In June 2003 Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich became the owner of Chelsea Football Club. His aim was simple: he wanted European dominance and this meant winning the Champions League. The greatest competition in club football.
Having promised to invest heavily in the club, one signing in his first season in charge was
Didier Drogba, a 26 year old from Marseille. It signified a new Chelsea – the owner had spent £24 million on a relatively unknown striker, and had shown he meant business. The club would no longer be in the shadows of Manchester United and Arsenal.
It seems fitting then that 8 years later, days after Chelsea finally won the trophy that the owner has so long desired for, that Drogba has parted ways with the club. The striker who not only initiated the revolution but also scored Saturday’s winning penalty to at last give the club European glory. After scoring 100 goals in just over 200 appearances Didier Drogba has carved his name amongst the Chelsea legends. No one within the club wanted to see him leave – highlighted by John Terry’s chant at Sunday’s victory parade, ‘Di-die-r-Drog-ba-we-want-you-to-stay.’ Stereotypically simplistic but nevertheless the message was clear. An exception of course may be Fernando Torres, if the Spaniard does stay at Chelsea he will have the chance the secure the centre forwards role.
It is hard to think what would persuade Drogba to leave a club like Chelsea at present – other than the prospect of doubling his wages in a much softer foreign league. By no means putting a negative glance on this – it is well known the Ivorian has used his money to build a foundation charity that aims to reduce poverty in Africa. At 34 years old the striker is set for a move to either China or Russia, where he will cash in on what has been an illustrious career.
His departure in many ways signifies a new chapter for Chelsea. Abramovich has finally won the trophy that for so many years has dictated his decision making, and although he won’t have any lesser expectations of the team now, he may at last introduce stability. After all the club has had nine managers during his time as owner. So often have we seen big name coaches step up in attempt to meet the owner’s demands and, regardless of their success – failure to win the Champions League has always resulted in failure to keep the job. Jose Mouriniho, no doubt the biggest example of this, he won two Premier League’s and an FA Cup in just three seasons, and still fell victim to the owners addiction with European glory.
And this season has been no different. Again money has been spent on a new manger, again with no success. Andre Villas-Boas was sacked after less than a year in the job and in March Chelsea faced the prospect of not having Champions League football next season, let alone the chance of retaining the trophy. That was, of course, before interim manager Di Matteo stepped up to the plate, and after a fantastic last few months they find themselves with the FA Cup and the prestigious European trophy. Many expected Abramovich’s obvious joy in Munich to be met with a permanent contract for Di Matteo. As of yet this has not happened but surely must be the case – Chelsea Football Club now has a great opportunity to build long term. The fear of an ageing squad will not go away, but a young, ambitious and well liked Di Matteo will surely adopt the transformation policies that are needed for the team to progress.
The absence of Didier Drogba will no doubt leave a gap in the Chelsea strike force but will his departure initiate positive change at the Bridge? Only time and a summer of decisions will tell.
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