Ronaldo buys coat-yourself tins of tanning creosote (oh come on, he looks the lovechild of Michael Jackson and a Wotsit).
But in our dreams, the club doesnâ€™t just buy a squad of superstars and win trophies; it wins them in style. And this is why neutrals have been laying the boot into Chelsea this season with increased zeal, because not only do they feel jealous, but they feel betrayed too. Chelsea had the chance to live the dream, but instead they whacked the ball long to Drogba. Hence Mourinhoâ€™s interviews are no longer seen as amusing but irritating; Lampard is no longer seen as a great goal-scoring midfielder but a lazy, big-head who never passes; and, in the biggest turnaround of all, neutrals have cheered for Manchester United in their battle with Chelsea for the Premiership.
So what next for the Blues? Well that depends on Abramovich, for it is his millions that have transformed Chelsea more than any other factor and whether he wishes to spend these millions with the same abandon he did until the last transfer window will shape Chelseaâ€™s future.
The first scenario is that Abramovichâ€™s inactivity in the January transfer window is a sign of things to come and he will not spend big any more. If this is the case then I would expect Mourinho to be retained as Abramovich is less likely to want a new manager if he has lost interest in Chelsea and is not prepared to invest heavily in players again. In this scenario, keeping Mourinho would be the prime option for continued success at Chelsea as quite simply he is the best â€˜resultsâ€™ manager in the world. He has shown that he can win the league with the nucleus of the current Chelsea squad and even if Shevchenko, Ballack, Robben and Boulahrouz were to leave, the fact that they have played few games and/or have had little impact means they are unlikely to be missed. Add to that the fact that Man U cannot play any better than they have this season and the injury list discrepancy between them and Chelsea is unlikely to be so unbalanced against Chelsea again next season, and Blues fans can be confident about regaining the title.
But while Mourinho is at the helm, Chelseaâ€™s style of play will not become any more entertaining and this could lead to Abramovich removing him. Apparently Abramovich decided to buy a football team after watching a 4-3 thriller between Manchester United and Real Madrid. The game had wave after wave of skilful attack and some gaping holes in defence. Mourinho doesnâ€™t do 4-3 thrillers or gaping holes in defence. His teams are exactly what dream teams are not: functional and defensive-minded. Results over flair.
Which is why, if Abramovich wants to assemble the most exciting attacking team on the planet, Mourinho is not the right man to manage it. Abramovichâ€™s personal fortune is estimated to increase by â‚¤540m per year, so he can buy whoever he wants. But even he would have been pissed off to have shelled out â‚¤30m on his favourite player and see him become a laughing stock. Shevchenko was world class and consistently top scorer in the hardest league in the world to score in. Yes, he is now past his best but the main reason for his failing in the Premiership is the way he has been asked to play at Chelsea â€“ more as left winger than a centre forward. Despite his transfer fee and reputation he was still treated as a cog in the functional Mourinho team.
Is Abramovich likely to spend massive sums on Ronaldinho or Kaka knowing that they too would be asked to adapt their games to Mourinhoâ€™s hard-working system? Even Ashley Cole, a left-back, has had to alter his game radically to become less attack-minded. Chelsea were at their most exhilarating in Mourinhoâ€™s first season when Duff and Robben were flying and were the best sight in the league at the time, but their attacking strengths were overlooked and their defensive weaknesses focussed on. The result is this seasonâ€™s four central midfielder policy and hitting longer and more direct to a big, powerful centre forward.
When he joined Chelsea, Mourinho was the perfect man for the job. The money invested in the team and the talent of the squad demanded trophies and Mourinho delivered back-to-back titles. He transformed Chelsea into a three points machine and raised the bar for Premiership winning points totals. The problem is that having raised the bar, winning is no longer enough. Something more special could be achieved.
Will Abramovich view the failure of Shevchenko as a reason to step away or a reason to step further in, sack Mourinho and try to create a team that will never be forgotten? This dreamer hopes itâ€™s the latter.