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Abhishek Nandwani
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 20 : 27

Stamford Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down


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The inevitable has happened again. What's common between Luiz Felipe Scolari, Andre Villas Boas and Roberto Di Matteo? The answer is that none of them were able to complete even 300 days as Chelsea manager. The big-budget club's and Roman Abramovich's madness continued on Wednesday when it was announced that Di Matteo, the man who helped them win the FA Cup and their first ever Champions League title last season, had been sacked.

Winning Europe's elite club competition had been a burning desire for Abramovich since the Russian billionaire took over as the owner at Stamford Bridge in 2003. Though the Italian coach helped him win the 'Holy Grail' against all odds in May, Tuesday's defeat at the hands of Juventus at Turin has left Chelsea on the brink of Champions League elimination. Thus, Abramovich was prompted to terminate the reign of his eighth manager in less than nine years.

Di Matteo took charge of Chelsea in March after the club sacked Andre Villas-Boas, initially on a temporary basis. Though he was not a fan favourite initially, he somehow managed to win two pieces of silverware last season, leading many fans to call term him a legend. Di Matteo was given a two-year contract in June but come November, he has been shockingly axed.

Chelsea's statement on the sacking said, "The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts."

It said they would shortly make an announcement on a replacement for Di Matteo. Pep Guardiola, who quit Barcelona in the summer to take a sabbatical from the game, is regarded by many as Abramovich's preferred choice. Former Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez is also been talked about. But the biggest question is that whether a top coach would be really interested in joining Chelsea. Or whether Chelsea really deserve a top coach.

Going by history, the answer is no. The Blues have lost just two games in the Champions League and technically aren't even out of the competition yet, and yet they took the decision to fire Di Matteo. Chelsea currently sit at third in the English Premier League and have lost just two matches so far to remain four points off the pace. Yet Di Matteo was asked to leave the club.

The decision is beyond any logical explanation. The only theory that comes to mind is that Abramovich has already convinced Guardiola to join Chelsea, though going by reports that won't be happening at least until next summer. And if the Russian has Benitez on his mind then this decision defies logic. With all due respect to Benitez, he is not the coach that Chelsea fans will be hoping to get.

Should Chelsea win over Nordsjaelland in their last group-stage match - which seems very likely - and Shakhtar Donetsk beat Juventus at their home - which is also quite possible - then the Blues would be through to the knockout rounds. That would then make decision to fire Di Matteo seem pointless and ridiculous. Stability is always key to a club's success. Just look at Manchester United, who have been managed by Sir Alex Ferguson for 26 years. That is an absolutely remarkable achievement for both the club and coach. And we all know how successful Man United are.

On the other hand, Chelsea have changed 17 managers in those 26 years. That says it all on how a club is run.


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Not a sports enthusiast by choice, Abhishek has been brought up with the passion as playing turned into scribbling.
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