Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Captains of the Ship Are Real Culprits Big Phil Paid for Blues Sinking but The

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Captains of the Ship Are Real Culprits Big Phil Paid for Blues Sinking but The

Article excerpt


ROMAN ABRAMOVICH hasn't been seen at Chelsea very much lately. He's had other problems like losing billions of quid, so that's not surprising. And it might have been better if he'd kept on staying away. But he didn't. Yesterday, he went down to the training ground at Cobham and sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari. No weasel words about resignation, or parting by mutual consent; for once a Chelsea press release, normally as reliable as Pravda, told it how it is. Scolari was "dismissed".

Accompanied by his pet pygmies, chairman Bruce Buck, and Eugene Tenenbaum, and with the third little piggy, chief executive Peter Kenyon, bizarrely on holiday, Abramovich executed Scolari with all the ruthlessness of an old style Tsar.

And with the same foolishness that characterised the last Romanovs blockheaded, learn nothing, forget nothing, regime. Because this was a circular firing squad. By executing Big Phil, Abramovich has effectively shot everything else, including any dreams the fans have of a trophy this season.

Ray Wilkins is a lovely bloke, but has never made a success of running a team. Indeed you can date Chelsea's recent failures to almost the moment he replaced Steve Clarke as coach. Ray's not a Horatio who can hold the Bridge. Ray's the Mr Nice Guy who'll put a charming gloss on yet more defeats.

The usual suspects are being rounded up for the job -- Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink even, God help us Avram Grant. But who will want to come, or be freed up to come, immediately, to put their weight on the fragile ice at Stamford Bridge, with an erratic, absentee landlord in Abramovich, and a tuppenny ha'penny bunch of yes men in Buck, Kenyon, and Tenenbaum, men's whose approach to the great task of running Chelsea's football club is best characterised by when the owner says "jump", they reply "how high?" The French revolutionary writer Denis Diderot used to dream of seeing the last aristocrat strangled with the entrails of the last priest. I feel the same about this lot. The idea Scolari is the only problem at Chelsea is a nonsense. It's nearer the truth to say, the club, like a dead fish, rots from the head down. …

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