Pete Jenson: Real-politik of Roman mirrors the galactico era

Abramovich's tenure is reminiscent of the worst excesses of Florentino Perez's years at Madrid

Barcelona

Somewhere in the library of Roman Abramovich's moat-encircled fort there must surely be a well-thumbed copy of "How to run a football club" by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

The hiring and firing of coaches, the senseless sacking of successful managers, the concessions to player power and the overspending on big names already in decline – it's all there in black and white. No Premier League owner has ever come as close to emulating the hugely expensive and often unsuccessful Real Madrid model as Abramovich.

Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers' Association, has lamented Chelsea's embarrassing search for an eighth manager in nine years but that looks like long-termism alongside Perez's efforts from 2003 to 2006 when he hired and fired six in three trophyless years.

Among Perez and Abramovich's managerial victims is the same mixture of the distinguished but disrespected and the desperately out of their depth. Perez sacked wise old owl Vicente del Bosque weeks after he had won the league and one season after he had won the Champions League. Carlo Ancelotti was Abramovich's Del Bosque – relieved of his duties one year after doing the domestic Double.

At Madrid goalkeeping coach Mariano Garcia Remon was promoted to first-team coach for three months in the 2004-05 season and youth team boss Juan Lopez Caro lasted six months in the 2005-06 campaign. Neither man was carried by the dressing room in quite the same way as the equally under-prepared Avram Grant was in 2008 and Roberto Di Matteo will hope to be now.

Neither is there any continuity in managerial style at either club. Just as Chelsea have lurched from the conservative Ancelotti to new-age Andre Villas-Boas so Perez skipped from the sergeant major-style Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho to the laid-back Brazilian Vanderlei Luxemburgo.

What the coaches do have in common is that none of them has been more important than the players. Abramovich delivering an interpreter-assisted rollicking at Cobham after sacking Villas-Boas was reminiscent of Perez's rant after he quit as president in 2006, when he admitted to have been let down by the players he had indulged like "spoiled children".

Chelsea's transfer policy has also mirrored Madrid's. Abramovich's purchase of Fernando Torres was every bit a Perez-style whim. Never mind if when the deal is finally in place the player has long since ceased to be worth the money being asked for him.

Targeting out-of-reach managers is another parallel. Perez has twice attempted to persuade Arsène Wenger to take over at the Bernabeu – the Frenchman known for his patient development of young teams courted by the president famed for demanding success yesterday.

Abramovich's pursuit of Pep Guardiola smacks of Perez trying to tempt Wenger. The Barcelona manager is in the last year of his contract and would not cost the £13.3m Chelsea paid to Porto to get Villas-Boas last summer.

But he would need the kind of time Abramovich was unprepared to give his outgoing £4.5m-a-year manager.

What if the studious Guardiola, with neither his core of star players nor his reserve of well-schooled youth teamers, struggled to instantly adapt that wonderful Barcelona passing style to the Premier League and also slipped to 10 defeats in his first 40 games as Villas Boas did? And would there be a Michael Emenalo lurking in the background ready to tell tales on him? It took Jose Mourinho a year to get rid of Jorge Valdano – a far better-qualified interferer, but an interferer all the same.

Mourinho, of course, could be the final link between Perez and Abramovich. With so many of the same symptoms he might have decided that he needs to take the same medicine. Perez has given Mourinho complete power at Real Madrid and is reaping the rewards. Will Abramovich, as he so often does, follow suit?

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own