It was inevitable that Chelsea would sack their manager Roberto Di Matteo during this season. Unless he won the Premier and Champions League, it was going to happen. Last year after he took Chelsea to their first ever Champions League title, club owner Roman Abramovich hesitated before offering Di Matteo a contract extension, suggesting he was looking elsewhere first. Despite his incredible (and lucky) achievement, Abramovich had no choice but to keep him on, even though he wanted someone far more glamorous.
It’s an open secret that the man Abramovich really wants to manage Chelsea is former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola. The thing is, Abramovich’s timing is off. When he sacked Andre-Villas Boas, Guardiola was still employed by Barcelona and had his mind on an end of season sabbatical. Now he’s enjoying that sabbatical, the next Chelsea sacking has occurred, and once again Guardiola is not available. Abramovich has taken on Rafael Benitez as a temporary manager, obviously with the hope of luring Guardiola in once his yearlong sabbatical is over.
The thing is, it may not actually be as simple as that. Thus far, Guardiola has been a one-club man. He achieved great success as a manager with Barcelona and gave the world ‘tiki-taka’. However, Barca have an excellent set up – they have one of the best youth development facilities in the world, they are one of the richest clubs in the world and when Guardiola took over, he had the best player in the world at his disposal. He still did a magnificent job, but there is never a guarantee that he can replicate that wherever he goes.
Barcelona’s fans have a huge say on how the club is run, they have a long standing ethos on how football should be played. In other words, they have a culture and a history. Chelsea, with all due respect, do not. Until the mid-90’s, they were an also-ran mid table premier league club. Abramovich’s oil-billions have brought the club top players and a good amount of success, but they do not have a reputation for developing youngsters or for giving managers time and a free hand to develop things.
Guardiola will be aware of all of this. He will know that Jose Mourinho lasted a little over 2 years and Carlo Ancellotti a little over 1 year. He will know Andre Villas-Boas wanted to rebuild things from the ground up and was shown the door after 9 months. Most of all, he will know that Roberto Di Matteo won Chelsea the biggest prize and was fired 5 months later.
The one thing Abramovich has in is favour is money. Lots and lots of money. A big salary for Pep and his backroom, and a big transfer kitty. It can be hard to say no to someone waving £15m in your face. What might help Guardiola is that perhaps before June 2013 comes around, there may be jobs going at Man City and AC Milan – two clubs with money and possibly an attitude that may let him develop things.