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Chelsea’s managerial merry go round

It shouldn't work but it does!


A few months ago, our betting site ran an advert which featured a list of trophies Steven Gerrard could have won had he opted for Chelsea at the end of the 2005 season, juxtaposed with what silverware the erstwhile Liverpool skipper actually won from that point on until the end of his career. The idea being that sometimes loyalty doesn’t always win. From a Liverpool point of view it didn’t make pleasant reading and one can only imagine, despite the adulation of half of Merseyside, the feeling of regret Gerrard must feel when he compares his medal ‘haul’ to that of his Chelsea contemporaries.

For reasons that seem to go against all sense of footballing logic, Chelsea have pretty much enjoyed a conveyer belt of trophies ever since Roman Abramovich ploughed his billions into the club, it’s not just silverware that’s been in abundance at Stamford Bridge, the West Londoners have also done their best to give half of Europe’s leading managers a job at one time or another.

Since 2003, the list of Chelsea gaffers reads like a who’s who of Europe’s finest coaches, experienced managers who enjoyed success all over the continent and in some cases beyond. Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho (twice), Avram Grant, Luiz Scolari, Guus Hiddink (twice) Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafael Benitez and Antonio Conte have called themselves manager of Chelsea football club at one time or another.

What’s even more amazing than the sheer number of managers the Pensioners go through, is the ridiculous amount of success such a ruthless yet often haphazard way of operating brings, who would have thought sacking a manager in March and replacing him with someone whose last job had seen him fired from the dizzy heights of West Brom would lead to Champions League glory – but it did. To add insult to injury Di Matteo also guided the club to an FA Cup triumph, becoming only the second manager in Premier League history to win the Champions League and FA Cup in the same season, the only difference being

it took Sir Alex Ferguson 13 years to achieve what Di Matteo did in roughly 13 weeks.  

So why does the Chelsea model work? Even now as rumours circulate that Antonio Conte could be for the chop at the end of the season, no matter when he leaves he’ll still walk out of the door as a Premier League winning manager, something only nine men have achieved – three of them at Stamford Bridge.

One reason for Chelsea’s success is undoubtedly money, after all even the managers who’ve struggled have had the luxury of a multi-million pound squad to choose from, regardless of how much input they’ve had into actually signing some of the players, it’s hard to feel too sympathetic towards a manager whose£50 million striker isn’t performing as well as expected, the same way you probably wouldn’t shed a tear when you see a sacked manager leave the training ground in his Bentley.

There’s also the long-term stability of sorts Chelsea had from having an experienced reliable spine that helped carry the side through some difficult periods, for the best part of a decade, Petr Cech, John Terry and Frank Lampard were among the top players in their position on the planet, throw an Ashley Cole and a Didier Drogba into the mix and you’ve more or less got a core world-class group to build various teams around for several highly successful seasons.

Antonio Conte was the first manager who had to more or less manage a Chelsea side without the players who’d been a mainstay of their recent successes but he hardly inherited a poor team, the likes of Eden Hazard, new signing N’Golo Kante, Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois and Nemanja Matic were among the best in the league in their position and it showed.

The experienced Conte, in charge of a talented side was a recipe for success and yet again Chelsea proved that chopping and changing can work if you do so with the right personnel and a manager who’s used to winning titles.

It’s worth noting that practically every Chelsea manager, bar Di Matteo has finished top of one of Europe’s football leagues at one time or another, even the tinkerman Ranieri managed to do the unthinkable and claim a title with the most unlikely winners in Premier League history.

While Arsenal have prided themselves on sticking with Arsene Wenger for 22 years, it can’t be ignored that since he last lifted the Premier League title, Chelsea have done so five times, plus they’ve had success in Europe – twice, something that still eludes the Gunners boss.

Wielding the axe may not be the recommended approach to management, but with a trophy haul that’s the envy of London and an almost perennial title challenge, there’s no denying Chelsea’s model has been a success.

If Conte does end up heading for the dole queue this Summer, it would be a foolish man who bets against Chelsea finding another manager who can bring them success- even if it is only in the short term.

You have to wonder whether Gerrard still doesn’t look back with a bit of anger that he didn’t risk the wrath of Liverpool fans everywhere back in 2005, he may not have received the same love at Stamford Bridge he got at Anfield, but his trophies could have gone some way to making up for it.

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