In the case that you needed anymore evidence that Roman Abramovich is an austere, impatient and ruthless Russian oligarch, here’s more food for fodder: six months after Chelsea won the UEFA Champions League, Abramovich axed manager Roberto Di Matteo. Chelsea dropped crucial points in the Champions League group stage yesterday, surrendering three goals–and the points–to Juventus in Turin. If Juve draws Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine next month, Chelsea crashes out of the UEFA Champions League group stage one season removed from its championship.
Should Chelsea supporters be surprised? Probably not. Di Matteo did win the FA Cup and Champions League, but his particular brand of cavalier, pack-it-all-in defense finally met its demise. There were the losses to English rivals like Manchester City and United, as well as the embarrassing stink-bombs Di Matteo’s squads laid in European competition (1-4 and 0-3 losses to Atletico Madrid and Juve, respectively). Despite sitting third in the English Premier League table, it wasn’t a pretty opening to the season for the Stamford Bridge squad, as it couldn’t find a way to stop hemorrhaging goals and points.
However, Abramovich has to break this cycle and stick with a manager for longer than half a year. The man replacing Di Matteo (purportedly Rafa Benitez) will be the ninth manager since 2003. Unfortunately for fans, Abramovich is slowly looking like a younger, slightly more successful Randy Lerner with all of his quick fires and changes of course. That’s not good for the long-term success of a club.