Roman Abramovich has made the Chelsea job unattractive
The Chelsea job has become a poisoned chalice since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003. The Chelsea owner is far more hands-on than other Premier League owners. He believes the limited budget he now sets for his managers leaves them no excuse for failure.
If there was no expectation to win trophies or finish in the top four that would not be a problem. That pressure exists, however, and in spades. Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafael Benitez, Luiz Felipe Scolari, and Andre Villas-Boas have all called Stamford Bridge home in the last 14 years, Mourinho and Hiddink twice, but Abramovich hasn't the patience to allow a manager to build a lasting project.
Current boss Antonio Conte is expected to leave the club at the end of the campaign after an underwhelming season. Reports have cited Abramovich's interest in Thomas Tuchel and Luis Enrique as his replacement. Neither is believed to be enamoured at the prospect of working as Chelsea manager. The Blues are a big club. They will challenge for major trophies season-in, season-out. They will also go through managers like a child with an Easter basket filled with chocolate. The fact Tuchel and Enrique are looking at other jobs where they would have time to build a team is an indictment of Chelsea’s hierarchy.
Tuchel is expected to be named Arsenal manager while Enrique is competing with Conte for Unai Emery's seat at Paris Saint-Germain. It is difficult to see another top-level manager coming in after Conte. Few would be prepared to answer to less experienced bean counters regarding transfer targets. Most coaches enjoy some control over transfer business in the Premier League. Chelsea is not one.
No matter the manager, Marina Granovskaia and Bruce Buck run every club decision by the owner. Abramovich must realise this is 2018, not 2003. When Conte leaves, no qualified coach will want to take the Chelsea job the club's stature.
The lone exception may be Carlo Ancelotti. He is used to dealing with intermediaries after spending time at Real Madrid, Bayern, PSG, and of course Chelsea. His interest isn't guaranteed, though. Resentment over his previous dismissal for finishing second rather than defending his initial Premier League title may linger.
That Chelsea appear a team in decline is not helping matters. They made a mess of their title defence and are out of the Champions League and League Cup. They are a distant fifth in the Premier League, five points behind Tottenham. The chance to close the gap presents itself this Sunday when Spurs come to Stamford Bridge. Anything less than a win will make the Blues look like April Fools. For the second time in three years they will likely fail to make the Champions League.
The FA Cup represents their only chance at silverware. It won't be easy. Either Tottenham or Manchester United will be in their path should they make the final. Chelsea have become a yo-yo team at the top of the table, a somewhat unique though inglorious achievement. It is high time Abramovich learned patience and developed a long-term vision.