By - Victor Kekereekun
Chelsea are the most ‘generous’ club in the world when it comes to dismissing their first team managers.
On May 22, the London club were ordered to pay their former head coach Antonio Conte £9million in compensation after he won a legal battle against them following his sacking in 2018, taking their spending on sacking managers since 2004 to £92.9m.
Having led the Blues to their fifth Premier League title during his first season with the club in the 2016/17 campaign, Conte was then dismissed in July 2018.
Despite leading Chelsea to the FA Cup trophy in 2018, Conte endured a turbulent second season at the dugout, falling out with a number of players, including axing striker Diego Costa by text message, and senior executives. The Blues eventually failed to qualify for the Champions League, finishing 5th on the league log.
Prior his exit, Conte, who still had 12 months remaining on his contract, made it clear he would not walk away from the final year of his contract, meaning Chelsea must sack him and risk paying a compensation bill of up to £9million to replace him. However, a ‘generous mind’ like Chelsea wouldn’t be too concerned on settling for compensation, as Abramovich is not new to digging hands into his pocket for whopping compensations.
In May 2004, Claudio Ranieri became Abramovich’s first sacking. His future was in doubt since the arrival of the owner, who began to want more in return for his significant spending. The Italian took the exit door at the Stamford Bridge with £6m Compensation trailing his heels.
However, three years later, another manager would make Abramovich’s ‘axing book’ in Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese long-standing high-profile differences with Abramovich saw Mourinho leave the club the first time for £23.1m compensation.
Avram Grant was the next in line to experience Abramovich’s hire-and-fire approach. Grant led Chelsea to the last all-English UEFA Champions League final in 2008 which Chelsea lost to Manchester United in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. The Brazilian was axed as the Blues manager. Even though he received £5.2m compensation, he was left “betrayed, upset and angry” as he spent just eight months in charge.
The tradition continued in February 2009 as Chelsea sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari after just seven months in the job. The club failed to sustain a serious challenge for the Premier League, finishing seven points off title winners Manchester United. The Brazilian, however, didn’t leave without a compensation worth £12.6m.
In what proved to be one of the most controversial decisions the club ever made, Abramovich opted to sack Carlo Ancelotti in 2011 after he ended his second season at the club without a trophy. Meanwhile, in his first season – 2009-10, he did the double by winning the Premier League and FA Cup. The Italian wouldn’t leave the London club without £6m compensation anyway.
In a quick-fire, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo were both sacked in 2012. Abramovich relieved Villas-Boas of his position as the manager even though Chelsea were still in the Champions League and FA Cup, as well as fighting for a top-four spot in the Premier League at the time. Another controversial decision you would say, I guess. Villas-Boas, however, got a hefty payment of £12m for just nine months work.
Still the same year, after being employed as a caretaker for the remainder of the season, Di Matteo won the Champions League and FA Cup. He later was given a two-year deal – but that wouldn’t last as he was then sacked just eight months later, following a Champions League loss to Juventus. He got £10.7m for his brief but impressive stint.
Further, somehow, Jose Mourinho found his way back into Abramovich’s compensation list for a second time in 2015. Chelsea sacked Mourinho seven months after he led them to the Premier League title. They had lost nine of their 16 league games and were 16th, one point above the relegation zone. Maybe his sacking was justifiable, but Mourinho was able to add another £8.3m payment to £23.1m compensation he received after his first stint. The Portuguese boasts of £31.4m having managed Chelsea. Mind you, Real Madrid used less of this amount to buy one of the best midfielders in the world back then in 2013 – Toni Kroos.
One can say Abramovich’s hire-and-fire approach has brought the club a number of trophies – well, considerably – but it does leave fans wonder what would it have been like if the likes of; Ancelotti, Mourinho or Champions League winning-coach Roberto Di Matteo had stayed longer.
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