Archive for the ‘Manchester United’ tag
Why Wayne Rooney is priceless to Manchester United and his diamond studded boots will net one lucky fan a fortune
Wherever you stand in the debate about whether or not WAYNE ROONEY is worth £300,000 a week, the honest truth is that Manchester United could not afford to let their talisman leave Old Trafford.
With the club in transition under new manager David Moyes and facing the real possibility of no Champions League football next season, keeping Rooney on board was a big statement that United still mean business.
In pure financial terms, the £85M cost of keeping Wazza until 2019 was a shrewd investment because the cost of replacing him would have been higher when you factor in both the transfer fee and wages.
When it comes to attracting new stars in the summer the message sent out by keeping Rooney and investing in record signing Juan Mata is a positive one that other top players will appreciate.
In my view Rooney remains truly world class and you have to give Moyes huge credit for revitalising a hugely influential player who had lost his way under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Bought for 18K, worth 150K
The England marksman looks destined to become the United skipper and in the summer he will be hoping to make a big impact at the World Cup in Brazil.
He is a marketing man’s dream and the reality is that whatever Rooney touches turns to gold. One lucky fan is set to net a small fortune by selling a pair of his old boots.
Snapped up for 18,000 pounds at a charity auction five years ago, they are now worth 10 TIMES what a sharp-eyed Manchester United fan paid for them.
The Nike boots were worn by Rooney in a Champions League match. But the reason they are so valuable is that artist Luisa Di Marco turned them into a collector’s item by encrusting them with gold and precious diamonds.
The stones that make the boots unique were set by Embee jewellers of London using 31 carats of black diamonds, 10 carats of white diamonds and the number 10 is made from rose gold. The laces are dipped in gold and finished with diamonds on the ends. And both boots are signed by Rooney.
If the boots are not sold in the next six weeks the owner plans to put them up for auction at a sporting dinner on the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix on May 24. Meantime. check out my video report below filmed at the fabulous Boulters Terrace Bar http://boultersrestaurant.co.uk
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If football unites to support Help for Heroes it will be victory for the beautiful game, ordinary fans and charity that changes lives
From David Beckham to His Royal Highness Prince William, the charity Help For Heroes has been backed by some of the biggest names in Britain. Launched in October 2007 in response to the desire of ordinary people to do something practical to help our wounded servicemen and women, it is a cause that unites all sections of our society.
The ethos of Help For Heroes is simple. It is strictly non-political and non-judgemental, recognising that wars happen under any government. As individuals we are powerless to stop our men and women from being killed and wounded. But by joining together we can do something practical to help.
It is this symbollic togetherness that a group of fans hope to inspire across a football community so often divided by tribal hostility and hatred, as they attempt to raise a five figure sum in aid of Help for Heroes by visiting 92 clubs in 92 hours.
The combination of raising sponsorship for this most popular of charities, as well as trying to foster a new spirit of friendship and respect throughout the football family is winning the support of a growing number of ex-professionals.
WEMBLEY TO WEMBLEY
Former Tottenham, Chelsea and Swindon Town legend Micky Hazard is just one of the old pros backing the 92 Plus 1 campaign launched by a four-man squad who will will leave Wembley Stadium after England’s World Cup qualifier with Montenegro on Friday October 11. The aim is to be back in time for the Poland game on Tuesday, October 15 that could determine the fate of Roy Hodgson’s team.
Along the way – a 2,600 mile road trip – they will visit every Premier and Football League ground collecting donations and stopping to meet a host of famous names. Hazard, Wayne Fereday and Daryl Sutch are some of the names already signed up to support the whistle-stop tour and hopes are high of attracting a stellar line-up of football heroes. Beckham has already had his invitation “and if he gets involved that would make all our hard work worthwhile and give us a chance of hitting our target” says organiser Simon Cox.
Cox and fellow businessman Mike Peters will be joined on their unique road trip by Darren Young, formerly of the Royal Air Force, and Mark Burns, a serving member of HM Armed Forces as well as being a coach at Swindon Town’s Football Academy.
The mission is summed up by Burns who says: “I have served throughout the world and in more recent years have unfortunately had to witness the devastating consequences of frontline combat on our troops. They have been left with devastating injuries that have an effect long after leaving the front line. help for heroes is a fantastic charity that supports our troops and is something my wife has been involved raising money for throughout the years and is a charity I felt I personally wanted to do something for.”
Bryn Parry, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Offer of Help for Heroes, promises the money raised by 92 Plus 1 will “provide practical, direct support to those who suffered life-changing injuries and illnesses while serving our country.”
Make no mistake, the power of publicity for this challenge being undertaken by four ordinary football fans will be even more valuable than the direct cash raised – and if it can help promote peace and respect between supporters in a media-driven world that too often thrives on confrontation, that will be a priceless bonus that we should all support.
WHAT SHANKLY REALLY MEANT WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH
The great Bill Shankly once said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” Those of us who are passionate about supporting our team know what he meant, but no-one who has lost a loved one – or anyone of sound mind who is being serious – will ever agree with the literal meaning of that quote.
Shanks was a legend who understood the importance of rivalry. But he also understood the value of friendship and respect. He rarely missed a match at Old Trafford when Liverpool were not in action because he loved the beautiful game and enjoyed watching Manchester United. It is hard to imagine such a thing happening today, but he even wore an MUFC tie when he took his place in the director’s box. Managers, fans and media commentators can all learn from the values of days gone by.
If this modest road trip by our selfless ’92 Club Plus 1′ fund-raisers can help spread that message it will be an effort far greater than the value of the money raised.
Becks retirement: Iconic football legend David Beckham deserves his special place in history of the beautiful game
There is no player in the history of the game who has done more to promote English football than David Beckham. And his retirement at the age of 38 will trigger tributes from around the world because his contribution to the sport has been unique.
Icon, celebrity, legend, superstar, ambassador. No one can bend it like Beckham. And no-one has given back so much to the beautiful game.
He may not be the greatest footballer who ever played the game. But Becks represents something special. Throughout his career he has made the most of his incredible talent, consistently revelled in proving the critics wrong when they have tried to write him off and brought glamour, dignity and pride to representing his country and a glittering array of the world’s most famous football clubs.
At Old Trafford he starred in the team that won an unprecedented Treble in 1999. But when Manchester United sold him to Real Madrid in 2003 after his infamous fall-out with his mentor and father-figure Sir Alex Ferguson, Becks was being outshone by a galaxy of stars.
It has been the same in Madrid, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris and during his long and illustrious England career. But there is no footballer who has worked harder to make the most of his god given talent, to defy the critics who regularly tried to write him off or to win over the fans who did not always love him.
There is no greater measure of the man than the way he turned around the obscene hatred he endured after being sent off in the 1998 World Cup for petulantly kicking out in that epic quarter-final defeat by Argentina.
The way he singled-handedly dragged England to the 2002 World Cup with an unbelievable performance in the decisive qualifying match against Greece was the stuff of legend, crowned by his remarkable injury time free-kick that completed the journey from villain of 98 to glorious hero.
Born on 2 May 1975, David Robert Joseph Beckham made his name playing for his boyhood heroes Manchester United. As a youngster he attended one of Bobby Charlton’s football schools in Manchester and won the chance to take part in a training session at FC Barcelona. After trials with Leyton Orient, Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur, he became part of a famous group of youngsters who won the FA Youth Cup for Manchester United in May 1992.
He went on loan to Preston in 1994/95 before returning to Old Trafford and making his Premier League debut for Manchester United in a goal-less draw against Leeds United on 2 April 1995. At United he went on to win six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the European Champions League with United in that famous Treble-winning year of 1999.
In 2003 he signed for Real Madrid where he spent four years winning the La Liga championship in his final season before joining LA Galaxy. His five-year spell in America included a mid-season loan spell with AC Milan in 2009. He finally left the States to join Paris Saint-Germain in 2013 where he bows out at the top after winning the French League.
Beckham’s international career saw him win 115 caps for England between 1996 and 2009, including six years as captain. Twice runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year, he was the world’s highest-paid footballer in 2004 when his commercial earnings boosted his salary at Real Madrid.
David Beckham – Derby County v Manchester United, 1996/1997
production company: VSI TV for VISIONSPORT
Born on 2 May 1975, David Robert Joseph Beckham is an iconic footballer who made his name playing for his boyhood heroes Manchester United. As a youngster he attended one of Bobby Charlton’s football schools in Manchester and won the chance to take part in a training session at FC Barcelona. After trials with Leyton Orient, Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur, he became part of a famous group of youngsters who won the FA Youth Cup for Manchester United in May 1992.
He went on loan to Preston in 1994/95 before returning to Old Trafford and making his Premier League debut for Manchester United in a goal-less draw against Leeds United on 2 April 1995. He went on to win six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the European Champions League with United, and was in the team that won the Treble in 1999.
In 2003 he signed for Real Madrid where he spent four years winning the La Liga championship in his final season before joining LA Galaxy. His five-year spell in America included a mid-season loan spell with AC Milan in 2009. He finally left the States to join Paris Saint-Germain in 2013.
Beckham’s international career saw him win 115 caps for England between 1996 and 2009, including six years as captain. Twice runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year, he was the world’s highest-paid footballer in 2004 when his commercial earnings boosted his salary at Real Madrid.
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Michael Owen a former England striker has announced his retirement from football at the end of the season.
Debuting for Liverpool at only 17 years old, before his famous solo goal for England against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.
Owen, 33, who scored 40 goals in 89 internationals, played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United and is now at Stoke. Including a hattrick against Germany in England’s famous 5-1 victory over their rivals in 2001.
He said: “It is with an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my intention to retire.
“I have been very fortunate in that my career has taken me on a journey I could only have dreamed of.”
He has scored 220 goals in his club career, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup (three times) and Uefa Cup. Owen was named European Footballer of the Year in 2001 – the first Englishman to achieve the accolade since Kevin Keegan in 1979.
“Having progressed through the ranks at Liverpool to make my first-team debut at 17, before embarking upon spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, not to mention representing my country on 89 occasions, I now feel it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career,”
‘World would be a boring place without Paddy Crerand’ – don’t miss this remarkable feature-length tribute to unique football legend
There is no one in football quite like Paddy Crerand – and this weekend Manchester United fans around the world will enjoy a fascinating and revealing insight into the life of one of the club’s most colourful personalities when my long-awaited documentary ‘Paddy 50 Years’ premieres on MUTV.
Signed by Matt Busby for £56,000 on 6 February 1963, the kid from the Gorbals was the Paul Scholes of his generation and enjoyed a pivotal role in a hugely successful side that became the first English winners of the European Cup.
Now one of the club’s most fanatical supporters, Paddy has re-invented himself as an outspoken football pundit and has his own show on the club’s TV Channel. His recent radio rant that followed the Manchester derby – when contributors to BBC 5Live Breakfast blamed Rio Ferdinand for inciting the crowd and being hit by a coin – trended worldwide on twitter.
It was an insanely funny piece of radio that re-inforced his cult status with United’s current stars and skipper Patrice Evra says: “The players all love Paddy.” Not that this was the first time that he has vented his fury on radio in his uniquely passionate style to defend a Red Devil. Guess who was dominating the airwaves in support of Eric Cantona after his infamous kung-fu attack on abusive Crystal Palace fan Matthews Simmons back in 1995?
This Glasgow-born Celt of Irish descent is a fascinating character adored by his fans, friends and family alike because he is a man of the people who speaks his mind and is fervently loyal. Sent off six times, he insists he never started a fight but always finished it. And yet, behind that tough-tackling, tough-talking exterior, is a man with a heart of gold.
There are many fascinating chapters in the life of the 73-year-old who briefly dabbled in coaching and management after hanging up his boots. While his passion for politics famously saw him act as a peacemaker between the IRA and his old friend John Hume back in the seventies. Then there was his spell as a pub landlord when the likes of Bryan Robson, Paul McGrath, Alan Brazil, Norman Whiteside and Kevin Moran were his regulars.
“The world would be a boring place without Paddy Crerand,” declares Brian Kidd, who used to clean the Scottish international’s boots when he started out as an apprentice at Old Trafford. Kiddo, of course, is now Roberto Mancini’s assistant at rivals Manchester City. But he remains a close friend and is one of the stars of our feature-length documentary tribute to the United legend.
It is a film laced with tragedy as well as triumph and I expect a few tears will be shed when viewers share Paddy’s emotional trip down memory lane that begins with the Second World War when his father was killed by a German bomb.
When Paddy finally signed for United from his boyhood heroes Celtic, it was the start of a golden era that saw Matt Busby’s men win the FA Cup, two league Championships and the 1968 European Cup in a remarkable five year spell. “I’d only been at United three months when we beat Leicester City 3-1 in the Cup Final at Wembley,” says our hero, who lined up against Frank McLintock, a player he’d previously faced in schools football back in their Gorbals days.
It was a decade when George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton became the iconic names at Manchester United. All three were European footballers of the Year. But Paddy was the outstanding half-back who made Busby’s team tick.
Nobby Stiles, who reverted to a more defensive role when Crerand arrived, says: “For me Paddy signing was the best thing that ever happened because it meant I moved back alongside Bill Foulkes, which was my best position.”
In the documentary, Sir Alex Ferguson and his brother Martin both talk about their memories of Paddy in the early days. Martin worked with Paddy in the shipyard before he signed for Celtic, and talks about how they used to play football at lunchtime in steel toe-capped boots. Sir Alex recalls Paddy playing junior football for Duntocher Hibs and likes to remind everyone that Celtic were beaten 4-nil by Rangers in Paddy’s final game north of the border.
The biggest accolade comes from Denis Law who told me: “Paddy was one of the best midfield players Scotland ever had.” Now that is some tribute from my good friend the Lawman who many of us regard as the greatest Scottish player of them all.
To fully appreciate what I am talking about you will have to watch the documentary and I am proud to say that my script has been brought to life by the narration of Bernard Hill, the Hollywood actor who starred in Lord of the Rings and Titanic.
‘Paddy 50 Years’ premieres exclusively this weekend on MUTV.
Watch primetime at 9pm on Sunday, February 3, or catch one of the repeat showings. You can sign up for MUTV at manutd.com/joinmutv or call 08708 486888. ‘Paddy 50 Years’ is produced, directed & scripted by John Gubba.
— john gubba (@johnnielegend) February 3, 2013
You are truly a legend @patcrerand . One of a kind, hilarious, incredibly biased but don’t we just love it! The 50 Years show was brilliant
— Craig Nunn (@CraigNunn10_14) February 3, 2013
Just watching a documentary celebrating @patcrerand 50 years at United. Brilliant stuff
— waz (@wazmcr13) February 3, 2013
Paddy Crerand documentary on MUTV. Absolutely brilliant. Thought Paddy could not go any higher in my estimation. I was wrong. Legend. #mufc
— JOHN LUDDEN (@JOHNLUDDS) February 3, 2013
— Vijay Kara (@VijayKara1) February 2, 2013
@johnnielegend 50 years wot a legend Paddy is KRO
— paul collins (@gabbiecabbie) February 2, 2013
Also thanks to everyone at MUTV, but special thanks to John Gubba who Im sure i drove mental. Well done John excellence
— Paddy Crerand (@PatCrerand) February 2, 2013
Pat Crerand radio rant: phone-in just a cheap shot by BBC journalists trying to blame Rio Ferdinand for hooligan fans
It is typical of declining standards at the BBC these days that this morning’s 5Live Phone-in deliberately promoted the idea that Rio Ferdinand was to blame for outragous fan behaviour at Sunday’s Manchester derby. It was the latest shameless attempt by the radio station to boost their ratings.
With many callers given airtime, who – like the presenters – had not even seen United’s 3-2 derby win over City, it was yet another hatchet job by lazy journalists trying to fuel public misconception. Anyone with any common sense will be applauding Manchester United legend Pat Crerand for ridiculing the suggestion that Ferdinand was at fault for celebrating the sensational injury time winner.
Ferdinand was hit by a coin as he celebrated the dramatic 94th minute strike by Robin van Persie. Earlier Wayne Rooney, who scored a double to give United a 2-nil lead, was pelted by coins when he lined up to take a corner. And Joe Hart had to intervene when a hooligan wearing City colours ran onto the pitch and tried to get to Ferdinand.
The real issue here is that there is an ugly hard core of hooligans once again tarnishing the beautiful game. There can be no excuse under any circumstances for so-called fans to throw coins or any other missiles at players on a football pitch. No matter how much supporters pay for tickets it does not give them the right to act like animals and run onto the pitch and attack the players.
For the BBC to give credence to the suggestion that fans at any Premier league match only react in such a manner because players celebrate scoring a goal is pure insanity – or as Paddy put it: “ludicrous.”
Crerand has built a cult following on MUTV for his opinionated comments and unbridled passion for Manchester United and it has been my great pleasure to get to know the man behind the microphone, who became a legend along with Best, Law and Charlton in Sir Matt Busby’s 1968 European Cup winning team.
For the past three months I have been filming a documentary with Crerand to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of his association with Manchester United. And I can promise you that this will be a football programme you will not want to miss. The documentary gets its first screening on MUTV on Sunday, 3 February 2013
There is no one in football quite like Paddy, who famously rang a radio station to defend Eric Cantona on the night the Frenchman kung-fu kicked a yob in the crowd after he was sent-off in the match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park back in 1995.
THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF PADDY CRERAND’S RADIO RANT AT PRESENTERS CHRIS WARBURTON AND RACHEL BURDEN
Chris Warburton: We’ve had a lot of people getting in touch saying the players have to take a bit of responsibility, stop celebrating in front of opposing fans and stoking it up. I just wondered what your thoughts are on that?
Paddy Crerand: Who’s said that? Who’s made that statement?
CW: We’ve had various calls and texts from our listeners, Paddy.
PC: What planet do they live on?
CW: Well, you tell me.
PC: Well, I’ve no idea. I was at the game yesterday, do you expect fans not to celebrate when their team scores a goal?
CW: No, no, what they’re suggesting is that players are going up to opposing fans and celebrating in front of them and that that stokes the crowd up.
PC: I was at the game yesterday and that is absolute rubbish. Who suggested that, and where did that come from? Absolute garbage. How many people phoned you up? One? Two? Three?
CW: No, no, we’ve had various texts this morning saying the same thing as well.
PC: Well how many? Tell me how many. If you’re going to make a statement like you’re making a statement now, tell me how many.
CW: Just take it from me that we have had a good number of texts…
PC: I’m not taking it from you, you tell me.
CW: Well, I haven’t got it to hand Paddy.
PC: Well why make a statement then, if you haven’t got it to hand? No I’m not taking it from you, why do you make a statement like that when you haven’t got the evidence?
CW: Well, what do you think of the point?
PC: I think the point is absolutely ludicrous. You go to a football match, or any sporting situation, and you think people shouldn’t celebrate? What planet are your people on at all?
CW: No, no, that’s not what’s being suggested.
PC: That’s what you’re suggesting.
CW: In terms of…
PC: In terms of what? Now you’re making excuses for yourself.
CW: I was going to ask you a different question Paddy.
PC: Yeah, go on then.
CW: In terms of the environment at a derby, how has it changed from when you were playing?
PC: It’s not changed in any way whatsoever. I don’t care that it’s a derby, or any football match, people celebrate when their team scores a goal. What do you expect them to do, be quiet? I don’t know what you’re suggesting, I’m totally amazed. Just a minute please – is this a publicity stunt?
CW: No. I think I’ve been quite clear in what I’m saying to you Paddy. Let me ask you a question about the football.
PC: Yeah, well ask me a sensible question then. Don’t talk stupid and ask me daft questions about whether fans should celebrate or not.
CW: Well we asked Danny Mills the question about an hour ago, Paddy, and he gave us quite a reasonable answer.
PC: Well what did he say to you? I’ve no idea what Danny Mills says to you, what was his reasonable answer?
CW: He told us that you can’t hold players in any way responsible.
PC: Of course you can’t. Why make a thing about a sensible answer that Danny Mills gave you that people should celebrate? Of course they should celebrate.
Rachel Burden: I think there might be a bit of misunderstanding here. A number of people texted the programme and people called Five Live…
PC: How many texts? A million?
RB: If you’d let me finish…
PC: Half a million?
RB: If you’d let me finish…
PC: Hundred thousand?
RB: If you’d let me finish the point…
RB: …and the point was about Rio Ferdinand going down to an area where home fans were and celebrating in front of them.
PC: Let me say something to you. Did you watch the game yesterday?
RB: I listened to it.
PC: Well you didn’t watch it then, you don’t know what happened then. Rio Ferdinand was nowhere near where the away fans – where the home fans were. He gets struck by a coin that somebody’s thrown from about 15 or 20 yards, it’s not like he was standing in front of their supporters jumping up and down. He was 15 or 20 yards from their fans.
RB: Do you remember things like that happening when you were playing in these derbies?
PC: I don’t remember anything like that happening, no.
RB: So do you think the atmosphere has got worse over the years?
PC: Why did you change commentators? Why have you come on all of a sudden?
RB: That’s just the way it works on the programme, we both join in together.
CW: Don’t worry, I haven’t run scared Paddy.
PC: Oh, I thought you’d run away there for a minute. No, but let me say, it was a great football match, no question about that. When it went to two each, I thought City were the team that were going to win it. Manchester United finished up winning with a deflected goal and you can’t not accept the fact that fans would celebrate when the third goal went in. And derby matches are a lot different from ordinary matches, obviously, but why somebody would throw something at Rio Ferdinand is totally stupid. Why a fan would run on the pitch…
And to be fair to Manchester City, a United fan ran on to the pitch last year when United beat City 4-3. So the effects of football on people sometimes can go to the extreme, it shouldn’t happen but it does happen unfortunately. And particularly in matches that are local derbies.
— john gubba (@johnnielegend) January 19, 2013
Manchester United legends past and present at Old Trafford for unveiling of statue for ‘The Boss’ confirm he’s Simply the Best
Words alone are simply not enough to pay tribute to the greatest football manager of all time – and it is impossible to overstate what Sir Alex Ferguson means to Manchester United.
It was wonderful to see legends past and present make the pilgrimage to Old Trafford to witness the unveiling of a magnificent statue in honour of the great man.
Fittingly placed in front of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, it is an everlasting monument to a dynasty that began 26 years ago and has emulated the success of that other great Knight who first elevated United to the status of the world’s most famous football club, Sir Matt Busby.
The return of many of Fergie’s greatest recruits including Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Gary Neville, Andrew Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar gives you an indication of how highly The Boss is regarded. And the heartfelt messages broadcast on a video screen from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho underlined the significance of the occasion.
Beckham thanked Ferguson for giving him ‘the best years of my career’ while Ronaldo vowed to return soon for English lessons. It was pure theatre at The Theatre of Dreams attended by the entire current squad along with fans and other VIPs.
Manchester United have become masters at getting the tone and dignity of such occasions absolutely spot on and this was another perfect performance crowned by Sir Alex’s wife Cathy unveiling her husband’s statue.
“Somebody has to control me and Cathy is the only one who can,” quipped Ferguson as his wife climbed the podium to do the honours. “Mind you, I’ve made her promise to come here every Saturday morning and bow down in front of me.” That is not going to happen – but for generations to come millions of Manchester United fans will certainly do the honours and pay tribute to the greatest manager of them all.
SIR ALEX FERGUSON THE ULTIMATE ROLE MODEL – AND THE GREATEST FOOTBALL MANAGER THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN
United legends turned up in honour of The Boss: Former players Solskjaer, Cantona, Yorke, Cole, Van Nistelrooy, Van der Sar
While Rafa Benitez jumps to the tune of Roman Abramovich, Pep Guardiola’s refusal to sell his soul only enhances his reputation
In the eyes of the vast majority of football lovers around the world, Roman Abramovich has reduced Chelsea to a laughing stock by the outrageous way he runs the West London club.
But the reason that managers like Rafa Benitez continue to line up for slaughtering at Stamford Bridge is simple: money and silverware.
On the one hand Abromovich (above) is impossible to satisfy, firing a succession of managers simply because they have lost a couple of matches – regardless of how many trophies they deliver. The counter argument is that the Stamford Bridge club has enjoyed an unprecedented era of success since the Russian oligarch came along with his millions. And for many Blues fans that is all that counts.
With few exceptions in football, managers have a limited shelf life. As George Graham told me on the day he was appointed manager of Arsenal: “Most of us know that one day we will be sacked.” The difference at Chelsea, since Abramovich took over, is that the axe is almost certainly going to come sooner rather than later.
New boss Rafa Benitez claimed at his unveiling that working for Abramovich will be “easier” than for George Gillett and Tom Hicks, despite admitting he had never even spoken to the Chelsea owner. The thick skinned former Liverpool boss will shrug off his inevitable unpopularity with Blues fans because he will be well rewarded for his efforts, regardless of whether or not he lasts the duration of his six month contract.
If he succeeds in delivering silverware it will be another achievement to add to an already impressive CV and getting the sack at Chelsea is far from being a career wrecker. So it is easy to see why the Spaniard who has been out of work for over a year was quick to jump at the opportunity to put his neck on the line. Don’t bet againt Benitez kicking off with a win against Premier League champions Manchester City at the weekend.
The simple conclusion to draw from Benitez being crowned Chelsea’s ninth manager in just over eight years is that Abramovich believes he is the man to get the best out of his much-maligned £50 million pound signing Fernando Torres. The irony is that the arrival of Benitez will, in my opinion, increase the pressure on Torres to prove he is not a busted flush.
Meanwhile, the dignity of the West London has been tarnished yet again by the brutal dismissal of Roberto di Matteo, despite becoming the first Chelsea manager to win the Champions League and as well as adding an FA Cup into the bargain.
To quote The Independent’s James Lawton, Abramovich’s treatment of Di Matteo suggests that the club has “a certain rottenness at its core.” And that is the rub. Money can buy you many things but it can’t buy you dignity and honour.
It is also reassuring to know that some football managers have a bigger pricetag than any amount of money can buy. For Pep Guardiola to resist the riches thrown before him by the Russian is the delicious postscript to this tacky tale of West London extravaganza of obscene proportions. Guardiola has in many people’s eyes enhanced his reputation by ignoring Abramovich’s advances. That is something that will send his desirability soaring at a club like Manchester United who will one day be looking for a successor to the greatest British football manager of all time.
Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his wish to move in at Old Trafford when Sir Alex Ferguson eventually retires. But the Real Madrid boss will surely be challenged by his former Barcelona rival if the United hot seat becomes available any time soon.
Below: Abramovich parades the Champions League trophy (left), Di Matteo wonders what his future holds (right) and Guardiola enjoys his Barcelona dominance (below).