It’s fair to say that everything in the Chelsea garden isn’t exactly ‘coming up roses’ at the moment, with the tangled tubers of power and influence seemingly beginning to undermine authority at Stamford Bridge once again, a pattern we’ve seen repeated several times during the club’s recent history.
Coupled with the inescapable fact that the playing staff have been going about their business half-cocked for the last few weeks, a healthy dose of staff upheaval has seen relations become ever-so-slightly frayed betwixt the administration and the ownership of late – with manager Carlo Ancelotti cutting a bemused figure throughout before finally admitting that he’d ‘be the last to know’ should any major changes be brought about by his Russian proprietor.
However, after watching helplessly as his assistant Ray Wilkins was unceremoniously replaced by a semi-qualified scout a fortnight ago, Ancelotti has reportedly been informed by his immediate superiors that he will be allowed a say in the process of attempting to find a successor to sporting director Frank Arnesen – who, earlier in the week, announced that he will be leaving Chelsea for pastures new come the end of the current season.
One of the possible like-for-like candidates already being mooted to ease into Arnesen’s imminent void is former Barcelona technical director Txiki Begiristain – though there are rumblings that owner Roman Abramovich may choose to scrap the position (or at least ‘down-grade’ it, thus syphoning away any executive power) which would, in essence, allow the Russian to become even more directly influential in terms of the day-to-day running of the club.
During his five-and-a-half years at Chelsea, Arnesen rejuvenated and restocked the club’s scouting network and helped to stabilise the academy – wherein the young players hauled in by the scouting dragnet continue to be prepared for the rigours of first-team football.
With such a strong base already in place, Abramovich is thought to be giving serious consideration to the idea of reneging the capacity of the sporting director (essentially a combined ‘recruitment and development’ position) at Chelsea after Arnesen’s departure and bumping up the roles that chief executive Ron Gourlay (who could be charged with handling transfers), club director Eugene Tenenbaum and chairman Bruce Buck currently play in the club’s ongoing corporate maneuvers.
It is also uncertain just what Abramovich’s potential new air of boardroom machismo may mean for the immediate future of Ancelotti who, like so many of his predecessors, is understandably addled after being effectively (if only temporarily) cut adrift within the confines of a global footballing conglomerate.
Should the Chelsea hierarchy have actually made bona fide assurances to Ancelotti that no decision over Arnesen’s replacement will be made without him sanctioning the appointment, then surely such affirmation suggests that the double-winning Italian can still count on significantly long‑term future stretching ahead of him at Stamford Bridge – though who can possibly account for the whimsical mind of a power-bent Russian oligarch?