Chelsea: A Bridge Too Far for Marco Van Basten
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As respected English football writer Martin Samuel says, any manager taking the job at Stamford Bridge now is there purely for the money. That can be the only motivation for accepting the job where you will be continually undermined by Roman Abramovich and the coterie of sycophants who advise him, find your trusted and respected assistant sacked one day and replaced by someone you hardly know the next and transfer policy conducted without you being consulted. Could you imagine Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger tolerating such a situation?
Carlo Ancelotti may have been used to such a transfer policy during his time coaching in Italy, but I would imagine even Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi and general manager Adriano Galliani discussing potential transfers with their coach.
When Chelsea spent, some would say wasted, £50million on Fernando Torres, it was apparent that Ancelotti had no burning desire to see the Spaniard in a blue shirt . Rather, it was the kind of ego fueled marquee signing that club owners love to make. There was no great need to add the under performing Torres to the strikers already at the club.
Had the power brokers at Chelsea listened to their manager, a man with more football knowledge than the whole board combined, the Blues may have added some much needed strength in depth to their threadbare squad. And if they had also added one or two pacy wide men perhaps Ancelotti may have guided the club to the the league title or European Cup that was a prerequisite for him retaining his job.
Just contemplate that statement for a moment and consider that this is Chelsea we are talking about . A club with only three league championship wins in the last 50 years, one of which was engineered by Ancelotti last season, along with an F.A. Cup triumph and has never even reached a European Cup final, now expects their manager to achieve either one of these tasks or he is history!
This is management of the madhouse, second place in the Premiership and a quarterfinal place in the European Cup is such an abject failure that the manager must pay with his job!
The managers of Chelsea's two main rivals Manchester United and Arsenal have been in their positions for 25 and 15 years respectively, no such continuity at the Bridge where six men have occupied the managers office during Abramovich 's eight-year reign.
The wily old foxes at Old Trafford and Highbury must be licking their lips at the prospect of another lamb to the slaughter, if, as my colleague Willie Gannon revealed on Sunday, Marco van Basten arrives as manager. Even with the experienced and highly successful Guus Hiddink installed in the nebulous position of "director of football" this has all the makings of a disaster waiting to happen.
One can only assume Abramovich has been dazzled by van Basten's playing career. He was the finest striker of his generation but, unlike his mentor Johan Cruijff, his managerial career has failed to blossom.
As Dutch national team coach his feuds with senior players including Ruud van Nistelrooy and Clarence Seedorf hindered "the oranje" attempts to win the 2006 World Cup, and may bode ill for his appointment at Chelsea where there are potential clashes with the group of egotistical senior players who appear to have run the team for some time.
At the 2008 European Championships Holland set the pace in the early stages destroying France & Italy before succumbing to Russia, coached, ironically, by Hiddink.
Van Basten left his post after the tournament to coach his former club Ajax but instead of a glorious return of a prodigal son he resigned at the end of his first season due to the failure to qualify for the European Cup.
Quite why this qualifies him to coach Chelsea is beyond me. Like Cruijff he seems to have an unshakable belief in his vision of how his teams should play and will brook no dissent, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the more opinionated and vocal in the Chelsea dressing room.
Unlike Cruijff, he has yet to prove he can turn the vision into positive results. Hiddink would be a far more sensible choice, but his agent insists he will not be joining Chelsea this summer. Van Basten may just be a highly paid stop gap until Hiddink extricates himself from his contract as coach of the Turkish national team after next summer's European Championships, if Marco lasts that long!
I fear Abramovich may live to regret going Dutch!
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