EPL-watchers surely groaned yesterday -- it was audible here over the regular Manhattan din -- upon learning Roman Abramovich's bank account is over $13 Billion larger owing to Gazprom's acquisition of 72.7% of Russian oil group, Sibneft, controlled by Mr Abramovich's Millhouse Capital entity. The groan reflects the disappointment that Chelsea will have more money with which to distance themselves from mortal clubs throughout Europe by buying up even more of the most talented players.
The jealousy as well as the valid complaints of unfairness manifest these days in the chant "Boring, Boring Chelsea" heard around most grounds except Stamford Bridge. If you think winning is boring, then you'd have a point. If people are sore, it's because Abramovich's willingness to spend on players has an unnatural quality to it -- there is no individual or corporation around with that much money to spend in an unprofitable pursuit -- and also resentment exists that the spending has diminishing returns for Chelsea itself while preventing other clubs from attracting the good players. If people are concerned for an unbalancing effect on football, they can hardly be criticized.
Nevertheless, Chelsea must actually go out win on the pitch, and this they have done in an unnatural fashion -- setting a League points record in Mourinho's first year. The money appears to be a start, but it takes brilliance to deliver. One wonders if Mourinho will need to move to a Bournemouth or Wrexham to prove his value one day, so overshadowed is he by the curse of Abramovich's plentitude.
Mourinho is establishing a winning era at Chelsea based on a large squad with two near world-class players at each position, unusual fitness and a disciplined counter-attacking style of football in which shape is co-equal with patience. The clean sheet is the primary objective: clearly Mourinho's mantra is 'Above all, do not get scored upon.' That is the formula to winning a lot and gaining the winning habit. In part this does take good backing; but much is down to sheer competency.
He is solidifying the 4-5-1 formation's use for European as well as
Peter Kenyon's petulant punishment of an old employer (Manchester United)