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Why Abramovich May Really Have Sacked Scolari

Martin O'Neill

I can sum up in two words why Roman Abramovich may have sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari: Aston Villa.

Seeing Aston Villa in third place, two points ahead of Chelsea, must have been eating Abramovich up. Here’s this Russian oil tycoon who has spent hundreds of millions of pounds to try to build the world’s biggest football team, and he’s being made to look like a fool by Martin O’Neill’s team who not only are further ahead but are playing a brand of football that’s more appealing to the eye and more exciting than Chelski.

If you were a businessman like Roman Abramovich and you saw one of your “lesser” competition beating you in the business world, what would you do? Would you try to buy that company out or hire a headhunter to steal away their talent? While Chelsea won’t be able to buy Aston Villa, of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if Abramovich had Peter Kenyon and his staff put some feelers out to see if O’Neill would be interested in becoming the next Chelsea manager.

O’Neill is in a different league as a manager and isn’t used to working with some of the biggest superstars in world football. Plus, he’s very much from the Brian Clough school of management where you can take a team of underachievers and you make sound purchases to fill in the weak spots, and then work on your man management skills to get the most out of your other players.

But, if O’Neill can work his magic at Aston Villa (as he did previously at Celtic and Leicester City), why not give him an opportunity with Chelsea? The challenge for the Blues and a reason why they would avoid the Northern Irishman is that Chelsea is running out of time. They can’t afford to bring in O’Neill and give him time to meld a team together and get them purring by the summertime. Chelsea needs a world-class manager who can hit the ground running.

My prediction: Roberto Mancini. But if O’Neill gets the job, remember where you heard it first.

One more thought: It’s nice to see a Big Four side squirm. Aston Villa are mounting a true challenge to the Big Four monopoly and in doing so, they’re helping heads roll. If Villa weren’t as good this season as they are now, Chelsea would be in third place and within distance of making a run for the title. Right now, they’re floundering. Was it the correct decision to get rid of Scolari? In my opinion, yes. But only if you have a replacement who’s available to step in as quickly as possible to get the ship back in order. If not, it’s poor timing and poor planning by Chelsea FC.

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  1. Shyam G

    February 10, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I hope so, only so the MON to Man Utd bollocks will stop. That said, I cannot see MON giving up what he has at Villa (potential top four finishing side and total control over footballing matters) to go to the chelsea circus.

  2. Paul Bestall

    February 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I agree Gunthros, Lerner is the perfect chairman. He’s been nothing but class since he stepped foot in Villa Park.

  3. Grunthos

    February 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    That’s reasonable from Chelsea’s point of view, but what incentive does O’Neill have for switching clubs? At Villa, he has ample financial backing and complete, unfettered control of the team. Randy Lerner has placed the entire operation in O’Neill’s hands, and is temperamentally just about the exact opposite of Roman Abramovich. Sure, moving to Chelsea would mean going from “plenty of money” to “absurd amounts of money”, but why would O’Neill consent to putting up with Abramovich’s meddling? Why switch from a team awash in excellent young talent (Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor, James Milner, Curtis Davies) to a team whose essentials are almost all on the wrong side of 30? It’s not as if O’Neill is underpaid.

    Frankly, Martin O’Neill to Chelsea is only slightly more likely than Alex Ferguson to Chelsea.

  4. Paul Bestall

    February 9, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    On Radio 5 tonight, the last hour was all about the Chelsea situation. Names mentioned ranged from the strange, Terry Venables, to rank outsider, Martin Jol, to plain crazy, Owen Coyle. The majority though went for either Mancini, Rijkaard or Mourinho but David Moyes name was mentioned a couple of times, especially when Pat Nevin through it into the ring.

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