The arrival of the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in the summer of 2003 had raised plenty of eyebrows on the British Isles with Chelsea supporters – and the general football-loving public – fearing the future of the Stamford Bridge-based club.
Mr Abramovich is a figure that has been drawing intrigue since the first moment he stepped under the limelight with the Blues and pundits had difficulties understanding whether he bought Chelsea as a dispensable new toy or as a project he truly was determined to see grow and develop.
The Russian billionaire made a clear statement during the summer transfer window 2013 when he invested whopping £100 million on new players looking to reshape the turbulent history of the Blues and make them an English powerhouse once again.
Chelsea had struggled to get out of the shadow of their more illustrious opponents for the good part of the late 1970s through to the 80s which remains a turbulent period for then the mediocre Chelsea side.
Glenn Hoddle offered a glimpse of hope by reaching the 1994 FA Cup Final and Chelsea did manage to position themselves one of the top English sides back again in years to come under Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli, but the Blues never quite managed to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s glorious Manchester United side and Arsenal’s unwavering desire to become more than top-four prescribers.
Having inherited a club that boasted ten major trophies in its close to one hundred years long history at the time, Roman Abramovich entrusted Claudio Ranieri with a challenging task the Italian failed to deliver.
It was Jose Mourinho who transformed Chelsea into a back-to-back Premier League winners, adding an FA Cup trophy and two League Cups to his name, before breaking the bond with the Russian and getting replaced by Avram Grant.
Tormented by Jose Mourinho’s image and utter failure to turn around the much-maligned investments, Roman Abramovich went on to change the total of 11 names – Mourinho’s also included from the second spell at the club – before he landed Antonio Conte, the man Roman had been waiting for this entire time.
Abramovich keeps on sending a strong message with his vast capital expenditure which, according to Daily Mail, stands and total of £806 million net on transfers and £2.4 billion on wages. It is the Russian’s way of demonstrating his desire to lead the club towards the sustainable future. The one which will be crowned by the new stadium – a 60,000-seat upgrade to Stamford Bridge as it is known today.
All of the money aside, what Roman Abramovich lacked was a strong foundation at the bottom of his investment – something he had had for a brief period in Jose Mourinho.
Antonio Conte came as a huge upgrade to the Portuguese tactician with his ruthlessness in detailed coaching style and in man management as well. Madly in love with the game, Conte wears his heart of the sleeve and often fails to prevent emotions get the better of him. But unlike the predecessor Mourinho, Conte and his outbursts seem to be more stylish – or at least that is what his contrasting humility and respect seem to suggest.
Conte’s tactical brilliance and ability to draw the last atom of strength out of the team that performed the worst title-defence in 25 years only a year before and lead them charging to the new trophy – their 14th in Roman Abramovich’s era.
With the new character and a boosted confidence which shines through every single Chelsea player this season, Antonio Conte will have firm foundations to build upon.
Roman Abramovich’s general on the pitch will be presented with a new four-year deal worth £40 million according to reports and a substantial war chest to work with during summer. With a couple of tweaks and upgrades to his quality-packed side, the future looks bright for the Blues.
It needs to be pointed out, however, that Chelsea’s elegant title run was enable by the lack of European games and the surrendering champions Leicester City are the latest example of the Champions League’s ruthlessness.
Having secured Roman’s fifth Premier League title, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will now be tasked with a greater challenge. Europe can be a costly dream and Conte will need to add depth to his squad in order to make the fans’ – and his own – dreams come true.
If there is anyone who can do it than it definitely is the Italian Knight.
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