Gullit's role in the transformation of the club's fortunes, both on and off the pitch, cannot be underestimated. He inherited a team who, despite the best efforts of Glenn Hoddle, were still the perennial "sleeping giant". During his stewardship of the team, our scope appeared limitless, our financial and sporting goals sufficient to tempt the world's finest to leave the Italy, France, the Netherlands et al to come to plain old Chelsea, SW10.
Despite rumours of dressing room disquiet with the squad system and the now doubly ironic spat with Vialli, Chelsea won the FA Cup last year. Gullit's place in the pantheon of Chelsea heroes was assured. All was, and would be, forgiven.
This season, however, despite a falsely elevated position in the table and still in two cups, all has patently not been well. The players haven't looked happy, Gullit's team selections have become increasingly bizarre and once his contract re-negotiation hit on its first public stumbling block Chelsea fans began to fear the worst was about to occur.
The club have been dragged once more into an unseemly spat with a fallen idol, conducted through the media. It's become another in a long line of Chelsea soap operas, with the irascible Ken Bates once more in the director's chair. Vialli has picked up the poisoned chalice and one hopes, for everyone's sake, but particularly for him, that we emerge from this season with some tangible success. He is, without question, an immensely likeable and astute individual whose coaching credentials have, I genuinely believe, been noted prior to this debacle (and not merely as an afterthought). Bringing the team together after this unedifying debacle must be his first priority.
Sides will be taken in the coming days. There are those already accusing Gullit of "hubris", of believing himself bigger than the club, that his greed and arrogance have precipitated his own demise. And there are those who, as always, will blame the board for allowing the promise of Chelsea's renaissance to be jeopardised.
Either way, the revolution must be allowed to continue. The club, and all associated with it, have come too far to turn back now. As Ken Bates said yesterday, the King is dead, long live the King.Reuse content