Chelsea: Decline of the Roman Empire?

With Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat to Newcastle United on Saturday, pressure increased on the interim manager Rafa Benitez.

The calls for his head were growing even as he held up the shirt on his first day in the post after replacing Roberto Di Matteo, so it was no surprise that on Wednesday night, after Chelsea’s disappointing 2-2 draw to Reading, in which they let a two goal lead slip in the last five minutes, ‘#RafaOut’ was trending in the United Kingdom.

The short termism shown by a large number of Chelsea fans is disappointing, but it is becoming a sad indictment of the attitude that has developed in Fulham Broadway. The most surprising thing so far in this below par season is that Rafa Benitez has not become another casualty in what has become a disastrous season for the League Manager’s Association.

Only one Chelsea manager has survived beyond 54 games in charge since Jose Mourinho was in the hot seat for 185 matches and sacked in 2007, a relatively small amount considering the success which he brought.

It is pretty much a certainty that Benitez will not be staying on as Chelsea beyond the end of the season, so who will Chelsea look to replace him with? Their huge target was Pep Guardiola who has decided to snub the advances of Chelsea and further his managerial career with Bayern Munich, citing the uncertainty and instability at Stamford Bridge as a major reason why he turned the Blues down.

So who will Chelsea turn to? Potential choices include David Moyes, Roberto Mancini or the enigma that is ‘The Special One’, or they could look to an untested manager from Europe. Managers of this ilk include Jupp Heynckes and Unai Emery. So who SHOULD Chelsea go for?

The obvious choice would be Jose Mourinho after the unprecedented success that he brought to the Bridge, but the big question is, does he have his eyes on an even greater prize, the job at Old Trafford? Chelsea would be an enticing option but the lure of such a settled club could prove to be the greater draw.

Mourinho.... linked with sensational return to Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho…. linked with sensational return to Stamford Bridge.

Another big choice would be David Moyes, he has done wonders with Everton, working on a proverbial shoestring but again, has been linked with the job at Manchester United so may choose to sit it out at Goodison and wait for that job to become vacant.

He is building a very strong squad at Everton and he could feel that with a little bit more investment he could be challenging for a top four space and would want to reward the loyalty shown to him by Chairman Bill Kenwright.

There are already rumours circulating that Roberto Mancini could be facing the axe at Manchester City in the summer after two years of poor results in the Champions League, he has shown that he can work with a large budget but his record in Europe, something Abramovich regards as the Holy Grail of the game, leaves a lot to be desired.

The rates at which managers come and go are starting to have serious consequences for the club. Many of the top managers in Europe, which a club of Chelsea’s size should be able to attract, are looking at the job as a poisoned chalice.

Andre Villas-Boas nearly ruined his managerial career and Luis Felipe Scolari did not have a major job since he got removed from his post at Chelsea for four years. This is causing Chelsea to have to look for an up and coming manager, which would be a gamble.

Since Roman Abramovich took control of Chelsea on 22nd August 2003, not much has gone wrong and he has had everything his own way. Even after spending vast sums of money on transfer targets, the team has seemed to go backwards.

The tide is turning, the big question is, can he reverse it or is the European Empire which he fought so hard to create crumbling before his very eyes?


Written by Tom Thornton

Follow him on Twitter @ThornyITFC

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