Never Cross an Oligarch

Much has been made of the fortune paid out by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to a succession of hapless managers who have not been able to live up to his brief of providing everlasting success for his beloved football club.

The pay off to the seven managers is said to total more than £50m that’s in excess of $80 million — and that does not include monies paid to club’s who have grudgingly released their managers under contract all be it for millions in compensation .

Chelsea’s latest man in the hot seat Andre Villas Boas lasted barely 8 months. But it is said his failure earned him a pay off in excess of $20m. This massive amount in my view would be enough to make any failures eyes light up with joy. Yet AVB, as he was dubbed by the press, was seen crying after leaving Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham, Surrey, where he was personally given his marching orders by the great man himself.

Why the tears I thought. If it were me I would be positively jumping for joy. Then I thought deeper about Oligarch’s and their history. They are Russian, which Abramovich certainly is, they are obscenely rich, he is said to be worth more than $21 billion, and they have no truck with failure in any shape or form, he fits that bill too. But wait a minute…. Not only do they not accept failure but like the celluloid villains in Bond films who fail to satisfy the cat loving boss of Spectre and end up dying the most horrible deaths Oligarchs, by and large, have been a merciless bunch.

Enemies of Oligarch’s in Russia were traditionally found in blood spattered alleyways or pulled out of lakes with a chunk of concrete tied round their necks. Was that why AVB was crying? Or perhaps the small print in his contract said no payout if fired on a Sunday. It might all sound highly improbable but I think we ought to know. One thing was for certain he was not crying tears of joy.

The day after his summary dismissal of the young manager Abramovitch addressed the team. He told them straight out he held them personally responsible for the poor results and the manager’s departure. He told them he expected better. No wonder they have not lost a game since or even conceded a goal since.

Please note that none of the above is written to cast any doubt on the honesty or integrity of Roman Abramovich who has ploughed more than $2 billon into Chelsea and given many millions to charity. I have simply written a potted history of the Oligarchs of Russia and the way some in the past have shot first and asked questions later. I wonder if that nice Mr Mourinho will as rumoured be returning soon to the fold or whether he considers it safer, sorry, more career enhancing to remain in Spain.