Chelsea Terrace Talk – Irish Examiner Article By Trizia
It all had the air of an end of season game where neither team had anything to play for – certainly not two bitter rivals battling for the one remaining Champions League place.
Although Tottenham had the better chances to score, they were really no better than us & both teams were laid bare – two average teams – one of which had played well beyond it’s talents for the first half of the season, and one once powerful side seriously on the wane; it was no great advert for the Premier League.
I had believed for quite some time, even in the darkest moments of this campaign, that we would still sneak 4th place, but for the first time I now have serious doubs. And with no Champions League what kind of manager & players can we attract? Those blasé about the situation will claim that everyone has a price – but it’s not as simple as that these days. Sponsorship deals are now very complex – they are based on levels of exposure – with the Champions League a CV must to become the poster boy for one of the super-brands. The top players can easily quadruple their already grossly engorged salaries from the right sponsorship deals – & to be paid top dollar, you need to be associated with success and that very top European table.
Then there is the money side of it – no prize money, no Champions League merchandise to sell, no Champions League TV deals – it goes on and on….
Should we fail to qualify this could be a real crossroads for the club, and as such the decisions made now could probably be the most important for Chelsea for at least a couple of decades. The same clubs in every country seem to have a stranglehold on these CL places, so should one drop out, you can bet that it will be really difficult to get back there any time soon – especially now that more & more clubs have the financial clout to compete at the highest level.
It’s been a strange season this one – we’re still in the FA Cup and the Champions League and I just want it to end. The football we have played has only on the rarest occasion quickened the pulse. This added to the wranglings over the ground and the still to be heard race row, has made this a season that I would like to forget – and in my decades as a Chelsea supporter – even in our darkest hours- there are not many of those.
And this is all to do with money – as supporters we shouldn’t care about the money, but we know, as much as we hate it, that that is what governs football. The money in the game today sometimes makes us forget that this is something we are meant to enjoy – it’s meant to make us happy. It’s not about character assassinations in the press, or tasteless & classless blogs and tweets or hateful chanting. I am all for rivalry because that is an inherent and necessary (and enjoyable) part of football, but somewhere along the line, the spirit of the game has somehow got lost and that started when the moneymen realised that football could be the ultimate cash cow.
Most of us supporters wince when the uninitiated utter those immortal words “it’s only a game” – we know better obviously, but it may be worth sometimes remembering that it is a game – and one we love, then we may get back to enjoying it as we once did, no matter how we were doing.
But back to matters at hand, who will be manager next season. Initially, I was against getting Mourinho back. These reunions rarely work and I would have rather remembered him for the extraordinary job he did here – but the more I think about it, the more I am struggling to think of anyone that could actually turn us around. We need someone with a proven track record; we need someone charismatic that could persuade top players to come to join us; we need someone who understands the various power bases within our club and could handle them; we need someone that can hit the ground running – we can’t afford a season while they familiarise themselves with the Premier League and the style of play here; we need a man who will not be distracted by the media circus in this country – or at least someone whose circus is bigger and has more jugglers!
I think there is only one man that can fulfil all those criteria – but Roman knows that to stand any chance of getting him back, he too would need to make compromises and concessions – and Russian oligarchs are none to good at that. So perhaps he is waiting to see IF we succumb to the Europa League before deploying that SOS flare in the direction of Madrid.
And going back to my earlier point, I think that that is something else that Mourinho would give us – the feel good factor. I loved his sparing with the press and the opposition – it was pure theatre – he had the pantomime villain down to a T.
It’s a gamble but then any manager would be and I would rather back a thoroughbred like Jose than a glue factory contender like Benitez.