Between 2010 and 2016 the Russian owner of Chelsea, Roman Abramovich, tried six times to hire Pep Guardiola as manager, but never succeeded. According to the reconstructions of the English newspapers, Guardiola refused every time for fear of the methods used by the Chelsea property, which could hamper his career which began with the successes of the strongest Barcelona ever.
And in fact Chelsea changed managers six times during the same period. From 2003 – the year in which the oligarch Abramovich bought the club – to date, fifteen different coaches have coached the London team for at least one game, some of them returning even years later, such as José Mourinho and Guus Hiddink. Abramovich’s seemingly hysterical management can be summarized as follows: a continuous alternation of projects and results, millionaire sign-up campaigns and sensational errors of evaluation, which however did not prevent the club from winning, emerging from the mediocrity of the past and establishing itself as one of the great clubs. Europeans.
The coming season is an example of how things are at Chelsea. The team had started the year coached by their former captain Frank Lampard, who in 2019 had replaced Maurizio Sarri despite the latter having won the Europa League. The choice of Lampard, idol of the fans for his past in the team, turned out to be wrong and ended with one of the lowest victory percentages ever (52%) and therefore an exemption, last January.
In his place was the German Thomas Tuchel, who had in turn been sacked by Paris Saint-Germain during the current season. Despite the change of manager and a team that seemed to be missing something, Chelsea’s season has not only straightened out, but will end with a Champions League final, the third in the club’s history. The final will be played on Saturday evening in Portugal between Chelsea and another English team, Manchester City, a team managed in a completely different way and coached by Guardiola.
City, like Chelsea, were one of the English clubs whose history changed completely in the heyday of the Premier League. After spending decades in the shadow of the most successful and famous Manchester United, the arrival of large foreign capitals, first from Thailand, then from the United Arab Emirates, led to the victory of five championships in a decade, first with Roberto Mancini, then with Manuel Pellegrini and finally with Guardiola, the coach chosen not only to keep winning, but to give a new identity to the environment.
– Read also: The latest found by Pep Guardiola
Guardiola has been in office since 2016 and despite the initial difficulties, which have often recurred in recent years, he has always enjoyed the trust of the management, not surprisingly composed of two former Barcelona players like him very close to Catalonia: Ferran Soriano, managing director , and Txiki Begiristain, sports director. The three introduced their idea of a reasoned, proactive and constantly innovative football. When they won the championship, like this year, Guardiola’s City did so unchallenged, setting several records. The philosophy brought by the Spaniards has also influenced many other English teams, which today play unrecognizable football compared to the much rougher football of the past.
In recent years, however, the City has not managed to establish itself with the same strength in Europe, where indeed it has encountered the greatest difficulties. The club therefore continues to have no international trophy among its victories, after the Cup Winners’ Cup which dates back to 1970.
For City, the Champions League final in Porto is therefore an opportunity to close a decade that is revolutionary in many ways, with the most coveted cup. On the other hand there will be a team with an equally rich ownership, which however has always had short-term visions. It is no coincidence that Chelsea came to play their third Champions League final with a coach who took over during the current season: it happened in 2008 with Avram Grant, Mourinho’s replacement, and then with Roberto Di Matteo, who in 2012 won it in the incredible final in Munich just two months after replacing the sacked André Villas-Boas.