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Roman Abramovich: Chelsea fans can’t love him or hate him

At recent games many Chelsea fans have been expressing their anger at Roman Abramovich’s decision to seemingly let Frank Lampard leave Chelsea by, as of yet, not offering him a new contract. Lampard’s contract runs out at the end of the season and Chelsea have yet to offer him a new one, despite his loyal service since 2001. This decision has angered Chelsea fans greatly and it does not help that Ashley Cole is also expected to leave as he has also not been offered a contract. Cole and Lampard, despite their age (Cole is 32, Lampard is 34), have been vital to Chelsea’s success in recent seasons, both scoring penalties against Bayern Munich to help Chelsea win the Champions League last season.

Roberto di Matteo, a fan’s favourite, was sacked from the managerial job earlier this season, despite leading Chelsea to Champions League and FA Cup success last season. This controversial decision led to fury from some fans, but this fury escalated when former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was appointed his successor. This decision was extremely unpopular amongst the Chelsea fans because Benitez had criticised Chelsea’s fans passion while at Liverpool and said “I’d never take the (Chelsea) job, in respect for my former team at Liverpool, no matter what. For me, there is only club in England and that’s Liverpool.”. The fan’s outrage was clearly displayed with the “Rafa Out” banners sported by numerous fans and the loud boos at Benitez’s first few games.

So far, it would appear that Chelsea fans have every reason to hate their owner – he sacked Di Matteo recently and has sacked many managers in the past, despite decent performances, such as Carlo Ancelotti, and he appears to be letting two great players leave. However, Chelsea fans cannot hate their owner for the simple fact that the sheer amount of money he has injected into the club has been a massive contributor to their success. In the first season under his ownership 14 new players were brought in, with the most expensive being Damien Duff at £17 million, although there were 5 players who costed in excess of £15 million. The previous season the most expensive player Chelsea bought was Felipe Oliviera who set them back a mere £0.5 million. The success was instant, with Chelsea finishing 2nd in the Premier League and reaching the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. One season later, when 9 new players were brought in, most notably Didier Drogba, who cost £24 million, Chelsea won the Premier League and League Cup, and again reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. The success of Chelsea has continued thanks to the investment of Roman Abramovich. In the 2006-07 season Andriy Schevchenko signed for Chelsea for £30 million, breaking the British transfer record. In that season Chelsea won the FA Cup and League Cup, finishing 2nd in the Premier League and reaching the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. Since then Chelsea have broken the British transfer record once again, signing Fernando Torres from Liverpool for a grand total of £50 million, although no trophies were won that season.

Without the massive spending of Roman Abramovich, Chelsea simply would not have achieved the success that they have had recently. However, Abramovich is ruthless, sacking managers when others would give them more time and seemingly letting crucial players leave due to their age. This leaves Chelsea fans caught in two minds – on the one hand he has helped the club achieve great success, and on the other hand, he is completely ruthless when it comes to players and managers. So, Roman Abramovich, love him or hate him? You decide…

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