Shamik Das

Monday, February 09, 2009

Slumdog billionaire

"Oh no! Ahtowldya! F**king Abramovich!"

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH dispensed with his third manager in a little over a year today, sacking Phil Scolari after a terrible run of form which has seen Chelsea slip to fourth in the Premier League.

Saturday's goalless draw at home to Hull was the final straw, capping off a dismal sequence of results that have seen the blues fall seven points behind Manchester United having led the table just months ago.

Scolari, like his Stamford Bridge predecessors Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant and Jose Mourinho, will doubtless be feeling aggrieved at his treatment - especially since he's been denied the riches afforded Mourinho and Ranieri during his time in charge, enduring the humiliation of losing out on Robinho to Manchester City at the start of the season.

It will also come as a crushing blow to his ego, taking into account the huge success he's enjoyed over the past decade, winning the World Cup for Brazil in 2002 before guiding Portugal to the final of Euro 2004, the semi-finals of Germany 2006 and the quarter-finals at Euro 2008.

Cheslea, though, decided to act fast rather than risk missing out on a Champions League place, essential not only to the club's finances but to maintaining the interest of their billionaire owner, whose passion has waned since last year.

So, assuming he doesn't sell up and go into exile in Siberia, where next for Abramovich and his billions?

Roman Abramovich    Guus Hiddink

Among the favourites to succeed Scolari are Russia manager Guus Hiddink, Mexico head coach and ex-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, West Ham boss and former Chelsea favourite Gianfranco Zola and the former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini.

Hiddink would be sure to relish the chance to return to club management and get his mitts on the still-substantial Abramovich transfer kitty having achieved remarkable success with Holland, South Korea, Australia and Russia at international level.

Zola, after enduring a torrid start, has turned things round quite spectacularly at Upton Park this season and, tempting though a hero's welcome at the Bridge would be, the diminutive little Italian and his assistant Steve Clarke are unlikely to take the plunge just yet.

The appointment of Mancini, meanwhile, would be laced with irony - especially if the the man axed by Inter to make way for Mourinho at the San Siro wins them the Champions League.

As for Sven, well, we've been here before. Think back to 2004 and the infamous dinner date with Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and Abramovich aboard the Russian's luxury yacht; in hindsight, it probably would have been for the best had Sven signed for Chelsea there and then, sparing England the dross served up in his final years in charge.

But then again, quite how Sven can succeed where his nemesis failed is anyone's guess...

September 2008: Chelsea lose Robinho to City
May 2008: Chelsea lose Champions League to United
September 2007: Chelsea lose Mourinho


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