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Coaching vs Ownership Problems: What’s The Main Issue With Chelsea & Man Utd?

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‘One of the best jobs of my career was to finish second with Manchester United in the Premier League. People don’t know what is going on behind the scenes.’ The self-acclaimed special one and three-time Premier League winner Jose Mourinho made this rather controversial statement when he was criticized for his performance while in charge of the Red Devils months after he was sacked.

However, in 2019, many took his statement with a pinch of salt. Why was this so? Because Mourinho has an infamous track record of falling out with team members before he got sacked or left a coaching position.

He sent Paul Pogba back home when he arrived at the training session shortly before his sack. He also had rifts with Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos before he left Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2013.

To the surprise of the whole world, shortly before he left his job at Chelsea in 2015, he blamed the club’s female physio Eva Carnerio for their rather disappointing 2-2 draw against Swansea on the opening day of the 2015/2016 EPL season. He criticized her for going onto the pitch to treat Eden Hazard when she was not absolutely certain that the player had sustained an injury.

Of course, Mourinho received a lot of backlash for his statement against Carnerio. She later sued the current Roma boss for discrimination and harassment. Roughly six months later, both parties reach a confidential settlement.

Back in 2019 it was relatively easy to come to a conclusion that Mourinho was simply grasping at straws when he claimed that leading Manchester United to second position in the Premier League back in 2018 was one of his greatest achievements as a manager. However, as the years have unfolded since Mourinho was axed, a similar pattern has unfolded at the Theatre of Dreams.

From Ole Gunnar Solskjær to Erik Ten Hag, the club has invested ‘a very pretty penny’ in signing new players. However, the desired result of getting the club back to the Sir Alex Ferguson glory days has not been achieved under any of these coaches.

It might also come as a surprise to many that since 2018, Manchester United actually have a higher net spend than Manchester City of all people. The on-field performances of both these clubs in recent times are light-years apart.

Taking into consideration that the Cityzens have won the last three Premier League titles and are strong favorites to win it this year again one can conclude that Manchester is actually blue not red.

Since Fergie left the Theatre of Dreams in 2013 after a trophy-laden spell spanning over 26 years, many fine coaches (David Moyes, Van Gaal, Ten Hag, etc.) have also assumed the position of manager of Manchester United. Still, none so far have come close to emulating the Scotsman’s accomplishments. 

Many Manchester United fans believe that Jose Mourinho was on the right path to leading the club back to the pre-Fergie glory days before his departure. They also believed that he should have received ‘110%’ backing from the club owners. After all, the 60 year old won 3 trophies in his first season and led the club to the 2nd place in the Premier League in his second season.

The Glazers became very unpopular with the Manchester United fanbase when Mourinho was sacked and some of them are yet to ‘forgive’ them for this action.

The owners of Manchester United have also spent over £1 billion on players in the post-Fergie era and yet none of the coaches that have come on board are yet to meet the very high demands that being a manager of Manchester United entails.

However, are the coaches brought on board solely to blame for this problem? What about how the club’s owners themselves? How have they been overseeing affairs? How are they handling everything above the manager?

Speaking of owners, let’s talk about Chelsea. In their heart of hearts, every Chelsea fan knew that a seismic shift was going to occur in the way their club would be managed when Roman Abramovich decided to sell it. In terms of demanding results, the Russian billionaire was ruthless. Very.

He was always willing to provide the financial muscle to any coach. However, once he gets unsatisfied with the results, he wastes no time in axing said coach and even less time in finding a replacement. This is one of the many reasons Chelsea fans loved him.

However, it is apparent that the new owner Todd Boehly does not embody his predecessor’s ruthlessness. This has made him quite unpopular with the Chelsea fanbase.

The new club hierarchy has made one controversial decision after another since Todd Boehly’s £4.25 billion takeover. The first, and probably the most costly decision to date is the sacking of Thomas Tuchel. This came despite the fact that he led the Blues to five finals during his 18-month spell at the club.

The German was then replaced with the largely untested Graham Potter. This decision backfired as Chelsea began to seriously decline under his management.

With Potter as head coach, Chelsea supporters were reminiscing the days of Roman Abramovich because there was no way he would keep the former Brighton boss around for seven months before sacking him, which is what Todd Boehly did. 

Todd Boehly then made another controversial decision by replacing Graham Potter with Frank Lampard, a coach who had already been hired and fired by Chelsea because of failure to deliver results.

If things were bad under Potter, they were much worse while the former Chelsea midfielder was in charge. At some point, the Blues were on a run of six straight defeats in all competitions. Chelsea ended up finishing 12th during the 2022/23 EPL season, losing 16 games in total.

Even during the dark periods under Roman Abramovich’s ownership Chelsea never finished in the bottom half of the table.

Todd Boehly should definitely be accorded some of the blame for Chelsea’s slump since he took over, however, how much of the blame should rest on his shoulders?

Taking Manchester United into perspective, the likes of Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have been at the helm at the club but could not get them back to their glory days. Erik Ten Hag, the former Ajax boss is currently trying to do so.

All three of these coaches have stellar CVs from their time managing different clubs and countries. Both Van Gaal and Mourinho are still doing amazing things after their stint at the Red Devils. At some point, the clubs owners need to think deeply about what they are doing right and not doing right in regards to getting Manchester United back to the ‘Fergie days.’

After his brief stint at the Theater of Dreams, Ralf Rangnick, the interim manager brought in to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjær commented on the changes needed at the club and said that ‘it’s not cosmetic, its open heart surgery.’

As for Chelsea, there is no doubt that their owner to an extent has to bear the brunt of the blame over their misfortunes in recent times.

However, Potter and Lampard should also be blamed to a large extent as well for their underwhelming performances while serving as managers of the club. Only time will tell if current boss Mauricio Pochettino should also be blamed for the club’s problems.

He might turn their fortunes around, maintain the status quo, or probably even derail the club further. Only time will tell.

Chelsea and Manchester United’s match on December 6 will be a rather interesting matchup. Two clubs struggling to find their identity. Who will come out on top?

This article was updated 5 months ago

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