Football fans can be fickle, the media even more so but the Chelsea board has taken knee-jerk reactions and impossible expectations to Real Madrid-like proportions. While the white-clad prima donnas have a rich history to point to as an excuse, Chelsea have…let’s see…two back-to-back league titles (sandwiched between two 2nd-place finishes), a handful of domestic trophies and a knack of blowing it in Europe.
Stacked against Real Madrid’s European triumphs, Manchester United’s and Liverpool’s domestic dominance in the last three decades and the domestic and continental exploits of Juventus and Milan, Chelsea’s history is relatively title-free, and therefore the accomplishments of the last 5 years should be seen in context of the 50 years that have gone before and definitely not as the standard by which Chelsea must hold themselves up to every season.
Mistakes have been made – not just this season but in the seasons gone before, and not just by the players and the managers who pick them but in buying and selling (or rather, not selling) players and in hiring and firing managers. People say that Grant never got a chance at Chelsea because the press and some of the players were against him, but in retrospect Scolari got the short end of the stick, what with an aging and unbalanced squad (remember what Fergie said?) and having to deal with real title contenders in the form of United and Liverpool.
The official statement is that if Chelsea are to remain in the hunt for titles, they need to make the change right now. Keeping in mind that the managers available aren’t exactly better than Scolari, what exactly is the board counting on? The ‘feel-good’ factor that a new manager brings to the club, the psychological reset button that helps a team string together a few wins and punch above their weight? The same ‘bump’ that Harry Redknapp produced at Tottenham or Eriksson produced at Manchester City?
Fact is, the best managers aren’t leaving their posts in February. Of those that remain, the names that stand out are Grant, Rijkaard and … well, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t see Grant coming back and Rijkaard has already said he’s not open to a job until the new season. None of the other names suggested are going to do a better job than Scolari, not by much, so at best the Chelsea board are hoping that hitting the players’ reboot button will help them win a few more games than they would have under Scolari.
It’s the equivalent of reinstalling Windows on your computer because of a virus and then getting your system infected with a virus again (as opposed to installing an anti-virus and solving the problem once and for all).
Is that how a club should be run? I’ll leave that decision to you.