A lot is said about the much publicized circus, that Chelsea Football Club seems to have become. Negative press has become as regular as Ashley Cole's one night stands. This severe fall from grace would have been unthinkable back in May when Didier Drogba and the bus that was parked behind him won the most treasured prize in European Football, the Champions League.
Following the heroics in Munich, a newly assembled young squad intertwined with the reliable old guard gave the impression that the Manchester clubs would be joined by a serious title challenger this season. This theory was over before it began as Di Matteo, a manager the players loved playing for, was ruthlessly sacked after a poor run of games in late November. It is not uncommon for football clubs to operate a rotation policy on the pitch but to run one of the pitch, as the owner does, seems to have crippling consequences.
In retrospect, the phrase "don't bite the hand that feeds you" cannot be more appropriate here as Chelsea have achieved incredible success since Abramovich took the reins from Ken Bates in 2003. Three Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups and the infamous Champions League is exceptional although the 10 managers that helped achieve this is constantly heavily questioned. The owner's revolving door policy has always been heavily criticised and that doesn't look like changing, although the players influence on the fate of the manager has never really been considered as extensively as maybe it should.
Before Di Matteo's ruthless dismissal, the two high-profile managers most noticeably and embarrassingly bought to the slaughter are World-Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and the treble winning, croaky voiced, Andre Villas Boas. Both managers had their lucrative contracts effortlessly terminated within 10 months. Scolari & Villas Boas both tried to interfere with the ever present spine of the team more specifically, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. Scolari went as far as trying to swap Drogba for the over-weight, party boy Adriano, in a bid to reclaim the dressing room that he even admitted to losing. This transfer never materialised and Scolari was dismissed after the players performances deteriorated considerably in the weeks leading up to his sacking.
AVB tried to over emphasise a youth strategy, which was largely ineffective within an experienced squad, mainly due to him preferring to pick his teams on age rather than ability. Frank Lampard & Didier Drogba were in and out of the team and dropping Ashley Cole in a Champions League knock-out game in favour for an out of position Jose Bosingwa seemed to be the final straw of the Villas-Boas' rein. Very much like in Scolari's time, the performance of the team lacked any enthusiasm and this was not going to improve into the owner stepped in with his routine dismissal. On both these occasions the managers who took over, Guus Hiddink & Roberto Di Matteo reinstalled the old guard and as a result the performance of the players enhanced overnight and great things were achieved on both occasions, suggesting that player power is indeed a major factor at the football club.
With regards to the current campaign, the largely disliked Rafael Benitez seems to be heading for the same fate as the managers before him. The fact that the players are clearly not behind the manager is clear to see. Results have been poor, performances have been lethargic and this could be foreseen before Benitez decided to remove any flexibility that Edin Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar previously had under Di Matteo. Like we have seen before, the performances of the team will continue to suffer until the players get their wish, and the clearly unwanted manager is removed by the ruthless owner.