When Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea in 2003 it was believed to be a hobby for him. Fast forward 15 years and after securing a few Premier League titles and cup triumphs the 51-year-old is believed to be considering selling the club and moving on to pastures new. Whether this would be the right approach for him on a personal (or a business) level is something only he can decide, but Blues fans will likely be hoping that he opts to remain in charge at Stamford Bridge. He has transformed the shape and future of Chelsea Football Club during his ownership, bringing in several world-class players and delivering a standard of football which had long since been desired among the terraces.
The first player to arrive at the club under Amramovich’s stewardship was Glen Johnson, who signed for £6m from West Ham, and so began a campaign for domination in English football. Man Utd had long since been the big boys in the Premier League, but Abramovich made is clear that he was gunning for that spot. The club’s transfer record has been broken several times since 2003, most recently this summer when the club signed Kepa from Athletic Bilbao for £72m – incidentally also the world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper. His intentions have never been anything if not clear as far as the club’s future, but one big characteristic of his tenure has also been the number of managers to have come and gone at the club in that time.
Since recruiting then-Porto manager Jose Mourinho as his first new appointment, replacing Italian Claudio Ranieri in 2004, there has been a consistent changing of the guard. Whether it has been due to poor performance or problematic relationships on a personal level, managers not lasting long has become commonplace. Mourinho has come and gone twice, and some of the finest bosses to have graced the modern game have passed through the doors including people like Guus Hiddink (twice), Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and Antonio Conte. Particularly in the case of the latter, strained relations can go a long way in contributing to an exit, and reports suggest that Conte’s disagreements with Abramovic had pushed the owner to seriously consider selling up and bringing an and to a true era. During his time at the club Conte sold striker Diego Costa back to Atletico Madrid, but did manage to orchestrate the capture of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid. Morata, however, struggled in his first season in the Premier League while Costa excelled back in La Liga.
With the appointment of former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri as Conte’s replacement, however, things are thought to be more relaxed at the club now and surely the tide has turned in favour of the tycoon staying put, which will be music to the ears of any Chelsea fans out there. Whatever ends up happening, uncertainty can breed underperformance and so Abramovich needs to make a decision on his Chelsea future quickly if he is to avoid the club’s image dropping.
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