Although they currently sit third in the EPL table, this season has been far from perfect for Chelsea. The most recent disappointment was the recent news that Pep Guardiola had snubbed the club’s advances and was heading to Bayern Munich. And on the pitch, they collapsed Wednesday and allowed relegation-fighters Southampton to come back and earn a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Ian Darke of ESPN recently described Chelsea as “immersed in turmoil and mutiny despite the extravagant array of talent his club can put on the pitch” and pins the blame squarely on Roman Abramovich, the club’s Russian billionaire owner.
Darke cites a number of questionable moves including Abramovich’s sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, who had just led the team to Champions League and FA Cup glory, only to bring in a new manager in Rafa Benitez that most Chelsea fans loathe.
He describes Abramovich as selfish and out of touch with the environment around him, but since his huge spending has led to unprecedented success at Stamford Bridge in recent years, fans continue to tolerate his less-than popular decisions:
“I think the answer is that he had no idea that such a storm would break until Benitez stepped out for his Stamford Bridge debut to an embarrassing cacophony of booing. Or is it that Abramovich works to his own Rule 19, the one which is not in any book but which says: ‘I can do what the heck I like and never have to explain myself.’ That is how he has run Chelsea for the past decade and, to be fair, it has coincided with the most successful era in the club’s history, albeit on the back of lavish spending. That is why many Chelsea fans might shrug their shoulders and say: ‘Where would we be without him?’”
Darke goes on to argue, however, that this year is becoming a tipping point for fans as the club have already crashed out of the Champions League and are slipping away from legitimate EPL title contention. And he is far from alone in calling out Abramovich for the problems at Stamford Bridge, as many other accounts by columnists and fans alike attest to his arrogance and mismanagement of the London club.
But many Chelsea supporters assert that blaming the owner is an ill-founded move. One comment on an article in The Sun that was boldly titled “Roman Abramovich Has Ruined Chelsea” explains this side further:
“More anti-Abramovich BS. Without Abramovich Chelsea would be bankrupt like Portsmouth. Why can’t The Sun give credit to a man who has made Chelsea fan’s dreams come true, turned Chelsea into one of the most successful clubs in Europe and brought some of the best players to the EPL? I don’t see Arsenal, Spurs etc. owners doing that, but they get away scot free. If any club is being ruined by its owner it’s Arsenal.”
Do you think Abramovich should be applauded for his successes at Chelsea, or held responsible for the things that have gone less than smoothly?