Manchester City the perfect blueprint for Chelsea
Published: 16.12.12 / Written by: David Gold
As Chelsea go back and forth under the whims of Roman Abramovich, they would be well served to look to the other major billionaire backed English side for advice.
Manchester City seem to have done what Chelsea wanted to do, much more effectively and quickly.
Like Chelsea, City want to be a global force playing good football and with a good image. Having started their revolution five years later, City are already ahead of Chelsea in that. Unlike Chelsea, they have had just two managers under the Abu Dhabi owners who took over from Thaksin Shinawatra. The first, Mark Hughes, was dumped after a poor start to the season in 2009-10. At the time there was a lot of criticism for the lack of patience in Hughes. Yet that decision has proved a masterstroke. And they have stuck with Mancini.
They may well look for another coach at the season’s end but they would be no more impatient than most major teams nowadays, such as Bayern Munich, Inter and AC Milan, and Real Madrid. Even Tottenham fired Harry Redknapp last year, and Liverpool got rid of Kenny Dalglish after just a season.
What Mancini has done though, is play an intelligent game in terms of City’s playing style. He got them into the Champions League with functional, stodgy football. He then won the league last year with free flowing style and panache. It was a rapid and impressive transition, as City suddenly became a possession focused, high pressing outfit who took the game to their opponents and could produce wonderful free flowing football.
Exactly what Chelsea want really. Except Chelsea just fired a manger working towards that goal to appoint one whose football is decidedly more pragmatic. While Mancini remains under pressure and may be gone before the end of the season, City do not have that instability at the club that characterises much of Chelsea.
One of the main differences between the two sides has to be their public image efforts. Chelsea at most times appear as though they could not care a less. They seem to make little effort to endear themselves to the public, adopting a kind of siege mentality at all times when the criticism becomes intense. By contrast, City seek to use community initiatives to promote their benevolent side. It is all PR guff of course, but City’s owners undoubtedly care about their perception in the outside world.
The irony of this is that whilst City’s owners from the outside seem to have little genuine interest in football and appear to be using the sport for their commercial goals, Chelsea’s owner is very different. Abramovich is one of the few billionaires with a genuine love of the game. But that seems his undoing, what drives him to interference and over the top meddling in football affairs. Perhaps the moral of the story is this – that a good owner is not necessarily one who understands the game. But one who understands that there are others who know the game better than they do, and to whom they can entrust to take the club forward.