Most Chelsea fans woke up on Monday to be surprised—whether it was pleasantly or not, only they can comment.
The media and other followers of the league were however taken aback by the timing of Chelsea Football Club in sacking their newest high profile manager; Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Most of them ridiculed the decision while some of the fans seemed to stick by the Chelsea management's decision. However, Chelsea's appointment of Big Phil was far from a "Match made in heaven". It was hardly a "Marriage of Convenience".
Roman Abramovich was undone, for once. There are a few things money can't buy, and sexy football is certainly one of them, at least on such a short notice.
Mr. Abramovich set out on a "Mission Almost Impossible"—to get Chelsea playing sexy football, but that was not the end. He needed trophies too so that he could show them off to his friends in high places.
There is more—he wanted them right away, at once. After all this has been a long spell without a trophy for Roman Abramovich's Chelsea.
So he set out on his hunt to find the Mr. Perfect, who could get Chelsea playing sexy football. There were a few known names that were thrown up into the fray. They needed a big name to head the club, after all Chelsea is used to being in the news. So finally, Big Phil it was. It was a well paid job—something which Big Phil admitted in his first media conference. But as said before, there are a few things money can't buy.
Let us look at a few good reasons as to why Roman's plan was flawed:
1. Name of the Game
Big Phil has achieved big things as a coach. For starters, he is the only World Cup winning coach to date, to have managed a Premiership outfit.
As if winning the World Cup wasn't a mean enough achievement in itself, he also went on to take the Portugal national team to the Euro 2004 Finals, where they would eventually lose to the underdogs, Greece.
He even lead the Portugal national team to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup, where they lost to the eventual runners-up, France.
His meanest achievement though, as considered by many, was a hat-trick of wins against England—two with Portugal and one with Brazil, to dump England out of
the World Cup and Euro 2004. This was achievement enough for Mr. Abramovich to hand over the top job at Chelsea to Big Phil. But little did he know about the blunder he was going to commit.
Big Phil has been an excellent coach, but the style of play he professes is far from Chelsea's style of play. Be it with Brazil, or even Portugal, Scolari's teams have always thrived on potent attacking play.
"Attack is the best form of defense" has been Big Phil's mantra. Both Brazil, and to a great extent, Portugal, have lived by that.
Chelsea's football, on the contrary, has been mostly played on the foundation of a strong backline—the backbone of the team. Mourinho built one of the greatest Chelsea teams of all time and modelled the team around a strong defense and a compact midfield.
Chelsea boasted a defensive lineup consisting of the likes of John Terry and Carvalho. In Essien, Chelsea found the perfect foil to Frank Lampard who could thwart the opposition's attacks. All in all, the lack of sexy football was overwhelmed by the presence of "Effective Football" that Jose introduced.
2. Great Expectations
Big Phil should have certainly known what he was getting into. He was taking up the post that had a lot at stake. The post has been held by top class coaches since Roman arrived to the scene. Mourinho had not only set high standards for himself but also raised the bar for his successors.
The results during Mourinho's stint are a clear testimony—Mourinho had a winning percentage of over 70%. Big Phil's record, though too early to be judged, was a meagre 55%. Even Avram Grant, despite not being the fan's favorite, had a better record than Big Phil. He even managed to take the club to the finals of the UEFA Champions League—something even Mourinho couldn't do. Thus the comparisons to his predecessors were imminent though unfair.
3. Time is Money, Honey...
A not so old adage goes—Time is Money. But Big Phil got neither. Neither was he given time to ply his trade, nor was the money was made available to buy the personnel. Big Phil probably was one of the first victims of the Credit Crunch that seems to have hit Mr. Abramovich's Treasury, Deco being Big Phil's only major signing apart from the loan spell of Quaresma. Mourinho on the other hand had plenty of both.
Though Mourinho bought big name players, it was money well spent. Drogba and Essien were two of the many important players that he brought to the Bridge.
Even though his teams lacked width, his midfield and defense more than made up for it. The results were evident—Chelsea lost less than 10% of their games under Mourinho as he turned Stamford Bridge into a fortress, Chelsea remained unbeaten there for over four years. On the other hand, under Big Phil Chelsea lost twice in just over four weeks.
4. Charity begins at home
Big Phil's charity at home doesn't seem to have gone down too well, either with his Bosses, or with the fans. Chelsea have dropped 16 points at home so far this season, something very uncharacteristic of Chelsea who have been traditionally strong at home over the last few seasons.
As some of the fans have put it, Chelsea have struggled to beat any team, and have surrendered to top teams, taking only a point against the "Big Four" so far this season.
The only bright spot for Big Phil has been the away form of the team, the 5-0 thrashing of Middlesbrough being memorable. The form of the team in the UEFA
Champions League has been far from satisfactory with the side managing to scrape through the group stages.
With the factors stated above, it is very clear that the idea of hiring Big Phil was flawed right from the beginning. Mr. Abramovich will have to choose between winning trophies and playing sexy football, as it is clear that he cannot have both of them right now.
Rome was not built in day. Nor will a Chelsea team that plays sexy football. Roman's greed for both will only jeopardize the future of Chelsea FC. After all the billions he has spent, his lack of patience will see Chelsea end up whining rather than winning.