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Player Power In The Era Of Sarriball

And so the end is near. Of course, we are talking about another Chelsea manager for by the time you read this, Maurizio Sarri might already be toast though, in that way that football clubs have, the Pensioners might give him one last game – Sunday’s League Cup final meeting with Manchester City – to prove that he is still the man for the job in the age of Player Power.

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By Dave Bowler

You’d think, given the money involved in these things, that the decision making process was rather more involved and thought out than that, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

Either way, the era of Sarriball, much lauded away back last summer, looks set for its ignominious ending fairly shortly and Chelsea will be looking for yet another manager under Roman Abramovich’s rule.

Unusual it may be in a game where conventional wisdom says that stability is all, but you could argue that Abramovich has generally proved right given the number of titles Chelsea have won over the course of his reign this century.


We’ll return to that shortly but sticking with the conventional wisdom a moment longer, Sarri’s imminent demise is triggering a few questions along the lines of isn’t it time that Chelsea started backing managers and started bombing out footballers instead?

That certainly would have been the call in the past, when the likes of Shankly, Nicholson, Busby, Clough et al were masters of all they surveyed, men in whom complete trust was vested to run the football operation at their clubs.

If results went awry for a time, it was because of rebuilding and these men were trusted to do the job. In Alex Ferguson, that ideal reached its zenith and for an age in consequence, keeping faith with the manager was seen as the archetypal way of earning success.

Player Power

But the game changes and so do the rules of engagement at football clubs. Tycoon club owners who have made vast personal fortunes in business by doing things their way are unlikely to be in thrall to a chap whose qualifications are that he once won a League Cup medal as a player. In their own businesses, every executive is expendable and football isn’t any different to them.

Beyond that, the huge financial investments which footballers represent means that it is they that matter to the oligarchs and the royalty. Like choosing to build a new factory somewhere, once you’ve put the money into plant and machinery, making that operate to peak efficiency is what matters. If you don’t do that, the works manager gets the heave, they don’t dismantle the production line.

Now more than ever, players have all the power and managers and coaches simply have to lump it. The way in which Chelsea players regularly down tools to get rid of a manager they’ve tired of does them no credit, but they get what they want. Leicester’s players have become pretty adept at it too. Whatever you think of Mourinho, United’s players decided they were going to get rid of him and did. Yes, it did happen in the past, but not on the scale we’re seeing now.

So we reach a new stage in the way English football operates, an eternal triangle, anything but equilaterial, between owners, players and coaches. What’s missing? Supporters. That tells you just how important we are…

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