When Andy Cole took what felt like an eternity to score his first goal for Manchester United, you can be sure there were plenty wondering had Fergie lost his marbles shelling out what was a whopping £7M on the then Newcastle United striker.
The wily old Scot seldom got decisions wrong. And, eventually, Cole would go on to be a central tenet of the Old Trafford representatives who bagged a historic treble for the club in 1999.
Point being that, back in the day at least, those in charge of clubs (a) knew what they were doing and (b) had the best interests of the club at heart. People like Martin Edwards, David Deen, Jack Walker and Ken Bates to name but a few.
The arrival of a certain Mr Abramovich heralded the dawn of the era of new-style, impatient, money hungry club owners. Though in fairness, he wasn’t the worst of them, despite his propensity to sack managers. He did provide almost any player the incumbent of the day desired, which in turn brought unprecedented levels of success to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea fans must now be wishing the Russian Oligarch wasn’t forced to sell the club due to something that had nothing to do with football. At this point, I will admit to knowing nothing about current owner Todd Boehly. But if I was a Chelsea fan, it would be difficult – to put it very mildly – to be overly enamoured by his contributions to the club.
Sacking Thomas Tuchel has to be one of the worst and most bizarre decisions anybody in charge of any club has ever made. From a football viewpoint it made absolutely zero sense. A kneejerk reaction to what was a one-off heavy defeat at the time.
Business-wise, it made even less sense. Tuchel had taken the club back to great heights on the pitch. And, whereas Abramovich generally replaced the defenestrated with somebody of equal or better status, you can hardly say that this time around.
That is not in any way to question or degrade the standing of Graham Potter as a manager in general. He has proven himself adept at improving those whom he has coached – none more so than Brighton, whose transformation into one of the trickiest opponents in English football can be traced back to him.
However, with respect, going from managing the likes of Brighton to Chelsea is akin to, Lord help us, giving one of the Healy-Raes a job in Government. For those outside of Ireland, look them up, you’ll see it makes perfect sense!
But then, one wonders just how much say the likes of Potter has in what goes on regarding ‘his’ team. For example, it must be asked did he genuinely seek out and acquire the services of Pierre-Emeryck Aubameyang? Surely not if he had seen any of the Arsenal documentary, in which the forward comes across as a blatant sh*t stirrer.
Now, that Chelsea were in need of reinforcements in their firing line is beyond question. Especially given the calibre of forwards who have left the club, even in more recent years. Again, though, it would be hard to quantify the likes of Aubameyang being atop any shopping list of potential replacements.
Indeed, the farcical currently ensuing where the player is motioning towards a return to Barcelona – who got rid of him only months ago on loan – surely suggests that he’s not the fit for what the blues need. Moreover, there are surely plenty of other forwards they could’ve plumped for to beef up their arsenal. Perhaps even their own former forward, Diego Costa. Who was instead snapped up by Wolves.
The thing is, rather than admit to what the real issue with Chelsea is, the Brains Trust within the club are of course making overtures about taking the handy way out. That is to say sacking the manager. Mind you, to my mind, losing the plot over Potter in this instance misses the point altogether.
While it might come across as old fashioned or cliched, regardless of the trade, any tradesman is only as good as the machinery at their disposal.