Who is to blame for our issues? The players, the Board or the owner?
This is an odd moment to post this, having just come off a good result at the weekend, but I see wild accusations of blame related to our under-achievements thrown about every week. I don’t usually like negative subjects such as this one, but to correct our shortcomings, it’s necessary to work out where they are coming from. So here is me playing the blame game.
I spoke briefly in another article about how we are not many points worse that Manchester United and that we should be more competitive domestically. Furthermore, we have let ourselves down in every competition we have competed in so far this season (even the FA cup at times). We may have had some considerable success last year but all that did was mask the inexcusable decline that we are in.
So who is to blame? I will start by saying now that the blame is to be shared. There is no argument to be used that fully removes blame from the players, board or owner, or any argument that leaves it solely with one of them. I will also say now that the managers are not culpable. AVB, Di Matteo and Rafa were/are all perhaps capable of doing better, but to blame three short-term appointments such as these for problems that have existed before and since them, is crazy. AVB is doing a great job with Tottenham, Di Matteo won the Champions League, and Rafa has been managing within the most hostile of environments that has crippled him from the start (even if he knew this would be the case when he signed on).
The biggest problem that Chelsea have, and a problem that is not unique to us, yet certainly more prominent than usual in the Premier League, is that there is no accountability. The club is run behind closed doors. We hear little from the board and nothing from Abramovich. Should Rafa have realised that he would be referred to as interim? Who the hell knows, it’s his word against a silent club.
Fans like to say “oh, bloody Emenalo driving our club down the drain” or that “Bruce Buck is nothing but a yes man!” Indeed, indeed, tell me more of how you sit in on every board meeting.
The fact of the matter is that we as fans can offer no more than something between wild speculation and an educated guess as to what goes on with the board. I’ve heard people claim that Emenalo was the one that recommended Benitez, but really how can anybody know that for sure? They may seem unimpressive but to offload all responsibility on them is bizarre, especially when we don’t know how much influence they have over the owner.
Saying members of the board are primarily to blame doesn’t really work and is self-defeating anyway, because they are there due to Abramovich. So what if Gourlay is more of a business man than football-driven individual? It will be his business skills that got him hired and those are the skills that he will therefore use, and anyone who has a problem with that ought to speak to Abramovich.
If it is Abramovich who is bringing in this balancing-of-the-books mentality, then it is he that we should question. Furthermore, it is the Big Boss man that makes all of the big decisions, someone who has nobody to answer to when those decisions are rash and who stirs the media into a frenzy by simply strolling into Cobham. My ‘educated guess’ would be that he has the final say on every board decision, managerial appointment and new signing. If you blame the board for anything, you are, by extension, blaming Abramovich as well, as far as I see it.
I think the reason why most fans will not go as far as to criticise Abramovich is because he still has credit in the bank with us, including myself. This credit is diminishing though after what we have seen in the last few years, especially since none of the positive achievements were really down to him. This credit has not run out however, and until it does we will not reach the point at which we are ready to blame or publicly attack him. I, however, attribute a large part of the goings-on at Chelsea to him.
Moving on from the hierarchy, a lot can also be said of the players. It is, after all, literally they who are the ones that decide our results. So why, one day, do they tear Manchester United apart for 70 minutes, having just been embarrassed by Bucharest a few days earlier?? I don’t know, but there is something in their attitude that I don’t like. They don’t treat every game the same, who knows why. The same can be said of last season.
Are there big egos in the dressing room? Well, Lampard publicly said that he wasn’t happy with AVB, and Terry has got up off the bench a couple of times and tried to tell the manager and team what to do during a match! So yes, there are big egos, and big egos can be good for a team, big egos can be leaders. Big egos can also undermine a manager and disrupt a team. Whether or not you think player egos have anything to do with it, you cannot deny that the players do not treat every game with the same intensity, and that makes them just as culpable than anyone else, and more than any manager.
I would finish by saying that the blame needs to be spread between all three parties. The board may not be as good as we need, but hey, who put them there and listens to them? They just do what they are qualified to do, and if we are unimpressed with their work then the only man who can do anything about it is Abramovich. Perhaps they even give Abramovich good advice and he ignores it; we don’t know. What we do know is that the owner has more power than anyone else at the club, and so things don’t look good for him when we choose to play the blame game. The players need to buck up too and get behind who ever the manager is. The fans could definitely do the same; we haven’t exactly been helping since Benitez’s appointment.
Now that that’s said, I’ll just sit here and wait for my house to be stormed by the Russian Militia…