August 1, 2021

Out of nowhere and Raquel Welch, to ‘Chelski’ | sports

Roman Abramovich, in a Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge.GLYN KIRK

Younger readers may think that Chelsea have always been great. No. It took him half a century to achieve his first league (1955) and another half century for his second (2005). Between the two, an English Cup (1970, in an explosive tie-breaker with Leeds United) and, the following year, the European Cup Winners’ Cup, which was also won by Pirri, Amancio… and Fleitas in the tiebreaker against Madrid.

After the emptiness of half a century came the swinging sixties, the England of the Beatles, the Rolling and the Who, and the London of counterculture and hedonism, of Mary Quant, Twiggy, Carnaby Street and King’s Road. Actors like Michael Caine and Raquel Welch wandered around Stamford Bridge, who made no secret of her personal admiration for Peter Osgood, one of the star players of the time.

After the gay sixties came the oil crisis, the winter of discontent, Thatcher, racial tension, hooligans. Racism and violence hooliganismo that gnawed at English football became so serious at Stamford Bridge that Chelsea electrified the fence between the field and the stands in 1984, but the city council did not let it connect. Those were the years of the Chelsea Shed Boys first and the Chelsea Headhunters later, the white supremacists still hunting heads in 2014 on the Paris metro in a Champions League match.

The seventies and eighties were a dark time for the club, which fell to Second three times and was one step away from bankruptcy and disappearance. Better times came in the 1990s. Peace in the stands, balance in the accounts, even some success on the field with two English Cups and a Recopa. With players like Gullit, Vialli, Zola and Poyet, Chelsea started to be someone in football.

And then Roman Abramovich arrived. The Russian oligarch bought the club in June 2003 and made it the Chelski, as it is ironically known to the russian, based on pumping millions and millions. The investment did not take long to bear fruit: with Mourinho on the bench. Chelsea won two Leagues in a row (2005 and 2006) and the Cup. In total, Abramovich’s Chelsea has won five Leagues, three English Cups, one Champions League and two European Leagues.

But the face of success also has the cross of uncertainty. Abramovich is secretive, impulsive, and unpredictable. He just cut off the head of Frank Lampard, a Stamford Bridge hero as a player who has only lasted a year and a half on the bench. Before it was cut to a varied catalog of technicians: Ranieri, Mourinho (twice), Avram Grant, Scolari, Hiddink (twice), Ancelotti, Villas-Boas, Di Matteo, Benítez, Sarri. The new coach is Thomas Tuchel, fired on Christmas Eve by PSG. Tuchel debuted last Wednesday with a sad 0-0 with the Wolves at Stamford Bridge and this Sunday he received Burnley (2-0).

The problem with being in the hands of Abramovich is not only his ups and downs, but his commitment to the future. The oligarch’s position at Chelsea is unclear since the British government denied him the renewal of his residence visa in May 2018 due to his closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Abramovich has always been close to Putin, but the British government is no longer close since two former Russian spies refugees in the UK were poisoned on British soil, one in 2006 and one in 2018, allegedly by agents from Moscow.

Since then, Abramovich has left in limbo the demolition of Stamford Bridge and the construction of a new stadium there, which already had construction permits. The permits have expired and the project has no date. An indication, perhaps, that it is the Chelski the one with an expiration date.