Why Chelsea's managerial revolving door is here to stay

As Roman Abramovich scours the planet for

his eighth manager in as many years at Chelsea, heres a little food for thought. Can you name the club who attracted a crowd

of 10,128 to their goalless draw with Manchester City in the Premier League in November 1993? Or the club whose London derby with Wimbledon, 18 years ago, drew a modest 11,903 patrons through the turnstiles? Or, just 10 days before the FA Cup final that season, the club whose countdown to Wembley began with a 2-1 home defeat by Coventry City in front of, wait for it, 8,923 lonely souls? Answers: Chelsea, Chelsea and Chelsea. In isolation, these figures prove nothing. In the mid-1990s, English foo

tball was still recovering from the assorted horrors of Bruss

els, Bradford, Birmingham and Hillsborough, the economy was being run by a clown called Norman Lamont and Chelsea, like every other club, were at the mercy of market forces in lean times. Then, as now, Chelsea enjoy a sizeable, voluble travelling support d

rawn largely from the provinces, and the 400-yard stroll down to Stamford Bridge from Fulham Broadway station remains an exercise in hopscotch between steaming pancakes of equine origin. But when you hear supporters recite that search-and-rescue anthem, Where Were You Wh

en You Were ****?, C2020第75期高清跑狗图 helsea are near the top of the league for new converts. That is not to decry true Blues who simply stayed away during the years when they were a yo-yo club, bobbing between promotion campaigns from the old Second Division and vivid inconsistency in the top flight, nor to deny new Blues their freedom of choice to support who they like. Following a club was once a question of inheriting your fathers loyalties. Some people, would you believe it, even supported their local team. Since the advent of Sky Sports, however, the Premier League (which was invented, as we know, by those eminent professors Andy Gray and Richard Keys) has become a monster which cannot be tamed, and the major clubs only have to appear on live television to acquire a whole new legion of admirers. And among the B-listers who were once season ticket holders at less fashionable

clubs, star-gazers and naval-gazers, Chelseas most notable new convert, of course, is Roman Abramovich. When Ken Bates sold up in 2003 and Abramovich, in the words of former Arsenal chief David Dein, parked his tanks on the lawn firing 50 notes at everyone else, the rules changed. Nine years down the track, Chelsea now bear little rel

ation to the Kings Road paupers who dabbled with success in the cups but only pulled in 8,923 f

ans for Premier League fixtures. They have enjoyed a benefactors largesse on an unprecedented scale until Manchester City opened an oil refinery at Eastlands. Since 2003, their wage bills and balance sheets have read like ransom notes, but dont worry - as long as Abramovich is around to pick up the tab, insolvency is only a distant rumour in SW6. When the oligarch had Carlo Ancelotti sacked on a staircase at Everton last May, just 12 months after the likeable Italian had plotted the first Double in the clubs history, cynics said he was riding roughshod over eight years of history. But heres the rub. When we talk of a new culture at Chelsea Football Club, change is not just restricted to puny crowds now being replaced by 41,000 sell-outs every week; it is not just

a matter of replacing the sprawling old Shed terrace with shiny corporate boxes; and it is not just a matter of building a world-class team around Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry and Ashley Cole. Part of the new culture, whether friends or foes like it or not, is that Chelsea are heavily indebted to Roman Abramovich - and if he wants to change the manager every year, surely his largesse has bought

him that entitlement. You know, the man who pays the piper is entitled to call the tune and all that. The outside world may not like it. League Managers Association chief Richard Bevan may call the turnover of managers under Abramovich embarrassing. You may laugh now at Chelsea chairman Bruce Bucks earnest wish that Andre Villas-Boas would stick around 15 years to build a dynasty like Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford - and poor old AVB would be sawn off after just 257 days. But hiring and firing managers every year

is all part of the furniture at Stamford Bridge - deal with it. And, yes, some of the 41,000 who turn up every week now are glory-hunters or bandwagon-hoppers - every big club has them. And you know what? Its better than having only a lousy 8,923 people coming to watch you pl

ay at home in the Premier League.