James Lawton: Even the West Ham gang of three showed more class than Abramovich

The temptation to rage was limited. Abramovich had, after all, long ago stripped away any mystery over hisintentions and still less his style

It says a lot about Chelsea that in a very close run thing they were finally outclassed by the ownership of West Ham United. For quite a time it was just too hard to call but on the last lap the Hammers had it in a photo-finish.

The Gang of Three (co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan and the flagrant, sorry, fragrant, chief executive Karren Brady) had achieved the moral high ground over the Gang of One when they asked their hosts Wigan Athletic for a room in which to fire their manager Avram Grant.

Roman Abramovich ordered his minions just to go do it in a corridor of Goodison Park and that little bit more quickly demolish any faint speculation that Carlo Ancelotti, a football man of charm and distinction whose brief sojourn at Stamford Bridge was marked by the Double and second place in a league reputed to be the strongest in the world, might be given the extra season which in anywhere but a football madhouse would have been more or less automatic.

Of course that was a ridiculous notion implying the possibility of a sense of dignity and fair-mindedness and some basic understanding of how a rational, successful football club operates.

Yet if the reaction has to be one of still more disgust for Abramovich's final act of contempt, a confirmation of the accumulating disrespect for Ancelotti highlighted already by the crude sacking of Ray Wilkins, the temptation to rage was somewhat limited.

Abramovich had, after all, long ago stripped away any mystery over his intentions and still less his style, and to the extent that when Ancelotti was appointed two years ago it was reasonable to ask why a man of such background, achievement, and natural grace had been sought out for what had become ritual humiliation.

Abramovich, having dumped Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari and failed to persuade Guus Hiddink to stay, could have got some malleable young front man at a fraction of the price. But then maybe Abramovich's most damaging flaw is not some monumental ignorance of the dynamics of winning but that essential contempt for anyone in football required to take his roubles.

If Mourinho returns, will he be given a measure of new respect? If Hiddink finally says yes, how long before he too is someone to be tossed aside?

Porto's brilliant young coach, Andre Villas-Boas, is favourite in the book of one leading betting firm but how likely is it that he will be invited to outline his plans and then tick off each of his priorities?

Now there are suggestions of a rapprochement between Mourinho and Abramovich – and that maybe Hiddink might relent in his determination to be his own man, which for so many years has been his most striking work credential.

It is at least good for the bookmakers drawing up formidable lists of candidates and the odds against them. Yet their meaning for all practical purposes could be rolled up into a ball and booted down the Fulham Road, one betting man drolly likening the Chelsea situation to the first call of the cuckoo in spring.

Everyone knows the plot with the possible exception of Roman Abramovich. The bookmakers take their bets. The agents rub their hands. It is what happens in the spring at the second richest football club in the world.

The trouble is that it has hardly anything to do with football. Mostly, it was as we saw it at the dog day of Chelsea's season. It is about the devastating combination of too much money and too little class.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?