Chelsea: £80 Million and Counting, Or, How Roman Abramovich Got His Groove Back

Max TowleAnalyst IAugust 24, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on February 25, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

With the turf having given way beneath John Terry's feet and the resulting penalty cannon off a lucky Edwin van der Sar's post, the image of a slumped Roman Abramovich was the instant choice for a director dabbling in schadenfreude.

British coverage of that fateful 2008 Champions League final in Moscow tried to be as bipartisan as possible—it was, after all, a very rare occasion indeed to see two English clubs battle for Europe's top honour.

But during the decisive penalty shootout, images of the emotionally wrought Russian owner, desperate to reach his personal holy grail, were rife.

Four years later and redemption was found in the most unlikely manner—a team described by some as "too old" to compete—led by a man who had only recently been fired by West Brom and playing in the home of their enemy, emerged with the greatest of club honours (via

After the victory over Bayern Munich, it was Manchester United's boss Alex Ferguson who ominously noted the likely change in Abramovich's mood (via Sportsmole).

"I think that probably the owner has his enthusiasm back, after winning the Champions League," the Scotsman told reporters. "I think there will be more expectation from him now."

£80 million later, and I think it would be fair to say that Fergie was accurate in his appraisal.

This summer, Abramovich's spending has been as prolific as ever before.

Marko Marin was bought for £6 million, the Hazard brothers for £33 million, Oscar for £25 million, and now Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses have arrived costing a combined £16 million.

And he doesn't look like stopping there—if either one of Porto's Hulk or Napoli's Edinson Cavani are to be snaffled up, spending is sure to exceed £100 million. That's an unprecedented sum in this age of financial fair play, and the most that will have been spent since the Russian's first summer in West London in 2003.

But it's not just Abramovich's enthusiasm that has returned; it seems to be his joy and love of the game.

He has signed some of the most talented youngsters in football, desperate to see his team rediscover the style and flair that made them famous under Mourinho and Ancelotti.

He has put his faith in an inexperienced Italian who still looks young enough to be out on the pitch, rather that in the dugout.

Whenever I think of Abramovich now, there's a passage of dialogue from the immortal film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" that keeps coming to mind:

"But Charlie, don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted?"

"What happened?"

"He lived happily ever after."

The Russian billionaire has now won it all, and he couldn't be happier to try and win it all again.